No. 9 Maryland women beat Delle Donne, Delaware
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
By RICH DUBROFF
NEWARK, Del. (AP) Elena Delle Donne hadn't played for a month due to Lyme Disease, and in her return Thursday night she didn't look like the All-American player that she is.
Tianna Hawkins had 16 points and 16 rebounds, and No. 9 Maryland hounded Delle Donne in her return as the Terrapins beat Delaware 69-53.
Delle Donne played for just the second time this season. She finished with 19 points and six rebounds but was a rusty 7 for 23 from the floor in 34 minutes. She also missed the first three games of the season.
"I think Elena gave everything she could. It's really hard to be off for a long time and have your timing back," Blue Hens coach Tina Martin said.
"It's only her second game. I mean ... hello? There's a lot of season left for her."
Playing in front of a sellout crowd of 5,089, the largest in Delaware women's history, the 6-foot-5 Delle Donne missed nine of 12 shots in 15 minutes of the first half.
"I felt all right," Delle Donne said. "It was difficult, obviously. I'm just going to play my way back into it."
In the second half, she led a comeback that got the Blue Hens to 52-49 with just over eight minutes to play, but Maryland closed with a 17-4 run.
"I was able to get into a little bit more of a rhythm. Once I got the rhythm, that's when I hit the wall," Delle Donne said.
"Obviously, I would have liked to have performed far better."
Alyssa Thomas added 13 points and 13 rebounds, and Katie Rutan scored 13 for the Terps (8-2), who won their fourth straight game.
"They were never rattled," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said.
No one on the Terrapins is as tall as Delle Donne, but their zone was able to thwart her.
"She goes into those grooves that separates her on the floor. That's what makes her so special," Frese said. "Once she started heating up, we couldn't find her in zone, couldn't find her in man. I thought we did a much better job trying to lock into her. She continues to show what makes her an All-American and why she's a tremendous player."
Hawkins scored 12 straight points to help Maryland open a 43-31 lead over Delaware (5-3) with just over two minutes gone in the second half. With 13:17 left, the Terps led 50-37.
"They're a top 10 team - deservedly so. Bigger, stronger," Martin said. "We need Elena's size to go against these bigger schools."
Lauren Carra had 16 points for Delaware, which snapped a four-game winning streak.
Chloe Pavlech, a Maryland freshman guard who is eight inches shorter than Delle Donne, got to guard her for some of the second half.
"When I switched onto her, it was interesting because she's definitely a lot taller than I thought," Pavlech said.
Delle Donne's minutes were carefully monitored by Martin. After playing the first six minutes she took a seat and returned three minutes later.
After missing so much time, Delle Donne was obviously rusty, missing seven of her first eight shots - two of them blocked. Her teammates helped keep the Blue Hens in the game, and after Delle Donne scored on a scoop shot with just over six minutes left in the first half, Maryland called time out and the All-American went to the bench for the second time in the half.
While she rested, Delaware was outscored 7-2, and with Maryland ahead 33-26 with just over four minutes left in the half, Delle Donne returned. At halftime, the Terrapins led 35-28 and Delle Donne had eight points.
Updated December 20, 2012