Elena Delle Donne scored 20-of-her -game high 33 points in the second half to lead sixth-seeded Delaware to a 66-53 over 11th-seed West Virginia in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Newark, Del., on March 24.
Trailing 33-26 at halftime, Delaware scored the first nine points of the second half to take a 35-34 lead with 13:15 remaining in the game. Delle Donne scored five points for the Blue Hens during the run.
The Blue Hens, who tallied 40 points in the second half, would lead the rest of the way.
Both teams struggled shooting from the field in the opening seven minutes of the second half as Delaware was 4-of-12 while West Virginia was 0-of-6. The Mountaineers also committed four turnovers during this period.
Delle Donne was 10-of-24 from the field and 12-of-13 from the charity stripe for the game. She also collected seven rebounds and blocked four shots. The seven rebounds gave Delle Donne over 1,000 for her career.
Delaware also got contributions from Kelsey Buchanan, who scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds, and Danielle Parker, who pulled down a game-high 11 boards.
Ayana Dunning had 15 points and 10 rebounds for West Virginia (17-14), which ends their season on a four game losing streak. Taylor Palmer added 13 points on just 5-of-17 shooting while Linda Stepney contributed 10 points, five rebounds and four assists for the Mountaineers.
Delaware (31-3) will attempt to advance to the round of sixteen for the first time in school history on March 26 when they face North Carolina in Newark.
Keys to the game:
1. Delaware’ second half defense
The Blue Hens switched from man-to-man to zone in the second half and held the Mountaineers to 20 points on just 7-of-22 shooting from the floor. Delaware also forced 11 turnovers and limited West Virginia to only one offensive rebound in the second stanza.
Delaware held West Virginia without a field goal until the 12:17 mark when Dunning hit a jumper to cut the Blue Hens lead to 37-36.
West Virginia shot 43.8 (14-for-32) percent from the floor in the first half.
2. Free throw shooting
Delaware was 19-of-22 from the free throw line for the game (86.4 percent) while West Virginia was just 5-of-6 from the charity stripe.
3. Bench production
Delaware got 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists from their reserves while West Virginia received four points and five points from their bench. The Blue Hens reserves shot 7-of-16 from the field and collected six offensive rebounds.
Other game notes:
– Delaware has won a school record 26 straight games.
– The Blue Hens are 2-2 in NCAA Tournament games.
– The first half saw three ties and seven lead changes.
– West Virginia shot 38.9 percent from the field for the game and 27.3 percent (6-for-22) from beyond the arc. Delaware converted 39.7 percent of their shots for the game.
– Delaware outrebounded West Virginia 32-29, including 13-10 on the offensive board. The Blue Hens also committed nine fewer turnovers 17-8.