Hens Alone In First
Delle Donne Gets Record
Posted: February 11, 2013
HARRISONBURG — The post-game press conference was rolling along, with Delaware women’s basketball coach Tina Martin talking about the Blue Hens’ “game plan” Sunday in their matchup for first place in the Colonial Athletic Association with James Madison.
What exactly was that game plan? Apparently it’s a secret.
“When the season’s over, I could explain it to you,” Martin said with a laugh. “But right now, I won’t. The bottom line is you’ve gotta have a plan, and they’re going to revamp their plan next time we play them, when they come to Newark [on Feb. 24], and we’re going to revamp our plan the next time. And, you know, it’s all about strategies and stuff. But I never give away secrets.”
Whatever it was, it worked.
The No. 20 Hens never led by more than eight but managed to hold off JMU for a 71-64 win in front of 3,787 people at the Convocation Center on Sunday afternoon. Delaware superstar Elena Delle Donne scored 20 points, nine more than she needed to break former JMU star Dawn Evans’ CAA career scoring record of 2,667.
“We were going to have a couple kids start off on her,” Madison coach Kenny Brooks said of guarding Delle Donne. “If she came off screens, we were going to make sure we were aware, and that’s the way we relayed it to the kids. … You’re not going to stop her. She’s a tremendous player, and they have a very good system that they run a lot of things through her, almost all things through her, and so she’s going to get her opportunities.”
Six-foot-2 Nikki Newman typically guards the 6-5 Delle Donne, a likely top five WNBA draft pick, but Newman broke her right foot in December and is out for the season. Sunday, the Dukes (15-8 overall, 9-2 in the CAA) used more than one player to guard Delle Donne, most notably 6-foot sophomore forward Toia Giggetts and 6-2 redshirt freshman guard/forward Jazmon Gwathmey, who got her fourth foul with 11:58 left in the game.
“Our bench got shorter,” Brooks said of Gwathmey’s foul. “We needed everybody, and so we had to play some other kids some extensive minutes, and we kind of lost a little bit of a flow. But I thought Jaz did a really good job. Her length is something that makes Delle Donne work harder.”
Delle Donne shot 6-for-12 from the floor and went 8-for-8 at the free-throw line, and the Hens shot 46.3 percent for the game. The fifth-year senior guard/forward had 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks and, with 26.6 seconds left in the game, hit the basket that clinched the win: a lean-in, mid-range jumper as the shot clock expired, making the score 69-63.
That was in addition to breaking the CAA scoring record, previously held by Evans, a former JMU star point guard who graduated in 2011 and is now playing overseas. Delle Donne now has 2,677 career points.
“I think that’s something that, when I retire, I’ll look back on and maybe start enjoying some of the individual accolades,” Delle Donne said. “Until then, I’m just thrilled we won today, and I really only care about winning and about this team.”
Senior guard Lauren Carra added 19 points for transfer-heavy Delaware (20-3, 11-0), which has won 15 straight games. The first-place Blue Hens have five transfers, three from major-conference schools.
“We’ve got players; it’s not just Elena,” Martin said. “Elena — yeah, she’s incredible, she’s a terrific player, she’s a special player. I’m truly blessed to coach her, but I’m truly just as blessed to coach these other kids, and they hit big shots and they make big plays.”
Junior guard Kirby Burkholder led JMU with 24 points, four shy of her career high, and 13 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season. Senior point guard Tarik Hislop added 17 points, four assists and three steals while passing Lesley Dickinson for fourth place on JMU’s career scoring list. She also broke Tamera Young’s record for most games started in a career. Sunday was Hislop 126th start and she has 1,632 points.
JMU — which had won eight in a row — led three times, the last time coming with 59 seconds left in the first half. In the second half, Madison got within two points, 65-63, with 2:57 to play, but Delaware outscored the second-place Dukes 6-1 the rest of the way for the win. JMU also had a chance to tie it with 9:06 to go, but freshman guard Precious Hall missed a layup at the end of a fast break.
“I think we had a couple defensive breakdowns, which happen in the game,” Hislop said. “It’s just unfortunate that it happened down the stretch in the second half, and I think we were kind of stagnant at times, so we stayed on 53 for a while, and I think that’s kind of what made us lose our momentum.”
The pairing of the Colonial’s top two teams drew a bigger-than-normal crowd, more than half filling the Convo for a game designated to raise cancer awareness (players and coaches wore pink). It was the second-highest attendance for a game that wasn’t a Duke Dog Reading Day promotion. No. 1 was a game against a Kristi Toliver-led Maryland team on Dec. 20, 2007. Toliver is a Harrisonburg High School graduate.
Delle Donne 6-12 8-8 20, Parker 1-6 4-4 6, Miller 3-9 0-0 8, Richards 1-2 0-0 2, Carra 8-11 2-3 19, May 1-3 0-0 2, Buchanan 4-10 2-4 12, Leon 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-54 16-19 71.
Giggetts 4-7 1-1 9, Gwathmey 3-4 0-0 7, Hall 1-9 2-2 5, Burkholder 6-15 8-10 24, Hislop 8-20 0-0 17, Jones 0-0 2-2 2, Ross 0-3 0-0 0, Shepherd 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-58 13-15 64.
Halftime—Delaware 37-34. 3-Point Goals—Delaware 5-14 (Delle Donne 0-1, Miller 2-6, Carra 1-2, Lucas 2-5), James Madison 7-20 (Gwathmey 1-2, Hall 1-4, Burkholder 4-9, Hislop 1-5). Fouled Out—none. Rebounds—Delaware 35 (Delle Donne 10), James Madison 32 (Burkholder 13). Assists—Delaware 7 (Delle Donne 3), James Madison 11 (Hislop 4). Total Fouls—Delaware 14, James Madison 16. A—3,787.