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Delle Donne Delivers Delaware Again At The Finish

(As mentioned on twitter (@womhoopsguru), the Guru was socializing Wednesday night being the host city person for a change in a game involving Duke. The Blue Devils are at Temple in McGonigle Hall -- that's right -- Thursday afternoon. Thus, the Guru did not make it to Newark, Del., for the Blue Hens' last non-CAA game of the season, playing Atlantic 10 rep Massachusetts. So here is the email report out of the Bob Carpenter Center, which is probably also duplicated on Delaware's web site. Meanwhile, fortunately for a certain team  from central New Jersey, the Obamas were vacationing and not on hand for Rutgers' narrow loss to George Washington.)

NEWARK, Del. -- Freshman Elena Delle Donne hit a layup in traffic with
just five seconds left to play as the University of Delaware held off
Massachusetts and posted a 57-55 non-league women's basketball victory
Wednesday night at the Bob Carpenter Center.

Delle Donne, one of the nation's top freshmen as a 6-5 guard/forward and
a candidate for the Naismith Player of the Year Award, starred for the
Blue Hens once again as she posted game-highs of 21 points and 11
rebounds as Delaware (8-3) captured its sixth straight win this season
and its seventh consecutive home victory dating back to last season.

Junior guard Tesia Harris netted 17 points and eight rebounds and set a
new school record by hitting her seventh consecutive three-point field
goal, and sophomore point guard Kayla Miller contributed six points and
five assists, including one on the winning basket, to aid the Blue Hen
attack. Delaware has now won all five meetings against Massachusetts.

Massachusetts (6-7), which fought back from a seven-point deficit with
under eight minutes left to play and tied the score in the final minute,
lost for the third time in the last four games. Megan Zullo scored 12 of
her team-high 15 points in the second half, all on three-pointers, and
Kristina Danella added 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds but was
held to just a single basket in the second half.

UMass connected on nine three-pointers on the night, but shot just 32
percent from the field (16 of 50), committed 16 turnovers, and were
outrebounded by a 43-35 margin.

After Massachusetts fought back to tie the score at 55-55 on a layup by
Nicole Jones with 31 seconds left, the Hens called a timeout to set up
the final play. Miller dribbled to the right side and found Delle Donne,
who made a move and laid the ball in over several UMass defenders for
the winning basket with five seconds left.

Massachusetts had the chance to win the game on its final possession but
Kim Benton's off-balance three-point attempt from the top of the key
following a tipped pass was well off the mark.

"UMass is a very good basketball team, they took Miami to the last
minute," said Delaware head coach Tina Martin. "We knew they were good
coming in. I thought this was a very good win on our home floor
considering how well they've battled other teams. We drill end-of-game
situations all the time. Everybody knew where the ball was going.
Corinthia [Benison] and Ariene [Jenkins] set great screens at the end to
get her [Delle Donne] to the basket. The credit goes to them. It was a
great basket on Elena's behalf -- it could have been an and-one."

Delle Donne, the reigning Colonial Athletic Association Player and
Rookie of the Week following a UD record 39-point performance vs.
Buffalo Dec. 22, hit her second-game winning shot of the season. She
also led Delaware to a 52-50 win at Maine on Dec. 8 when she hit the
winning jumper with just one second left to play. Delle Donne leads the
Hens and ranks among the CAA leaders in scoring (24.9 ppg), rebounding
(9.0 rpg), assists (28), blocks (11), and field goal pct. (.513).

Led by Danella, the Minutewomen led for most of the first half, going up
by as much as six points at 22-16 with 6:38 left before a late Delaware
run that included a three-pointer by Harris and two baskets by Delle
Donne gave the Hens a 26-23 advantage at the break.

A three-pointer by Miller gave the Hens a six-point lead early in the
second half, but UMass answered as Zullo buried three straight
three-pointers and a layup by Jones knotted the score at 34-34 five
minutes in. A layup by Delle Donne broke the tie and gave the Hens a
lead they would keep until the final minute. The Hens led by as much as
seven points twice, the second time at 51-44 on a Delle Donne layup with
5:11 left.

But Massachusetts used a Danella field goal with 4:10 left, her only
points of the half, and single free throws by Jones and Cerie Mosgrove
to cut the lead to 51-50 with 2:21 remaining.

Harris followed with a big three-pointer, her third of the game, from
the left side with 1:57 left to up Delaware's lead to 54-50, but UMass
answered again as Zullo drained a three-pointer to cut the lead to one.
After Harris hit one of two free throw attempts at the 46-second mark
for UD, Jones tied the score at 55-55 with a layup 15 seconds later.

Delaware will return to action this Sunday, Jan. 3, when the Hens host
long-time Colonial Athletic Association power Old Dominion in both
team's league opener at 2 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center.