Delaware, Delle Donne play on after upset of UNC
Tina Martin is no historian. That didn’t stop the Delaware coach
from weighing in on the significance of a victory that thrust the
Blue Hens into the Sweet 16 for the first time.
”This is without question the greatest victory in Delaware
sports history,” Martin declared after the No. 6 Blue Hens pulled
out a 78-69 victory over No. 3 North Carolina on Tuesday night
before a packed house that included Vice President Joe Biden.
Elena Delle Donne scored 33 points in her final home game, and
now the Blue Hens are headed to Connecticut to face Kentucky. If
Delaware pulls off another upset, it could face UConn for the right
to play in the Final Four.
Delle Donne initially accepted a scholarship to Connecticut
before quickly leaving with a bad case of homesickness. She
enrolled in Delaware, enjoyed a great career, and now she’s headed
back to the state where it all started.
”I enjoy the irony that I’m playing in the Sweet 16,” Delle
Donne said with a sheepish grin. ”Obviously, I’ll be in
Connecticut. That’s great. It’s a beautiful state and I’m excited
to play there.”
Delle Donne surpassed the 3,000-point mark in a game she was
absolutely intent on winning.
”I don’t think I’ve wanted anything more than this win, and
that’s saying a lot,” she said.
After the final buzzer, Delle Donne had mixed emotions as she
and her teammates gathered in the middle of the court and waved to
the 4,653 screaming fans.
”It was a little sad, it was emotional, saying goodbye,” she
said. ”But to leave this way is absolutely incredible. I even said
to the girls before the game, `We deserve to win our last game on
this court. That’s how everybody played.”
Biden was on hand to watch it happen, and afterward he visited
the Delaware locker room to congratulate Martin and the
”He talked about the fact that he told President Obama to
pencil us in (his bracket),” Martin said. ”He gave everybody big
hugs, gave everybody personal greetings, whispered some words of
encouragement to our team and just said how very proud he is of our
Biden, it seems, couldn’t stay in his seat as the game reached
its exciting conclusion.
”The president of the University of Delaware said that the vice
president kept standing up and blocking everybody’s view,” Martin
said. ”A few people wanted to say, `Mr. Vice President, please sit
down,’ but I don’t think the vice president would have sat down.
He’s been one of our biggest fans. We certainly are honored and
humbled he came to see us tonight.”
Waltiea Rolle scored 23 points for the Tar Heels, but the
6-foot-6 senior was in foul trouble for much of the second half and
finally picked up her fifth with 4:08 left.
North Carolina point guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who scored a
career-high 30 points against Albany in the tournament opener,
played the final 11:55 with four fouls and finished with four
points on 1-for-13 shooting.
The Tar Heels were called for 24 fouls compared to 13 for the
Blue Hens, a discrepancy that did not escape coach Sylvia
”I wish Delaware good luck when they get on a neutral court,”
When asked to comment on having her two stars in foul trouble
and the 24 whistles against the Tar Heels, Hatchell said, ”That
hasn’t been a problem all year until now. With Pratt and Waltiea
both out, that was the difference in the game. But I told the girls
in the locker room, `This is a great lesson. Life isn’t always
Delle Donne missed 18 of 28 field goal tries, but the 6-5 senior
went 11 for 13 at the line and now has 3,006 points during a
sensational career in her home state.
Trumae Lucas scored 20 for the Blue Hens and Danielle Parker
contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Delaware trailed 48-39 when Rolle picked up her third foul with
16:39 remaining. The Tar Heels slowed down their offense to kill
time while their center was on the bench, and she returned 2
minutes later, but was whistled for her fourth foul with 12:47
To make matters worse, Ruffin-Pratt got her fourth foul less
than a minute later.
With its two leading scorers on the bench, North Carolina came
apart. Delle Donne made a basket, Parker scored on a drive and
Lucas sank two straight layups to put the Blue Hens up 52-51, their
first lead since 30-29.
Xylina McDaniel then scored on a drive for the Tar Heels, their
first basket in nearly six minutes, but Delle Donne reached the
3,000 mark with a follow of her own miss to put Delaware back in
It was 63-60 when Rolle fouled out, and Lucas subsequently made
two foul shots for a 65-60 advantage.
Told of Hatchell’s insinuation about the officiating, Martin
said, ”I don’t see it the same way coach Hatchell does. We will
agree to disagree on this one.”