No. 18 Delaware 79, Hofstra 50

After struggling in the last two wins, Elena Delle Donne and
Delaware were thrilled to put together a complete game against
Hofstra. Clinching the regular-season conference crown in the
process was just an added bonus.

Delle Donne scored 32 points to help No. 18 Delaware beat
Hofstra 79-50 on Thursday night for its 20th straight victory.

”We’re excited to get a really solid game under our belt and
more happy with getting a really good win right now,” Delle Donne
said. ”We wanted to clean a few things up.”

The Blue Hens (25-3, 16-0 Colonial Athletic Association) barely
beat James Madison on Sunday 61-60. That came after a 14-point win
over George Mason, which is second to last in the conference.

Trailing Hofstra by four with 5 minutes left in the first half,
Delaware took over. The Blue Hens scored 13 of the last 15 points
to end the half and then the first 12 of the second half to put the
game away.

Delaware held Hofstra without a field goal for nearly 11 minutes
spanning the halves until Candace Bond hit a 3-pointer with 12:07
left to make it 55-36.

”We didn’t start the second half very well,” Hofstra coach
Krista Kilburn-Steveskey said. ”The decisions we were making were
poor.”

The Blue Hens have now won 35 straight in the conference, which
is tied for the second longest streak in the nation with Florida
Gulf Coast. Top-ranked Baylor holds the nation’s longest active
conference streak with 38 consecutive Big 12 victories.

Bond’s 14 points led Hofstra (12-15, 8-8), which has dropped
four straight games.

Delle Donne, who is the nation’s second-leading scorer averaging
just over 25 points, had 20 in the first half and moved into a tie
for 16th place on the all-time NCAA scoring list with Ohio State
great Jantel Lavender.

Delle Donne now has 2,818 points. At the pace she’s on, she
would need eight more games to become the ninth player to reach
3,000 points. Delaware has two more regular-season games and the
Blue Hens would have three in the CAA tournament if they make the
finals.

The Blue Hens are also hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA
tournament.

Delle Donne has missed 22 games in her career. She sat out six
games earlier this season with a reoccurrence of the symptoms of
Lyme disease that forced her to miss a dozen games two seasons ago.
The 6-foot-5 star, who is averaging 27 points in her career, would
definitely have made a strong run at Jackie Stiles’ all-time
scoring mark of 3,393 points (Southwest Missouri State, 1998-2001)
had she been healthy.

She was too much for Hofstra which has lost the last four
meetings to Delaware.

”They have Delle Donne, that’s the big difference,” said
Shante Evans, who added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Pride.
”She’s such a big presence on the court.”

The Pride came out strong, taking a 10-2 lead on the Blue Hens
in the game’s first four minutes. Then Delle Donne took over. She
kept Delaware in the game early, scoring the team’s first 12 points
despite Hofstra constantly having two defenders on her.

”We came out a little slow,” Delle Donne said. ”It’s how we
played the prior two games. Defensively we weren’t doing well at
the beginning. I was getting some openings to keep us in the game.
I knew people like Trumae (Lucas) and Danielle (parker) would step
up.”

The Pride opened up a 30-26 lead on Andreana Thomas’ 3-pointer
with 5:14 left in the half. Lucas scored the next nine points for
Delaware, which closed the half on a 13-2 run to take a 39-32 lead
at the break.

Lucas finished with 13 points.

Delle Donne added a fifth conference record to her growing list
of achievements. She broke a tie with Tiffany Benson, who played at
William & Mary, for blocked shots when she recorded her 256th
in the first half.

Follow Doug on Twitter at
http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg