Welcome to the NCAA tournament, Elena Delle Donne. Stick around for a few more days, won't you?
Delle Donne, the nation's leading scorer, had 39 points and 11 rebounds to lift third-seeded Delaware to a 73-42 win over 14th-seeded Arkansas-Little Rock in the Little Rock Regional on Sunday in Little Rock, Ark.
The Blue Hens (31-1) earned their first victory in three NCAA tournament games and ran their winning streak to 21 in a row.
It was also the tournament debut for Delle Donne, the former Connecticut signee who transferred back to her hometown Delaware and led the school to the WNIT the past two seasons. The junior didn't disappoint, collecting 20 points and nine rebounds in the first half and helping the Blue Hens pull away in the second.
"I think our team did a good job introducing ourselves to the country," Delle Donne said.
Delaware entered the tournament as a trendy pick for a deep run because of Delle Donne and the team's success this season. The Blue Hens' only loss was an 85-76 decision at No. 5 Maryland on Dec. 29.
Even President Barack Obama mentioned the Blue Hens and Delle Donne when making his tournament predictions, picking the team to advance to the regional finals by beating second-seeded Tennessee along the way.
The Blue Hens will face 11th-seeded Kansas in the second round Tuesday. The Jayhawks upset No. 6 Nebraska.
"I knew they would be nervous," Delaware coach Tina Martin said. "This was a big game for them and our university. It's a sense of pride for them."
The 6-foot-5 Delle Donne had 39 of Delaware's first 56 points before taking a seat on the bench for good midway through the second half. She went 14-for-27 from the field, including 5-for-8 from 3-point range.
No. 4 Penn State 85, No. 13 UTEP 77
Maggie Lucas scored 23 points, Alex Bentley had 21 and Penn State won after a shaky first half in Baton Rouge, La.
"They're unfazed by anything that happens in the game," Penn State coach Coquese Washington said of her top two scorers.
No. 13 Marist 76, No. 4 Georgia 70
Corielle Yarde scored 21 points, Brandy Gang had 18 and the Red Foxes shot 52.5 percent from the field to upset the Bulldogs in Tallahassee, Fla.
"We knew that we just had to throw it all out there and work as hard as we could, and that's what we did," Gang said.