Delaware Blue Hens meet challenge, stays unbeaten in CAA against Hofstra Pride

Delaware Blue Hens star Elena Delle Donne is so good that even family members of the opposition (left) she had just dropped 42 points on were eager for a post-game photo opportunity. Photo by Ray Floriani.

Hempstead, NY - The Hofstra Pride were just defeated by the Delaware Blue Hens for the second time this season.

They put up a battle but the nation's 10th ranked team had too much.

Far from dismayed, Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey entered the locker room telling her players they would see Delaware again. The Hofstra group embraced the idea, which eased the sting of the 89-79 loss at home just a bit.

"It wasn't just (Elena) Delle Donne," Kilburn-Steveskey said. "She will get her points. We had to concentrate on some of their other players."

Hofstra also had to rebound.

"We swing the margin five rebounds the other way, get some second chance points and we have a different outcome," said Kilburn-Steveskey.

In raw numbers Delaware owned a 46-33 rebounding edge. That five rebound margin that she alluded to was essentially the 18-13 lead in caroms on the offensive glass. In offensive rebounding percentage they showed a 47-32% advantage. Significant numbers in a game such as this.

Delle Donne was outstanding with a 42 point effort.

Arguably the most unselfish 42 points you will see.

She was 13-of-24 from the floor, 13-of-15 from the line. The early game observations emphasized, nearly four minutes passed in the contest before she got her first touch. Yet as noted, the Blue Hens do not rely on just one outstanding players. There are some very good ones in the wings.

Delaware had 16 assists on 33 field goals, a 49% rate of assisted field goals. Danielle Parker, a junior forward scored 14 points adding 11 boards. Trumae Lucas added 15 points. The junior guard added 7 assists.

"The 42 points are not just Elena's points," Delaware coach Tina Martin said. "These are Delaware points."

Hofstra got out of the gate pushing the pace running their dribble drive series.

"It's tough to defend," Martin said. "There is no really set play but in the dribble drive teams like Hofstra will shoot the three and attack the basket."

Hofstra led for most of the half. A last second field goal gave Delaware a 40-39 lead at the break. ButMartin was not concerned with trailing most of the half. Her priority was defense.

"We did not defend as we should," she said. "We talked about defense during halftime."

Following intermission, Delaware came out and ‘won' the first four minutes 12-7 and never really looked back. Hofstra kept the Blue Hens in sight the second half but could never get the deficit to a one possession game.

Four Hofstra players hit double figures.

"I really like our 21, 11, 21, 11 numbers," Kilburn-Steveskey said.

Her reference was to the Pride leading scorers. Candice Bellocchio and Katelyn Loper (4-for-9 beyond the arc) , both guards, scored 21. Nicole Capurso, a solid 3-of-9 from three, added 11 points while 6-2 Marie Malone battled in the paint with an 11-point (team leading), nine-rebound effort. That's the balance that Kilburn-Steveskey believes will serve Hofstra well in the stretch.

In the end, it came down to the 'battle' under the boards.

"It's always tough playing them (Delaware)," Kilburn-Steveskey added. "They are having a special season but we plan on seeing them again."

The Numbers:

Possessions:

75 (definitely to Hofstra's liking - the Pride prefer to push the ball, Delaware will run but relies more on half court sets)

Offensive Efficiency:

Delaware 119

Hofstra 105

Records:

Delaware 23-1 (14-0)

Hofstra 17-8 (9-5)

Click here for more numbers on the early part of the game.

The Delle Donne effect

The instincts, touch, ability to run the floor, put it on the floor..have all been well documented. Let's look at a specific play. This one, coming late in the first half, probably epitomizes the Delaware standout's versatility.

She received a pass on the wing. A teammate came over setting a screen. Della Donne used the screen, putting it on the floor. Two dribbles later she fired a pinpoint pass of about 18 feet to a guard cutting backdoor. Put two in the book for the Blue Hens.

Coach Martin says, "Elena and Britney Griner (Baylor) get hit more than anyone in the country."

And through it all, Delle Donne never says a word to an official.

"Might glance with as little disapproval," Martin said, "but rarely.'

The versatility of the 6-5 Delle Donne has allowed Martin freedom in structuring an offense.

"We have sets when she is posting up," Martin said. "If she is doubled or tripled inside we can move her outside and run another variety of sets."

Skills, versatility and yes, unselfishness, make Delle Donne a dangerous and special talent.

Delle Donne's numbers:

FG

FT

Reb

Pts

A

TO

Blk

Stl

MIN

EFF

Eff/min

13-24

13-15

14

42

1

3

6

2

40

49

1.225

The efficiency number of 49 divided by 40 minutes gives an efficiency per minute of 1.225. Anything over 1.000 is ‘superstar' level. Very befitting of Delle Donne's performance.

Defensively, Delle Donne's presence inside forced Hofstra guards to back off defenders as they got ready to collapse and double passes down low. Her presence has a significant effect on opposing defenses.

Rankings are nice:

When the weekly rankings come out, Delaware coach Tina Martin meets with her players at center court.

"I commend them on the ranking (now number 10) and let them congratulate themselves," she said. "Then that is the end of it. We move on to practice."

Martin is thrilled with the rankings and proud of her team's achievements. But there are other concerns.

"Every day is a challenge in practice and our games," she said. "We have to be ready for those challenges not dwell on rankings."

Hofstra dedicated the evening and game to ‘Crush Clare's Cancer' night. It was for Clare Droesch, a former standout at Christ the King and Boston College in the 1990's who is battling stage four breast cancer. Droesch was in attendance and visited the Hofstra locker room before the game.

"She was very positive and told us to remain positive when we took the floor," Hofstra's Nicole Capurso said. "Not once did she mention her situation but I know she's a fighter. She will win that fight and defeat her illness."

All our best wishes and prayers go out to Clare.

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