NEWARK, Del. (AP) — Delaware had just bounced North Carolina from the NCAA tournament in front of a boisterous sellout crowd that included Vice President Joe Biden, and it was now time for Elena Della Donne and her teammates to show their appreciation.
They gathered in the center of the court and waved to the standing throng, many of whom were chanting, "Let's Go Hens!"
In another section of the small arena, North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell seethed.
Delle Donne scored 33 points in her final home game, and Delaware rallied past the foul-plagued Tar Heels 78-69 on Tuesday night to advance to the round of 16 for the first time in school history.
After the final buzzer, Delle Donne had mixed emotions as she waved to the 4,653 cheering fans.
"It was a little sad, it was emotional, saying goodbye," she said. "But to leave this way is absolutely incredible. I even said to the girls before the game, 'We deserve to win our last game on this court.' That's how everybody played."
The sixth-seeded Blue Hens (32-3) trailed 50-42 with 15:31 left before coming back to extend their school-record winning streak to 27 games and eliminate No. 3 seed North Carolina (29-7). Delaware will next travel to Connecticut to face second-seeded Kentucky.
Biden was part of the second straight packed house at Delaware. Most of the fans wore royal blue, yellow, or a combination of both. The majority were standing during the final 5 minutes, when it became apparent the Blue Hens and Delle Donne would be playing at least once more this season.
Biden, it seems, was standing before then.
"The president of the University of Delaware said that the Vice President kept standing up and blocking everybody's view," Blue Hens coach Tina Martin said. "A few people wanted to say, 'Mr. Vice President, please sit down,' but I don't think the Vice President would have sat down. He's been one of our biggest fans. We certainly are honored and humbled he came to see us tonight."
Waltiea Rolle scored 23 points for the Tar Heels, but the 6-foot-6 senior was in foul trouble for much of the second half and finally picked up her fifth with 4:08 left.
North Carolina point guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, who scored a career-high 30 points against Albany in the tournament opener, played the final 11:55 with four fouls and finished with four points on 1-for-13 shooting.
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