Reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne shined in her homecoming for the third consecutive year with 17 points on 7-for-8 shooting as the Chicago Sky defeated the Liberty, 93-59, in a preseason game at the Carpenter Center on Sunday afternoon.
“There’s no court that feels like home more than this court,” said Delle Donne. “I’ve been playing on it since 8th grade so to be here and see so many familiar faces in the crowd is something I don’t forget.”
After recently being named to the 2016 U.S. Olympic team, all eyes were on the Delaware native when she took the court in Newark and the former Blue Hen star delivered.
Delle Donne was efficient in the first half with 10 points in 10 minutes as the Sky led 49-31 at the break. Chicago shot 59.4 percent from the field in the first half, including 66.7% from the three-point line.
Just over a minute into the second half, Chicago rattled off 17 unanswered points to extend its lead to 68-33. By the end of the third quarter the difference was 40 points with the Sky ahead 78-38.
Delle Donne said she’s honored that Delaware fans continue to turn out to see her in the annual exhibition contest.
“It’s surprising, especially because they know after coming a few times that I don’t play that many minutes either,” she said. “But for them to come just to watch maybe 15 minutes of play and then to support our team is really special. It’s incredible that they continue to come back and support me and my teammates.”
Sunday’s game was a chance for another Delawarean, former Smyrna High All-Stater Betnijah Laney, to return to the Carpenter, Laney is in her second season with the Sky after playing at Rutgers.
On Sunday, Laney had six points, seven rebounds and three assists.
“She’s continued to work hard,” said Chicago coach Pokey Chapman. “She had a really great offseason in Australia. Betnijah is a player that can help us on both sides of the basketball. She can play a three, she can guard a three, she’s physical and she rebounds. She does so many things defensively.”
DelState splits with Spartans: Justin Lee’s two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning brought home the go-ahead hit, and the Spartans clinched the MEAC’s regular-season Northern Division title for the second straight year with a 5-2 win over Delaware State.
The Hornets topped NSU 10-7 in game two of the doubleheader. The Spartans (23-18, 16-5 MEAC), who took three of four from DSU in the weekend series, are assured of the No. 1 seed from the league’s Northern Division in the MEAC tournament later this month.
Held in check for most of Sunday’s opener, the Spartan bats came to life with two outs in the eighth and NSU trailing 2-1. After DSU reliever Darrien Ragins set down the first two batters of the inning, Ragins walked three straight batters as a steady rain began to fall.
Ragins was lifted in favor of Hunter McVey, and McVey was greeted by a two-run single by Lee that gave the Spartans the 3-2 lead.
DSU (11-33, 11-9 MEAC) took the early lead, scoring its first run of the series in the top of the first. Todd Henry led off the game with a double and scored on Darnell Maisonet’s groundout.
In game two, the Hornets bounced back with four runs in the third, five in the fourth and one in the fifth to surge into the lead, 10-2. Austin Bentley knocked in five runs for the Hornets.
Terry Godfrey (1-1) earned the win by pitching the first four innings for DSU.
Towson 9, Delaware 3: Towson first baseman Holiday Cahill hit three home runs while Nicole Stockinger added one as the Tigers defeated the Blue Hens.
The Blue Hens dropped to 29-19 overall, and are tied for fourth place in the Colonial Athletic Association with Hofstra and UNCW with a 9-9 conference record.
Delaware’s Anna Steinmetz blasted a home run over the centerfield fence, her 13th longball of the season.
Towson took the season series from Delaware for the third consecutive year.
Steinmetz is now tied for second in a UD single season with 13 homers, two behind Mariah Kondravy’s 15 from a year ago.