Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Guru's Roundup: Rider Bridging Generations With Its Hot Start

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – A fast start in individual games has gotten the Rider University women’s  basketball team off to one of its best opening weeks ever.

How fast?

Would you believe the last time the Broncs achieved some of their similar success, nearly half the undergraduate class was still a ways off from being born.

Things like winning at Princeton in the season opener. Starting 3-0. Beating La Salle. Starting Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play 2-0 on the Western New York road trip.

And a gritty 75-68 non-conference  victory Thursday night over host Lehigh (5-5) made it two three-game win streaks though one could turn into four if the current Broncs (6-2) squad wins a non-conference game Sunday at Towson outside Baltimore.

"We started the game again really well, defensively,” said Rider coach Lynn (Donovan) Milligan, the Broncs alum in her 10th season sfter a past stint at Saint Joseph’s as an assistant to to Cindy Griffin and also a former Drexel assistant. “Got some quick turnovers. Were able to jump out a little bit. A little lull there in the middle of the seond and third quarters but I felt that our starts to every quarter were very solid.

“And our depth was very key today because we got into some big time foul trouble.”

In this one Rider dominated the paint 50-22, 22-15 on points off turnovers, and 13-2 in second chance points.

Rider led for all but 1 minute and 50 seconds. The Broncs’ largest lead was 12 at 7:19 of the third quarter in a game that primarily every Mountain Hawks rally had a counter thrust to keep the visitors in front with a small cushion.

“It’s definitely a different mentality with this group. I think our seniors are doing a good job leading this group,” Milligan said. “We’re not – we don’t get in panic mood. I think we’re confident within what we’re doing and confident with each other and I think that shows if somebody makes a mistake, or we get a missed shot, someody else is going to get a steal and back them up and that’s really been helping us.”

Rider senior Robin Perkins had 19 points and five of the Broncs’ nine steals helping to provide help when co-starters Juli Duggan and Stella Johnson got in foul trouble.

Kamila Hoskova had 14 points and Johnnah Johnson had 10 points

Lehigh’s Quinci Mann had 14 points, Cameryn Benz off the bench scored 12, and Hannah Headstrom scored 10 points.

“I felt like our pace picked up. I felt like at one point we let them dictate the game and then when started running the ball and getting stops, that changed the game,” said Rider’s Perkins.

“It’s easier and we were able to get the ball in the bucket. It’s hard to score against it and we’re switching up so much more.

Lehigh was coming home off a Monday visit to Villanova in which the Wildcats finished them off with a 19-3 run in the last quarter.

“Rider played well and we did a poor job stopping them, particularly in the paint,” Lehigh coach Sue Troyan said. “They had their way with us tonight. Every time we made a run, they had a response. That’s probably indicative of a senior-laden team, too. They did a good job of responding.

“When Duggan got in foul trouble, that’s probably to our advantage, but then Perkins played well. That was a really dynamic player and we had trouble stopping her as well.”

That was the only game on the local sked Thursday and no one plays Friday night.

On Saturday, Temple visits Villanova at 1 p.m. In a battle of 2-0 squads City Series wise that will battle for Big Five advantage.

Pittsburgh travels to Penn State making it the first time that Lady Lion all-time great Suzie McConnell-Serio will be coaching against her alma mater.

La Salle will try to avoid a letdown hosting Fairfield after its upset of Penn while the Quakers will try to get back on track traveling to Richmond.

Princeton visits Fordham trying to keep up its hot streak while Rutgers will be looking for its third win, visiting Houston.

On Sunday, Army visits Delaware and two national games of note is UConn after its Notre Dame win, visiting unbeaten Kansas State while Tennessee visits Texas.

And that’s a wrap

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Guru Report: La Salle Drops Penn on Adreana Miller Three-Pointer

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – As a clinic in well-played basketball it was a nightmare.

 As Philadelphia Big 5 suspenseful theater goes regardless of gender but regardful of the ending it was a classic.

And when it was over thanks to Adreanna Miler’s three-pointer with less than a second remaining in overtime Wednesday night  the recent uptick in La Salle’s won-loss record continued, courtesy of the Explorers’ 58-56 victory at The Palestra, while the ongoing shock over Penn’s struggles to date was also maintained.

The Explorers, who started the season 0-3 losing to Lafayette, Temple and Rider, have now won five of six for an overall 5-4 record and the sixth was a winnable game at Villanova in which the Wildcats emerged triumphant 52-49.

La Salle bounced back though winning at Dayton 54-51 Sunday in the opener to the Atlantic 10 race in which the Explorers were picked 12th by the conference’s 13 other coaches.

 Immediately after the winning shot in a game in which La Salle rallied from two seven-point deficits late in regulation and again in the extra period, Explorers coach Jeff Williams, shaking his head, couldn’t get answered the why and how in this one but was ready to proclaim, “We’ll take it.”

Perhaps Williams in his 7th season might be due some brightness after arriving from Pittsburgh as an assistant with a pretty good recruiting track record but has suffered through a myriad of injuries to key players.

The win stopped a four-year losing streak in the series for the Explorers, who still lead the overall by a lopsided 34-10 though Penn had won five of the previous six meetings.

“We talk about sharing the ball and being good teammates and they’re starting to get it,” Williams said. “We just wanted to be in position at the end of the game to have an opportunity to win.

“We got back in it and Adreana Miller hit that two big threes. We couldn’t guard their big kids so we switched it up to a 2-3 zone. They had some opportunities to make some shots but they were killing us on the offensive glass. They had a lot of opportunities but the ball just wasn’t falling for them tonight.

“We wanted someone to step up and be great. It’s good to get a Big Five win and our kids are learning to close out close ones.

“We host Fairfield Saturday and we don’t want to have a letdown.”

On the other side, however, Penn coach Mike McLaughlin, who was able to smile through his 2-win inaugural season here after years of molding Division II Holy Family in Northeast Philadelphia to a dominate power, must be wondering how much more he has to take.

At the outset of the season times had changed from the mostly doormat era prior to his arrival at Penn.

 A deep talented roster with no major graduation losses was picked unanimously to repeat as Ivy champions without regard to the extra hurdle of a new Ivy four-team NCAA qualifying tournament at the finish, which will be played at The Palestra.

Another share or potentially outright claim to the Big 5 crown was no longer outrageous.

And in general the Quakers became part of the discussion on overall outlook as to who might be best in the city.

“An ugly win over an NCAA team” is how Williams labeled the effort, though Penn has an equal 5-4 mark overall.
For Penn fans, surprised at what they are seeing, it is more of just plain ugly especially when it had seemed things were finally getting on track.

After suffering from uncharacteristic stage fright in the opener at Duke, the Quakers shook off the volley and played competitively against the Blue Devils the rest of the way. But then came an upset home loss to Birmingham, a seemingly right the ship win at Rhode Island and then a 57-53 Big Five home loss to Saint Joseph’s, which has its own struggles so far.

But since then two easy-as-expected wins at Lafayette and Wagner followed heading into Wednesday night.

However, 45 minutes later instead of alive for a piece of Big Five hardware, Penn (0-2) has joined the Explorers (1-2) and Saint Joseph’s (1-2) as two-loss teams leaving Saturday’s showdown on the Main Line between Temple (2-0) and Villanova (2-0) to determine which of the two becomes the frontrunner with each left still having to travel to Penn next month.

“The gaps we have scoring the ball,” McLaughlin said about what isn’t working. “We go up 14, we have a good rhythm and then we go long stretches without scoring and executing.

“We allow people to come back little bit by little bit. Now they went on a 9-0 run and got it to 40-35 when we had control of the game. Same thing happened again in overtime. We don’t close. We left points on the table. I give (La Salle) credit, they fought to the end but we had ample opportunities to close it out and at the end the game. We didn’t close it out. It’s on us.”

Penn travels to Richmond Saturday.

As for the game itself, in the early going La Salle powered its way to an eight-point lead settling for one less at the end of the first quarter 18-11  as Amy Griffin scored 11 and Penn’s Michelle  Nwokedi scored all but three of the Quakers’ 11 points.

But then in the second period after La Salle made it 20-11, Penn exploded on a 12-0 run that became 16-4 with the Explorers not hitting a field goal attempt until Griffin hit a shot with five seconds left in the half to make it 27-24 at the break.

Penn remained in control after the break, building a 40-26 lead near the end of the third quarter and dating the run back to the original deficit at 29-6.

So how do you explain what happened next considering that for the game La Salle had 20 turnovers compared to 4 by Penn and the Quakers had 26 boards on the offensive glass versus 15 by the Explorers, who still had a 47-41 overall rebounding advantage.

There were missed layups and some careless ball handling to go with a 2-for-18 fourth quarter attack from the field for 11.1 percent compared to 5-for-11 by La Salle.

Penn shot 7-for-13 from the line compared to 15-for-19 for La Salle.

Still, Penn was  up seven at 45-38 with 4 minutes, 20  seconds left in regulation.

But the Explorers kept chipping away, making shots at the foul line when both teams failed to connect on a field goal till Griffin tied it with a shot but Penn retook the lead on Nwokedi’s score with 16 seconds left.

Griffin and La Salle were not done, however, and she tied it with a jumper with four seconds left to force the overtime.

At the outset of the overtime, Penn seemed to get another life courtesy of Nwokedi who powered the Quakers to another seven-point lead at 55-48 with 2:34 left.

Still, Nwokedi, who became more consistent later in the game, shot 10-for-24 from the field while Sydney Stipanovich had eight points off 3-for-15 and each grabbed nine rebounds.

Summing her night in terms of what worked and what didn’t,  Nwokedi said, “… learning to finish off with contact.”

Nwokedi blocked a shot – the two posts each had three on the night – but La. Salle got the rebound and then Griffin cut it to five with two free throws.

Stipanovich missed a shot and then Adreanna Miller hit a trey to cut the deficit to two with 1:17 left.

Kasey Chambers went 1-for-2 from the line for Penn, then Shalina Miller went inside to cut it to one with Penn getting possession.

But when Anna Ross went up with a shot with eight seconds left, Jasmine Alston blocked it and Griffin grabbed it.

The ball then got whipped over to Adreanna Miller, who slit the nets with the game-winner as Penn couldn’t get a shot off in the final moments off an in-bounds play.

Adreana Miller had 18 points behind Griffin’s 22 for La Salle while Chambers also scored in double figures for Penn with 10 fueled by three treys.


Contemplating the Remainder at the Top of the Big Five

Villanova and Temple are 2-0 heading into Saturday’s game at the Wildcats’ Pavilion.

The winner clinches a tie at 3-0. If either or Temple beat Penn with that record they win at 4-0 and could actually win by a rare two games if the other loses to Penn.

With one of the teams who is the winner Saturday takes a 3-0 record to Penn, they could still win outright at 3-1, something Villanova did last year, if both lose to Penn.

If one team wins Saturday and loses at Penn while the other does it in reverse then Temple and Villanova at 3-1 share the title.


Rounding Up the Rest of the Locals

It was a good night for Princeton, Penn State and Delaware but not so good for Temple and Rutgers, who meet each other at Rutgers a week from Saturday.

The comeback in the early season right now is Princeton, which got off to a tying worst-ever start at 0-4 in the decade-long Courtney Banghart era and now has a momentum thrusting 4-game streak to even the record at 4-4 as the coach’s career wins reached 196.

Included in this run are two wipeouts of Rutgers and Seton Hall to take the mini-Garden State series and Wednesday night’s 65-27 smother of Lafayette (1-9) at home in Jadwin Gym.

The last time a team was held under 30 by the Tigers was an Ivy season-ending 78-27 win over Penn on March 8, 2011, while Columbia, then called Barnard, scored just 14 on Jan. 8, 1941.

Lafayette hasn’t won since opening night at La Salle.

Tia Weledji had a career-high 20 points for the Tigers, Taylor Brown scored 14, and Vanessa Smith had 11 while freshman Bella Alarie, the reigning Ivy rookie and co-player of the week, blocked four shots.

Princeton dominated the boards 52-31 and grabbed 14 steals.

The Tigers travel to Fordham Saturday.

Penn State had an easy time beating Holy Cross 84-48 at the Hart Center in Worcester, Mass.

Lindsey Spann had 18 points for the Lady Lions (7-2) reaching 902 for her career while Kaliyah Mitchell set a career mark with four treys and scored 15 points, while Taniya Page scored 17. And Sierra Moore from the reserves scored 10 against the Crusaders (1-7).

Next up Saturday is a special homecoming as Susie McConnell-Serio, Penn State’s all-timer and Olympic gold medalist, returns as a coach bringing state rival Pittsburgh to the Bryce Jordan Center.

Delaware, meanwhile, traveled to Loyola, Md., outside downtown Baltimore, and escaped with a 47-45 non-conference win despite 40 percent shooting from the field and committing 17 turnovers against the Greyhounds (3-5).

Nicole Enabosi nailed three foul shots for the Blue Hens (6-3) in the final 14 seconds to seal the victory as coach Tina Martin gained her 398th career victory.

“It’s all about winning and he bottom line is we did that tonight,” Martin said. “Our offense has been struggling but our defense has been solid and we found a way to win tonight.”

Delaware has won 12 straight in the series and is 13-1 overall, though this is the first game between the two schools since 2005.

Erika Brown led Delaware, scoring 15 points, the only Blue Hen in double figures while Enabosi, the CAA player of the week, grabbed seven rebounds.

Next up is a visit from Army on Sunday.

So much for the happy talk from the local group.

Temple either got caught in a trap game or had too much homecoming from a bunch of Virginia-bred players because the wake up call came too late in a 71-65 loss at Hampton of the MEAC that dropped the Owls to 4-3 heading into Saturday’s Big 5 game at Villanova.

Hampton improved to 4-5.

The Owls did cut what had been a 19-point deficit to four with less than 30 seconds left before Temple was forced to foul, putting the opposition at the line to play keep away regarding the outcome.

Feyonda Fitzgerald celebrated her return by scoring 29 points while Alliyah Butts scored 17, and Ruth Sherrill grabbed 10 rebounds.

Finally, on the local scoreboard in the fourth game in the last seven games (whatever spin it takes), Rutgers went from heartbreaking loss in the overtime setback at home to James Madison Monday night back to massacred mode, losing over on Long Island, losing to former old Big East rival Saint John’s 65-39 at Carnesca Arena.

Kandiss Barber had 11 points for the Scarlet Knights (2-8) while Akina Wellere had 19 for the Red Storm (2-8).

Rutgers stays on the road Saturday traveling to play Houston, a one-year rival when the Scarlet Knights temporarily shared membership in the American Athletic Conference before moving on to the Big Ten.

Just one game on Thursday's slate in this category, Rider the little team that could, takes its 4-2 record to visit Lehigh in the Pennsylvania side of the Pocono mountains.



Camille Zimmerman had 27 points and the game-winner with 7.5 seconds remaining as Columbia beat Providence in overtime at home 66-64 to improve to 6-2 and drop the Friars to 7-2. … Kansas State became the 20th program and second Big 12 school to win 900 games as the Wildcats topped UT-Arlington 62-49 at home in Manhattan before hosting Connecticut this weekend. The Huskies are now 8-0 after beating Notre Dame and meet a Kansas State team that is 9-0. … George Washington, which earlier lost a local battle to Georgetown, dropped another one, falling 66-61 at American in overtime as AU evened the series with the Colonials at 13-13 to go 3-5 on the season while GWU fell to 7-3. .. Kelsey Mitchell scored 23 and became the fastest to reach 2000 career points as Ohio State (7-3) beat visiting Southern U. 108-73. The Buckeyes visit UConn, Dec. 19 in Hartford.


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

UConn Keeps Dominating the AP 1 vs. 2 Games

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Since but not including, the 2001 NCAA semifinal meltdown against Notre Dame when an upstart freshman named Diana Taurasi suddenly couldn't make a shot, Connecticut has gone 15-1 in AP Women's Poll 1 vs. 2 games.

The one loss was at the Brittney Griner-led Baylor squad 66-60 in 2011 when the Huskies were the No. 2 team. Two of the wins in the run they were also the No. 2 team, beating South Carolina and Stanford.

Ergo since that 2001 loss to Notre Dame UConn is 13-0 as the No. 1 team, which means the voters in the battleground states that flipped the Huskies by a slim two-point margin past the Irish This week, despite both teams being unbeaten, must have seen something brewing Wednesday niight.

Previously UConn has one other loss as a No. 1 to Tennessee in 1999.

Here is the entire 1 vs. 2 AP file which the Guru keeps a spare and just updated. Hopefully it's in synch with what is on the wire. Beat up on the Guru if he is wrong.

Date: 12/07/2016

BC-BKW--No 1 vs No 2/578
No. 1 vs. No. 2 
The Associated Press

No. 1 leads 37-21

2016 – No. 1 Connecticut defeated No. 2 Notre Dame 72-61 on Dec. 7 2016) at South Bend, Ind.

2016 – No. 1 Connecticut defeated No. 2 South Carolina 66-54 on Feb. 8 in Columbia, S.C.

2015 – No. 1 Connecticut defeated No. 2 Notre Dame 63-53, on April 7 at Tampa, Fla., for NCAA Title.

2015 – No. 2 Connecticut defeated No. 1 South Carolina 87-62, Feb. 9 at Storrs, Conn.

2014 – No. 1 Connecticut defeated No. 2 Notre Dame 79-58 on April 8 at Nashville for NCAA title both were undefeated.

2013 – No. 1 Connecticut defeated No. 2 Duke 83-61 on Dec. 17 at Durham, N.C.

2012 – No. 2 Connecticut defeated No. 1 Stanford 61-35 on Dec. 29 at Stanford, Calif.

2012 – No. 1 Baylor defeated No. 2 Stanford in the NCAA semifinals 59-47 on April 1 in Denver.

2011 – No. 1 Baylor defeated No. 2 Connecticut 66-61 in Waco, Texas on Dec. 18

2011 – No. 1 Baylor defeated No. 2 Notre Dame 94-81 in Waco, Texas on Nov. 22 in final of Preseason WNIT.

2010 – No. 1 Connecticut defeated No. 2 Baylor 65-54 at Hartford, Conn. In the State Farm Tipoff Classic on Nov. 16.

2010 — No. 1 Connecticut 53, No. 2 Stanford 47, NCAA championship, at San Antonio on April 6.

2009 — No. 1 Connecticut 80, No. 2 Stanford 68 at Hartford, Conn. On Dec. 23.

2009 — No. 1 Connecticut 83, No. 2 Stanford 64, NCAA semifinals, at St. Louis on April 5.

2009 — No. 1 Connecticut 88, No. 2 North Carolina 58, at Chapel Hill, N.C. on Jan. 19.

2007 — No. 1 Duke 64, No. 2 North Carolina 53, at Chapel Hill, N.C. on Feb. 8.

2006 — No. 2 North Carolina 77, No. 1 Duke 65, at Chapel Hill, N.C. on Feb. 25.

2006 — No. 2 Duke 75, No. 1 Tennessee 53, at Durham, N.C. on Jan. 23.

2004 — No. 2 Tennessee 72, No. 1 Duke 69, at Durham, N.C. on Jan. 24.

2003 — No. 2 Connecticut 77, No. 1 Duke 65, at Durham, N.C. on Feb. 1. It was the 59th consecutive victory for the Huskies.

2002 — No. 1 Duke 76, No. 2 Tennessee 55, at Raleigh, N.C. on Nov. 24 in the inaugural women’s Jimmy V. Classic.

2002 — No. 1 Connecticut 82, No. 2 Oklahoma 70, NCAA championship, on March 29 at San Antonio

2002 — No. 1 Connecticut 86, No. 2 Tennessee 72 on Jan. 5 at Knoxville, Tenn.

2001 — No. 2 Notre Dame 90, No. 1 Connecticut 75, NCAA semifinals, on March 30 at St. Louis

2001 — No. 2 Connecticut 78, No. 1 Notre Dame 76, Big East Championship final, on March 7 at Storrs, Conn.

2000 — No. 1 Connecticut 81, No. 2 Tennessee 76, on Dec. 30 at Hartford, Conn.

2000 — No. 1 Connecticut won the NCAA title with a 71-52 win over No. 2 Tennessee (tied with No. 2 Georgia) at Philadelphia.

2000 — No. 1 Connecticut 74, No. 2 Tennessee 67, on Jan. 8 at Knoxville, Tenn.

1999 — No. 2 Tennessee 92, No. 1 Connecticut 81, on Jan. 10 at Storrs, Conn.

1997 — No. 1 Tennessee 75, No. 2 Louisiana Tech 61, at Knoxville, Tenn.

1996 — No. 1 Stanford 74, No. 2 Alabama 65, on Nov. 17 at Stanford, Calif.

1995 — No. 2 Connecticut 77, No. 1 Tennessee 66, on Jan. 16 at Storrs, Conn.

1994 — No. 1 Tennessee 105, No. 2 Stanford 69, on Dec. 1 at Knoxville, Tenn.

1993 — No. 2 Tennessee 73, No. 1 Vanderbilt 68, at Nashville, Tenn.

1992 — No. 1 Tennessee 84, No. 2 Stanford 79, at Knoxville, Tenn.

1992 — No. 2 Tennessee 74, No. 1 Stanford 73, OT, at Honolulu, Hawaii.

1992 — No. 2 Virginia 75, No. 1 Maryland 74, at College Park, Md.

1989 — No. 2 Louisiana Tech 59, No. 1 Tennessee 58, at Knoxville, Tenn.

1989 — No. 1 Tennessee 76, No. 2 Auburn 60, NCAA championship, at Tacoma, Wash.

1989 — No. 2 Tennessee 66, No. 1 Auburn 61, SEC championship, at Albany, Ga.

1988 — No. 1 Tennessee 88, No. 2 Long Beach State 74, at Knoxville, Tenn.

1987 — No. 2 Texas 97, No. 1 Tennessee 78, at Knoxville, Tenn.

1986 — No. 2 Texas 88, No. 1 Tennessee 74, at Miami

1985 — No. 1 Old Dominion 84, No. 2 Long Beach State 71, at Norfolk, Va.

1984 — No. 2 Louisiana Tech 85, No. 1 Texas 60, NCAA Midwest championship, at Ruston, La.

1984 — No. 2 Louisiana Tech 75, No. 1 Southern Cal 66, at Ruston, La.

1983 — No. 2 Southern Cal 69, No. 1 Louisiana Tech 67, NCAA championship, at Norfolk, Va.

1983 — No. 2 Louisiana Tech 58, No. 1 Southern Cal 56, at Los Angeles

1982 — No. 1 Southern Cal 64, No. 2 Louisiana Tech 58, at Ruston, La.

1982 — No. 1 Louisiana Tech 76, No. 2 Cheyney 62, NCAA championship, at Norfolk, Va.

1982 _ No. 1 Louisiana Tech 71, No. 2 South Carolina 58, at Columbia, S.C.

1981 — No. 1 Louisiana Tech 68, No. 2 Old Dominion 51, at New York

1981 — No. 1 Louisiana Tech 79, No. 2 Tennessee 59, AIAW championship, at Euguene, Ore.

1981 — No. 1 Louisiana Tech 81, No. 2 Old Dominion 47, at Ruston, La.

1980 — No. 1 Old Dominion 68, No. 2 Tennessee, 53, AIAW championship, at Mount Pleasant, Mich.

1980 — No. 1 Old Dominion 75, No. 2 Texas 45, at Norfolk, Va.

1979 — No. 1 Old Dominion 75, No. 2 Louisiana Tech 65, AIAW championship, at Greensboro, N.C.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Guru's AP Poll History: Narrow Vote For No. 1 Is Behind Two No. 1 Ties

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Duke is back, Tennessee is gone ahead, and a narrow margin flips UConn to No. 1 first time this season though Notre Dame did not lose to earn its demotion. The two meet Wednesday night.

These are some of the highlights causing the Guru to write an enhanced AP women’s poll notes column off the database to compliment the poll story news produced Monday by the AP’s Doug Feinberg.

As it turns out, the No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown Wednesday night in South Bend, Ind., now has Connecticut at the top and Notre Dame dropped to second with a two-point difference in the voting by a national media panel causing the switch as the Huskies impressed with their Sunday win over Texas to go with previous wins over Florida State and Baylor.

It’s the closest vote in some time and first time since 2005 when Tennessee slipped past Duke off an impressive weekend that a switch was made in the voting.

But it is not the closest vote in the history of the poll, though the previous two times it happened when the voting panel was coaches and both came on open ballot situations.

Going into Jan. 29, 1980, Louisiana Tech suffered a loss and fell from the rankings resulting in a first-ever first place tie between Texas and Old Dominion. They might have actually met next but in any event, the Guru believes Texas took a loss and ODU retained the top all alone.

In the preseason vote of 1989-90 Louisiana Tech and Tennessee tied for first, the only other time there has been a deadlock at the top in the 41-year history of the vote.

They met in Knoxville at the outset and Tennessee prevailed to take over first on its lonesome.


Whoa ! Duke Is Back; Woe is Tennessee

Duke’s upset of then-No. 3 South Carolina at home Sunday propelled the Blue Devils back into the rankings after they fell during last season, ending one of the longest rankings runs in AP women’s poll history.

Tennessee’s banishment after four weeks marks the continuation of the downfall of the Lady Vols in later years while Connecticut continues to dominate the rankings.

Near the end of last season the Lady Vols fell and missed the four final rankings, including, for the first time, the final poll, ending a record streak of 565 weeks across three decades.

This will now be the fifth season of the 41 that Tennessee was not in every poll.

The Lady Vols missed the first-ever preseason poll in 1976, entered the next week and stayed until a four-week absence during the 1981-1982 season. Then they returned and stayed until about this time in the 1984-85 season when they were gone nine weeks but came back to launch what became the record run.

All that was under the watch of he legendary Pat Summitt, who passed away last June after a five year battle against Alzheimer’s Disease.

In all, she only missed 14 polls, compiling an appearance record that will take a long time to beat, even as UConn, which didn’t get to Tennessee’s level after being behind 14 years, began to surpass the Lady Vols achievements.

But here’s thing: Those drops occurred when the poll was a Top 20 vote and had not expanded to 25, but if that listing had been in place, then the Tennessee streak would have been much longer.

Following their demise last season, the Lady Vols returned in this year’s preseason vote but lasting just four weeks, the quickest ejection which comes off three Sunday losses at Penn State, Virginia Tech, and at hpme this past weekend getting blasted by Baylor.

This is the 715th week of the poll dating to 1976-77 and Tennessee has now missed just 19 times but the dropouts the last two seasons has delayed them becoming the first to earn 700 rankings.

Furthermore, though Tennessee is way ahead of UConn in appearances since the Huskies didn’t come on the scene until the late 1980s, the Guru believes, and he will show the results, if the formula was applied that was used to produce the all-time football poll in the fall, then UConn would likely be the all-time program.

For one, though Tennessee picks up a point per ranking landing way ahead of UConn by 227, if applying the two-point bonuses over total first place votes – UConn now has done it 204 times – the Huskies pick up 184 points, award five points for No. 1 poll finishes, UConn picks up 40 points, subtotal becomes 224, and then use 10 points for the real national title, and UConn picks up another 40 off 11 titles to nine for Tennessee.


Other Notes

Stanford became the fourth program to reach 500 rankings trailing Tennessee’s 696, Georgia’s 522, and Texas’ 505. UConn has 469 and can hit the total next season.

Mississippi State reached the Top 5 for the first time. Third-ranked Baylor and fourth-ranked Maryland are tied for Top 5 appearances at 115, for 10th place.

Last week it was the SEC, now the ACC has seven teams in the top 25, followed by the PAC-12 (5), the SEC and Big 12 (4 each), the Big 10 (2), the AAC (2), and the Big East (1).

And that’s it for now but more to come.

Guru's Roundup: Explosive 4th Quarter Results in Villanova Win Over Lehigh

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Several hours after the Villanova men’s basketball squad, also known as the reigning NCAA Division I champions, were placed No. 1 by the Associated Press men’s poll national media panel, the Wildcats women made it a completely happy on campus with a third straight dynamic performance in the fourth quarter to gain another victory.

Alex Louin was responsible for the successful finishes the two previous times with perfect foul shooting in the win over La Salle and then with an overall attack Saturday at Saint Joseph’s.

On Monday night others got into the act to deliver a 19-2 explosive final stanza, resulting in a 59-37 non-conference victory over visiting Lehigh at the Pavilion that brought Villanova back to .500 at 3-3 following the 1-3 stumble the first two weeks of the season.

“We have to do it with our defense because our shooting hasn’t been good,” Villanova coach Harry Perretta said.

Megan Quinn was the force in this one, scoring 14 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for a double double.

“It was definitely a fourth quarter comeback,” Quinn said. “I think at the end we really needed to be aggressive. People were making plays on offense it we just had to finish at the end of the shot clock.”

In the first half, freshman Mary Gedacka, a Goucester Catholic grad out of Mullica Hill in South Jersey, came off the bench for eight points while Jannah Tucker stepped up her game with 10 points.

The Wildcats shot 63.6 percent in the fourth quarter, including 3-6 on on 3-point attempts.

Lehigh (5-4) got 13 points from Taylor Campbell but Villanova had everyone else on the Mountain Hawks were placed in lockdown by the Villanova defense.

Lehigh is getting teams during its current stretch who are having turnarounds. Next up is Rider, which is off to a 5-2 overall start and 2-0 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

The Broncs will visit Stabler Arena and the Mountain Hawks on Thursday.

Meanwhile Villanova will be off the rest of the week awaiting Saturday’s visit from Temple, which will first tune up at Hampton on Wednesdsy in a non-conference meeting after Sunday’s home win that came against Vermont.

Both Villanova and Temple are 2-0 in the City Series, each beating La Salle and Saint Joseph’s. Saurday’s winner will have a chance to win outright at 4-0 by either beating Penn next month at The Palestra. Penn, with a split with Saint Joseph’s and La Salle could get a share of the title for the second time in three seasons by sweeping the Hawks and Wildcats.


Rutgers Suffers Tough Loss in Double Overtime to James Madison

The schedule was light Monday night locally and nationally but the other game of note in either category was the matchup in Piscataway, N.J., against host Rutgers and James Madison, the favorite to repeat as champions of the Colonial Athletic Association.

Earlier in the day the vote count in the latest Associated Press women’s poll revealed that Virginia Tech, under former JMU coach Kenny Brooks, had made the rankings for the first time in a while.

Then attention turned to the new era of Dukes, which is really the old era in new roles.

And so it was that in a season of struggle at Rutgers that this setback was the toughest in that the Scarlet Knights (2-7) had a chance to get their first significant win on the season with the other two being against Bryant and Bucknell.

Precious Hall, the preseason CAA player of the year, which just that to JMU, scoring a school-record 46 points to lead the visitors to an 82-76 win.

She shot 15-for-29 from the floor and 10-for-13 from the line to post the second best performance nationally this season.

Rutgers extended the game on two buzzer-beaters, the first by Kandiss Barber to cause a tie at the end of regulation. Then Shrita Parker’s trey beat the clock to keep the game going into a second extra stanza.

Hall scored 16 points for JMU across the two additional periods.

Dawn Evans had the previous high for JMU, scoring 42 in an overtime in December 2010 against Virginia.

Hall’s scoring broke the women’s record in the RAC, topping the 40 from Missouri State’s Tara Mitchem in a 2001 NCAA tournament upset in the early rounds.

JMU takes a 16-day break for finals before hosting St. John’s.

In the game, Rutgers got a career-high 22 from Barber, while Desiree Keeling had a career-high 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Khadaizha Sanders also scored in double figures for the home team, collecting 10 points.
Rutgers will now head out on the road visiting nearby St. John’s, Wednesday, and then Houston on Saturday.



Monday, December 05, 2016

The Guru Roundup: UConn Shakes Off Texas on Way to Notre Dame 1 vs. 2 Showdown

By Mel Greenberg @wmhoopsguru

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team may not be the veritable wrecking ball of recent seasons in the wake of the graduations of Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck, but Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma’s Huskies are still causing mayhem despite their view at the moment not being from the top of the sport in terms of the polls.

That could sort itself out Wednesday night when UConn takes its No. 2 position into South Bend, Ind., to face top-ranked Notre Dame in the battle of unbeatens.

It’s the second time in three seasons the two former old Big East rivals will be in a 1 vs. 2 contest.

The last time occurred much later when the Huskies beat the Irish for the 2015 title, but unlike this time, UConn had one setback during the regular season and Notre Dame had two and neither met along the way because the the Irish had moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Huskies became part of the renamed American carved out of the football schools of the old Big East.

Of course, back then the ranking order was reversed.

The setup for Wednesday was put in place Sunday when each team reached 7-0 – Notre Dame blasted unranked Valparaiso 114-54 while here at the Mohegan Sun, home of the WNBA Connecticut Sun, the Huskies handled No. 14 Texas 72-54 in the Hall of Fame/Jimmy V game that used to be separate marquee events on the national women’s card.

It’s no surprise that Notre Dame is ranked where it is, though the Irish have not faced a major test, since coach Muffet McGraw’s group outlasted a crowded contingent for preseason No. 1 rights in the wake of the Stewart-Washington-Tuck exits that saw then land 1-2-3 at the top of the WNBA draft last spring.

But UConn, because of those exits, was expected to be further down the line with a talented but young roster.

Prior to Sunday, UConn and the Longhorns (2-4) had met twice in two recent NCAA tournaments with the Huskies winning 105-54 in 2015 and 86-65 last season.

It went a little better for Texas,  which is now 0-8 all-time against UConn., here Sunday, trailing  57-49 at the end of three quarters. Then the roof fell in with Napheesa Collier (8) and Katie Lou Samuelson (5) combining for 13 of the Huskies 15 points in a 15-5 finish to get to the final 72-54 score.

“I’m really disappointed from the sense that I thought our team really competed for three quarters,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “Then, it got really tough. I don’t want to sit up here and make a bunch of excuses, it got tough in the fourth quarter and they out-toughed us.

“I thought they competed a little better, they competed a little longer on possessions, and were just a little tougher than we were and and again I thought we handled the atmosphere and played really well and it’s something our team has struggled with right now playing four quarters.”

The nearly packed house of 9,018 made the atmosphere rather electric.

Texas, which has to battle No. 4 Baylor in the Big 12 later this season, has not shied away from non-conference matchups, losing at Stanford 71-59, at Mississippi State 79-68, and at home to No. 3 South Carolina 76-67 on Thursday.

The Longhorns started this one like perhaps UConn was finally going to stumble after surviving opening night at Florida State, 78-76, at the finish, and then next time out stunned Baylor in the home opener with a fast finish for a 72-61.

They led by as many as six but suffered a lost early when Ariel Atkins went out for the rest of the game after an injury six minutes into the contest.

“That was difficult because she got a very good start for us,” Aston said.

Auriemma said he told his team during the initial Texas thrust, “’You can just take a deep breath. This game is over. You don’t have to Rory about anything.’ They just kicked our asses for five minutes. This is going to keep happening for the next 35 minutes, so don’ worry about it.’

“It was a scare the first five minutes the way the game started. They got stunned. We’re not used to that.”

But they’re still used to the fact that talent takes you a long way and perhaps the only difference so far is that instead of things have done wholesale so far, different players in different games have single handedly done the job to bring the overall current win streak to 82, getting closer to the UConn NCAA record 90 set several seasons ago until Stanford provided the stop.

Now it’s Notre Dame looming ahead to block the latest run but anything is possible.

“It’s really hard to put a label on this team,” Auriemma said. “They just seem to do what they need to do. That’s what it appears to me right now. We don’t appear to be the kind of team right now that just goes in there and posses their will on the other team like we’ve been doing the last couple of teams.

“We’re more of a ‘OK what do we have to do today. Let’s figure it out and let’s do it.’ And it’s a little frustrating at times from a coach’s standpoint. We seem to find someone each game that kind of gets it going for us.

“In the Baylor game it was (freshman) Crystal (Dangerfield). In the Florida State game it was ‘Pheesa. And today it was Kia (Nurse). And it was Kia the other night. And ‘Lou in the second half. So somebody seems to recognize that ‘That’s OK. This is what we need right now.’ And they do it.

“And that’s one of the nice things about playing some of the teams we are playing. We have to play that way. We have to step up. AndI thought today we had a tough fight today. That first five minutes was a real eye opener. ‘Cause we’re used to doing that to people.”

Doing it individually in terms of the boxscore for the home team, Collier finished with24 points, eight rebounds, and five steals, while Nurse had 15, Samuelson had 12, and Gabby Williams had 11.

Texas’ Brooke McCarthy scored 15, while Kelsey Lang had 12 points and 10 rebounds.


Duke Stuns South Carolina

Should Connecticut survive Notre Dame, still ahead before hitting the less formidable American Athletic Conference slate are Ohio State’s visit to Hartford, Dec. 19, and a visit to Maryland, Dec. 29.

And if the Huskies are still standing when 2017 arrives at the end of the month, forecasters look down the road to Feb. 13 when South Carolina arrives on campus at Gampel in Storrs and the current UConn streak would be attempting win No. 100.

But that became a little less formidable Sunday when Duke, which has been out of the rankings for a while since dropping out late last season, beat the Gamecocks at home Sunday shocked the Gamecocks 74-63 in Cameron Indoor Stadium as Rebecca Greenwall scored 29 points.

It’s the first time since 2009 that the. Blue Devils (9-1) have beaten a Top 3 opponent.

“I wanted to make a statement, said Oderah Chidom, who added 15 points to the Duke Ambush, “and South Carolina’s a great team to do it agains.”

The Gamecocks (6-1), in their first loss of the season, suffered 19 turnovers, a season-worse number of miscues that ended up with Duke mining 28 points.

And if Duke could be headed back into prominence, Tennessee could once again be outside looking in with a much shorter stay after last season’s first voter banishment in over three decades.

The Lady Vols got run over by No. 4 Baylor at home in Knoxville 88-66, making it three straight Sundays in which winning has become taboo following upset setbacks at Penn State and Virginia Tech before falling at home to the Bears.


Local Roundup: La Salle Stuns Dayton

Three of the PhillyhoopsW crowd had games Sunday and if anything was a major surprise, it happened on the road where La Salle got off to a 1-0 start in the Atlantic 10 with a 54-41 WBB at Dayton, dropping the once dominating Flyers to 3-4 on the season while the Explorers got back to .500 at 4-4 following last Wednesday’s loss at Villanova.

Dayton didn’t help itself, missing 12 foul shots.

Jasmine Alston hit a key foul shot for La Salle with 50.1 seconds left in regulation and then Micahya Owens locked it up with two more free throws with 5.1 seconds left.

Amy Griffin, the leading scorer in the A-10 last season, collected 23 points while Alston dealt a game-high seven assists. Next up the Explorers take their 0-2 Big Five record to Penn (0-1 Big Five) Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Delaware, which had been somewhat of an early surprise winning close games, fell Sunday at home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark to Georgetown 54-46 in a non-conference game.

Falling to 5-3, the Blue Hens struggled, shooting 27.8 percent from the floor and committing season highs in fouls (20) and turnovers (15).

Nicole Enabosi had 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Blue Hens, while Hannah Jardine had 12 points and six rebounds.

Georgetown (6-2) got 18 points from Dionna White.

While acknowledging that all was not bad, veteran Delaware coach Tina Martin noted, “We did not execute the way we needed to and that put a lot of pressure on our defense.”

Delaware goes off to Loyola, Md., on Wednesday to meet the Greyhounds coached by former Saint Joseph’s assistant Joe Logan.

Temple (4-2) recovered from its loss at Harvard, beating Vermont 54-39 at home in McGonigle Hall as the Owls forced 23 turnovers and got 27 points from their bench in dropping the Catamounts to 3-5.

Alliya Butts and Donnaizha Fountain each scored 16 points for Temple and Fountain also grabbed nine rebounds. Feyonda Fitzgerald had six points and seven assists.

The win spoiled two homecomings on Vermont, coached by Chris Day, the son-in-law of retired NBA official Joey Crawford who was recently in reverse-order an assistant at Penn after stays at Indiana, Saint Joseph’s and La Salle.

One of his assistants is recently graduated Villanova star Caroline Coyer, who suffered a knee injury near the end of last season that deprived her getting drafted to the WNBA.

“I’m surprised no one invited her to a camp last season,” said Curt Miller, coach of the WNBA Connecticut Sun here, Sunday during a pre-UConn game media event held by the local pro team. “But then again the injury had been close to when camps opened.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t get an invite or two next time around.”

Temple next goes to Hampton Wednesday and then its on to Villanova Saturday for a battle of Big Five unbeatens, each at 2-0, the only two unbeaten teams remaining in the local City Series.

Before that game, the Wildcats host Lehigh Monday night in the only game on the local schedule.

And that’s a wrap.


Mike Siroky's SEC Report: The League Takes Some Hits

By Mike Siroky

It may be routine to the Southeastern Conference of women’s basketball to have multiple teams in the Associated Press Top 20 – our barometer of success – but it ain’t easy.

In this modern era of women’s hoops, the SEC regularly qualifies at least a fourth of the Sweet 16.

South Carolina has emerged as the team after UConn by which to measure yourself, nationally as well conference wide.

Nonetheless, all the conference teams fell out before the Final Four once again, an NCAA record of elimination by league teams stretching back to 2009.

The league was without an NCAA finalist only twice before that.

They may smear each other’s makeup for the national presentations  in the rough and tumble of the conference headbutts, but, still, nine made the NCAAs last season.

The strength of schedule in winning 20 overall in this league trumps all other conferences. In this last month before the league starts, the focus is still on winning 10 before 2017, because that increases the NCAA chances.

Only Mississippi State won twice and got to eight wins in the ranking week.
The hype for Naismith national Player of the Year has started, obviously based on reputation projecting future success. In other words, pure speculation.

It was very easy in recent seasons to just concede it all to UConn’s Brianna Stewart.

The serious candidates will be IDed in February when the list is pared almost in half.

UConnn has four nominees of course.

But so does South Carolina, led by A’ja Wilson, the defending league MVP and the program’s other returning All-American, Alaina Coates. They are joined by now-eligible transfers Alisha Gray and Kaela Davis.

Other SEC nominees: Morgan William and Victoria Vivians (Mississippi State); Makayla Epps and Evelyn Akhator (Kentucky); Mercedes Russell and Diamond DeShields (Tennessee); and Sophie Cunningham (Missouri).

The best conference is also well-represented with the usual suspects on the WBCA Wade Trophy watch list of 25 for the coaches’ National Player of the Year.

They are: DeShields, Epps, Vivians, Wilson and Coates. That’s a fifth of the group.


No. 3 South Carolina

The Gamecocks went to No. 14 Texas as the marquee game of the SEC/Big 12 challenge.

Though they hadn’t played in a decade, Texas was 2-0 in the series. That ended with SC’s 76-67 win before 3,330.

It was a sixth straight win.

SC had won all but two quarters this season, but was taken to task in the first.

But Wilson began to connect, 4-of-5 from the field and 2-of-3 from the line in the 16-14 first-quarter deficit.
Each scored nine as the second quarter hit the four-minute mark. Then SC edged ahead by four at the break.

Texas scored four of the first five out of the locker room and it was deadlocked again. Texas was five ahead in rebounds.

Didn’t matter. Texas could not solve SC’s physical game and resorted to grab-a-Gamecock defense.

SC answered with 30-of-40 from the line.

Frontline mate Coates was stuck with foul trouble most of the night, delivering six free throws in 22 minutes.

Wilson finished with a career-best 31 points, with 12 rebounds and four blocks. Davis scored a dozen.

“A’ja Wilson took over,” said SC coach Dawn Staley. “What I saw started pregame because she had two great days of practice. She showed her versatility.

Still, “That’s not the best I have seen her play. Last year at Kentucky, that was the game.”

Texas qualifies as an honorary SEC member, having lost to the top two teams in conference, as will most other league members.

SC is following the Pat Head Summitt toughening plan of taking on all comers, at this point having erased three Top 14 teams.

They next headed to Duke, a staggered program. They had won the last two there.

But Duke is who eliminated Mississippi State last season.

The home team and a crowd of 6,036 was ready in a 74-63 runaway.

Duke won the middle quarters by 15, which is when they won the overall game.

Coates had but eight points in 37 minutes; Wilson 18 in 35. Davis scored 14 but was hassled into 5-of-14 from the field and 2-of-9 from the line. Duke had seen her before in ACC play.

Duke saw its lead sag to five in the final quarter but settled down.

SC takes a week off to refocus.

An interesting stat line: South Carolina leads the nation in free throws made per game (21.2) and free throw attempts per game (30.0) -- the only program to average at least 20 and 30, respectively. They were 6-of-23 this time.

“We were undisciplined. That’s what it’s called,” Staley said. “We knew coming into this season that we would take a hit defensively. And sometimes when you’re winning, and you’re beating top-ranked teams, you can’t give that lesson to your players because they just think, ‘Hey, we’re winning! We’re doing it the right way.’ ”

She took the blame.

“I subbed. I did something that I don’t normally do, so I’m going to take the hit on this,” Staley said. “I went against my normal substitution pattern, because I’m trying to just grow our bench a little bit.

“And that was costly, because they did go on a (26-7) run at that particular time and they got momentum. And we could never get it back.”

Duke scored 19 off 19 takeaways.
“This is a good learning lesson for us,” said Wilson. “I’m not concerned about this team. I think we have a great team.”

Wilson may be the returning conference player of the year, but Coates is already twice player of the week this season.

And here’s what Staley said about Davis: “I’m comfortable. Our assistant coaches aren’t very comfortable. They cringe. It's different. We don’t have Mitchell, we don’t have Dozier. Different isn’t always bad. It’s a different good.”


No. 6 Mississippi State

The Bulldogs are at the program high point.

Surprisingly, they are 12th in field goal defense among conference teams, offset by a 27.4 scoring differential.

That came into play in this week’s game.

They took a vacation from their Hawaii vacation and played but once, at Iowa State.

The Cyclones had won 94 straight non-conference games at home. Coach Bill Fennelly has been there since. He has won more than 600 career games, 443 at home. They have twice made the Elite 8, three times in the Sweet 16.
They have been in the national rankings only in tenure, 18 winning seasons and the third-best draw behind South Carolina and Tennessee, better than 10,000 per.

But they did not qualify for the Field of 64 last season at 13-17 and losing in the first round of the conference tournament.

They had not had a losing season in more than a decade.

He is also fighting a lawsuit by a former star who alleges racism and name-calling. His starting center quit in mid-season.

So the Cyclones needed a marquee win again.

State rallied magnificently from 11 down with four minutes to go, forced overtime, and dominated thereafter, in an 85-81 win.

Schaefer has scheduled eight straight on the road to open the season, another way of toughening a team.

“ We looked like we still had one foot left stuck in Hawaii,” Schaefer said. But offense is seldom the problem.

All five starters hit double figures.

Morgan William hit the final four three throws in 15 seconds as part of her 24. Vivians had 16. Roshunda Johnson's 3 with 11 seconds left in the fourth quarter forced overtime.

“We still have work to do,” William said. “We came out flat, but most important was (that) we fought through adversity.”

“That what great players do. They want to be in that moment and have the opportunity,” Schaefer said. “After that . . . our kids practice really hard.

Anything that goes longer than 40 minutes, we're kind of built for.”

Four Bulldogs played more than 30 minutes each, led by William’s 38.

It helped that Iowa State went to clock management and destroyed their own tempo, allowing the Bulldogs to do what they do. They hit 77 percent in the final quarter of regulation, silencing the crowd of 10,643 that came to see them.
Fennelly said, “We ran out of gas down the stretch.”

Iowa State had closed the first half on a 26-13 run, establishing a 43-26 halftime challenge. “That whole first half, they just stuck it down our throat and made us like it,” Schaefer said

The Bulldogs take another week between games, next appearing at state rival Southern Miss.


No. 17 Kentucky.

In another SEC/Big 12 showdown, UK welcomed previously unbeaten No. 12 Oklahoma and sent them away with a 82-68 win

UK started with a two-point halftime deficit. Epps went off for 18, 7-of-10 from the floor, 4-of-4 from the line with four assists. Akhator had been nullified by foul trouble.

UK went with five guards at time,

including Epps guarding the opposing center. She told her coach if he put her in there, they’d just get it done.

Maci Morris suddenly erupted with a career-high19, 11 in the second half, as UK earned a five-point third-quarter lead.

They won the quarter by a dozen, ending all doubt.

Less than nine months ago, also in Lexington, these teams had played a similar game in the NCAA eliminations, with UK blowing up in the endgame for that win

Backed by a crowd of 4,400 the advantage stretched to 13 in the fourth. Epps finished with 30, five assists. UK hit 17-of-20 from the line, 4-of-4 by Morris and 5-of-5 by Epps.

“They really had to dig deep,” said coach Matthew Mitchell.
“We have had to work so hard just to get our normal rotation down. We had to spend so much time on how to play and what will work and it has not left a lot of time on that five-guard lineup.

“We just have so much work to do,”
Epps said the start, of course, defines her night.

“I can’t predict the future,” she said, “but my main goal is to get started early. If I get started early, that builds my confidence and my momentum.

Coach always tells me when I'm energetic and hype that it’s contagious.

“There were five guards playing in a zone with me in the middle . . . the five guards went out there and got it done. I told Evelyn in the fourth quarter this was her quarter and she went out there and got it done. She’s the only player I’ve seen with three fouls and still going out there and taking charges.”

The Kats headed for No. 7 Louisville and the annual Bluegrass Battle.

Having already lost to another SEC team (South Carolina), Louisville was anxious to reclaim conference pride as well as personal pride in this series, having lost six straight.

They did both, 69-67, in overtime with 12,245 witnesses.

Epps did her best with 22 points and m a career-best16 defensive rebounds.

She was one of four starters to go more than 40 minutes, with 45.

But Akhator had a third straight tough game, fouling out in 19 minutes, with eight points and five rebounds, against an average of 16 points and 11 rebounds,

Epps got off the last two shots of regulation but each rimmed out. It was that close.

Of the one with 18 seconds left, she said, “In the air, I kind of got mixed up between shooting a jumper and shooting a floater.

“Stuff like that happens, but this is a learning moment for me. It hurt, but it’s something I can keep getting in the gym and nine times out of 10, I’m going to make that shot.”

“I thought we showed a little will to win tonight,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz.who last week ripped his team for attitude and playing for “participation trophies.”

“It’s been a very, very intense week.”
 “We had to do it for the city, had to do it for the state,” said Louisville guard Briahanna Jackson.

“We looked like our goose was cooked a couple times there and we kept coming back,” Mitchell said.

“Credit Louisville for playing hard, but I’m happy to be driving back to Lexington with this team that I’m fortunate enough to coach. We’ll just get better from here.”

UK plays one game this week after a rest stop.


No. 20 Florida.

The Gators opened the week by whomping Wofford, 75-51, with a 42-21 halftime lead and probably thoughts about the 44-minute bus bus ride back to campus after that.

As their arena continues under construction, they play home dates at College of Central Florida in Ocala,

They drew 783 for this.

Senior Ronni Williams continued to assert herself with a career-high 26 points and 11 rebounds. It is her second consecutive double-double effort.

She hit 12-of-16 from the field, ending six shy of 1,000 career points.

Sophomore Eleanna Christinaki made two 3-pointers and finished with 20 points on 8-of-12 from the field.

“I thought we gave a good, all-around effort,” said coach Amanda Butler. “When we were really looking for our paint touches, that’s when we were dominating the game on the offensive end.

“Defensively, I thought we did a pretty good job. Whenever you can get steals, that’s pretty solid. We had way too many turnovers. We didn't play with as much discipline as we needed to tonight.

“Ronni had a fantastic night, 26 points and 11 rebounds is good against anybody, any day of the week. Eleanna , another 20-point performance, which is fantastic. The goal for us is to be interchangeable. We believe in our depth and we believe in whomever the sixth person and seventh person is coming into the game – we want everything that they have. I think our upperclassmen did a great job of establishing ourselves.

“There’s going to be a lot to learn from this game. It sounds a little ridiculous, but we should have won by a little bit more. We have to take some pride in things that make us really good.

“One of the things our freshmen are learning is not just the speed of the game, but thinking the speed of the game.

“We ask a lot of our guards and I think there were times when they were relying more on their physical selves instead of their mental selves and that’s just something you have to learn. I think there are going to be great lessons for them to see on film.”

“The thing I love about this group, regardless of the lineup that's on the court, is that they play with tremendous effort. They play with tremendous heart. I thought we had some fantastic hustle plays. I also thought we had some really big minute from Elif (Portakal) tonight, which was really important.

“Our goal today, aside from winning the game, was to be our best. In some moments we were, and in some moments we weren’t. Those are the ones we’ll look at on film.”

Next up was Florida State. The film replay must work.

Among  Williams' game-high 18 was the 1,000th of her career during the 83-53 wipeout against Long Beach State in the first round of the Arizona State Classic held at Wells Fargo Arena in Tempe. They drew better than 1,200.

 That set up a back-to-back game, against the host team. The Sun Devils were 3-2. Interestingly, their next game is at Kentucky.

They were a No. 2 home seed in the NCAAs last season and were eliminated in the second round by Tennessee, 26-7, and the highest seed in program history.  So they have had enough of the SEC.

First, though, Florida used its height advantage to block a season-high 10 shots – eighth-most in program history – by six different players. They won rebounds by 20 and were dominant inside, scoring 62-12 underneath.

 Feeding those monsters were 30 assists on 37 field goals. Eight Gators had at least two assists, second-most in program history and the most in more than a decade. Junior Brooke Copeland's career-best six assists led them.

 Early on, Delicia Washington scored the first six points of a 20-5 run. A putback by Williams pushed her past  1,000 career points. They never trailed, leading by a dozen at the half and starting the third 9-0.
Four Gators hit double digits, led by Williams’ 18

Florida limited Long Beach State to 26.6 percent from the floor.

Long Beach State is the preseason favorite to win the Big West Conference, once again demonstrating how the fourth-best SEC team matches the best of a lesser conference.

 Butler said, “We beat a very good team. We knew that this was going to be challenging because we have not defended the 3-point line that well this year and I don't know that we did a stellar job of it tonight, but we defended everywhere else.

“You have to credit our defense. The balance that we had today. We had some folks who struggled a bit.

“Eleanna struggled with foul trouble and Dyandria (Anderson) was struggling trying to get back into the groove. But we had people who stepped up in a really big way. Sydney (Searcy), who tied her career-high, Tyshara (Fleming), who had a double-double and Ronni, who was one rebound shy of a double-double. When you outrebound a good team by 20, good things are going to happen. We beat a team that has a chance to win their league and be in the NCAA Tournament.

“The rebounding battle, which ignites our offense, and so many assisted baskets, which shows chemistry and the way that this team cares for each other, will be hard for teams to overcome when they’re playing us.

“Sydney Searcy's play really excited us. The plays that she was making on defense, how aggressive she was. She really made great decisions on offense, really simple decisions but she was very efficient. She was 4-of-6 and anyone will take that field goal percentage.

“I thought the rebounding effort was what separated us. We did a really good job versus a team that doesn’t just shoot a lot of 3s, but tries to force you into a lot of turnovers and to only have 16, while that sounds like a lot, against a team that’s pretty good.

“The team will head back to the hotel, eat and get some rest. This is where the coaches have to decide the two or three things that we can walk through and talk about. The most important thing is for us to get rest. They have a chance to peek at Arizona State a little bit tonight before our game. They understand what this is, though. It’s an NCAA Tournament team on their home floor and we have to bring our best.”

They looked their best in a nine-point defensive stand in the third quarter against Arizona State.

They looked their worst immediately, giving up 30 in the fourth quarter, including the last nine shots and differential  points of 69-63 win for the home team.

 Florida allowed 13-of-14 field goals that quarter.

Christinaki scored 18, the only Gator in double figures.

So a big win for the leaders of the Pac 12, 4-0 at home.


And the rest.

The league has three of the next five: Tennessee (22) with a lineup change; Auburn (23); and Texas A&M (25). All went 1-1 in the ranking week, the Lady Vols with another blowout loss at home, this time to No. 4 Baylor.

Tennessee has more losses and less wins than any other league team.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Guru Report: Louin Stars Again as Villanova Tops Saint Joseph's With Closing Surge

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru416

PHILADELPHIA – Villanova and Saint Joseph’s have been going wire-to-wire without much separation in their Women’s Big Five matchups for almost a decade and it was nearly the same late Saturday afternoon at the Hawks’ Hagan Arena.

The two seemed headed for another dramatic finish when Chelsea Woods got the Hawks within a point at 51-50 with 4 minutes, 27 seconds left in the game.

However, Villanova’s Alex Louin and freshman Kelly Jekot made that Hawks play the last hurrah for Saint Joseph’s in this one when Louin got inside for a field goal and then assisted Jekot’s three-pointer on the visitors’ next two possessions to launch an 11-4 run on the way to a 62-54 victory.

“A very evenly fought game, I told you before the game it was going to be like that,” veteran Villanova women’s coach Harry Perretta said. “You have two teams that were struggling but we just made enough shots down the stretch – Alex Louin – we were getting her the ball as much as we could.”

It's been like this, however, for nine straight times and while the first of those had a 66-57 outcome, on Dec. 4, 2008, in this arena, that game extended to three overtimes.

Louin, the Mount Saint Joseph’s graduate out of Doylestown, had 26 points for Villanova (3-4, 2-0 Big Five) and provided fourth quarter heroics for the second straight game after hitting six straight points in the Wildcats’ Big Five win at home Wednesday over La Salle.

“We were looking at mismatches and tried to capitalize,” Louin said. “I got a couple of easy looks and I got some momentum off of those.”

Louin also blocked three shots, dealt five assists and grabbed six rebounds.

Megan Quinn added 15 points and eight rebounds for the defending Big Five champion, while Villanova also got seven points and a pair of blocks from Jekot and Adrianna Hahn scored eight points.

The Wildcats connected on the perimeter with seven 3-pointers compared to two treys from the Hawks (2-5, 1-2), who join La Salle with two losses each in the local City Series round robin and likely out of contention.

 With the games among the local quintet now that are completed, Temple (2-0) and Villanova (2-0) are the last two unbeaten in the Big Five and meet Saturday at Villanova with the winner clinching at least a share of the title.

Penn (0-1), which hosts La Salle Wednesday, is the other of the Big Five women still capable of finishing with at least a share of the hardware by beating Temple (Jan. 25) and Villanova (Jan. 18) next month at The Palestra, provided the Quakers beat the Explorers on Wednesday.

It was an obvious tough loss for Saint Joseph’s, which got 17 points and 12 rebounds from Chelsea Woods, who was the star player in the offseason in the Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Certified Women’s Summer Basketball League played in Hatboro, Pa.

Adashia Franklyn, who also played in the league and is the daughter of former Temple star Marilyn Stephens, got 14 points.

“I thought it was a great game, the scoring went back and forth, a couple plays here, a couple plays there, you know at the end Villanova made a couple of more plays than we did,” said Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin.

The game had 12 ties and 14 lead changes but Saint Joseph’s was dominated 38-24 on the backboards, including 12-6 on the offensive end, and outscored in the paint 36-24,while also outmatched 13-7 off turnovers in transition.

Villanova trails in the series between the two 27-16 but in recent times the Wildcats have now won 111 Big Five games against 37 losses -- best in the city -- while the Hawks have won 108. It's on the third time in the last 12 that the visiting team emerged the winner in the Wildcats/Hawks series..

“Boxing out,” Griffin said as the where the Hawks go from this point to right the ship, referencing the rebounding statistics.

“We depend on our athleticism way too much,” she said. “To be out-rebounded by as many as we have, that’s effort and that’s positioning and that’s discipline.”

Griffin figured at least the Hawks gained more experience in another closely fought contest.

“We haven’t won these close games this year, I believe that we will, so I think it’s positive we’ve been in these situations. They took advantage of our size inside because they shoot the ball so well we were unable to help as much as normally would.”

Griffin praised Louin: “She played, very, very well. Her line is terrific. She was a problem for us, her size, she defended well, she got key blocks, she was obviously was the difference maker in this game.”

The Hawks coach discussed Woods playing all but one of the 40 minutes across the four quarters.

“She’s obviously playing too many minutes but we couldn’t take her off the court because she is the most productive player that we have,” Griffin said. “With this type of game it is a game of possessions and we probably played her way too many minutes and I think she got tired at the end and gave up a few offensive boards and with hindsight maybe we should have taken her out a little earlier.

“But needless to say she had a double double, she didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (8-18) but she kept a lot of possessions alive for us as well.”

Villanova next hosts Lehigh Monday night prior to the Saturday Temple game while Saint Joseph’s visits Western Michigan Friday night before coming home again a week from Tuesday to host NJIT.


Penn Routs Wagner

The Quakers may be back on track, now having two solid wins against teams they were heavy favorites to beat.

Following Wednesday’s big win at Lafayette, Penn (3-3) evened its record Saturday afternoon romping over host Wagner 63-39 on Staten Island, N.Y.

Michelle Nwokedi and Sydney Stipanovich double doubled their way in the inside with Nowkedi collecting 17 points and 10 rebounds while Stipanovich had 10 each.

“I think our defense was really the spark today,” Stipanovich said in postgame quotes on the Penn website. “We really were aggressive and got a lot of loose balls. We won those 50/50 balls coach always talks about.

“That really generated our offense. We moved the ball really well and got good open shots. Everyone got touches and I think that was the main difference today that got us going.”

Wagner (1-6) was limited to six players and Penn got 10 three-balls, double the five connected by the Seahawks.

Now its on to hosting La Salle Wednesday. Should Penn win and then go on to beat Temple and Villanova the Quakers would gain a tie for the second time in three seasons.


Drexel Stops Cornell

It was a struggle but when time expired the Dragons had their first road win of the season, beating the Big Red of the Ivy League 63-53 in Ithaca, N.Y., Saturday afternoon at Newman Arena.

Drexel (4-2) is now 7-0 against Cornell (5-3) dating to the Dragons’ first-ever Division I game in 1982, the year the NCAA began sponsoring women’s championships.

Foul shooting in the final minute enabled the winners to make it to the break for finals, which conclude on Dec. 13, a week from Tuesday, when the Dragons host Niagara.

Drexel’s Jessica Pellechio scored 17 points, while Sarah Curran scored 16 points and Meghan Creighton scored 14 points.


Penn State and Rutgers Gain Narrow Wins Over Marshall and Bucknell

It took until the final seconds until a basket was the difference in Penn State’s 82-80 victory over Marshall in the Lady Lions’ Bryce Jordan Center while Rutgers, also home, cut short a Bucknell rally to emerge with a 57-53 victory over Bucknell, which had already beaten Saint Joseph’s and Drexel.

In the game at Penn State (6-2) where the team has yet to lose after four game, Teniya Page tied a career high with 31 points in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

There were 13 lead changes. Sierra Moore produced 19 points to give her 501 in her collegiate career. Lindsey Spann with 15 points and Kaliyah Mitchell with 10 made it four Lady Lions scoring in double figures.

Marshall (5-2), which was forced into 17 turnovers, also had a player reach a career high in Taylor Porter’s 24 points.

Penn State next visits Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., on Wednesday.

Rutgers (2-6), meanwhile, got its second win in this season of woe and it came after the rout by Duke Thursday night, though Bucknell (5-3) nearly rallied all the way after falling behind early in the game trailing by 20 at halftime at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.

Kandiss Barber set a career high for Rutgers, scoring 17 points, while Shrita Parker had 11 points and nine rebounds, just short of a double double. Parker also hit a pair of foul shots

Claire DeBoer scored scored 17 points for Bucknell.

Rutgers next hosts Colonial Athletic Association favorite James Madison Monday night.


National and Other Notes

Providence beat Bryant 62-51 at home to go 7-0 on the season under new coach Jim Crowley, formerly the longtime mentor of Saint Bonaventure. It’s the best start since a similar 7-0 launch to a season in 1990-91.

Lafayette fell at Saint John’s 64-46 as the host Red Storm moved above .500 at 4-3 with the win at home at Carneseca Arena. The Leopards (1-8) were held to 15 points in the first half and have now been winless since an opening triumph at La Salle. They visit Princeton on Wednesday.

No. 6 Mississippi State stayed unbeaten at 8-0 the hard way rallying from a 17-point deficit at the half to defeat Iowa State 85-81 in Ames, Iowa, in overtime on the road. The Cyclones (5-1) dropped their first game of the season.

And that’s the way it was as the Guru heads up to Mohegan in Uncasville, Conn., for Sunday’s Hall of Fame/Jimmy V game between No. 14 Texas and No. 2 Connecticut.


The Guru Weekend Outlook: Teams Dealing Tests on the Court Besides in the Classroom During Finals Time

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru416

PHILADELPHIA – Unlike many years past, it appears based on the Guru’s grid that while finals are going on the next several weeks in the classroom, court tests will also occur and be more plentiful in terms of not as many gaps between games.

And among our local PhilahoopsW crowd as well as the national scene the exams can be found as early as this weekend.

Right here at 4 p.m. on Saturday Villanova heads right into another Philadelphia Big 5 contest and one being one of the marquee events in the overall series as the Wildcats travel to Saint Joseph’s in Hagan Arena on Hawk Hill.

Both teams have had unexpected struggles but both teams have had their moments if not as many as they were expected to have at this point.

The Wildcats (2-4, 1-0) head into the matchup off Wednesday’s narrow win over La Salle. Right now the defending champions and Temple are the only two of the five who could win outright with 4-0 sweeps though if the Hawks (2-4, 1-1) prevail Saturday only the Owls at 2-0 in the city will be in that position prior to next Saturday’s Temple-Villanova matchup on the Main Line.

Last year Villanova was not perfect but did win outright at 3-1 when La Salle upset Saint Joseph’s near the end of the season to deprive the Hawks what would have been a piece of the title.

Two seasons ago Penn got to 3-1 for the first time and it became a tri-title shared among the Quakers, Wildcats and Hawks.

A Villanova loss will still leave the Wildcats in position for something and Saint Joseph’s at 2-1 could be alive for a shared spot potentially that would be gained, depending on the other games, if the Hawks beat La Salle near the end of the season.

Meanwhile Drexel tries to bounce back from last week’s loss at Bucknell when the Dragons visit  at Cornell. The setback was costly because after the upset of then-No. 11 Syracuse, coach Denise Dillon’s folk were in position to start collecting votes in the weekly polls.

Penn, which looked more like what was forecast for the Quakers at the season’s outset when they won at Lafayette on Wednesday, visits Wagner Saturday looking to gain traction heading into next Wednesday’s Big Five visit from La Salle.

The Explorers are 0-2 in the Big Five with losses to Temple and Villanova but a win over Penn takes the Quakers out of the title mix shared or outright. Yes, the assumption here is 2-loss teams won’t be in contention.

Penn State (5-2) is meeting Marshall (5-1) of Conference USA for the first time Saturday – the game is at PSU’s Bryce Jordan Center -- and the Lady Lions have been a bit of a mixed bag, beating Tennessee at home and losing at Drexel in the season opener and to Georgetown in Florida at the relocated San Juan Shootout.

They come into the game off a recent narrow win at Boston College as part of the Big 10/Atlantic Coast Conference challenge dominated by the ACC in the games played.

Finally, in terms of the local slate for Saturday, the continuing adventure into the unknown continues for 1-6 Rutgers at home, meeting Patriot favorite Bucknell.

The hosts Scarlet Knights, with a slew of transfers, got pounded again on Thursday night at home, losing to Duke in their end of the Big 10/ACC challenge.

Halftime was poignant, however, with all-time great Cappie Pondexter returning from her stardom in the WNBA and an Olympics to have her number retired and also a locker dedicated in her name in the future training center.

Rutgers also hosts Colonial Athletic Association defending champion and favorite James Madison Monday night.

Bucknell (5-2) has held its own playing normally powerful mid-majors by beating Drexel t home and rallying on Saint Joseph’s in Philadelphia.

Princeton (3-4) is off until hosting Lafayette on Wednesday after reversing an 0-4 start slamming Rutgers and Seton Hall at home in Jadwin Gym each by 30 points to win the mini-Garden State tourney among the top New Jersey D-1 schools.

Incidentally, on Friday night George Washington handled visiting VCU 81-67 in an early start to the Atlantic 10 slate, a rearrangement to accommodate the new post season format in March in which the early rounds will be played on home courts the same weekend many are still wrapping up regular season competition.

In the same scenario La Salle Sunday heads to Dayton before visiting Penn on Wednesday.

Some other Friday scores saw Columbia (5-2) maintain its winning start, beating Massachusetts-Lowell 76-57 at home in the morning on eduction day before a record crowd of 2,271 in Levine Gym on upper Broadway.

Rider edged host Canisius 71-70 to get back on a winning track after losing twice in Florida last weekend following the best 0-3 season start in 38 years. A 12-0 run in the middle of the fourth period helped the Broncs withstand a late rally and get off to a 1-0 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference winning start for the first time in 14 seasons.

They continue league play in the Western New York trip visiting Niagara Sunday.

That’s the same day of a nice national/local combination of games.

After meeting twice in the last NCAA Sweet 16 the last two times around, Texas and Connecticut meet in the regular season at the Mohegan Sun with the Longhorns coming off a competitive loss to No. 3 South Carolina.

The Guru will be on the scene fort that one.

The Huskies are still unbeaten, as they have belied the early doomsday predictions for the dominate UConn program in the wake of three key graduation losses in Brenna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson and Morgan Tuck.

It's a big week for UConn with a looming 1 vs 2 game and the Huskies in an underdog role Wednesday heading to national and former old Big East conference rival Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

Duke, fresh off its Rutgers massacre, hosts South Carolina while Baylor, which has been a dead end road block of Tennessee to the Women’s Final Four in some recent seasons, visits Knoxville to play the Lady Vols with a threat to knock them out of the polls again after their return at the start of the season.

No. 17 Kentucky visits No. 7 Louisville in a big Blue Grass State battle.

Locally, and not mentioned above for Sunday action, after escaping Robert Morris, Delaware hosts Georgetown at the Bob Carpenter Center.

Each team is 5-2 with the Blue Hens, the alma mater of Elena Delle Donne, being ne of the best surprises in the early going in terms of putting a youthful roster together.

Temple will try to shake off its upset road loss at Harvard when Vermont (3-4) visits the Owls (3-2). It’s a Philadelphia area homecoming for new Catmounts coach Chris Day, a former assistant at La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, Indiana, and Penn, who is also the son-in-law to retired NBA ref Joey Crawford.

It’s also homecoming to his assistant Caroline Coyer, the recently graduated former Villanova star who suffered an ACL at the end of last season.

And that is all for the moment blog-wise.


Thursday, December 01, 2016

Hahn Scoring Louin Foul Shooting Propels Villanova Over La. Salle

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Villanova, Pa. – Villanova took control with perfect 8-for-8 foul shooting in the fourth quarter at home in The Pavilion and sophomore Adrianna Hahn was in control all night to propel the Wildcats to a slim 52-49 victory over La Salle Wednesday in a Philadelphia Big 5 game.

The outcome enabled two streaks to end and one to continue as Villanova’s annual mastery of La Salle was extended to eight straight dating back to the 2009-10 season.

The Wildcats (2-4, 1-0 Big Five) opened defense of their City Series title that was won last season outright with a rare 3-1 record – usually a sweep is needed – courtesy of La Salle upsetting Saint Joseph’s in the last game of the local round robin.

They also snapped a three-game losing streak by finally clamping down on the defensive side of things.

At the same time it was a tough loss for the Explorers (3-4, 0-2), who swept a tournament in Florida last weekend to even their record after dropping the first three games and now at 0-2 in the Big Five they are likely out of local contention.

“We’re finally getting healthy,” La Salle coach Jeff Williams said prior to the game explaining what sparked the recent reversal of fortune. “At one point we were down to six players.”

The Explorers seemed ready to break out of the Wildcats’ hold over them when they reached their largest lead of the game at six points 36-30 with 2 minutes, 12 seconds left in the third period.

But Samantha Wilkes, the unsung heroine for Villanova behind Alex Louin’s perfect 6-for-6 foul shots in the last stanza and Hahn’s overall play, hit a free throw and Hahn gained a tie with a pair of foul shots and a 3-pointer before the Explorer’s Amy Griffin beat the buzzer to end the last quarter clinging to a 38-36 advantage.

In the fourth, Wilkes tied it again before Griffin gave La Salle its last lead.

Then Jannah Tucker, the sensational newcomer who was kept under wraps in this one, tied it for Villanova before Wilkes and Louin completed the mini 6-0 run for a 44-40 lead with just over six minutes left in regulation.

Then Louin went to work on the line with her six straight free throws that got it to 50-46 before Hahn completed her night with two more points on the line for a six-point lead with 12 seconds left before La Salle’s Adreana Miller completed the scoring for everyone with a meaningless three-pointer before time expired.

“Typical Big 5 game,” Villanova veteran coach Harry Perretta said. “Both teams knew each other very well and it came down to us being able to make some shots at the end when we needed to.

Perretta noted that the lineup near the end had just one senior. “We were trying to play young.”

If Elena Delle Donne back in the day was the Ursinus Academy star in Wilmington, Del., who got away, Hahn from the same school is the one the Wildcats snareda fe years later.

On this night she had 20 points, shooting 6-for-13 from the field, including a pair of three-pointers, while being perfect on the line at 6-for-6 while dishing three assists and swiping the same number of steals.

Louin finished with 13 points fueled by 7-for-8 shooting on the line.

“We were just trying to stay in the offense, trying to set picks, we had a couple of mismatches so we tried to take advantage of that and we made our foul shots, which certainly helped us,” Louin said of the final minutes.”

The Wildcats were 16-for-20 from the line for the game while La Salle was 9-for-11.

“We’ve been playing some pretty tough teams so we like where we are right now, we’re definitely getting better, we’re going to try to bring the same energy to Saint Joe’s,” Louin said.

Villanova visits Hawk Hill Saturday, 4 p.m., at Hagan Arena and after the early going the Wildcats and Temple (2-0 Big 5) are the only teams left who can win outright at 4-0, They meet each other Dec. 10 at Villanova.

La Salle’s Amy Griffin, the leading scorer in the Atlantic 10 last season, had 16 points, shooting 7-for-13 from the field and Miller scored 10 points.

The Explorers next travel to Dayton Sunday for a rare early season opener in the Atlantic 10, caused in part by the new conference tournament format for March, and then visit Penn next Wednesday.


Penn and Princeton Flex Ivy Muscles in Dominant Wins

The Quakers of Penn finally looked like the local power they were predicted to be in powering their way to a 64-47 win at Lafayette in Easton, Pa., while Princeton delivered another stunner in the psuedo Garden State tourney, blasting Seton Hall 94-67 at home in Jadwin Gym to follow up the Tigers’ recent demolition of Rutgers for a 2-0 sweep among the three traditional New Jersey Division I women’s teams.

In the Penn game, the Quakers improved to 2-3 as Michelle Nowkedi had 16 points and eight rebounds while center Sydney Stipanovich scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds.

In this one, some outside help arrived with Beth Brzozowski scoring 13 points.

Lafayette (1-7), which won its season opener at La Salle, dropped its seventh straight off a heavy slate of games early, especially in the recent Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge that finished Sunday at Springfield, Mass.

Anna Ptasinski was the only Leopard in double figures with 10 points.

Penn next travels to Wagner Saturday on Staten Island, N.Y., before hosting La Salle next Wednesday at The Palestra.

Next up for Lafayette are visits to St. John’s Saturday and then to Princeton next Wednesday.

“We did a lot better offensively, we were able to get above 60 which was one of our goals,” said Kasey Chambers postgame as reported by the Penn website. “We really played well on the defensive end to kick-start our offense which was better than our last game.”

Princeton (4-4), meanwhile, continued to roll after its 0-4 start to win its third straight.

Freshman Bella Alarie is rapidly becoming the next great star in the Tigers program. The Ivy rookie of the week off her play in the Rutgers 64-34 and UMBC games, socked the Pirates for 26 points and 15 rebounds.

It's the first Princeton win over Seton Hall since 1987.

Both stats are fifth overall for achievements by a freshman at Princeton while her five treys were third and she also had six assists.

Senior Taylor Brown had 18 points and was a perfect 4-for-4 on 3-point attempts. Leslie Robinson had 17 points and Tia Weledji scored 11 off the bench.

The Tigers, who set a program record with 14 three-pointers at UMBC, scored 42 points in the paint, 32 off turnovers, and 13 on second chances with the bench also contributing 28 points.

The third quarter was crucial and the favored Pirates (4-2) were outscored 29-13.

Deja Winters had 16 points for Seton Hal (3-4) while Skylar Snyder had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Overall Princeton ruled the boards 53-39.


Penn State Wins One For the Conference

In the ongoing Big 10/Atlantic Coast Challenge this week Penn State got a win for the Big 10, beating Boston College 60-56 at Conti Forum in Chestnut Hill., Mass.

Teniya Page led a Lady Lions rally and finished with 24 points and reached the 600-point career mark. Her three-point play in the final half-minute gave Penn State the game and an improved record to 5-2 while the Eagles fell to 2-5.

It’s the first road win for PSU in the series and the Lady Lions overall in the series are 3-7.

Sierra More had 10 points off the bench  while Kaliyah Mitchell grabs 10 rebounds.

The Lady Lions next host Marshall Saturday at the Bryce Jordan Center.


Lehigh Tops NJIT 84-52

The Mountain Hawks got a game-high 16 points from Taylor Campbell, who also had a career high seven rebounds to go with three steals and a pair of blocks in any easy home win in Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pa.

Kaylor Burton tied a career high with four treys for 12 points. Everyone saw action for coach Sue Troyan, whose bench outscored NJIT 50-10 to keep Lehigh unbeaten at 11-0 in the series.

NJIT fell to 3-4.

“There were definitely some bright spots but still some things to work on,” Troyan said with an eye to the tough spot on the schedule which has Lehigh visiting Villanova Monday night.


Around the Nation

Texas A&M made it back into the AP Poll Monday at No. 25 and quickly got bounced by Southern Cal 66-62 at home in College Station as the Women of Troy (6-1) made their own bid to join the elite. It’s the first loss for the Aggies (5-1).

Columbia ruled the boards and consequently the game in Baltimore beating Loyola of Maryland 65-53 at Reitz Arena as Josie Little got a career-high 19 rebounds. The Lions are now 4-2 under new coach Megan Griffith, a former Princeton assistant from King of Prussia, Pa., in the Philly western suburbs. Loyola, Md., fell to 2-4.


Looking Ahead

On Thursday night Duke visits Rutgers and while this was once a matchup of Top 10 teams in the polls neither tean is ranked, though the visiting Blue Devils seem to be faring better of the two.

Rutgers got it first win Sunday, beating Bryant after a program worst 0-5 start that includes last Friday’s pounding by Princeton.

Even if goes South and to 1-6 for the Scarlet Knights, there’s halftime to look to when Rutgers’ Cappie Pondexter of the WNBA Chicago Sky gets her number retired.

Temple drops in on Harvard, whom the Owls have played in the WNIT, while Delaware hosts Robert Morris.

DePaul visits UConn as Doug Bruno, who was an assistant on the gold-medal winning USA olympic staff, goes against his summer boss, one Geno Auriemma.

In anther big showdown, South Carolina is at Texas, yet another road stop of import for Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks, while the host Longhorns next have UConn at the Mohegan Sun on Sunday afternoon.

The schedule is light Friday but Canisius visits Rider, which got off to a 3-0 start, but fell twice in Florida last weekend,  and will try to get back on the winning track.

On Saturday, of local games not already mentioned, Bucknell, which has beaten up some local prominent, including Drexel and Saint Joseph’s, visits Rutgers.

On Sunday, new coach Chris Day, a former La Salle, St. Joseph’s, Penn and Indiana assistant, brings Vermont to play Temple.

Baylor is at Tennessee and on Monday James Madison visits Rutgers.