By Sean Greene 2:11pm, March 24, 2013 - Updated 6:32pm, March 24, 2013
VIDEO: Tina Martin on the deciding defensive change (Elena Delle Donne shoots over West Virginia forward Averee Fields. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)Elena Delle Donne scored 33 points as No. 6 Delaware rallied from a seven point halftime deficit to defeat No. 11 West Virgina 66-53 in the NCAA Women's Basketball 1st Round Sunday afternoon at the Bob.
West Virginia ended the first half with a 5-0 run in the final minute to lead on a Taylor Palmer three-pointer and Linda Stepney drive to the basket to lead 33-26, but then things changed.
The Blue Hens made a defensive switch going from their usual man-to-man into a zone defense, with Kelsey Buchanan joining Elena Delle Donne and Danielle Parker on the back line. That move stymied the Mountaineers, as Delaware held WVU scoreless over the first 6:45 of the second half, while eventually going on a 25-9 run to jump ahead by as many as 9 at 51-42.
West Virginia twice cut it to 6, the second time at 54-48 with 3:47 left, but then a 10-3 Delaware run, including six of six made free throws, helped keep the Mountaineers away.
Delle Donne had a memorable start to her final NCAA Tournament, as she passed the 1,000 career rebound and made field goal marks in a 10-for-24 effort where she went 12 of 13 at the line.
The other Delaware forwards also starred, with Kelsey Buchanan playing a season high 31 minutes and responding with a career-high 10 points and 5 rebounds, and Parker grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds while hitting three critical baseline jumpers on offense.
Delaware gave the sellout crowd a jump right out of the gate, with West Virginia transfer Akeema Richards scoring five seconds into the game to give Delaware the 2-0 jump.
After leading 4-2 and 6-4, West Virginia steadily took control of the first half, using 9 offensive rebounds to boost their cause, but they could not sustain it.
Delaware will take on No. 3 North Carolina at 7pm for the right to advance to the Bridgeport Regional. The Tar Heels rallied for a 59-54 victory over No. 14 Albany in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader.
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