The Tribe came into Sunday’s matchup with Delaware knowing they would have to play nearly flawless defense against one of the top offensive powerhouses in the CAA. But what they found out at the final buzzer was that solid defense alone was not enough to earn the win, as the College fell to the Blue Hens 65-52.
“We didn’t score tonight. That was the bottom line,” Head Coach Debbie Taylor said. “I thought we played a good defensive game … we just didn’t make the open shots we had.”
The College (11-15, 4-11 CAA) was led by a gutsy performance from senior forward Tiffany Benson. Tasked with defending one of the best players in the country in redshirt freshman forward Elena Delle Donne, Benson held her mark without allowing a single point in the second half. But Delle Donne managed to pound in 20 of Delaware’s 30 first half points, and it was more than enough for the win.
“You do what you can to defend her; she’s going to get her points,” Taylor said. “We tried to really wear her out in the first half, and I thought we did a great job with that.”
Benson, who is three inches shorter than the 6’5” Della Donne, notched 10 points and eight rebounds but was most valuable for her physical defense, posting four rejections to add to her CAA-record career total.
“I thought she played with a lot of heart tonight and a lot of determination,” Taylor said. “She played like a senior, and that’s what we’ve been asking her to do.”
The game was marked by a mix of fast break transitions and physical play down low. After trading leads early in the game, the Tribe jumped ahead by as much as seven with 6:38 remaining in the first half. But Delaware was able to close the gap and went into halftime leading 30-26.
In the second half, the College was able to stay in the game, but never caught up. In a disappointing offensive showing, the Tribe was led by sophomore guard Taysha Pye who recorded 18 points on 5-for-17 shooting from the floor. As a team, the College shot 31.7% overall, but made only six of an uncharacteristically high 22 three-point attempts.
“It’s not typically what we do,” Taylor said. “We had them though. We’ve got the shooters that can hit them; our percentage is just awful.”
The Tribe travels to Norfolk Thursday for a 7 p.m. matchup against Old Dominion.