NEWARK. Del. — Elena Delle Donne scored 33 points in an All-American performance and fifth-seeded Delaware’s defense locked down West Virginia during the second half of a 66-53 win Sunday in the NCAA women’s tournament.

West Virginia (17-14) led 33-26 at the midway point before being outscored 40-20 by the Blue Hens (31-3) in the second half, when Delle Donne scored 20 points. The 6-foot-5 senior went 12-of-13 from the foul line in the final 20 minutes.

“We didn’t do a good job with her,” said WVU coach Mike Carey. “We started pressing and we had our smaller guards matched up on her on a rotation in the press. We kept telling people to switch it and switch it back. There was about five times in the second half we did not switch it back for a four to be on her and she just drove and shot over the top of us.”

The first NCAA tournament game played in Delaware drew a sellout crowd of 4,532 fans, energizing the Hens on their home court.

“This atmosphere was actually better than I could have imagined,” said Delle Donne, a Wilmington, Del. native. “Our fans were awesome. They really were like a sixth man today.”

Added Delaware coach Tina Martin, whose team will aim for its first Sweet 16 appearance on Tuesday. “To win a game in front of our home crowd was totally electric.”

Ayana Dunning had 15 points and 10 rebounds for 11th-seeded West Virginia, which closed the season with a four-game losing streak.

Taylor Palmer scored 13 points for the Mountaineers, while Linda Stepney added 10 and Christal Caldwell nine.

WVU came out of halftime cold, going almost eight minutes without a field goal, while Delaware went on a 17-6 run for a 40-36 lead. Caldwell hit a 3 to make it a one-point game, but Delaware responded with eight unanswered points. Stepney paused the run with another 3, but the Blue Hens went on another 15-8 surge.

West Virginia went 7-of-22 from the floor after halftime and committed 11 turnovers.

“They went 2-3 (zone) and a little bit bigger in the second half and it hurt us,” Carey said. “Give them credit, they went to a zone and we didn’t execute against it.”

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  • Keefe

    We were not left out there languishing and the big 12 saved us from a league that was braking up. We have people whining now that we have a membership in the Big12. You people are never happy. Whine! Whine! Get over it!

    • rj

      Jethro & Keefe get a life. Your intoxicated with the passive spirit of mediocrity, just accept it! No one is complaining about the Big 12 but only the DISTANCE of the conference for players, fans, etc. Jethro maybe you didn't hear Huggs when he came when ask if WVU could hang a National Championship banner in the Coliseum, he said YES! As far as Big 12 if we don't compete with those schools our fans will draw back, you can bet on it. "It is what it is"!

      • Larry

        You are right, WV is not such a sports crazy state that people will continue to support bad teams, it just won't happen.

  • Jethro

    U cant spend money on players. This isn't the nba. All the really great players aren't coming to west Virginia. Wake up Alice ur in wonderland. Back to reality rj

  • jethro

    you guys comments kill me

    congrats lady mountaineers!

    • rj

      Oh! Jethro your one of those that being mediocre is acceptable. With all the big bucks being spent on athletics I think fans/alum expect more out of programs up there.

  • wenkev

    The best conference fit for WV would have been the ACC but the snobs didn't want WV. The Big10 didn't want WV and the SEC chose Missouri over WV. Rumors are that the ACC will be a shell of itself anyway in a couple of years because there are some very unhappy campers there that will likely defect to other conferences like the Big12 so that will give WV closer travel games. It supposedly all hinges on what happens with the 50 million buyout clause Maryland is trying to get reduced. If they get it reduced then the exodus of other teams is supposed to occur because they can make more money in other conferences. The best thing WV fans can do is wait. Remember when WV first joined the Big East? They weren't big time players there in football until much later especially when Miami and VT left. Same in basketball, we were bottom dwellers at first. Patience.

    • rj

      wenkev I see what your saying, however, even with some acc teams going to big 12 we still are going to have to travel. Geographically it doesn't make logical sense to go that far, we need to have an Super Eastern Conference outlined as above.

      • wenkev

        Unfortunately for those dismayed by the Big12 membership WV isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Their grant or rights is locked up for 12 more years.

  • Larry

    I think going to the big 12 was a mistake too, especially when you consider the cost of all of the womens sports, which bring in no money. I would hate to know how much they have spent this year just on travel expenses.

    • cutty77

      What were going to do,set and Die with The Big East.If the Mens basketball Team was still in the Big East,we might not of won 2 games.This Team couldn't win The WV Conference.Travel has nothing to do with it.People don't like Change,but if you sit still today,you get RUN OVER.AS for THE ACC,there the next Conference to get Blowen up.Everybody just chill a little.

  • big tom

    Luck reported that just before he said ok to the big 12, that he called the ACC and asked one more time if we couldget in... they said no...
    we had no choice, it was the big 12 or total collaspe of our athletic program..
    can you imagine getting 2 mil. per yr, vs. what we will be getting in the 25-30 per yr range
    we had no choice... but we have choices on coaches we are overpaying.
    let's face it, huggie always played in a pussy conf. and got many of those hall of fame wins there,..
    now, he's playing with his recruits in a much better conf... and look what has been happeing...
    i think huggie knows his reputation is on the line, and next yr is a make or break yr... don't know about the hall of fame offer just yet

  • cutty77

    Easy Now.We are lucky to be in The Big 12.You didn't think the Big 12 was going to lay down for us do you.We just happen to have both Men an Women Basketball Teams that can't shoot the Basketball.Boths Teams lost alot of games at the end of the Year.But at least the ladies Got In.

    • rj

      cutty I agree that the Big 12 is a great conference, but too much travel, too far for a good fan travel. I agree with Blue Knight, why not a new Super East Conference, plenty of money would flow. better recruiting also.

  • big tom

    it's been a long long time since wvu athletics has been this low. and to think just a few years b ack we were on top of the world, now, we have a bunch of overpaid coaches, operating in the red, and only ourselves to blame for hiring these guys..

    overpaid to lose,, wow.

    • Oh Did Ya?

      How do you figure we are operating in the red? The one time Big East exit fee? Note: One Time! Did you happen to see the TV fee the Big East will receive next year? I'll save you the time of looking it up - $1.8MM/year. We will get $20MM in the Big 12. It had to be done - quit complaining about everything. If you don't like it, don't watch or go to the games.

      • scorat9480

        I don't blame the coaches, but I do think going to the Big 12 was one of the biggest mistakes WVU has made in the past, oh say 100 years! Nothing but travel, travel, travel, and bad ref'ing when we do get there. If we couldn't stay in the now defunct Big East, maybe we would've been better off organizing a whole new conference for other schools who were left hanging because of all the defections from various conferences.

        • Blue Knight

          Agree with 9480. Why can't all these ad's get together and form a Super Eastern Conference instead all these east schools going west, south, etc. Why?? 1) WVU, 2) Pitt 3) Syracuse, 4) Maryland, 5) Temple 6) Rutgers, 7) Conn 8) Boston College, 9) Louisville, 10) Cincy 11) Penn St, 12) VT. East has NY, media, money!! Fan support!!! The east could have a powerful conference if the alumni , presidents, ad's get together and say, aren't we tired of all this running and get the rivalry going.

          • Blue Knight

            Now there is a line up of a Super Conference named above. Yea!!

        • hailey

          WRONG!... what was WVU's other option beside going to the B12?... staying in CUSA 2.0?... the biggest mistake would to be narrow minded and stay the course. Organizing a new conference??.. are you kidding me who would want to join it? Marshall? ECU?

          • Blue Knight

            So hailey we stay the course and be like Carp....bottom dwellers!! Because that is where we will remain!!!

      • big tom

        WVU reported they at 13 mil. in the red.

    • rj

      My thoughts too big tom. It seems our fans have even bought in to being mediocre in sports. All but our rifle team, only high point in WVU athletics. Pathetic!!!

  • Jim

    Ladies, you did better than the men's program. Congrats!