Women’s team ousted by Georgetown in first round of WNIT
MANAGING SPORTS EDITOR
Natasha Adair’s former team was too much for the Blue Hens Friday night, as the Georgetown Hoyas, fueled by 26 points from senior Cynthia Petke, defeated the Delaware, 67-57, in a round one WNIT matchup from Washington, D.C.
The first-year Delaware head coach joined the Blue Hens in May following three seasons with the Hoyas. She brought James Howard, her associate head coach for two seasons at Georgetown, to Delaware with her, but less than two weeks after her hiring, Howard accepted the Georgetown head coaching position.
“When we saw the draw, Coach Howard and I called each other immediately and said ‘Are you kidding me?’”
Delaware’s selection to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) marked its first appearance in the tournament since 2014. Following the overtime loss to Drexel in the CAA tournament semifinals March 9, the Blue Hens were one of three CAA teams selected to the WNIT alongside Drexel and James Madison.
While the Blue Hens limited their turnovers to just 12 –– a drastic improvement from the 26 they collected against Drexel –– and they shot 40 percent from the field compared to 37 for the Hoyas, they were overpowered and overworked on the boards, losing the rebounding battle, 44-33.
“I thought rebounding was the key,” Adair said. “Anytime you give them a second and third opportunity, percentages go up. And you could tell that was like a game plan because it was just immediately to the boards. I just felt like that was the difference, for the most part.”
CAA player of the year Nicole Enabosi, who entered the game averaging over 12 rebounds a game, grabbed just three in the loss. Enabosi had just five points through three quarters and despite putting up 10 in the final frame, her team was unable to contain Petke and junior guard Dionna White –– the two of them combined for a total of 42 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists in the win.
Delaware responded well in the second quarter after being outscored 19-11 in the opening frame to go into the half down just three points. But the Hoyas scored 22 points in the third quarter to go up 12 and in the fourth quarter, when the Blue Hens needed to score in bunches to mount a comeback, they took just two three-point shots and four free throws, missing all of them.
“I felt like we had opportunities,” Adair said. “In these games on your opponent’s court, you get around the rim, you have to finish, you get to the free throw line, you have to finish cause this time of year it’s one and done, everyone’s playing for something so every play is that winning play, every play is that momentum play.”
With the loss, Delaware concludes the season 19-13, a three-game improvement in wins from last season. The Blue Hens will return all but two players (guards Kiersten West and Danielle Roberts) and their starting lineup will remain intact next season.
The WNIT appearance is a clear sign of improvement for the women’s program in Adair’s first season in Newark. From 2014-2017, the four final seasons of former Head Coach Tina Martin’s tenure at Delaware, the Blue Hens made the WNIT once as the program fell to mediocrity following star Elena Delle Donne’s departure.
The Blue Hens now move to 0-8 all-time in the WNIT.
“The majority of their starters are seniors,” Adair said of the Hoyas. “They’re veterans. They’ve been on this stage before. You just take the stage … we haven’t been in this postseason realm in the last four years, so really no one on the roster has been in this environment. You saw the challenge immediately.”