NEWARK, Del. (AP)—Elena Delle Donne couldn’t help but smile as she enjoyed the celebration.
A raucous crowd of nearly 3,400 started to pile on the court after the Blue Hens overcame an eight-point lead in the second half.
“We’re in shock but we are definitely soaking it all in,” Delle Donne said. “But we have to remember it’s only the second game of the season and there is still a lot to work on. We are going to enjoy this night but we’re going to come back tomorrow ready to go.”
The Lions (2-1) were the highest-ranked team the Blue Hens (2-0) have ever beaten. It was also just the third victory over a Top 25 team for Delaware, which had been receiving votes in the weekly poll.
Delle Donne also had 12 rebounds and four blocks while making 15 of her 23 shots. Her 40 points were the third highest total in program history as well as in her career. The total also set a single-game women’s record for the Carpenter Center.
“I’m giving the game ball to Elena since I called her so much tonight,” Delaware head coach Tina Martin said. “She deserves it, but so does the whole team. It’s sweet to be a Blue Hen tonight. I’m just really happy for everyone.”
Alex Bentley scored 20 points to lead Penn State.
Before Thursday, the previous highest ranked team Delaware beat was No. 20 Kentucky in 2006.
In a contest that featured 10 lead changes and five ties, the Blue Hens trailed 51-43 after a 3-pointer from Penn State’s Zhaque Gray with 12:08 remaining in the game.
Delaware, which led by as many as 12 points at the start of the contest, took its first lead of the second half at 59-58 on a three-point play by Delle Donne with 7:24 left. After four lead changes, the Blue Hens went ahead for good at 63-62 when Jocelyn Bailey scored on an offensive rebound.
Delaware finished the game on a 19-9 run.
Junior guard Trumae Lucas, a transfer from Florida, added 15 points for the Blue Hens.
Gray added 15 for the Lions, who shot only 28.9 percent (11-of-38) in the second half.
Delaware scored eight of the game’s first nine points and held a 15-3 lead when Delle Donne sank a pair of free throws with 16:22 left in the first half. Penn State answered with a 15-0 run, taking its first advantage of the game at 16-15 on a Bentley jumper with 11:15 remaining before intermission.
The two teams the lead four more times before halftime. The Lions then used a 9-1 spurt to go up 35-30 before taking a 35-32 halftime lead.