Posted March 24, 2013 on AP on Fox
Elena Delle Donne scored 33 points and led a second-half surge that carried Delaware past West Virginia 66-53 on Sunday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Playing on their home floor before a sellout crowd, the sixth-seeded Blue Hens trailed 33-26 at halftime before bouncing back to extend their school-record winning streak to 26 games. Delaware (31-3) had never won an NCAA tournament game before last year. The Blue Hens have yet to reach the round of 16, a milestone they will seek to accomplish Tuesday night against either North Carolina or Albany. Delle Donne, a 6-foot-5 senior, scored 17 points after halftime. She finished 10 for 24 from the floor, went 12 for 13 at the foul line and had seven rebounds. Ayana Dunning had 15 points and 10 rebounds for 11th-seeded West Virginia (17-14), which closed the season with a four-game losing streak. The Mountaineers blew a 19-point halftime lead in the Big 12 tournament against Oklahoma, and they also wilted in the second half of this one. West Virginia went 7 for 22 from the floor after halftime, committed 11 turnovers compared to six in the first half and was outscored 40-20 over the final 20 minutes. Both teams struggled immediately after the intermission. The Mountaineers missed their first six shots and the Blue Hens went 1 for 7, leaving the Mountaineers up 33-28 with 15 minutes remaining. Delaware returned from a timeout to score seven straight points to take its first lead since 20-19. Minutes later, four different Blue Hens scored in an 8-0 run that made it 51-42. It was 54-48 before Delle Donne worked her way inside to bank a short jumper off the glass for an eight-point cushion with 3:23 remaining. In the first half, Delle Donne scored half of Delaware's 26 points. West Virginia used a 7-2 run to close a half that featured three ties and seven lead changes. The first NCAA tournament game played in Delaware drew 4,532 fans, most of them clad in blue or yellow and cheering for the Hens. Not only were the parking lots jammed, but several people were pleading to purchase tickets from those waiting to enter the arena.
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