Delle Donne, Delaware Spoil Yale’s Home Debut

Delle Donne, Delaware Spoil Yale’s Home Debut

Messimer, von Kaeppler Lead The Bulldogs With 14 Points Each 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — After scoring 36 points in her team's season opener and 34 in the second game of the season, Elena Delle Donne was due to be the primary focus of the defensive game plan for the Yale University women's basketball team. 

On the contrary, the Bulldogs knew that Delle Donne was going to carry the offensive workload, so the plan was to try to limit the rest of her Delaware teammates as much as possible. Unfortunately, a lot of offense from Delle Donne and a little from each of her teammates is more than enough to win almost every night.

Delle Donne scored 41 points to power Delaware to a 79-61 victory over Yale Saturday night, spoiling the Bulldogs' 2010-11 home debut.

Delle Donne's offensive outburst is the second-highest total in a game in Delaware history, falling behind her own mark of 54 points set last season in an overtime loss to James Madison. She also becomes the first player in Delaware's history to record 30 or more points in three straight games.

Delle Donne's effort and a double-double from sophomore forward Danielle Parker (11 points, 11 rebounds) gave Delaware a tandem that Yale had a difficult time dealing with.

"She is the best offensive basketball player that I have probably ever seen," said Chris Gobrecht, the Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954, Head Coach of Women's Basketball. "I think just in terms of her offensive skills, she'd probably rival a lot of those folks over at UConn too. She'd be as good or better than anybody they've got on offense. I thought we made her work for every bucket. That's all you can really do."

Delaware's height advantage also gave Yale fits throughout the game. The Blue Hens outrebounded the Bulldogs 40-20, including nine from junior reserve forward Sarah Acker, who played in her first game since she was granted a transfer waiver by the NCAA earlier in the week.

Yale did not go down without a fight, however, and had some success against Delaware at different stages of the game. After Delaware jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the opening minutes, the Bulldogs fought back and pulled ahead 18-15 thanks to a 13-5 run fueled by a layup and 3-pointer by sophomore Ericka von Kaeppler and a pair of baskets from senior Mady Gobrecht.

Delaware's defense shut the Yale run down and then Delle Donne took over. She scored nine points in a 19-0 run that gave the Blue Hens control of the game. The Delaware offense shot a sizzling 20-for-29 (69.0 percent) from the field in the first half and scored a season-high 49 points in taking a 49-34 halftime lead. Twenty-four of those first-half points came from Delle Donne.

One of the bright spots in the first half for the Bulldogs was the performance from von Kaeppler.  She scored 13 of her 14 points in the half on 5-for-7 shooting, including 3-for-5 from 3-point range, in only nine minutes of action. The 14-point effort from von Kaeppler matched her career high set against North Carolina A&T on Nov. 28, 2009.

The Yale defense seized control right out of the halftime break, shutting down Delle Donne and her Delaware teammates and fueling a 9-0 Bulldog run that cut the deficit to 49-43 in the first 3:19 of the half.

"We really felt that we lost the game in the first half," Coach Gobrecht said. "We got down on ourselves. We had that span where we didn't play defense and we were all down. I thought we defended the crud out of them in the second half and I thought that if they didn't get the second efforts, who knows what they might have scored in the second half."

But Delaware responded with a 12-2 run behind another nine points from Delle Donne that gave the Blue Hens a 61-45 lead with 12:21 to play and put the game out of reach for the Bulldogs.

Besides von Kaeppler, Yale had three other players score in double figures. Sophomore Allie Messimer also had 14 points to go along with four steals. Gobrecht and senior captain Yoyo Greenfield each had 12 points and three assists. Gobrecht also grabbed five rebounds. After scoring 17 points in each of her first two games this season, sophomore point guard Megan Vasquez was held to four points on 1-for-11 shooting.

Yale departs Sunday for a two-game West Coast swing that includes a pair of contests in von Kaeppler's backyard. The Palo Alto, Calif., native leads the Bulldogs into tough matchups against California and UC Davis. Both teams earned berths in the WNIT postseason tournament a year ago, a tournament that California won last April. Yale's game against California is Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET, while the meeting with UC Davis takes place Friday at 8 p.m. ET.

Report filed by Jon Erickson Jr., Yale Sports Publicity