Kansas' Goodrich Bedevils Delaware, and Delle Donne's Done In Little Rock

by Jim Harris  on Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2012 12:40 am  

Kansas guard Angel Goodrich, who led the Jayhawks with 27 points, celebrates with KU Coach Bonnie Henrickson in the final moments of the 11th-seeded Jayhawks' 70-64 win over NCAA third-seed Delaware at the Jack Stephens Center. (Photo by Mark Wagner)

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

It wasn't so much that her Delaware teammates couldn't help Elena Delle Donne offensively, but rather the Blue Hens had a rare defensive letdown Tuesday night in a 70-64 loss to Kansas in the NCAA Women's Tournament in Little Rock. Specifically, Delaware could not get a handle on KU's 5-foot-4 point guard, Angel Goodrich, who spirited the Jayhawks to a big second half. Kansas turned around a 6-point halftime deficit with 61 percent shooting at UALR's Jack Stephens Center, the first- and second-round host site, and continues on.

Meanwhile, the 6-foot-5 junior Delle Donne — who scored 17 points in each of the halves often against double teams and later against a diamond-and-one defense, and in the bitter end against four defenders crowding her in the final seconds — will have to wait another year for more ESPN exposure to show the rest of the nation the best player in the women's game. The third-seeded Blue Hens are done after a 31-2 season.

Kansas of the Big 12 (21-12 overall) advances to play second-seed and Southeastern Conference Tournament champion Tennessee this weekend in Des Moines, Iowa. No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Baylor, the Big 12 champion, in the top seed in the Des Moines regional. The Jayhawks were thought to be an easy out when 6-3 junior forward Carolyn Davis tore an ACL late in the season. Instead, 6-3 freshman Chelsea Gardner has raised her game down the stretch and in the two games here, and the Jayhawks have rallied around little Goodrich, who was a dynamo on Tuesday night with 27 points and 6 assists.

"I said before, we weren't going to stop her, but we really struggled to keep her contained tonight," Delaware Coach Tina Martin said.

Goodrich hit three 3-pointers and set up KU's other three treys with her penetration. Delle Donne's long-distance 3, her only 3 of the game, to end the first half had given Delaware a 37-31 lead. But Kansas came out with even more energy in the second half than it showed in a competitive first 20 minutes and took the game over with a 22-6 start to the second half. That burst included a 13-0 run on the back side that pushed the Jayhawks to a 53-43 lead with 12:29 to play.

Delle Donne, as much as she tried, couldn't do it all. She hit 9 of 18 field goals, but missed four 3-pointers. She was 15 of 18 from the foul line, including two trips to attempt (and make) three foul shots after being hacked on 3-pointers. She also had 10 of the Blue Hens' 40 rebounds. But she also had 4 second-half turnovers — three in succession during the 13-0 KU run — and 6 total in Delaware's 13 giveaways.

"The turnovers were very frustrating, especially when it would be a sneak attack from a double team and I just didn't see it coming. It was frustrating and definitely hurt the flow of the offense, no doubt," said Delle Donne, the women's college basketball's leading scorer this season.

The rest of the Blue Hens went 12-for-38 from the field and 1 of 9 on 3's. The Delaware starting guards were 5 of 22 shooting with a lot of open looks. The same thing happened to Nebraska on Sunday against Kansas when the Cornhuskers went 1-for-19 on 3-pointers.

But Delle Donne was more concerned with what went wrong for her team on the other end. "I felt we played solid defense in the first half," she said. "Unfortunately they came out in the first four-minute segment of the second half and scored the first six points and it kept going downhill ... Defense has been our thing all season, so when that was failing us, it's really why things went wrong tonight."

Meanwhile, Goodrich was active defensively and in command offensively. When she wasn't hitting 12 of 21 shots, she was setting up her teammates. On the inside, Aishah Sutherland had 12 points (plus 11 rebounds) and Gardner added 10. Delaware tried to hedge its forwards on screens to slow down Goodrich, but they weren't quick enough and that allowed her to turn a corner and still penetrate the lane.

"She really dictated the game, and that was something we were wanting to prevent," Delaware's Martin said. "If you allow someone like her, who is leading the country in assists, to get into the paint, it's like she's going up to a buffet with her favorite foods. It's crazy. She just had her choice where she wanted to pass the ball."

Goodrich's teammates did a much better job on the boards in the second half after being outrebounded 27-13 in the first 20 minutes. The final margin was just 40-34 in Delaware's favor. KU's bigs rebounded while keeping up with Delle Donne wherever she tried to set up. Tania Jackson eventually picked up a fourth foul guarding Delle Donne. The freshman Gardner had time tracking her. Physical CeCe Harper, giving up 9 inches in height, took over the tight coverage in the diamond-and-one over the last six minutes.



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