NEWARK, Del. -- Freshman Elena Delle Donne hit a layup in traffic with just five seconds left to play as the University of Delaware held off Massachusetts and posted a 57-55 non-league women's basketball victory Wednesday night at the Bob Carpenter Center.
Delle Donne, one of the nation's top freshmen as a 6-5 guard/forward and a candidate for the Naismith Player of the Year Award, starred for the Blue Hens once again as she posted game-highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds as Delaware (8-3) captured its sixth straight win this season and its seventh consecutive home victory dating back to last season.
Junior guard Tesia Harris netted 17 points and eight rebounds and set a new school record by hitting her seventh consecutive three-point field goal, and sophomore point guard Kayla Miller contributed six points and five assists, including one on the winning basket, to aid the Blue Hen attack. Delaware has now won all five meetings against Massachusetts.
Massachusetts (6-7), which fought back from a seven-point deficit with under eight minutes left to play and tied the score in the final minute, lost for the third time in the last four games. Megan Zullo scored 12 of her team-high 15 points in the second half, all on three-pointers, and Kristina Danella added 13 points and a team-high nine rebounds but was held to just a single basket in the second half.
UMass connected on nine three-pointers on the night, but shot just 32 percent from the field (16 of 50), committed 16 turnovers, and were outrebounded by a 43-35 margin.
After Massachusetts fought back to tie the score at 55-55 on a layup by Nicole Jones with 31 seconds left, the Hens called a timeout to set up the final play. Miller dribbled to the right side and found Delle Donne, who made a move and laid the ball in over several UMass defenders for the winning basket with five seconds left.
Massachusetts had the chance to win the game on its final possession but Kim Benton's off-balance three-point attempt from the top of the key following a tipped pass was well off the mark.
"UMass is a very good basketball team, they took Miami to the last minute," said Delaware head coach Tina Martin. "We knew they were good coming in. I thought this was a very good win on our home floor considering how well they've battled other teams. We drill end-of-game situations all the time. Everybody knew where the ball was going.
Corinthia [Benison] and Ariene [Jenkins] set great screens at the end to get her [Delle Donne] to the basket. The credit goes to them. It was a great basket on Elena's behalf -- it could have been an and-one."
Delle Donne, the reigning Colonial Athletic Association Player and Rookie of the Week following a UD record 39-point performance vs.
Buffalo Dec. 22, hit her second-game winning shot of the season. She also led Delaware to a 52-50 win at Maine on Dec. 8 when she hit the winning jumper with just one second left to play. Delle Donne leads the Hens and ranks among the CAA leaders in scoring (24.9 ppg), rebounding (9.0 rpg), assists (28), blocks (11), and field goal pct. (.513).
Led by Danella, the Minutewomen led for most of the first half, going up by as much as six points at 22-16 with 6:38 left before a late Delaware run that included a three-pointer by Harris and two baskets by Delle Donne gave the Hens a 26-23 advantage at the break.
A three-pointer by Miller gave the Hens a six-point lead early in the second half, but UMass answered as Zullo buried three straight three-pointers and a layup by Jones knotted the score at 34-34 five minutes in. A layup by Delle Donne broke the tie and gave the Hens a lead they would keep until the final minute. The Hens led by as much as seven points twice, the second time at 51-44 on a Delle Donne layup with
But Massachusetts used a Danella field goal with 4:10 left, her only points of the half, and single free throws by Jones and Cerie Mosgrove to cut the lead to 51-50 with 2:21 remaining.
Harris followed with a big three-pointer, her third of the game, from the left side with 1:57 left to up Delaware's lead to 54-50, but UMass answered again as Zullo drained a three-pointer to cut the lead to one.
After Harris hit one of two free throw attempts at the 46-second mark for UD, Jones tied the score at 55-55 with a layup 15 seconds later.
Delaware will return to action this Sunday, Jan. 3, when the Hens host long-time Colonial Athletic Association power Old Dominion in both team's league opener at 2 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center.