Elena Delle Donne scores 33 but Delaware loses to Kentucky

Delaware forward Elena Delle Donne (left) drive to the basket against Kentucky forward Jelleah Sidney, right, during the second half of a regional semifinal in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Bridgeport, Conn., Saturday, March 30, 2013. Delle Donne scored 33 points, but Kentucky won 69-62. (Charles Krupa/AP)
Delaware forward Elena Delle Donne (left) drive to the basket against Kentucky forward Jelleah Sidney, right, during the second half of a regional semifinal in the NCAA college basketball tournament in Bridgeport, Conn., Saturday, March 30, 2013. Delle Donne scored 33 points, but Kentucky won 69-62. (Charles Krupa/AP)
Posted: March 31, 2013

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Elena Delle Donne's attack on school and conference record books at Delaware and in the Colonial Athletic Association have become history while her climb up the NCAA career scoring charts concluded among some impressive company.

The end came Saturday when Delaware coach Tina Martin removed her senior all-American with 10 seconds left for a final ovation after the explosive scoring star posted a third-straight 33-point performance before Kentucky's ouster of the Blue Hens from the NCAA tournament became official.

On the way out the door, however, and on to a promising pro career in the WNBA, Delle Donne provided a few more editing touches in the wake of sixth-seeded Delaware's 69-62 loss to the second-seeded Wildcats (30-5) in a semifinal game of the Bridgeport Regional in front of a sellout crowd of 8,594 in the Webster Bank Arena.

She is expected to be among the top three picks in the WNBA draft next month up the road at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, along with Baylor's Brittney Griner and Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins.

Meanwhile Kentucky, for the second straight year, moved on to the Elite Eight where on Monday night the Wildcats will again meet No. 1 Connecticut (32-4), which ousted No. 4 Maryland 76-50 in the second game as the Terrapins finished 26-8.

Minutes after the Delle Donne era at Delaware (32-4) was no longer active, Martin said tears need not be shed, though she acknowledged that was easier to request than be heeded, especially with six other seniors also departing.

"No other Delaware team has ever done what we have and that's get to the Sweet 16 and go back-to-back as conference champions," Martin referred to the two straight unbeaten runs to trophies in the CAA.

"Yes, we made mistakes in the ball game and yes Kentucky is bigger, faster, stronger. I still love our team with all my heart and how well they played throughout this entire tournament."

Delaware failed to complete a third straight rally to victory as it did the two previous games at home last week in beating West Virginia and upsetting third-seeded North Carolina.

The Blue Hens chopped a 16-point deficit early in the second half down to a bucket at 62-60 with 2 minutes, 47 seconds left in the game.

But Kentucky's Kastine Evans, not considered one of the prime shooters, nailed a three-pointer to strike back and Delaware missed five shots on the next two possessions to seal its fate.

Though the Blue Hens' school-record 27 game win streak got short-circuited, Delle Donne continued to be relentless on the baskets.

"I thought she raised her level today," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell praised his opponent. "I thought she played harder today than what we saw on film. I thought she was terrific."

Delle Donne finished at the top of 10 Delaware career statistics charts of which six are also CAA records. She also finished with 1,020 rebounds and her 273 blocked shots are also at the top of those school and conference lists.

The points scored here Saturday enabled Delle Donne to move ahead of such notables as Maya Moore (Connecticut), Chamique Holdsclaw (Tennessee) and Cheryl Miller (Southern Cal) into fifth place among the all-timers on the NCAA career chart with 3,039 points.

Missouri State's Jackie Stiles, whose finished playing in 1991, is No. 1 all-time with 3,393 points.

"I wasn't aware of that, or anything of that nature," said Delle Donne, who in her four years elevated the Blue Hens from a quality mid-major program to a nationally ranked power. "That's incredible and it is humbling and amazing to be among those names."

Saturday's loss prevented Delle Donne from having a court reunion Monday with Connecticut senior Caroline Doty, a graduate of Germantown Academy and a former Fencor AAU teammate, though the two here said they remain good friends and in touch with each other.

Truamae Lucas added 11 points to Delaware's total while Lauren Carra had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Kentucky's Jennifer O'Neill had 19 points, A'dia Mathies scored 16, and Samarie Walker grabbed 11 rebounds.

Ironically, during the pregame announcements, Delle Donne, who left Connecticut within 48 hours of her arrival five years ago as the nation's top high school star, and Kentucky's Walker, who left the Huskies halfway through her freshman season, shook hands when they were introduced.

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