VIDEO: Coaches react to the officiating of Tuesday night's gameJust before the Under-12 minute media timeout in the first half, a North Carolina forward had an armbar on Elena Delle Donne, and it wasn't called.
This has been the routine for Elena this year, getting double-teams, shirt grabs, tugs, holds, and it hasn't been called. To the All-American's credit, she never really complains about it, rather fights through it and puts up over 25 points for game.
Tuesday night they needed it. UNC's full court press was sufficating Delaware, and the Blue Hens were struggling simply inbound the basketball.
Then something really strange happened, a whistle. Then came another, and another. The next thing UNC knew, 6'6" Waltiea Rolle, All-ACC Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, and Brittany Rountree each had two fouls at halftime, despite their eight point lead.
The lead was nine when Rolle picked up her third, and seven moments later when Rountree picked up her 3rd infraction. This forced Sylvia Hatchell to go smaller, and suddenly the dominating height and speed of UNC wasn't as big of a factor.
Ultimately, Delaware grabbed the lead at the 12:03 mark on a Trumae Lucas drive, and then 8 seconds later the Florida transfer took a charge which gave Ruffin-Pratt her 4th foul.
Rolle eventually fouled Lucas on an offensive rebound with 4:08 to foul out of the contest, taking away a major part of UNC's attack, and eventually proved to be a big reason why Delaware advanced.
Picking up fouls is great, but Delaware had to take advantage of it, and they did, hitting 26-of 32 (81 percent) with Delle Donne shooting 11-of-13 and Lucas 8-of-11.
After the game Sylvia Hatchell, women's college basketballs second all-time winningest coach said "It hasn't been a problem all year, and it was now. Life's not always fair; you have to deal with what is dealt to you. I have been doing this a long time, and I am very, very disappointed.
One person who didn't share that sentiment after the game was Delaware head coach Tina Martin: "It was a very physical game. There is a fine line where the game is overly aggressive and where you can let things go. Carolina tried to dictate a very aggressive basketball game. I can't imagine a more physical basketball game. There were some major fouls there and they should be called, and they were called. I don't see it the same way Coach Hatchell does. We will agree to disagree on this one. "
Without directly referencing the officiating, Hatchell seemed to imply that there was some home-cooking in her opening statement. "Well, I really don't have anything to say. We just wish Delaware good luck when they get on a neutral court."
Neutral court or not, Delaware was finally looking to find a game where Elena could either get freedom or free throws, and they found it. And it's a big reason they're going to dance Saturday in Bridgeport.
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