Lady Hens out-Duke James Madison by one
Published: Monday, February 25, 2013
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 21:04
Wearing pink jerseys for breast cancer awareness and looking to earn a 19th straight win, the Delaware women’s basketball team held a 53-51 lead with 7:24 remaining in the matchup against James Madison. The Dukes, who had the second-best record in the CAA, looked to take the lead after losing it early in the half, but the next minute and 47 seconds left the Hens clinging to their two-point advantage as the team gave the Dukes second chance after second chance.
In all, James Madison pulled down eight offensive rebounds on a single possession, yet failed to score a single point as the Hens’ defense bent but did not break. Delaware was eventually able to corral the ball en route to a 61-60 victory. Despite the win, Hens head coach Tina Martin was left fuming.
“We’ve got so much work to do before the season is over right now, and that’s what I told the kids,” Martin said.
Delaware struggled all night on the glass, and was outrebounded by James Madison 55-35. The Dukes fell one board short of tying the record for rebounds by an opposing team at the Bob Carpenter Sports Center, and senior forward Elena Delle Donne said the Hens continually failed to get good positioning and force the Dukes back when going for rebounds.
“We all definitely have to box out, and I think we’re going to be doing a lot of rebounding drills,” Delle Donne said. “There’s been a lot of ball-watching when the shot goes up instead of turning, finding a man and pushing back.”
As a result of the rebounding edge, the Dukes took 77 shots, the most allowed by the Hens this season. James Madison made 24 of them for a shooting percentage of 31.2, while Delaware was 19-51 from the field, good for 37.3 percent.
The game, which featured nine lead changes, began with the Dukes in front, although the two teams traded the lead several times in the first half alone. With 50 seconds left before intermission, James Madison held an eight-point edge, but Delle Donne scored four points allowing the Hens to slice the Dukes’ advantage in half as the teams went to their locker rooms with James Madison leading, 29-25
Delle Donne, who had nine first-half points, struggled early, according to her coach.
“She went through a span there where she couldn’t hit a shot,” Martin said. “I knew that out of all the people she would continue to shoot the basketball and continue to try to find ways to score.”
The reigning CAA Player of the Year, Delle Donne said she is feeling better after battling a flare-up of Lyme disease all season. She scored 19 in the second half. Fourteen of those points came in the first 8:33 and helped Delaware take the lead. Delle Donne, who attempted 10 second-half free throws, said she played more aggressive in that period.
Both she and senior forward Danielle Parker said the game was a physical one. Parker cited instances where senior guard Jaquetta May and senior guard Lauren Carra were brought to the floor, while Delle Donne said the Dukes played her very tough.
“I even spoke to the refs for a little bit because when I was driving in the paint, instead of hitting my arm, which the refs are looking for, they were taking out my legs,” Delle Donne said.
With under 2 minutes remaining and the Hens up two, senior guard Kayla Miller scored her only bucket of the game, a 3-pointer. Delaware then held a seven-point advantage with a less than 1 minute to go, but the Dukes quickly cut that lead to two.
After being intentionally fouled, Delle Donne made her first free throw, giving the Hens a three-point lead. Her second, however, was no good, and gave James Madison a chance to tie. The ensuing jumper by James Madison guard Tarik Hislop did not connect. Though the Dukes stripped Carra of the ball after the rebound to score a quick two, they did not have enough time to make a play on the subsequent inbound.
By the end of the game Dukes guard Kirby Burkholder scored 16 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. For the Hens, Parker finished with eight points, second amongst the Hens, and a team-leading 11 rebounds. In addition to her 28 points, Delle Donne had six blocks. Martin said blocking shots was about the only thing the team did well on the defensive front.
With its win, Delaware improved to 24-3 and 15-0 in the CAA, while James Madison fell to 18-9 overall and 13-3 in conference. The Hens were ranked 18th in last week’s Associated Press Poll, but moving forward Parker said the team needs to be more consistent, especially as the CAA and NCAA Tournaments draw near.
“We go on runs, and at this point in the season we should be in the whole game, but we have spurts and that’s definitely something we have to work on,” Parker said.