Delaware finishes CAA play unbeaten
Delle Donne scores 26 points, grabs 11 rebounds to lift Blue Hens
WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Elena Delle Donne had 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead No. 8 Delaware to a 79-53 victory against William and Mary on Wednesday night.
Danielle Parker and Lauren Carra each added 14 points as the Blue Hens (27-1, 18-0 Colonial Athletic Association) became the first team to finish undefeated in the conference since Old Dominion in 2001-02.
Delaware shot 52 percent (33 for 64) from the field. Delle Donne, who came in tops in the nation in scoring at 28.3 points per game and 28th in shooting at 52.4 percent, was 9 for 15.
Janine Aldridge scored 15 points to lead William and Mary (10-19, 3-15), which trailed by 13 at halftime and closed within 10 early in the second half before the Blue Hens had a 10-2 run.
Delaware hasn’t lost a conference game since a 67-61 defeat to James Madison in the CAA tournament championship game last March 13, and the Blue Hens’ only loss this season came at No. 6 Maryland 85-76 on Dec. 29.
The 6-foot-5 Delle Donne, who also ranks 15th in the country with 10.4 rebounds per game, had a scholarship offer from North Carolina in the eighth grade and won the Naismith Award as a high school senior. She committed to play at Connecticut, but her stay in Storrs lasted just two days before she returned home to Wilmington, Del., in the summer of 2008.
Closer to home and to her family, including her older sister, Lizzie, who was born deaf, blind and with cerebral palsy, Delle Donne enrolled at Delaware that fall. After a stint on the volleyball team, she joined the Blue Hens’ basketball team for the 2009-10 season.
She averaged 26.7 points as a freshman and 25.3 points as a sophomore. In last August’s World University Games, she had 18 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists in the United State’s 101-66 gold-medal victory against Taiwan.
Already Delaware’s all-time leading scorer, Delle Donne came into Wednesday’s game fifth in CAA history with 2,096 career points, sixth with 187 career blocks and third with 545 free throws made. She scored a school-record 54 points at James Madison in 2010, and her 26.9 point-per-game average is 9.2 points higher than the next-closest Blue Hen.
Against William and Mary, she drew an immediate double-team each time she touched the ball. She didn’t attempt her first shot until missing a 3-pointer with 13:30 left in the first half, but she got her own rebound for a putback to give the Blue Hens a 10-9 lead, and her 3 increased the margin to 15-11.
Della Donne’s two free throws with six minutes left in the first half gave Delaware its first double-digit lead at 28-17, and her 3-pointer put the Blue Hens up 37-20.
The Tribe, down 39-26 at halftime, got within 41-31 on Jaclyn McKenna’s free throws 2:11 into the second half, but Delle Donne’s layup sparked Delaware’s 10-2 spurt.
Delle Donne’s 3-pointer with 7:37 to play pushed Delaware’s lead to 21, and her three-point play with 5:45 remaining pushed the score to 70-45. She took a seat on the bench after making the free throw for her final point.