Hofstra's game plan against Delaware was a lot like every other team's. Try anything, whatever it takes, to shut down Elena Delle Donne.
It sounds simple enough. But Delle Donne, the nation's leading scorer at 28.8 points per game, proved once again Thursday night that there's no magic script.
Behind Delle Donne's season-high 42 points, the No. 10 Blue Hens outlasted Hofstra's early energy, found their second-half rhythm and beat the Pride, 89-79, at the Mack Sports Complex. Delle Donne also had 14 rebounds and six blocks, but who's counting?
Delaware (23-1, 14-0) was the highest-ranked women's basketball opponent ever to play in this 12-year-old arena. A lively crowd of about 1,000 was hoping for an upset.
Instead, they witnessed another sensational performance by Delle Donne, a transcendent star who has been profiled by ESPN and Sports Illustrated. The 6-5 center often brings the ball upcourt, and before the game, she warmed up primarily beyond the three-point arc.
There seems to be nothing she can't do, won't do, didn't do. "She's more skilled than any player I've ever coached," Tina Martin said.
Delaware beat Hofstra (17-8, 9-5) by 18 at home Jan. 26, when Delle Donne scored 41. This time the Pride threw the book at her defensively, double-teaming her on every touch, fronting her in the post, playing her physically in the paint. Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Steveskey said she changed her game plan almost entirely from the first game.
It wasn't enough. Delle Donne can coerce shots into the basket from any angle, has honed her fadeaway jumper and runs the floor to score in transition. She cracked the 2,000-point mark for her career at 14:11 of the second half.
"We were trying to really sit two on her as much as we could," Kilburn-Steveskey said. "She's tough to deny.''
Hofstra's scoring leader, Shante Evans, played only 10 minutes in the first half and finished with five points. Candice Bellocchio and Katelyn Loper each had 21 for the Pride.
Hofstra salutes Droesch. Hofstra wore pink uniforms in honor of Clare Droesch, a former Boston College star who is battling breast cancer. The team dedicated the game to Droesch, a three-time Newsday Player of the Year (1999, 2000, 2001) for Christ the King.
"I know my team wanted this one really bad, because it was for a great cause," Bellocchio told The Associated Press. "She told us she's fighting for her life, and that put things in perspective."