After a long Thanksgiving week in Texas, now only Delaware stands between the women’s basketball team and its return home to the John J. Lee Amphitheater.
Since opening their season at home with a win against Holy Cross, the Bulldogs (4–2, 0–0 Ivy) have been away from their home court for the last five games, with next Monday’s contest against Delaware raising the number to six. This stretch included what was technically a home game against the University of Texas Pan-American, but the game was actually played at the University of Houston as part of the David Jones Classic.
The Elis have completed this first leg of their season with only losses to Marist and Baylor to mar their record. Baylor is the top-ranked team in the country and was heavily favored in the game, which the Bulldogs contested well for most of the first half. The loss to Marist could be more worrisome for the team’s chances this season. Three days after beating Yale by 12 points, Marist lost to Princeton by 17. The Tigers are the Ivy League favorites this season and will be one of the toughest teams the Bulldogs will have to get past to win a conference title.
However, with Ivy League play still over a month away, the team is focused on improving, head coach Chris Gobrecht said. Consistency is one area that she said has been an issue, particularly during the team’s Texas trip.
“We had stretches where we were brilliant, and then we had stretches where we were not very brilliant at all,” Gobrecht said. “It is partly our youth that shows, but it is something that we have got to get over. We have to clean it up.”
Delaware is 4–0 this season and this week climbed up into the No. 24 spot on the AP Top 25 Poll. Their defense has been a big part of this success: the Blue Hens have held three of their four opponents to less than 60 points. The only team that was able to score more than 60 was then-No. 11 ranked Penn State, whom the Hens defeated 80–71.
The Bulldogs will also have to contend with Delaware star Elena Delle Donne. The 6’5” forward is leading the nation in scoring with 30.3 points per game and recently had 40 points in the Blue Hens upset of Penn State. The Elis, whose tallest players are 6’2” centers Zenab Keita ’14 and Arrice Bryant ’15, are not new to facing height, having gone up against Baylor’s 6’8” center Brittney Griner just over a week ago. Nonetheless, Delle Donne and the five other players on the Delaware roster who are are 6’2” or taller will challenge the Bulldogs in the post and on the glass.
The Blue Hens faced unbeaten Princeton late last night in their first game as a ranked team, and beat the Tigers 81–70, an indication of the challenge the Bulldogs will face Monday night.
After Delaware, the Elis return home to face Boston University on Wednesday, Dec. 7.