Hens survive Pollard’s 31 points in 85-77 women’s win over DSU

The Hornets’ NaJai Pollard puts up a jumper in the first half against the University of Delaware. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

DOVER — The Delaware women’s basketball team has never lost to Delaware State.

That’s still true after the state’s only two NCAA Division I programs met on Tuesday night, but not before the Blue Hens rallied from a six-point halftime deficit and survived a big night from the Hornets’ NaJai Pollard.

Pollard collected a game-high 31 points and 15 rebounds but it wasn’t enough as Delaware rallied for an 85-77 victory over DSU at Memorial Hall.

The Hens (2-2) outscored the Hornets, 29-18, in the third quarter before improving to 11-0 in the all-time series.

Delaware State University senior NaJai Pollard goes to the floor trying to recover a loose ball during Tuesday night’s game against the University of Delaware at Memorial Hall.

Four players scored in double figures for Delaware, led by Abby Gonzales. Gonzales, who registered 20 points in Delaware’s win over Nicholls on Saturday, upped her career-high to 21 points against the Hornets.

The junior guard sank a career-best five three-pointers to go along with eight assists.

But the biggest spark of the night may have been provided by Gadson Lefft as the redshirt senior scored her first career points in a Blue Hen uniform and finished with 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field. Lefft added a career-high six rebounds, two assists and two steals in 16 minutes.

Delaware State head coach David Caputo goes over strategy during a timeout Tuesday night.

Nine straight points from Lefft in the third quarter turned the tide as Delaware took the lead for good. The Hens led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter.

Junior Bailey Kargo collected a season-best 15 points while senior Makeda Nicholas logged 12 points, three steals and two blocked shots.

DSU’s Pollard hit 12-of-25 shots from the floor while playing 37 minutes. She also had three blocks.

Lanayjha Ashe added 18 points, including 3-for-4 shooting from three-point range, with A’Nikeyawna Barber scoring 13 for the Hornets. DelState held a 38-32 halftime lead.

Delaware’s 26 assists were good for sixth in the program’s single-season history and are the most for the Hens since posting 27 against Delaware State on Dec. 10, 1992.

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