Elena Delle Donne, the 6'5" junior with nationwide notoriety, came up with some amazing shots for the Blue Hens of Delaware in its NCAA tournament second-round game against Kansas. In the end though, it was 5'4" point guard Angel Goodrich of Kansas who controlled the game when it mattered, leading her team to a 70-64 victory.
It was not what most people watching expected to see. Delle Donne led the nation in scoring this season, just three years after leaving UConn following a standout prep career that made her one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation. She scored 39 points in the first round. Tuesday night she dropped a cool 34 on the Jayhawks.
It was not enough as Angel Goodrich responded with 27 points to lead the 11th-seed Kansas to an upset win over No. 3-seed Delaware. The Jayhawks did it by shooting 50 percent from the field as a team.
Maybe it is not the outcome that many fans of the women's game wanted. It is understandable that for the game to flourish, the best players should be playing in the biggest games, and Delle Donne is without a doubt one of those players. But on this night it was not meant to be.
Kansas—one of three schools to advance both men's and women's teams, along with Baylor and Kentucky—will instead fly on the back of an Angel to the Sweet 16. This was unfathomable not long before the end of conference play for the Jayhawks, as the last time the program made an appearance in the women's tournament was 2000.
It may not be what was expected, but Goodrich and the Jayhawks provide a great storyline for the game to now focus on. The Cinderellas will face one of the elite programs of the women's hoops world against Tennessee.
Goodrich is a redshirt junior. Three years ago, the same year Delle Donne left UConn, Angel Goodrich tore her right ACL just days after her first experience dazzling the Allen Fieldhouse crowd at Late Night in the Phog. She didn't play for the entire season, the same as Delle Donne. In the next season playing with the team, she tore the ACL in her left leg 15 games into the season. She rehabbed through both injuries and returned dedicated to making Kansas a postseason contender.
It has been noted that Goodrich has a strong faith in God, a faith that sustained her through the troubling times of battling back from injury. She would not be here without Him, she says. Before every game she thanks God quietly during the national anthem.
It was on those two rehabbed knees that Goodrich carried her team. The Jayhawks defended the nation's best scorer as well as you can ask a team to do, and Delle Donne still managed 34 points. It was Angel who shined on offense, though.
Jumpers, drives, pull-ups, everything was dropping for the Oklahoma native as she led the team in scoring as well as assists with six, a number that seemed like it could have been higher.
The 70-64 victory brings Kansas to the Sweet 16 for just the third time in program history—the first since 1998.
The magical night for Goodrich became an unfortunate one for Delle Donne. As she spoke after the game in tearful words, she said that it was the seniors of Delaware that she felt sorry for. "We had a lot of fun," Delle Donne said.
Both players are wonderful representatives for the sport. If this game does not break the news pattern of monotonous sports coverage devoted to the offseason of Peyton Manning drama and Men's Madness, do not feel sorry for the game of women's basketball. Feel sorry for those hoops fans who missed it.