NEWARK, Del. — Delaware had just bounced North Carolina from the NCAA tournament in front of a boisterous sellout crowd that included Vice President Joe Biden, and it was now time for Elena Della Donne and her teammates to show their appreciation.
They gathered in the center of the court and waved to the standing throng, many of whom were chanting, “Let’s Go Hens!”
In another section of the small arena, North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell seethed.
Delle Donne scored 33 points in her final home game, and Delaware rallied past the foul-plagued Tar Heels 78-69 on Tuesday night to advance to the round of 16 for the first time in school history.
After the final buzzer, Delle Donne had mixed emotions as she waved to the 4,653 cheering fans.
“It was a little sad, it was emotional, saying goodbye,” she said. “But to leave this way is absolutely incredible. I even said to the girls before the game, ‘We deserve to win our last game on this court.’ That’s how everybody played.”
The sixth-seeded Blue Hens (32-3) trailed 50-42 with 15:31 left before coming back to extend their school-record winning streak to 27 games and eliminate No. 3 seed North Carolina (29-7). Delaware will next travel to Connecticut to face second-seeded Kentucky.
Biden was part of the second straight packed house at Delaware, his home state. Most of the fans wore royal blue, yellow, or a combination of both. The majority were standing during the final 5 minutes, when it became apparent the Blue Hens and Delle Donne would be playing at least once more this season.
Biden, it seems, was standing before then.
“The president of the University of Delaware said that the vice president kept standing up and blocking everybody’s view,” Blue Hens coach Tina Martin said. “A few people wanted to say, ‘Mr. Vice President, please sit down,’ but I don’t think the vice president would have sat down. He’s been one of our biggest fans. We certainly are honored and humbled he came to see us tonight.”
Waltiea Rolle scored 23 points for the Tar Heels, but the 6-foot-6 senior was in foul trouble for much of the second half and finally picked up her fifth with 4:08 left.
North Carolina point guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who scored a career-high 30 points against Albany in the tournament opener, played the final 11:55 with four fouls and finished with four points on 1-for-13 shooting.
The Tar Heels were called for 24 fouls compared to 13 for the Blue Hens, and a discrepancy did not escape Hatchell’s notice.
“I wish Delaware good luck when they get on a neutral court,” she said.
When asked to comment on having her two stars in foul trouble and the 24 whistles against the Tar Heels, Hatchell said, “That hasn’t been a problem all year until now. With Pratt and Waltiea both out, that was the difference in the game. But I told the girls in the locker room, ‘This is a great lesson. Life isn’t always fair.’”
Delle Donne missed 18 of 28 field goal tries, but the 6-5 senior went 11 for 13 at the line and now has 3,006 points during a sensational career in her home state.
“I don’t think I’ve wanted anything more than this win, and that’s saying a lot,” she said.
Trumae Lucas scored 20 for the Blue Hens and Danielle Parker contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds.
“This is without question the greatest victory in Delaware sports history,” Martin declared.
Delaware trailed 48-39 when Rolle picked up her third foul with 16:39 remaining. The Tar Heels slowed down their offense to kill time while their center was on the bench, and she returned 2 minutes later but was whistled for her fourth foul with 12:47 left.
To make matters worse, Ruffin-Pratt got her fourth foul less than a minute later.
With its two leading scorers on the bench, North Carolina came apart. Delle Donne made a basket, Parker scored on a drive and Lucas sank two straight layups to put the Blue Hens up 52-51, their first lead since 30-29.
Xylina McDaniel then scored on a drive for the Tar Heels, their first basket in nearly six minutes, but Delle Donne reached the 3,000 mark with a follow of her own miss to put Delaware back in front.
It was 63-60 when Rolle fouled out, and Lucas subsequently made two foul shots for a 65-60 advantage.
Told of Hatchell’s insinuation about the officiating, Martin said, “I don’t see it the same way Coach Hatchell does. We will agree to disagree on this one.”
Rolle had 15 points and six blocked shots in the first half to offset a 19-point effort by Delle Donne and help the Tar Heels take a 43-35 lead at the break.
Griner’s big night leads Baylor
WACO, Texas — Brittney Griner provided a most appropriate goodbye in her final home game for Baylor: a trio of dunks and another double-double.
Griner had 33 points and a career-high 22 rebounds to go with her three highlight dunks, including a one-hand slam in the first half and two more in a 79-second span right before coming out of the game for good, as the defending national champions rolled past Florida State 85-47.
With former President George W. Bush part of the crowd packed into the Ferrell Center to bid Griner farewell, the 6-foot-8 two-time All-American delivered.
The top-seeded Lady Bears (34-1) are in the round of 16 for the fourth year in a row. They play Louisville on Sunday in the semifinals of the Oklahoma City Regional.
Brooklyn Pope had 12 points for Baylor, which has won a nation-best 57 games in a row at home.
Leonor Rodriguez scored 11 for No. 8 seed Florida State (23-10).
LOUISVILLE 76, PURDUE 63
LOUISVILLE, Ky.— Sara Hammond had 21 points and 10 rebounds to help Louisville beat Purdue and advance to the round of 16 again.
The fifth-seeded Cardinals (26-8) are in the regional semifinals for the second time in three years and fourth time in six years.
The fourth-seeded Boilermakers (25-9) had a five-game winning streak snapped and have lost in the second round three straight years.
With men’s coach Rick Pitino watching from the stands, Antonita Slaughter scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half for Louisville. Shoni Schimmel had 14.
Sam Ostarello led Purdue with 16 points and 12 rebounds. KK Houser had 10.
Louisville never trailed in beating Purdue for the first time in six games. These teams hadn’t met since 1993, and the Cardinals’ program has grown to a new level in the past two decades.
DELAWARE 78, NORTH CAROLINA 69
NEWARK, Del. — Elena Delle Donne scored 33 points in her final home game, and Delaware rallied past foul-plagued North Carolina 78-69 on Tuesday night to advance to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.
The sixth-seeded Blue Hens (32-3) trailed 50-42 with 15:31 left before coming back to extend their school-record winning streak to 27 games and eliminate No. 3 seed North Carolina (29-7). Delaware will next travel to Connecticut to face second-seeded Kentucky in the Bridgeport Regional semifinals Saturday.
Vice President Joe Biden was among those in the second straight sellout crowd at Delaware’s compact arena. Most fans were standing during the final 5 minutes, when it became apparent the Blue Hens and Delle Donne would be playing at least once more this season.
Delle Donne missed 18 of 28 field goal tries, but the 6-foot-5 senior went 11 for 13 at the line and now has 3,006 points during a sensational career in her home state.
Trumae Lucas scored 20 for the Blue Hens and Danielle Parker contributed 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Waltiea Rolle scored 23 points for the Tar Heels, but the 6-6 senior was in foul trouble for much of the second half and finally picked up her fifth with 4:08 left.
KENTUCKY 84, DAYTON 70
NEW YORK — A’dia Mathies followed up the worst game of her career with one of her best, matching a personal high with 34 points to lead second-seeded Kentucky over seventh-seeded Dayton.
With Kentucky (29-5) clinging to a 46-44 advantage early in the second half, Mathies scored 10 points during a 16-3 run to help the Wildcats take control of the game.
The two-time SEC player of the year hit two 3-pointers, including one to cap the burst and make it 62-47. She didn’t hit a field goal in the first round win over Navy. She made 13 of 17 against Dayton.
Andrea Hoover scored 22 points to lead the Flyers (28-3), who got no closer than eight the rest of the way to end the best season in school history.
One of the best seasons for Kentucky will continue in Bridgeport. The Wildcats have the most wins in school history and have reached the regional semifinals for the third time in the past four seasons.
NOTRE DAME 74, IOWA 57
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Kayla McBride scored a career-high 28 points and top-seeded Notre Dame advanced to the regional semifinals with a win over Iowa.
Skylar Diggins had 16 points as the Fighting Irish (33-1) extended their school-record winning streak to 28 games and finished 13-0 on the road.
Notre Dame will next face 12th-seeded Kansas in Norfolk, Va., on Sunday.
McBride had 23 points in the first half as the Irish built a 12-point advantage. The lead reached 59-39 on Diggins’ layup with 15:30 left as Notre Dame reached the round of 16 for the 11th time in 17 seasons.
Bethany Doolittle had 16 points for No. 9 seed Iowa (21-13), which went 0 for 11 from 3-point range and had 21 turnovers.
DUKE 68, OKLAHOMA STATE 59
DURHAM, N.C. — Elizabeth Williams had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Duke rallied to beat Oklahoma State.
Haley Peters added 15 points and 13 rebounds, while Tricia Liston scored eight of her 13 in the final 6-plus minutes and Chloe Wells also finished with 13 points for the second-seeded Blue Devils (32-2). They advance to face sixth-seeded Nebraska in the regional semifinals Sunday.
Duke trailed by 15 points in the first minute of the second half before outscoring the seventh-seeded Cowgirls 47-23 during the final 19½ minutes to reach the tournament’s second weekend for the 15th time in 16 years.
Liz Donohoe had 14 points to lead Oklahoma State (22-11), which led for nearly all of the first 35 minutes but had 21 turnovers and shot just 2 of 14 over the final 9½ minutes.
STANFORD 73, MICHIGAN 40
STANFORD, Calif.— Joslyn Tinkle made a career-high five 3-pointers on the way to 21 points in her final home game at Maples Pavilion, and top-seeded Stanford used a spectacular perimeter shooting performance to rout No. 8 seed Michigan and reach the regional semifinals.
Chiney Ogwumike had 12 points and 15 rebounds on a night when the Cardinal’s shooters took the pressure off just as coach Tara VanDerveer has been hoping they would.
Sara James shut down Michigan star Kate Thompson and scored nine points, and Stanford (33-2) won its 19th straight game to set up a matchup with fourth-seeded Georgia on Saturday and move a step closer to the program’s goal of a sixth straight Final Four.
Jenny Ryan scored 11 points in her final college game to lead Michigan (22-11), which matched its second-lowest scoring output all season.
Tinkle, Stanford’s lone senior, shot 7 for 10 and made all of her 3-point attempts as the Cardinal hit a season-best 12 3s. She also had six rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
LSU 71, PENN STATE 66
BATON ROUGE, La. — Adrienne Webb scored a career-high 29 points, including two crucial free throws with 22 seconds left, and No. 6 seed LSU beat third-seeded Penn State.
Bianca Lutley overcame foul trouble and capped an 18-point night with a tough floater in traffic in the final minute to give LSU (22-11) the lead and another key free throw to make it a four-point game with 8.3 seconds to go.
Webb, a senior, was 10 of 16 in what would have been her last game had LSU lost. Instead, she carried her team to the round of 16 on a night when the Lady Tigers had only seven available players.
LSU next plays No. 2 seed California on Saturday in Spokane, Wash.
Nikki Greene scored 16 points for Penn State (26-6), whose loss meant all four No. 3 seeds were out of the tournament.