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Elena Delle Donne back; Delaware falls

NEW YORK -- Elena Delle Donne scored 28 points in her first game in over a month, Delaware's 81-68 loss to Hofstra on Sunday.

The sophomore forward missed the last 11 games for Delaware while recovering from fatigue and joint pain.

"Maybe I am 80 percent," Delle Donne said. "I don't know. I don't like to lose. My team is down and I don't feel like I am dying or anything like that. I am going to push through it."

She didn't start against Hofstra, but played 34 minutes, going 9 for 18 from the field with five rebounds and three assists. She was 9 for 9 from the free throw line.

"The next day [Monday] I will take the hit but I will be ready for Thursday. I knew when I came back I wasn't going to feel great. It is something I am going to have to deal with and be mentally tough."

Delle Donne had been leading the nation in scoring at 26 points a game before missing the last month while recovering from an illness that left her fatigued. She just began practicing this week. Her last game was on Dec. 19 -- a 64-55 loss to Penn State.

"Right now I wanted her to try and get a feel for what is going on out there," Delaware coach Tina Martin said. "She practiced Tuesday, Wednesday, didn't play on Thursday and practiced Friday and Saturday. Once she got the clearance to play I didn't want to throw her out there basically getting only four days of practice."

Shante Evans scored 25 points and had 14 rebounds while Katie Loper added 18 points to help Hofstra to the win. The Pride (12-8, 4-5 Colonial Athletic Conference) built a 43-30 halftime lead and never looked back.

Delaware (11-9, 4-5) went 5-6 without her, including a 71-66 win over Hofstra on Jan. 2. the Blue Hens rallied from a 16-point deficit in that victory.