The University of Delaware women's basketball team played its best offensive game of the season on Tuesday in Boston. The result was a 76-51 rout of Northeastern and a 24th consecutive CAA win for the Hens.
After limping its way through a sloppy 63-46 victory at Old Dominion on Sunday, a performance head coach Tina Martin described afterward as far from pretty, UD was hoping to look a bit crisper against the Huskies.
Most figured the Hens would find more success executing on offense against Northeastern on Tuesday; however, even a cockeyed optimist did not foresee the Hens knocking down six-out-of-seven three-pointers in the first 20 minutes.
Delaware entered with a clear plan of attack against Northeastern: space the floor against the Huskies' extended zone and make them pay for leaving the corner unguarded.
One player in particular went into the game knowing she was going to get open looks—the only problem was that she had made just six of her previous 30 shot attempts from the floor.
But senior Lauren Carra put her recent shooting slump in the rearview mirror by knocking down four perimeter jumpers (including three three-pointers) in the game's first eight minutes.
In fact, Carra shot the ball so well she forced Northeastern to experiment with a triangle and two defense, which opened things up for everyone else.
Reigning CAA Co-Player of the Week Elena Delle Donne lived at the foul line, hitting 10-of-11 free throws on her way to 19 points. Jaquetta May feasted on second-chance opportunities as she added 10 points off the bench. And Danielle Parker made Northeastern pay all night for leaving her alone in the high post by burying several 14-foot jumpers.
The story was Carra, though, who equaled a season-high with 20 points and added nine rebounds. Considering she had been averaging just five points per game over her previous five contests, Tuesday could not have been a more welcome development for Delaware.
In order to accomplish what they are capable of in the NCAA Tournament, the Hens need Carra to provide offense. She is Delaware's best perimeter shooter outside of Delle Donne and has also developed into a very capable finisher near the rim.
During her recent slump however, Carra had become a tad passive on offense, not pulling the trigger on shot opportunities the Hens need her to take. The coaching staff implored her to keep shooting leading into Tuesday, and everyone around the program knew it was only a matter of time until Carra snapped out of her recent funk.
To the senior's credit, she was not going to sit back and wait for it to happen. She said after the game on Tuesday that she has pretty much lived at the gym, shooting hundreds of extra jumpers a night in an attempt to regain her
Luckily for Delaware, hard work paid off. Carra let it fly every time she got an open look at the basket, and made eight of her 14 field goal attempts. She also had three more rattle in and out on her.
She was so hot that not even two early fouls could slow her down. After a five-minute rest, Martin put Carra right back into the lineup, which sparked a 14-2 run that essentially ended the game's competitive phase.
Carra can be a difference-maker for this Delaware team—she just needs to shoot with some confidence. When she does that, it opens up things for everyone else and allows the Hens to have infinitely better offensive balance in their half-court sets.
That's why Tuesday was such a welcome sign for the Hens.