Fans attending their first ever NCAA playoff home game got their money’s worth this weekend. After trailing the West Virginia University Mountaineers most of the first half, the University of Delaware Blue Hens fought back for the 66-53 win during the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball tournament on Sunday.
The six-seeded Hens had the home court advantage over 11 seed West Virginia since the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark was picked as one of the tournament host sites.
Fans packed the Bob in their blue and gold gear for the chance to see one of the last performances of this year’s history making team.
“I can’t describe it other than just totally thrilled right now for my players, for this program, for the state of Delaware,” said Head Coach Tina Martin during the post game press conference. “This community has meant so much to this team and I know that the team means a lot to the community so, it was a great win today and just really really happy and looking forward to Tuesday.”
At the half, the Hens were down 33-26 with Senior All-American Elena Delle Donne putting up 13 of those points.
During halftime, Martin decided to switch up the team’s defense in an attempt to pull ahead.
“There were ten offensive rebounds in the first half,” said Martin. “We felt we had to go bigger. One of the great things about my team is that nobody hung their head in the locker room after we made the switch in the starting lineup because I felt that we needed to at least equalize the boards and the only way we could do anything defensively if we’re going to go with a big lineup is to play the zone.”
The change up allowed the Hens to get a strong lead in the second half, with Delle Donne adding another 20 points, bringing her game total to 33.
Fans were on their feet in the final minutes of the game, cheering so loud it was hard for WVU to hear their plays.
“This was actually even better than I could have imagined,” said Delle Donne. “Our fans were absolutely crazy today. The atmosphere, it was amazing and sometimes I saw West Virginia coming down the court trying to call a play and they’re all looking at each other getting angry because they can’t hear. They didn’t even know the play so our fans were awesome, like coach said it was electric and they really were like a sixth man today.”
The Hens will take on three-seeded North Carolina in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the Bob Carpenter Center on Tuesday. The winner of that game moves on the next round in Bridgeport, Ct. So, the Tuesday contest will truly be the last home game for Della Donne and the other seniors.