Hempstead, N.Y. - Junior forward Elena Delle Donne scored 42 points, including 28 in the second half, hauled in 14 rebounds and blocked six shots as Hofstra lost to No. 9/No. 10 Delaware, 89-79, in a Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) matchup on Thursday night at the Mack Sports Complex.
Senior guard Candice Bellocchio notched her third double-double
of the season by tying a career high with 21 points and registering 10 assists and sophomore guard Katelyn Loper also posted 21
points, though it wasn't enough as the Pride fell to 17-8 and 9-5 in CAA play.
Delaware junior forward Danielle Parker also recorded a double-double (14 points and 11 rebounds) to help the Blue Hens (No. 10 (Associated Press)/No. 9 (ESPN/USA Today Coaches)) improve to 23-1 and 14-0.
Four Hofstra players finished in double figures, including senior guard Nicole Capurso (11 points) and senior center Marie Malone, who came off the bench to add 11 points and nine rebounds in just 26 minutes.
Bellocchio picked up her
sixth career double-double facing the highest-ranked team that ever played in the Mack Sports
Complex and the first ranked team on the women's side since Old Dominion
visited Hempstead ranked 18th during the 2001-02 season (Feb. 22, 2002).
Bellocchio also tied a career high in points set against Old Dominion on March 6, 2008. Both of her 21-pont performances have come against nationally ranked teams as the Monarchs were ranked 13th during that game.
Besides Delle Donne's output, the Blue Hens also received solid contributions from the rest of the lineup Trumae Lucas finished with 15 points and seven assists to help Delaware sweep the season series following an 84-66 victory at home on Jan. 26 when the Blue Hens were ranked 15th nationally.
Hofstra won the turnover battle, 15-11, but struggled to
contain national player of the year candidate Delle Donne, who surpassed 2,000
career points in the first half. The 6-5 forward shot 13-of-24 from the field,
connected on 13-of-15 free throws and helped the Blue Hens build a 46-33 team
advantage in rebounds.
Just like in the first meeting between the schools, Hofstra came out strong, building a five-point lead.
Delaware never posted a lead until a late basket ended the first half. But that bank shot provided momentum that carried into a strong second-half start. The Blue Hens surged to a 8-0 run in just 1:14 seconds to take a 50-41 advantage almost three minutes in.
The Blue Hens connected on seven of their first 10 shots from the field in the second half capped by Delle Donne's top-of-the-key three pointer to put Delaware ahead, 59-48 with almost 14 minutes left.
Hofstra responded by cutting the deficit to seven on Evans' put-back to make it 64-54 almost midway through the half. But a key offensive sequence for the Blue Hens the next trip down afforded Delaware breathing room. Hofstra forced three Delaware misses, though the Blue Hens grabbed three offensive rebounds and Delle Donne completed a three-point play for a 10-point Delaware lead with 11:09 left.
Bellocchio gave the Pride a chance to make a comeback,
drilling a jumper just outside the lane to make it 72-66 with 5:24 left, bringing
the announced crowd of 1,194 back into
the game. Hofstra had a chance to make
it a one-possession game when Loper's right-wing three-point shot rimed out.
Delaware scored six of the next eight points before Loper added a three-pointer to put Hofstra within 80-73. On the next possession, Richards hit a running layup as the shot clock expired to re-establish a nine-point Delaware lead at 82-73 with 1:40 left on the clock to secure the win.
The Pride forced 10 Delaware turnovers in a back-and-forth opening half, with its only deficit coming on Parker's last-second layup to put the Blue Hens up, 40-39, at the break. Bellocchio posted the best half of her season against the top-10 opponent, scoring 16 points and tallying four assists on 5-of-7 shooting to account for more than half of Hofstra's offensive output.
Bellocchio's previous season high was a 16-point effort at George State on Dec. 4. The veteran guard needed just 20 minutes to match that, going 6-for-6 from the free throw line before the break. Loper added 11 points before halftime, putting Hofstra within a single possession despite Delle Donne nearly compiled a double-double (14 points, eight rebounds) heading into the locker room.
Bellocchio set a program record by playing in her 127th career game, breaking a tie with Cigi McCollin (2002-07) for the all-time mark.
Hofstra wore pink uniforms
to raise awareness for a promotion titled "Crush Clare's Cancer." Clare
Droesch, a former Christ the King and Boston College basketball star, received the
news in December 2011 that she has breast cancer. The Crush Cancer Fund
for Clare continue to accept donations at the game and more information on the
Fund can be found here on facebook:
Hofstra will next be in action on Sunday when it hosts
Towson at 2 p.m. from the Mack Sports Complex.