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Elena Delle Donne scores 35 to help Delaware crush Northeastern

NEWARK, Del. -- A week ago, the Delaware women's basketball team scored just 40 points in a win over Drexel.

The Blue Hens had exceeded that total by halftime of its game with Northeastern on Sunday.

But Delaware (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) needed to do a lot of scoring before it finally put away the Huskies, 89-71, to post its 16th straight victory.

Behind a game-high 35 points from Elena Delle Donne, the Blue Hens (26-1, 17-0 Colonial Athletic Association) tied the school record for victories in a season. With one game remaining on the schedule, Delaware is also trying to become the first CAA team since 2002 to finish the regular season unbeaten in conference.

For the Hens, whose 40-39 win over Drexel was the lowest-scoring win in program history, Sunday's 89-point total matched their second highest-scoring game of the season. The 71 points scored by Northeastern (7-21, 5-12 CAA), however, were the third most tallied against Delaware this year.

After trailing by as many as 23 points early in the second half, the Huskies cut Delaware's lead to as little as 77-66 on Dani Iervoline's 3-pointer with five minutes remaining. The Hens, though, tallied 12 of the game's final 17 points to close out the win.

"We got the 20-point lead and it's like we flip a switch all of a sudden," said Delaware coach Tina Martin. "We're not as focused as we need to be. Give Northeastern credit, they kept playing. This team has done that this year and I keep telling them that we need to build on the 20-point lead."

The country's leading scorer at 28.1 points per game, Delle Donne scored 30 or more points for the 11th time this season. The 6-foot-5 junior hit 14 of 24 shots from the floor while adding seven rebounds.

"We gave up way too many points -- not only in the first half but in the second half also," said Delle Donne. "I don't know if it's a lack of focus or what but we need to make that next step to become a championship team. We've been letting teams crawl back.

"Obviously, when it's tournament time, you can't allow teams to do that. We really need to focus in on finishing games and playing 40 solid minutes."

The Hens also got 18 points from junior Lauren Carra, who hit four 3-pointers.

Northeastern (7-21 overall, 5-12 CAA), which had a three-game winning streak snapped, was led by 20 points from Jewel Tunstall and 17 from Deanna Kerkhof. The Huskies hit 9-of-26 three-point shots in the contest, including four from Kerkhof.

Northeastern coach Daynia LaForce-Mann said Delle Donne was difficult to contain for very long.

"I thought when we went on runs, Elena Delle Donne went on runs of her own," said LaForce-Mann. "It's very tough to continue our momentum when she's making impossible plays for them. I think that kind of took the life out of our kids."

With Delle Donne scoring 19 first-half points, Delaware opened up a 47-30 halftime advantage. Northeastern held an 8-4 lead to start the contest when two of its first three field goals were 3-pointers.

After an opening seven-minute stretch that included four lead changes, the Hens took the lead for good at 13-12 on a Delle Donne putback with 12:19 left. That basket started a 19-5 run for Delaware that left it with a 32-17 lead.

The Hens have now won 21 straight meetings with the Huskies to lead the all-time series by a 28-10 margin.

The game drew a crowd of 5,043 to the Carpenter Center, a record attendance for a women's basketball game at Delaware. The Hens have won 14 straight home games.