Hens fall to Dukes in CAA title game
Published: Monday, March 14, 2011
Updated: Monday, March 14, 2011 12:03
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. – If Delaware was Cinderella, Dawn Evans and Courtney Hamner were her evil stepsisters.
The clock final struck midnight on Delaware's unlikely run through the CAA tournament. After upsetting the second and third seeds Friday and Saturday, the seventh-seeded Hens could not overcome No. 1 seed James Madison (26-7) Sunday afternoon at The Show Place Arena.
Evans and Hamner combined for 39 points and 11 3-pointers, leading the Dukes to their second consecutive CAA title with a 67-61 victory over Delaware in the tournament final.
Delaware (20-13) will miss out on an improbable NCAA appearance but has high hopes for a WNIT berth.
"There's definitely an empty feeling because we really felt we could win the championship," Delaware head coach Tina Martin said. "It's hard for the kids to take at this point."The Hens were looking for their first NCAA bid since 2007 and trying to become the lowest seed in the history of the CAA tournament to be crowned champions. They fall to 0-3 all time in CAA title games. They lost to Old Dominion in 2003 and 2005.
The miraculous run to the finals started on Thursday with a 74-66 win over 10th-seeded Northeastern. A shocking 72-55 upset over second seed Old Dominion in the quarterfinals Friday was followed up Saturday afternoon by a 62-47 win over No. 3 UNC Wilmington in the semifinals.Star sophomore forward
Elena Delle Donne averaged 26 points per game in the first three rounds. She had 23 in the championship, but was 6-of-20 from the field.
"Obviously I'm extremely disappointed," she said. "I could have done a lot more offensively."
James Madison held the lead for the majority of the game. Evans, the CAA Player of the Year, connected on her first two 3-pointers of the game and the Dukes were quickly out to a 13-4 lead by the first media timeout.
Delaware battled back to draw within as little as four points in the second half. The team trailed by 6, 47-41, when Hamner and Evans sunk consecutive 3-pointers to put the Dukes back up by double digits.
"When you're in that range, in striking distance and obviously six points is striking distance, you've got to make some shots," Martin said. "It just felt like we kept coming up empty handed."
Despite trailing by 15 with fewer than five minutes on the clock, the Hens once again trimmed the deficit to four. Delle Donne drained a 3-pointer to make it 63-59 with 20 seconds left.
Evans made a pair of free throws to seal the win. She finished with 24 points, on six 3-pointers, and eight assists.
Hamner, who only averages 8.2 ppg, matched her season-high with 15, all coming on 3-pointers.
"Courtney Hamner was the difference in this game," Martin said. "She was able to knock down shots. When they dribbled penetrated, and we rotated to help so Evans couldn't get a layup, she kicked it out to Hamner, and Hamner hit those threes."
Evans earned the tournament's Most Outstanding Performer award and was named to the All-Tournament team along with Hamner and Lauren Jimenez. Jimenez chipped in 12 points and grabbed down 14 rebounds for a double-double Sunday.
The trio were joined on the All-Tournament team by Delle Donne, sophomore forward Danielle Parker from Delaware and VCU's Andrea Barbour.
Parker had a double-double of her own in the final, tallying 14 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Lauren Carra was the other Hen in double-figures with 12 points.
Playing their fourth game in four days, and with less than 24 hours between the quarterfinal and semifinal the Hens would not acknowledge fatigue as a factor.
"No excuses," Delle Donne said. "I was ready to go."