UD's Elena Delle Donne scored 39 points in Sunday's victory over the University of Arkansas Little Rock.

Blue Hens advance

UD women's basketball opens NCAA tourney with win at Little Rock


5:21 p.m., March 18, 2012--The University of Delaware women's basketball team opened the NCAA Division I championship tournament on Sunday, defeating the host University of Arkansas Little Rock 73-42.

It was history made as the Blue Hens recorded their first post-season victory.

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Junior All-American Elena Delle Donne had 39 points to lead the Colonial Athletic Association champion Hens, who are now 31-1 and have won 21 straight games. Guard Lauren Carra had 12 points and Danielle Parker had eight.

Delle Donne also had 11 rebounds, and Parker and Akeema Richards had seven each. Guard Trumae Lucas had five assists.

Marian Kursh had 12 points to lead UALR, which was playing at home in the Jack Stephens Center and which was making its third straight NCAA tournament appearance. The Sun Belt Conference champions had won seven straight games before facing the Hens.

“This is a historical moment for these young ladies and for the University,” said UD head coach Tina Martin, who led the Hens to their first post-season victory in nine tries, including three NCAA tournament appearance. “This is our first-ever NCAA win, and to get this victory means so much. We’ve been on a mission all year to try and make history. I’m proud of how hard they played and it feels really good.

“With our team defending the way they did today, I could see the momentum picking us up in the second half, " said Martin, whose team held the Trojans to 30 percent shooting from the field (16 of 52) and forced 19 turnovers. "We did what we needed to do defensively. Our defense together as a team ignites us and I’m proud of the team for the way they played today.”

“I think our team definitely did a great job introducing ourselves to the country,” said Delle Donne, who posted her 16th double-double of the season and surpassed the 30-point mark for the 12th time this season. “This team hasn’t really been seen nationally and I’m very excited that we finally were. We are all so happy to be in this tournament and we’re ready to go (Tuesday).”

The Hens will next face Kansas game in a second round game to be played at 9:40 p.m. Tuesday. The Jayhawks advanced by defeating Nebraska 57-49.

For more on the Hens, see BlueHens.com or the special BlueHens.com tournament website.

Photo coverage can be found at UD in Photos.

Photos Mark Campbell

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