Elena Delle Donne entered Sunday afternoon’s game with Hofstra as women’s college basketball’s fourth leading scorer and her versatile offensive skills were on full display for the 1,388 fans at the Mack Sports Complex. The 6’5 freshman sensation, who initially committed to national powerhouse Connecticut as the number one recruit in the country, scored 35 points including clutch back-to-back three pointers in the second half that paced the Blue Hens to a 71-65 win over the Pride.
“We were a little star struck for some reason,” said Hofstra women’s basketball head coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey of how she felt her team responded to going up against someone of Delle Donne’s caliber.
With the loss to Colonial Athletic Association rival Delaware, the Pride drop into a three-way tie with William & Mary and Towson for sixth place in the conference standings.
In the second half after Hofstra (10-9, 3-4 in CAA) had put together a 12-4 run to cut Delaware’s lead to 39-37 while holding Delle Donne scoreless, the 6’5 guard/forward hit a three-pointer from the top of the arc with 12:26 left followed 32 seconds later by another trey from almost the exact same spot. This led to a 14-5 Delaware run that gave the Blue Hens (12-6, 4-3 in CAA) some breathing room the rest of the way with the Pride never able to get closer than six.
“I needed to get myself back in the game,” said Delle Donne of her being held scoreless at the beginning of the second half before converting on those two three-pointers. “There was a point…. after a timeout I kind of thought to myself I really need to get back in this game because we’re about to lose it here.”
Coming into Sunday’s game Delle Donne led the nation having scored 40 percent of her team’s points in games in which she played. Against the Pride she registered nearly half of the Blue Hen’s points on 12-21 from the floor and 4-7 from three point range.
Hofstra had four players in double-figures led by senior center Jess Fuller’s 17 and Shante Evans with 16. Nicole Capurso also chipped in with 12 points on 3-8 from three-point range while Marie Malone added 11 on 4-6 from the floor.
Hofstra will now venture to Virginia for three straight road games at James Madison, Old Dominion and George Mason. The Pride will start this critical three-game swing that could define their season at James Madison this Thursday at 7 p.m.