Kentucky ends Blue Hens' NCAA run

By Sean Greene 2:14pm, March 30, 2013 - Updated 5:39pm, March 30, 2013
Delaware guards Lauren Carra, left, and Trumae Lucas sit on the bench during the final minute of UD's loss to Kentucky in a regional semifinal in the NCAA college basketball tournament. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) - VIDEO: Hens on their 2nd half rally
Elena Delle Donne's 33 points weren't enough as Kentucky put an end to Delaware's dream season with a 69-62 win in the NCAA Bridgeport Regional Semifinals at Webster Bank Arena.

The Blue Hens trailed 41-27 at halftime following a 3-pointer just before the buzzer, after being outrebounded 24-11, including giving up 13 offensive rebounds before halftime.

Delaware made it a totally different game in the 2nd half, with Lauren Carra spearheading an assault of the offensive and defensive glass, and a more balanced scoring effort led to a pair of spurts.

First it was an 18-7 run capped by a Carra offensive rebound and basket which made it 50-45 with 11:57 left.

Then after Kentucky went back up 62-52 with 5 minutes left, the Blue Hens countered with an 8-0 run when Elena Delle Donne tied UCONN legend Maya Moore when her 31st point of the game brought Delaware to within 62-60 with 2:10 left.

But then it was Kastine Evans who hit the big shot with a 3 from the top of the key to make it a 5 point game with 2:20 left.

Jaquetta May had 3 chances in the paint, but couldn't get the shots above the rim, and Kentucky grabbed the rebound, and Delaware's final chances of making a 3rd comeback in the NCAA tournament.

The Wildcats' "40 minutes of dread" defense helped spur Delaware to a tournament-high 19 turnovers, with 11 coming in the first half, more than in either of the North Carolina or West Virginia victories. The usually sure-handed Blue Hens hadn't turned the ball over that many times since defeating St. John's on the road back on January 2.

Delaware struggled to find balanced scoring in the first half, with Elena Delle Donne and Danielle Parker being the only scorers until there were 57 seconds left in the first 20 minutes.

Delle Donne finished with 33 points, passing USC's Cheryl Miller, Tennesse's Chamique Holdsclaw, and UCONN's Maya Moore for 5th place on the NCAA's all time scoring list. After the game Delle Donne said she wasn't aware of the history: "That's incredible and it is humbling and amazing to be amongst those names."

Kentucky Head Coach Matthew Mitchell was impressed: "I thought she raised her level today. I thought she played harder today than what we saw on film. I thought she was terrific."

Elena finished 11-of-23 from the field and hit all 9 free throws along with 9 rebounds. Carra had a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, with 7 of the points and 8 of the rebounds coming after intermission.

The Blue Hens ended up outrebounding Kentucky 40-35 after trailing 24-11 in that statistic at the break. In the end though, they only forced Kentucky into two second half turnovers, and the Wildcats did just enough to advance.

Delaware's school-record 27 game winning streak came to an end, but not without a fight.

Jennifer O'Neill led the Wildcats with 19 points while SEC Player of the Year A'dia Mathies netted 16. They continue on to face No. 1 Connecticut, a 76-50 winner over Maryland, Monday night for a spot in the Final Four.

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