NEWARK, Del. - Hold the epitaph for the Elena Delle Donne era at Delaware for a little while longer.
The sixth-seeded Blue Hens and their all-American leader fought back from a seven-point deficit at halftime Sunday to beat 11th seed West Virginia, 66-53, in a Bridgeport subregional game of the NCAA women's basketball tournament.
The win in front of a sellout crowd of 4,532 in the Bob Carpenter Center advanced the Blue Hens to a second-round game Tuesday at 7 p.m. They will play third-seeded North Carolina (29-6), which outlasted 13th seed Albany, 59-54. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt scored 30 points for the winners.
Meanwhile, the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne, who excels in the post and at guard, scored 20 of her game-high 33 points in the second half against the Mountaineers (17-14). She also had seven rebounds and blocked four shots.
Danielle Parker had 11 rebounds and Kelsey Buchanan tied a career high with 10 points for Delaware (31-3).
The Mountaineers built a 33-26 lead at the half before veteran Blue Hens coach Tina Martin made a defensive adjustment to deal with West Virginia's height.
"They had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half and we felt we had to get bigger," Marrtin said. "The zone could help. . . . It was the only thing I could think to do."
The Mountaineers' 6-3 Ayana Dunning collected nine of her 15 points and seven of her 10 rebounds in the first half. Taylor Palmer scored 13 points for West Virginia.
"We were trying to push [Dunning] off the block and put her in areas where she was uncomfortable," Delle Donne said. "After halftime I felt like we were getting worn down. When Kelsey started, I was able to play guard and was able to shoot over people. I felt like I had to force the issue in the second half."
Delaware won its 26th straight, a school record. The Blue Hens' streak is the third longest in the nation behind defending champion Baylor, the tournament favorite, and Notre Dame.