Delle Donne wins it late for women
Published: Monday, February 20, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 01:02
PHILADELPHIA – Everyone in the gym knew where the ball was going. Delaware was down by one with the clock approaching zero, and without hesitation, head coach Tina Martin drew up an inbounds play to give Elena Delle Donne the ball with a chance to win the game.
Delle Donne caught the ball in the middle of the court just outside the three-point line, was hounded by multiple defenders immediately and made her move to the right wing. She picked up her dribble, took a step through the double-team, released the leaning shot and watched it fall through the nylon with two seconds left to play.
Drexel's attempt at its own last-second magic came up short, giving the Hens (25-1, 15-0 CAA) the 40-39 victory and the CAA regular season crown.
"I don't care if she goes 0-13, 0-14—I'm putting the ball in her hands at the end of the game and she's going to make the decision," Martin said of Delle Donne. "She's too good of a player not to give her the opportunity to win ballgames."
Delle Donne's game-winning shot gave her 12 points—not a bad day for most players. But for Delle Donne, it was a career low and what she described as "one of her worst" games.
"When I couldn't throw the ball in the ocean, my teammates picked me up," Delle Donne said. "I really don't care how much I scored tonight. We won, and that's all that matters."
After breaking the 2,000-point mark for her career Thursday against Hofstra, Delle Donne captured another milestone Sunday. Despite the low point total on the afternoon, the 12 points she scored gave her the Delaware record for most career points for anyone out of both the men's and women's programs.
Fellow junior Danielle Parker tied Delle Donne's 12 points to share the game-high. Martin, Delle Donne and Parker each agreed Drexel was a more physical team than they were used to.
"It was a fight, but we had our fun moments," Parker said. "I think at the end, our adrenaline definitely kicked in."
Martin said the rough play is something she has come to expect when travelling to Drexel, and when the Hens make their eventual trip to the NCAA Tournament, the physicality and atmosphere at those games will be similar to the way it is at Drexel.
"It's always like this when we come here, and it's a very tough place to play," Martin said. "When we get [to the NCAA Tournament], it's going to be like this. It's very physical when you look at a lot of different conferences in the country."
The contest was the closest of the year, and also the lowest-scoring. The teams' combined 79 points was lower than the Hens have scored by themselves in six games this season, and Delle Donne's 42 points at Hofstra Thursday outscored her team's total from Sunday.
"They're very good at taking things away from teams," Martin said of Drexel's defense. "We knew coming in [that] it was going to be this kind of game."
Drexel's defense forced the Hens into 25 percent shooting from behind the three-point line and just 24.6 percent shooting from the field, where they average 44.1 percent on the season.
Delaware, now No. 9 in the country, was heavily favored coming into the game. The tight defense and rowdy crowd created that tournament-type atmosphere, which may have thrown the Hens off. Delle Donne said they let Drexel dictate the tempo, but that the game was an important test.
"There's a lot of upsets in women's basketball, as you can see, and to pull that out was a big gut-check for us," Delle Donne said, alluding UCONN being upset by St. John's on Saturday. "We were able to pull it out, and good teams do that."