HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. -- Elena Delle Donne was more proud of her
team's success than reaching another milestone.
Delle Donne had a season-high 42 points, including the 2,000th
of her career, and added 14 rebounds and six blocks to help
Delaware (No. 9 ESPN/USA Today, No. 10 AP) beat Hofstra 89-79 on Thursday night.
"Definitely, it's a big accomplishment," she said. "It's been
an amazing career so far and I'm enjoying it every step of the way.
This has been a joy. It doesn't compare to what this team's done
this season. Getting wins are most important."
The Blue Hens (23-1, 14-0 Colonial Athletic Association)
continued their ascent up the Top 25, earning their highest ever
ranking Monday. Delaware has won 13 straight games since its lone
loss of the season to Maryland. Delle Donne has been the main
reason for the success.
She has feasted on Hofstra this season,
scoring 41 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in the first meeting
between the teams three weeks earlier. She's now had four 40-point
games this season.
"I don't want to lose, that's the bottom line," she said. "I
needed to score points tonight. I needed to help my team tonight
scoring the ball and just attacking."
The 6-foot-5 junior had nine points during a 15-2 run spanning
halftime that Delaware used to take control of the game. Her tough
bank shot that capped the spree made it 50-41.
She hit a pretty 3-pointer from the top of the key a few minutes
later to cross the 2,000-point milestone and give the Blue Hens a
59-48 lead. She scored 14 straight points to help keep Hofstra
(17-8, 9-5) from getting any closer than six the rest of the way.
"Elena's not a silent assassin, she's so skilled," Delaware
coach Tina Martin said. "It's so hard to stop her shot. She's got
a quick release, uses the ball fake very well."
She got off to a slow start as Hofstra built an early advantage.
The Blue Hens trailed 39-35 with two minutes left in the first half
before scoring the final five points to take a one-point lead at
the break. Delle Donne had 14 points in the half, while Bellocchio
had 16 to lead Hofstra.
This was the highest-ranked opponent ever to play at Hofstra.
Old Dominion was the only other ranked team that the Pride has
hosted -- and that was a decade ago.
"Obviously Delaware has put together a memorable season. It's
tough playing them," Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey said.
Candice Bellocchio and Katelyn Loper scored 21 points each to
lead the Pride. Loper returned after missing the last two games
because of a concussion.
The Pride wore pink warm-up shirts that said "Crush Clare's
Cancer" in honor of Clare Droesch. The former Boston College star
has stage IV breast cancer and is a friend of Hofstra senior Nicole
Capurso. The school had to get a waiver to wear them since Droesch
is a high school coach in New York. Droesch talked to the team
before the game.
Hofstra also wore its pink uniforms that are usually reserved
for the Play4Kay games in honor of former NC State coach Kay Yow,
who succumbed to cancer three years ago.
"I know my team wanted this one really bad, because it was for
a great cause," said Bellocchio, who played AAU ball for Droesch.
"We dedicated the game to Clare Droesch. She told us she's
fighting for her life and that put things in perspective."