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.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Guru Report: Five Seconds to Victory Enables Penn to End Villanova’s 16-Season Domination

Guru’s Note: This post also contains Bentley’s Barb Stevens gets her 1000th victory and below it Postgame Scout has returned with strategy analysis of the big five showdown.
By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

VILLANOVA — On the women’s side, Big Five games have had their share of great confrontations just as there have been for the local male counterparts in the City Series round-robin.

But of course some of have been pretty special. And some have been really really special.

Even above all that, the confrontation here Wednesday night between Villanova and Penn at the Wildcats’ Jake Nevin Field House can be labelled an instant classic.

In a game full of clutch shots and intense drama all the way, the regulation action came down to five seconds with a tie score 77-77 and time out and Penn in possession.

A Quakers failure and Villanova would have survived to get to overtime and still have a chance to emerge with a win and a 4-0 sweep for the Big Five outright.

But a Penn score before time expired and Mike McLaughlin’s squad would end a program 14-game, 16-season losing streak that began after the 2001 triumph that was just Penn’s second over Villanova in a series record that now stands at 42-3.

Not only that, but suddenly next Wednesday’s game against Temple at the Owls’ McGonigle Hall (7 p.m.) becomes a virtual championship contest because the winner will share the local glory with Villanova at 3-1 and for Penn it would be a second 3-win campaign and shared crown (the other, a three-way tie, in 2015) in the nine-year McLaughlin era when nothing close existed previous in the Quakers’ Big Five resume.

With all that riding on the remaining precious few ticks of time, Penn (9-5, 2-1 Big Five) went to the Quakers’ floor leader, senior Anna Ross, who took the pass from the sideline to the right of the key and then drove partially around Villanova defenders and launched the shot with a jumper that looped  into the hoop for sudden life and a 79-77 victory that headed for the books one second before the game became official.

“They called a timeout we couldn’t change the play, but they changed their defense,” said Ross said recalling her winning play as it developed.  “And right then I knew — I got the ball, I got the ball and I’m going to go.
As the game progressed I got confident that I could make the layups, which made me able to make the shot.

There was a hint that this might be the year to end the ‘Nova hex just off the way freshman Eleah Parker has been developing in recent weeks.

Wednesday night was no different as the reigning co-Ivy player and freshman of the week poured down a game-high 25 points, grabbed nine rebounds, blocked three shots and grabbed three steals.

Senior Michelle Nwokedi, the inside co-post presence with Parker, had 17 points and eight rebounds while Ross scored 11 and dealt eight assists, and Lauren Whitlatch provided counter-balance to Villanova’s three-point marksmanship by connecting on four attempts and scoring 16 points.

“I just said to the team, that was really, really cool,” McLaughlin said afterwards. “The way we played from the beginning, the way we came out, the way we finished, awesome atmosphere, it was just rewarding for the four seniors to see them win a Big Five game, a win against Villanova, against a great team, and to get contributions from everyone.

“(Villanova) made two really tough shots at the end to tie it up and we showed tremendous poise. Anna with the ball. Five seconds what she could do, she knew where to get to, she got to her comfort spot, she got rewarded,” he continued.

“Obviously, Leah being here was phenomenal. She played one of the best second-halves of college basketball I’ve seen and was (the most) dominant in the post that I’ve seen in a really long time and it was a great win. I’m so proud of our group.

“It really was a good night for us.”

As for the next game against Temple, “the fact we can play our last Big Five game for a championship is special but I want them to just embrace this right now. I want them to really enjoy this and embrace it, have fun with it, respect the game, tomorrow is another day.

“I think that it’s cool now that we get to play for the Big Five title,” McLaughlin said.  “I think having a chance to win the Big Five is special. Winning the Big Five would be special for this group because our four seniors would get to experience the incredible moment of winning such an important title.

“But I want them to walk out of here feeling that they did something special because I feel they really did. But winning the Big Five would be pretty special for this group. We won in 2015 and to do it again for this group would be really special.”

With an inside attack that saw Penn outscored Villanova 40-18 in the paint, Penn took a nine-point lead in the second quarter and held a 35-29 lead at the break.

Holding the Wildcats (14-4, 3-1) to just three  3-pointers (they were 3-for-16) in the first half was key, but in the second, Villanova clawed back into contention with their long-range attack.

There were nines ties but just two lead changes and Penn did not fade this time as the Quakers have done in recent games when Villanova starts raining threes.

Parker’s layup with 4 minutes, 23 seconds left in the game gave Penn a 68-60 lead but Villanova fired back with Alex Louin hitting five straight foul shots and Jannah Tucker nailing a trey while the ‘Cats defense for the moment stymied the Quakers and the score got tied at 68-68 with 2:47 left in regulation.

Ashley Russell broke Penn’s slump with a layup to put the Quakers in front again and a Whitlatch triplet seemed to offer comfort at 73-68 with 1:32 left but Adrianna Hahn connected long range to get the ‘Cats within a bucket.

Penn found Nwokedi inside and then Tucker threw a bomb to make it 75-74 with 28 seconds left.

Whitlatch scored from outside, barely inside the three-point line, but it was 77-74 with 18 seconds left.

Then Louin made a dynamite 3-ball and it was tied with five seconds left.

Penn took a timeout and got to advance the ball and set the stage for Ross’ game-winner.

Louin and reserve Mary Gedaka each scored 19 points for Villanova while Louin also had seven rebounds and dealt six assists while Gedaka grabbed 10 for a double double and Jekot had 10 points, eight rebounds, and dealt five assists.

Most of the Penn roster, all of which is trying to win a third straight Ivy title and second straight Ivy tourney crown, is from outside the area, though McLaughlin is certainly steeped in Big Five lore having gone to Holy Family in Northeast Philadelphia and later coached the Tigers women into a national force in NCAA Division II.

Parker, for example, is a 6-4 center from Charlotte, N.C.

Asked about understanding the meaning of Big Five competition, she responded, “I knew from the beginning how big Big Five play is. I knew the history behind it for Penn. And I knew for the seniors, especially, we just had to come out and get this one.”

McLaughlin talked about having to educate recruits to the local action but said of Parker, “she sees this is a very special environment to play college basketball, especially in the Big Five.”

Penn is in a three-week hiatus from the weekend back-to-back regular season Ivy chase to be one of the four teams in the field for the tourney, which again returns to The Palestra, the Quakers’ home in mid-March, in its second year of serving as the path to the NCAA automatic bid.

The Quakers used to have most of their Big Five business done by December but the move to fill the Ivy schedule gap in January with games that have their own meaning allows Penn to stay competitively sharp.

McLaughlin thanked longtime Villanova coach Harry Perretta for agreeing to play now rather than earlier, though the Wildcats are in a tough spot, schedule-wise, right now after an early start through December that saw them get into the Associated Press women’s poll for six weeks, appearing for the first time since 2004.

But there have been some setbacks of late due to the rugged Big East, which had Nova on a three-game road trip last week at Georgetown, Seton Hall and St. John’s, the last of which edged ‘Nova Sunday.

Now in a 48-hour turnaround, Big East frontrunners DePaul and Marquette are coming to visit Friday night at 7 and Sunday at noon, respectfully.

DePaul is 6-1 in the Big East while Marquette at 7-0 is unbeaten. The Wildcats are in a virtual tie with Creighton and St. John’s, each with three conference losses.

Perretta talked about the impact of the schedule on his team. “It’s affecting them a lot. I think we’re tired. The problem is we’re not getting much from our bench and you have to play six players so it’s taking a toll on us,” he explained. “It took a toll on us in the first half. We looked tired out there.

“But that’s not an excuse. You have to show up and play.”

As for how the game went from the Wildcats’ viewpoint, Perretta observed, “We lost the game in the first half. We shot the ball horrendously and got behind. We kept battling back but we couldn’t stop their inside game.

“We had to shoot threes to get a two. In the second half, we started making some threes and that got us back into the game. But everytime we tied it, they would make a play or throw the ball inside or get an offensive rebound and put it back up. They just out hustled us,” Perretta continued.

“And then at the end the kid made a great shot to win the game. We ran a nice play to get a three. We made it and then the kid made a great shot to win.”

As for Penn’s inside force, he pointed out, “We were concerned about their big kids coming into the game. It’s not only their size — it’s their skill level. Size is size but skill level is skill level. They make shots. They don’t miss layups. And when they got the ball in relatively good position they made shots.

“Look at the field goals — (Penn)  made 31, we only made 25. If we don’t make threes, we don’t have a chance.”

Duquesne Dominates La Salle

The Explorers fell to Duquesne 78-50 in an Atlantic 10 game at the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh. 

Adreanna Miller had 25 points for La Salle (6-12, 1-4 Atlantic 10), the only player to score in double figures for the visitors.

The Dukes (15-3, 5-0) have yet to lose in conference action. Chassidy Omogrosso had 23 points, shooting 9-for-14 from the field, including 4-of-5 three-pointers. Julijana Vojinovic had 21 points, shooting 8-of-11 from the field and 4-of-6 long range.

The home team reserves out scored La Salle’s 19-1 and also picked up 25 points off Explorers’ turnovers.

Next up is another road stop Saturday at Rhode Island, an A-10 game tipping at 11 a.m. and being televised on CBSSN.

Nationally Noteworthy: The 1000-Victory Club Gets Another Member

Bentley’s Barb Stevens, a Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer, became the fifth women’s coach and first in Division II to pick up her 1000th career victory after her squad topped Adelphi 78-66 in a Northeast-10 game at home in Waltham, Mass.

The Falcons are 17-1 this season but Adelphi (9-10) had four straight wins over Bentley coming in attempting to halt Stevens for the moment from reaching the total on her first try.

Adelphi took an early 22-13 lead before Bentley responded with a 27-9 counter attack highlighted by a 14-0 run that closed out the first half. 

Her overall 1000-275 record includes a short stint at Clark and in Division I at the University of Massachusetts. Bentley went unbeaten in 2014 with a 35-0 record to win the Division II national championship.

Stevens is the third women’s coach to reach the prestigious milestone this season behind North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, both Naismith Hall of Famers who earned their 1,000th wins ironically on the same day last month, Dec. 19.

Previously the late legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt was the first to gain 1,000 wins and she was followed by Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer who is still very much active with the Cardinal.

A sixth women’s coach and fourth this season can also get to 1,000 wins in Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, who is six victories away and the 25th-ranked Scarlet Knights will resume the countdown as well as the chase for postseason participation in the NCAA tournament after a long gap when Rutgers visits Penn State at 7 p.m. Thursday night to complete their home-and-home in the Big Ten.

On the men’s side, Philadelphia’s High School legend Speedy Morris recently got his 1000th that also includes coaching the La Salle men and women at the collegiate level.

Meanwhile, the only other game on the Guru local schedule Thursday is a MAAC contest at Rider hosting Niagara in the Broncs’ annual school day promotion at Alumni Gym and at this hour the Guru plans to be there.

And that’s the report. 

Postgame Scout: The Inside Force of Penn Was Enough to Edge the Famed Villanova Outside Marksmanship

Guru’s Note: With the holidays over the Guru’s special former D-1 coach is back in town to be at games to add some Xs and Os to game coverage and was on the scene at Villanova and will return Friday for the DePaul game.

By Postgame Scout

VILLANOVA - The best of Big Five basketball was on display as the Penn Quakers edged the Villanova Wildcats 79-77 Wednesday night in Jake Nevin Field House.

  Neither team backed down.  They fought for 40 minutes and the team that had the ball on the last possession won.

The Quakers  established their inside domination on the very first possession of the game as Penn’s Eleah Parker blocked Villanova’s Megan Quinn.   From that point on Penn controlled the lane scoring 40 points in the paint to Villanova’s 18.

The Wildcats effectively executed their zone offense against Penn’s  2-3 zone.  They ran cutters through the high post and had a runner behind the zone looking for the post to post pass.  

 Villanova’s quick passing, player movement and post to post passing was fun to watch.  

If nothing showed, the Wildcats skipped the ball to the shooter on the weak side for a 3. 

 Villanova uncharacteristically missed their 3’s early in the game.  Credit Penn for running/leaping at the Wildcat shooters and forcing them to put the ball on the floor.

Penn’s 2-2-1 zone press was effective in the first half.   

Villanova continually reversed the ball as they advanced out of the back court.  Their methodical passing allowed Penn to match up with the Wildcat shooters in the front court.  

In the second half the Wildcats advanced the ball quickly often straight down the middle of the court.  

The Quakers had trouble finding the shooters as they transitioned from their zone press to their half court 2-3 zone.

 Villanova got open looks and made their shots.  As the Quakers scrambled on defense, the Wildcats were able to get to the rim.

Both teams pressed down the stretch effectively disrupting the flow of the game.  Penn made less mistakes and hit their free throws.

The game came down to Villanova’s passing and movement vs. Penn’s inside game.  

The Wildcats had too many errant passes to neutralize Penn’s inside dominance.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Guru Report: Houston School-Record Air Attack Gives Cougars First-Ever Win Over Temple

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — With Houston hungry for redemption following Saturday’s 95-35 wipeout back home by top-ranked Connecticut perhaps Temple coach Tonya Cardoza might have thought twice about submitting a starting lineup containing (Khadijah) Berger and (Emani) Mayo against the Cougars who ended up eating the Owls alive in a 99-75 lopsided American contest Tuesday night at McGonigle Hall.

Coach Ron Hughey’s squad showed up acting like Temple was holding a come dressed like the Villanova women promotion because the Cougars (15-5, 4-2 American Athletic Conference) filled the air with a school-record 15 three-pointers that came on 26 attempts.

Before Tuesday, unlike General Santa Anna, Temple (9-8, 1-4) had never lost to Houston holding a perfect 8-0 mark in the series between the two that came into being as a result of the creation of The American following the breakup of the old Big East.

The loss for the injury-riddled Owls was their third straight and by extension the streak is likely to become four considering UConn is heading this way Sunday afternoon for a 1 p.m. tip-off in McGonigle Hall.

On the Houston side, the win is the latest in a breakthrough season for Hughey, who had previously served on the staffs at UCF when it was a C-USA champion, Rutgers, Texas, and Florida State prior to his hire by the Cougars in 2014.

Houston does not get a second dose of UConn on the American schedule so Tuesday’s win clinched a 15-15 regular season record, Hughey’s first non-losing and likely soon-to-be winning record after going 6-24, 6-24, and 12-19 his three prior efforts.

Although things were so bad Saturday that Temple’s Tanaya Atkinson’s 39 points in the loss at Cincinnati were more than Houston’s 35 against UConn, the Cougars did not take much to regroup and continue onward to here.

“That was our whole focus,” Hughey said of going into last weekend and then coming here. “Take our lumps from UConn, learn from it, though we prefer winning, but come up here and turn back into the hunter.

“Its funny about the record, because last week our men’s team set a record for threes, shooting 18 of them. We usually shoot the three pretty well,” he continued.

Houston’s 11 wins in non-conference play this season tied the mark set by the Cougars 2003-04 squad back when they played in Conference-USA.

Having been picked 11th out of 12 by the conference coaches, Hughey could end up carrying home some personal hardware from The American tournament, again at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., in March.

“I told you at media day I thought we were a bit disrespected considering how we finished last season,” Hughey said. “This group here, I knew we were hungry. And coming into this year we could establish things and they just turned it on and bought what we were selling.”

Jasmyne Harris, who has already picked up several conference player of the week honors, will be contending for another following her performance against Temple, shooting 10-for-15 from the field, 4-of-6 three-pointers, grabbing six rebounds, dealing four assists, and scoring 29 points, while Angela Harris, not related, was 9-for-12 from the field, 5-for-7 on three pointers, scored 24 points and dealt three assists.

Dorian Branch scored 16 and Serithia Hawkins scored 12.

On Temple’s side, Atkinson had another big game on the scoreboard with 20 points while Mia Davis matched her with 20 and Mayo scored 14.

Cardoza was dismayed over her team’s defense and lack of leadership from the upperclass to help the newcomers along.

“We knew Houston was going to be a matchup problem for us because of their style of play and they like to shoot the three as well as get to the basket,” Cardoza said. “In that first half, they were really, really hot, and we didn’t do a good job of closing out.

“They way they play, you have to be disciplined on defense and guard their shooters as well as their dribble penetration. But again, hats off to Hughey, whose done a great job building that program and the kind of basketball he wants them to play.

“Again, we have to be committed to the defensive side right now and as a team I don’t feel we’re committing and allowing the teams to score.”

Looking Ahead

The Temple game was the only local one on the Guru card Tuesday night.

But Wednesday, Penn and Villanova step out of their conference world at Villanova’s Jake Nevin Field House at 7 p.m. for a Big Five showdown. If the host Wildcats win, the race is over with Villanova claiming a 4-0 sweep of the City Series.

But if Penn wins, then it comes down to the Quakers visit here next Wednesday where another win makes it a co-championship with Villanova. Otherwise a Temple win would give the Owls a share of the Big Five crown with the Wildcats.

Elsewhere, La Salle will be at front-running Duquesne in Pittsburgh for an Atlantic 10 game while on Thursday, Rutgers will visit Penn State in a Big Ten battle while Rider will host Niagara in a MAAC matchup at 11 a.m. at Alumni Gym.

On Friday, Villanova stays home and returns to a key Big East weekend, hosting DePaul while Marquette will visit Sunday. In the CAA, Drexel will be at Northeastern while Delaware will be at UNCW.

We’ll have more of the weekend ahead in our post of the Penn-Villanova game in which our anonymous Postgame Scout is back in town to bring some extra analysis.

And that’s the report. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Bob Heller’s Philly WBB Small College Report: An Abundance of Streaking Teams

By Bob Heller (@bob_heller1)

As the outside temperatures remain cold with the season of winter producing arctic like weather, it has been anything but inside on the basketball courts for our area small college women’s basketball teams.  

No less than five area squads are turning up the heat on their opponents right now producing current winning streaks of six or more games.  

This week’s notebook will start off looking at those five teams who are absolutely scorching their opponents of late. 

 Two of those teams are members of the NCAA Division III Colonial States Athletic Conference – Cabrini University and Neumann University.

Cabrini Wins its Tenth Straight game…
The Cavaliers from Cabrini have not lost a game since November and are currently riding a ten-game winning streak with their wins over Rosemont, Notre Dame University of Maryland and Cedar Crest last week.  

The three wins place the Cavs overall record at 12-2 and a perfect 6-0 in CSAC games.  

Cabrini is averaging 71.9 points per game over the course of the win streak while their opponents are averaging just 53.3 points per game over that same span.

A mix of several players are all providing contributions to the Cabrini offense including a pair of freshman Kate Lannon and Lexi Edwards.  

Lannon, a former Sun Valley High School star comes off the bench and is the Cavs leading scorer at 12.9 points per game. 

 In Cabrini’s 74-53 win over Rosemont Lannon had 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds.  She also reached double figures in Cabrini’s 68-44 win over Cedar Crest, scoring ten.

Edwards, a Central Bucks South grad, is starting and averaging 10.1 points per game for Head Coach Kate Pierson’s squad. 

 She leads the team with 18 three-point field goals and has scored in double figures in seven of the Cavs last ten wins.

Junior Nomi Washington (Phoenixville HS) and sophomore Meghan Matthews (St. Hubert’s) are also averaging double figures.  

Washington is averaging 10.9 points per game and leads the team in rebounding (6.7 rpg.) and steals (38).  Matthews is averaging ten points a game and leads the team with 19 blocks.

 Washington and Matthews along with junior Gaby Jones led Cabrini with 13 points apiece in their 81-35 win over Notre Dame (Md.) on Thursday. Jones also led the team with 13 points in the Cedar Crest win.

…While Neumann Extends Win Streak to Seven
Neumann University is also perfect in CSAC games with a 7-0 conference record and is currently riding a seven-game win streak.  

The Knights overall record currently stands at 12-4 after three wins last week, defeating Notre Dame (Md.) 85-58; Cairn University, 64-56 and Centenary (NJ) 78-38.  

Neumann’s offense, like Cabrini’s has been potent during their current win streak, averaging 72.8 points per game.  

Likewise, their defense has been stifling, allowing just 51.4 points per game over the same span.

The Knights’ win over Centenary also produced a milestone as Head Coach Frank Farnese earned his 200th win at Neumann.  

In his 13th season at the helm of the Knights, Farnese has a record of 200-138 and a .591 winning percentage.

Junior Nafisa Saunders has been a leading force on the Neumann offense this season, averaging 16.8 points point game. 

 The former Coatesville Area HS grad was the leading scorer in all three of the Knight’s wins last week, netting 20 points against Notre Dame, 18 against Cairn and 22 against Centenary.  

Saunders also grabbed 14 boards against Cairn to record her third double-double this season.

Minnika Glenn, a freshman out of Neumann-Goretti HS, notched two double-doubles on the week, with 16 points and 10 rebounds against Notre Dame and 17 points and 13 rebounds against Centenary.  She also added 12 points against Cairn. 

 Glenn is the team’s second leading scorer (12.1 ppg.) and rebounder (6.6/gm.).

Neumann’s third offensive threat is senior Lauren Legler (Middle Township HS (NJ)).  Legler is averaging 10.6 points per game and leads the team with 27 three-point field goals. 

 She tallied 17 points against Cairn last week and added 12 against Centenary.

Mariah Maciejewski has been a force inside for the Knights shooting 55.8% from the field and leading the team in rebounding (8.0/game).  She had recorded ten or more rebounds in four straight games including the Knights win over Notre Dame before her streak was snapped when she tallied nine against Cairn.
D-II USciences Wins Eighth Straight

Moving into the Division II ranks, we have three area teams currently boasting win streaks of six or more games, all from different conference.

 Leading the pack is the University of the Sciences out of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC).

The Devils ran their win streak to eight games last week with a tough road win at Bloomfield College 58-50 and a solid home victory over Dominican College, 60-44 to improve to 15-2  overall and 7-1 in league play. 

USciences is currently receiving votes in both national polls (D2SIDA media poll and WBCA coaches poll).

Defense has been the key to USciences’ winning ways, allowing just 53.3 points per game during their current eight game win-streak while scoring at an average of 67.9 points over the same stretch. 

 The three-point field goal has been the Devils’ bread and butter this season as they have made and average of 11.3 over their eight game winning streak and 10 per game overall on the season (fifth best mark in NCAA Division II).

Junior Alex Thomas tossed in 28 points against Bloomfield and added 20 against Dominican.  She is the Devils’ leading scorer, averaging 16.4 points per game  and is second on the team with 36 three point field goals made.

  Senior Sarah Abbonizio (Episcopal Academy) scored 12 points in USciences win over Bloomfield and is averaging 16.2 points per game this season while making 32 three-pointers. 

 Both Thomas and Abbonizio recently scored their 1,000th career  points becoming the 17th and 18th players in program history to reach the milestone mark.

Another key contributor has been sophomore Jordan Vitelli (Central Bucks South HS).  She scored 13 points against Dominican to join Thomas as the lone two players to reach double figures. 

Vitelli leads the team with 43 three point field goals made and is averaging 11.9 points per game.  

Senior Colleen Walsh (Shipley School) is the fourth Devils player to make 30 or more ‘threes’ so far this season with 31.

 A third senior, Laura Trisch (Archbishop Wood HS) leads the team in rebounding at 5.5 per game.

Lincoln Wins for Sixth Straight Game…
Southwest of the city, in a quiet little part of southern Chester County, Lincoln University has been stringing together win after win and boasts a current streak of six straight victories after defeating Shaw University on Monday 78-57 and knocking off regionally ranked Bowie State University 70-64 on Saturday.

  Lincoln is also 10-1 in their last 11 games and 11-4 overall.  The senior laden squad is also off to their best start ever in conference play with a 6-1 record in Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) games. The Lions are also a perfect 8-0 at home this year.

Senior Teira Pendleton poured in a career high 27 points in the win over Bowie State after recording 13 in the win over Shaw.  The senior forward had the right shooting touch in the two wins, making 65.2% of her shots from the field. 

Her breakaway layup in the waning seconds helped seal the win over the Bulldogs of Bowie State on Saturday.  Pendleton leads the team in scoring, averaging 14.5 points per game.

While Pendleton’s play has been a key component in the Lions’ resurgence, Head Coach Darrell Mosley has gotten key contributions from different players each time his team takes the court.

  On Monday last week it was freshman DeeDee Irwin (Coatesville Area HS) who came off the bench to make a season high four three pointers en route to a 14-point performance.  

Senior Michelle Fitzgerald contributed 13 points.  Fitzgerald is second on the team in scoring averaging 13.6 points per game while shooting 52.8% from the field (4th best in CIAA).

The CIAA’s best shooter, Shahra Madison recorded her fifth double-double of the season against Bowie State, scoring 13 points while grabbing a career-high 19 rebounds. 

 Madison is shooting at a 57.3% clip on the season.  She is the team’s leading rebounder at 8.7 per game. 

Shecquan Bailey was another big contributor in the Lions huge win over Bowie State.  The senior guard came off the bench to score 15 points, six in the final 33 seconds of the game to provide the winning margin for Lincoln.

…As does West Chester in the PSAC
Just down the road from the Lions’ Den, West Chester University has also strung together six straight wins, all of them in conference play, including victories last week over Cheyney University, 77-62 on Wednesday and Lock Haven University 88-55 on Saturday. 

 West Chester is now 11-4 overall and 8-3 in Pennsylvania State Athletic conference (PSAC) games. The Golden Rams have averaged a whopping 80.3 points per game over the course of their six game win streak while allowing just 63.3 points per game.

They have had one of the more potent offenses in the PSAC this season and leading the way has been a trio of seniors. Porscha Speller, Mia Hopkins and Camden Boehner.  

Speller had 10 points and eight rebounds in WCU’s win over Lock Haven and leads the team with a 16.1 points per game scoring average.

Hopkins scored 17 points against Cheyney and added 11 points and nine rebounds against Lock Haven.  She leads the team in rebounds, averaging nine a game while scoring at a 14.5 points per game clip.  Hopkins has scored in double figures now in five straight games.

Boehner is the Golden Rams third leading scorer, averaging 12.8 points per game this season.  The senior guard chipped in 11 points in WCU’s win over Cheyney.

Freshman Justyn Roberts had her biggest game of the season in the win over Lock Haven scoring a season high 18 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the field.  She also grabbed seven rebounds.

Lexi Bruno and Katherine Fisher have also been big contributors to the golden Rams success so far this season.  Both players are averaging just under ten points a game.  

Fisher led the team with 19 points against Cheyney and added 12 against Lock Haven.  

Bruno meanwhile is shooting 48% from the field this season and dishing out assists at a 3.6 per game rate.  She had 11 points in the Lock Haven win.

Jefferson’s Rachel Day Scores 1,000th Career Point
Staying within the Division II ranks, it seems like every week of late we have another area player scored their 1,000th career point and this week was no exception as Jefferson University’s Rachel Day notched her 1,000th point in the Rams 84-70 win over  Nyack College on Wednesday.

Day becomes the 32nd player in program history to reach 1,000 career points. 

Scoring a game-high 26 points against the warriors, Day reached the 1,000-point mark with a late free throw with just 4.1 seconds remaining in the contest.

Erin Maher had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds while Jess Kaminski nearly recorded a triple double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.  Beverly Kum added 15 points in the win.

Three days later Kum exploded for a career-high 29 points in the Rams’ 76-66 win at Post  University.  She was joined in double figures by Day (14 points)and Alynna Williams (12 points, seven assists).

Jefferson has now won eight of their last ten games and stands at 14-2 overall and is in a three-way tie for first in the CACC south with a 7-1 record with USciences and Chestnut Hill College.

Griffins Win Streak at Five…
Chestnut Hill has been hot of late, winning their last five including wins over Nyack (88-61) and Post (84-74) last week. 

 The two wins ups their record to 11-6 overall while keeping pace with ‘Sciences and Jefferson with a 7-1 league mark.

 The Griffins offense has been extremely potent during this streak, averaging 87.2 points per game over the five game stretch.

A key factor contributing to the Griffins’ success has been the rise of freshman Cassie Sebold (Archbishop Wood HS). 

 Sebold, the CACC’s Rookie of the Week in each of the last two weeks, has given Chestnut Hill a big boost off the bench while averaging 24 minutes over the last five games.  

She scored a career high 25 points in the win over Post while dishing out five assists and also added 12 points and five assists in the win over Nyack. Sebold has averaged 16.4 points per game over the last five contests.

Senior Vicky Tumasz (North Penn HS) has also been posting up solid numbers, averaging 18.6 points per game over the Griffins’ last five.  She scored 24 points against Nyack on Saturday after putting in 17 on Wednesday against Post.

Jaeda Wildgoose reached double figures in both wins last week for the Griffins, scoring 15 points against Post and 12 against Nyack.

  As CHC’s second leading scorer at 15.8 ppg., Wildgoose has scored in double figures in all but one game this year.  Shannon Glenn (Archbishop Ryan HS) was the fourth Griffin to reach double figures against Nyack scoring 15 points.

…While Holy Family Wins their Fourth Straight

Rounding out the CACC Schools is Holy Family University who has not lost a game in January (4-0) after struggling through the first two months of the season. 

 The Tigers are now 5-11 overall and 4-4in league play after wins over Felician College (60-55) and Dominican College (56-53) last week.

Casey Thomas (Cedar Creek HS) led the Tigers in both contests scoring 18 points against Felician and 12 against Dominican.  The junior center currently leads the team in scoring averaging 11.9 points per game.  

Katie O’Hare (Bayard Rustin HS) came off the bench to score 11 points in each of the two games while Alexis Hofstaedter (Council Rock South HS) scored 12 against Felician and Casey Schweitzer had 11 against Dominican.

Freshman Jada Smith (Merion Mercy Academy) was a force on the boards last week for the Tigers, grabbing 12 rebounds against Felician and seven against Dominican.  

She is also the Tigers’ second leading scorer on the season, averaging 9.5 points per game.

Some Big Games in the Centennial Conference…

On to the Division III Centennial Conference where Haverford College scored a big win at Gettysburg College 67-56.  

The Bullets were 6-0 in conference play entering the game and went on to knock off the top team in the league, Muhlenberg (#12 nationally) in their next game.

Samantha Wetzel led the Fords with 18 points while Sierra Berkel added 12 points and nine rebounds. 

 The two seniors also recorded double-doubles in Haverford’s next game a 67-50 win at home over McDaniel.  Berkel had 15 points and 11 rebounds while Wetzel scored ten points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Wetzel and Berkel are also the Fords top two scorers this season, averaging 13.9 and 13.8 points respectively.  Wetzel is also averaging 10.4 rebounds per game with Berkel grabbing 8.3 per game.

Johns Hopkins did hand the Fords their only loss of the week, 62-58; dropping the team to 10-3 overall and 7-2 in league play – third place behind Muhlenberg and Gettysburg. 

 Wetzel and Berkel again led the Fords with 17 and 14 points respectively.  Macy Goldbach (Garnet Valley HS) chipped in 13.  Wetzel also grabbed 12 rebounds to notch her ninth double-double of the season.  

Ursinus also went 2-1 on the week, defeating Washington College 67-36 and Dickinson College, 56-45 before falling to Gettysburg 64-59 in overtime on Sunday.

The Bears are now 8-7 overall and 5-5 in league play.

The Gettysburg game was played at the world famous Palestra on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania as part of a Centennial Conference showcase event.  

Sophomore Lydia Konstanzer (Pennridge HS) turned in another stellar performance with 25 points.  The Bears also got a career-high 19 points from Aliyah Stevens off the bench in the loss.  

Konstanzer leads Ursinus in scoring averaging 16.8  points per game. She is also the Bears’ top rebounder at 9.1 per game.

More CSAC Action…
Moving back to the CSAC, Gwynedd Mercy University remains atop the CSAC North winning all three of their games last week to extend their win streak to four.

The Griffins defeated Cedar Crest on Tuesday, 70-51; Clark Summit on Thursday 91-039 and Notre Dame (Md.) on Saturday 65-58 to improve to  9-6 overall and 6-1 in CSAC games.

Coach Keith Mondillo’s squad is getting it done without a single person averaging more than nine points per game. 

 Against Clark Summit, a total of 14 different players saw at least ten minutes of playing time (with 16 minutes played being the apex) and 14 different players also scored. 

 Fifteen different players scored in the win over Cedar Crest. Mondillo is now in his 23rd season at the helm of the Griffins program.

GMU’s leading scorer Julianna Hoisington reached double figures against Clark Summit (13 points) and Notre Dame (11 points) and is averaging 8.2 point per game on the season. She also leads the team in rebounds (72, 4.8 per game).

Susan Bossler also had 13 points against Clark Summit and added 13 against Notre Dame. Chyanne Fine had a season-high 13 points against Cedar Crest and added nine vs. Clark Summit and ten vs. Notre Dame.

Meanwhile Rosemont College and Immaculata University squared off last Thursday with the Ravens coming away with an 85-65 win.

The Ravens (9-6, 3-3 CSAC) placed five players in double figures led by Jasmyn Parker’s 16 points.  Leilani Naone-Carter (Sterling HS) added 15 while her sister Ke'alohilani Naone-Carter chipped in 14.  Shawn Dowd (Upper Darby HS) and Ayanna Thompson had 13 and 12 points respectively.  

Freshman Theresa Kearney (Archbishop Carroll HS) led Immaculata (3-11, 2-4 CSAC) with 20 points while junior Dia Veneziano (Gwynedd Mercy Academy) added 16.

The Mighty Macs earned their only win of the week on Tuesday, defeating Cairn University 70-58.  Annie Kohutka led IC with 13 points.  Amber Ballinger (Archbishop Prendergast HS) and Natalie Ayoub (Marple Newtown HS) scored 12 points respectively.

Cairn was led by Victoria Stum’s (Calvary Christian Academy) 14 points.  Aigner Bookard (Cheltenham HS) chipped in 12.

Cairn later earned their only win of the week defeating Mid-Atlantic Christian University 67-47 to improve to 5-8 on the season.  Charlotte Camp had 14 points to pace the Highlanders.

Over in New Jersey in the NJAC…
Rowan University won both of their games last week, defeating Ramapo College 81-67 and Rutgers-Newark, 80-63 to move into second place in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) with a 7-2 league mark and 9-5 overall record. The Profs have now won three straight.

April Szymczyk led the Profs with 21 points against Rutgers-Newark.  Szymczyk also scored 14 points and grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in the win over Ramapo. A senior center, Szymczyk has reached double figures in four straight games and is Rowan’s second leading scorer at 14.3 points per game.

Summer Crilley (Holy Spirit HS) was Rowan’s high scorer against Ramapo, pouring in 27 points on the night.  She followed that with a double-double against Rutgers Newark (11 pts., 11 rebs.). 

 Crilley is averaging 11.8 points per game on the season, third on the Rowan squad.

Dominique Peters (Lawrenceville HS) turned in two solid performances as well, scoring 20 against Ramapo and following that with 14 against Rutgers-Newark. She is averaging 12.4 points per game on the season. 

 Olivia Rulon (Wildwood Catholic) also had 11 points against Rutgers-Newark while Alex Raring (Mainland Regional) chipped in ten.  Raring is the Profs leading scorer on the season, averaging 15.9 points per game.

The College of New Jersey had their win streak snapped with a loss to nationally ranked Montclair State on Saturday, 54-51.  The loss drops their record to 6-2 in league play and 11-4 overall.  The Lions defeated Rutgers-Newark 71-52 earlier in the week.

Jen Byrne (Shawnee HS) led the Lions with 20 points against Montclair.  She leads the team this season, averaging 17.4 points per game.   Shannon Devitt added 11 points.

Kate O’Leary led four players in double figures in the win over Rutgers-Newark, scoring 17 points.  Nikki Schott added 15. Samantha Famulare and Charlotte Schum scored 13 and ten points respectively.
Widener and Delaware Valley Win Two Straight in the MAC
In the Mid-Atlantic Conference, both Widener University and Delaware Valley University went 2-0 last week.

  Widener defeated Alvernia University (75-45) and Hood University (85-32) while Delaware Valley earned wins against Wilkes University (83-71) and Misericordia (65-59).

Widener improves to 9-6 overall and 3-4 in MAC Commonwealth games.   Delaware Valley ups their record to 5-10 overall and 2-2 in MAC Freedom games.

Five players reached double figures in Widener’s big win over Hood with Devan Rimmer (Pennridge HS) leading the way with 13 points.  

Emily Hardy had the big night on the boards, pulling down 18 rebounds to go along with her 12 points. 

 Allison Gallagher (Souderton HS) added 13 points while Emma Gardy (Central Bucks South HS) and Kyra Schenk had ten apiece.  

Rimmer also scored 22 points in the win over Alvernia while Gallagher notched a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.  Madison Ireland (Garnet Valley HS) added 19 points.

The Aggies earned their first two conference wins of the season with their triumphs over Wilkes and Misericordia.  Danielle Skedzielewski (Archbishop Ryan HS) led the Aggies with a season-high 22 points in their win over Wilkes and added 17 against Misericordia.  

Ashley Smink (Archbishop Ryan) had 16 points against Wilkes and 22 against Misericordia.  Smink leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.4 points per game.  Skedzielewski is second on the team scoring wise, averaging 11.4 points per game.
Elsewhere in the MAC
Eastern University meanwhile lost the first game of the week to Misericordia, 67-52 before defeating Wilkes 93-79.  The win was the Eagles first MAC Freedom win of the season as Eastern improves to 4-10 overall and 1-3 in league play.

Amada Riiff and Taylor Price scored 27 and 22 points respectively in the win over Wilkes.  Price is the leading scorer on the team averaging 13.8 points per game while Riiff is averaging 11.4 points  per game.

After winning their first two MAC games of the season, Arcadia dropped both conference games this week, losing to Lebanon Valley 74-60 and Lycoming 72-56.  Courtney Hoffman (St. Hubert’s) led the Knights with 13 points against Lycoming while Sydney Cyr was the team’s scoring leader in the loss to Lebanon Valley with 15 points.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: Gut Checks Everywhere

By Mike Siroky

The Southeastern Conference of women’s basketball had gut checks everywhere  and most of them belong to Tennessee’s unfathomable schedule. 

The Lady Vols dropped the undefeated flag, leaving Mississippi State alone to carry that banner.

South Carolina did not have available the best player in the conference, A’ja Wilson. They played a step behind, losing a home game. In past seasons, not winning all the home games generally meant not winning the conference title.

Late in the previous game against Auburn, Wilson injured her right ankle. At the time, it was dismissed as no big deal. It was a big deal. In the pregame for Tennessee, she had a pink soft cast on it and was getting around on an non mechanized scooter, no pressure on the ankle.

Several players advanced to the Wooden Award Midseason list. Wilson, of course, but Jamie Nared and Mercedes Russell from Tennessee, Victoria Vivians and Teaira McCowan from Mississippi State and rookie Chennedy Carter of Texas A&M.

 No. 4 Mississippi State

Everything State does runs through superlative center Teaira McCowan.

She is the reason they lead the SEC pack. They are one win away from 20 Halfway into January; they have qualified for the NCAA eliminations. They took out two middlin’ teams this week, one of them possibly a ninth SEC team in the big tournament.

What coach Vic Schaefer sees is the view of the non-stars.

Jordan Danberry wanted to come to State from the start. As the Arkansas high school player of the year, she caved to the pressure of well-meaning homestate folks but soon discovered Arkansas did not have a real.

So it was back to her first best choice.

“I think Jordan is trying to find her way right now,” said Schaefer of the transition. “She’s streaky. I thought she played really well against Arkansas. The importance of taking care of the ball is very important. When you’re just scrimmaging every day, sitting out when you’re not going to play – Myah Taylor will you right now: I’m on her for turning the ball over.

“Don’t get comfortable turning the ball over in practice because that one day, at one point, it isn’t going to be okay. I think for Jordan, she got to make some really great passes against Arkansas and that’s her point guard mentality coming out. She sees the floor extremely well. I think that’s just something that she brings to the table. 

“She not only can get to her spots on the floor when she wants to, but she sees the floor extremely well. So I think she’s settling it and becoming more and more comfortable and trying to figure out what’s needed when she comes in.”

His senior point guard, Morgan William, agrees. “I think she did a pretty great job,” William said. “I see it every day in practice. I see her making big shots; so when she gets comfortable in the game, they are going to fall for her. Sometimes she gets upset when they don’t fall for her, but I know it’s coming. When they do start falling, I’m really going to be happy for her because I know it will really help our team.”

Another growth spurt is due from Australian import, Chloe Bibby.

“For Chloe, it was a really special to know that her parents flew 22 hours from Australia, landed and were able to see her play for her college team their first time in America was pretty special,” Schaefer said.

 “It was a pretty neat deal. She played 23 minutes, big minutes, for us. I think she had ten points and had four rebounds, maybe. I thought she did a good job and really helped us when Victoria got in foul trouble, the first time Victoria has gotten in foul trouble all year. I thought she did a really good job for us.”

William welcomed the help when Vivians had to sit.

“We put Chloe in as a four. I thought she did a good job. She didn’t miss a beat. She’s not the attacker that Victoria is, but she can go out there and shoot the ball. She stretches the floor as well. It wasn’t too many curve balls. I think Chloe stepped up and did a good job for us.”

 “Coach always tells us when our names are called, be ready. That day Chloe was ready. Her whole family was there. I am proud for her.”

Against Ole Miss, the Bulldogs issued single-digit discipline on defense in the first and last quarters to win easily, 76-45. McCowan was the main prosecutor, 12-of-13 from the floor, with four blocks in just 26 minutes.

“She's realizing how great she really is,” State guard Blair Schaefer said.

“I'm proud of a lot of things tonight,” Vic Schaefer said. “I thought we responded tonight and showed some toughness in some situations where maybe we haven't in the past.”

Ole Miss coach Matt Insell said his team played hard, but had no answer for McCowan. Her 92.3 percent ties her own school record for shooting percentage in a game.

“She's one of the best players in college basketball,’ Insell said. They drew 761, near capacity at State.

Next up was Alabama and a celebratory crowd of 9,010. The 28-8 single-digit lockdown in the second quarter signaled the end then, with a final of 75-61. Schaefer likes the defensive stand by his backup guards, Danberry and Jazzmun Holmes.

“Jazz and Jordan came in during that second quarter and really made a difference,” Schaefer said. “They played extremely well and impacted the game.”

Mississippi State earned its 11th straight victory by double digits, but this one was more difficult than most.

Alabama had a surprising 20-16 lead at the end of the first quarter. Hannah Cook hit a pair of 3s to jump-start the Crimson Tide's offense.

A frustrated Schaefer inserted Holmes and Danberry and that’s when things started to turn around. The duo helped force 10 Alabama turnovers during the second quarter as the Bulldogs rallied for a 44-29 lead by halftime.

“It's hard to be 19-0 in this league,” Schaefer said. “We've played an incredibly tough schedule, but you know what, we've played it with some incredibly tough kids.”

Vivians scored 21 points while McCowan had 19 points and 16 rebounds for her SEC-leading 14th double-double. Vivians scored in double figures for the 18th time in 19 games this season. Roshunda Johnson added 14 points.

Vivians said she wasn't surprised that some of the team's best moments on Sunday came when backups were on the floor.

“We feel like the starters can take a break, other people can come in and make the game better,” Vivians said.

They have a week off before a showdown at Tennessee which inevitably decides the conference regular-season title. Thanks to No. 2 Notre Dame’s whalloping by Louisville, they oughta be the No.2 team in America.

No. 6 Tennessee

The Lady Vols stayed next-best in the conference.

Texas A&M had a fundamental plan to win: Use only the starters on offense.  Once UT lost the third quarter by six, they needed to win the fourth by three to fashion a 70-70 regulation tie. Rebounds were even at 42. No one was in foul trouble.

Seniors Jamie Nared and Mercedes Russell let the game come to them. With two free throws each to start OT. Minutes passed with rushes and miscues. Khaalia Hillsman finally hit two free throws for the visitors.

Russell hit a jumper to untie it, but Evina Westbrook fouled Danni Williams on a 3 and she hit all three.

“I thought I was going to throw up,” Williams said. “I knew I just needed to breathe and relax, and treat them like everyday free throws.” 

Westbrook turned it over and Nared had to foul. Williams sealed the deal with two more free throws, 79-76.

“You've got to at least get a shot off there, and we didn't,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “It's another learning opportunity for us.”

No one on the A&M bench scored a point. “Yes, we were dead tired and, yes, I probably should have subbed more,” A&M coach Gary Blair said. “But this team is used to playing those kinds of minutes, and every possession was so important.”

Russell scored 21 with 10 rebounds, Nared scored 18. The bench scored 16.

A&M had 22 each from Hillsman and Williams and 21 from Chennedy Carter. 

Williams was 7-of-7 and Hillsman 6-of-6 from the line.

As sometimes happens in SEC games, one side was awarded way less free throws than the home team, 11 for Tennessee, 26 for the Aggies. Blair declined to comment on his windfall and Holly Warlick never plays for the ratings. 

She guessed her team was seen as less aggressive. This is two weeks in a row where inequal officiating affected top teams in a road loss. The league needs to address this.

“We'll go back and get better,” Warlick said. “Hats off to A&M, they battled and they got the win. Both teams were getting after it. It was a fun game, and our young kids will learn from this.”

The difference is in style, who created contact and how it is viewed by officials. The unafraid team had its play pay off.

At South Carolina, the statistical matchup was most efficient offense (.498 field goal percentage) against its most effective defense with South Carolina shooting the league-best and Tennessee leading the league with .344 field goal percentage defense.

But all that hinges on reality. The reality of this one was the best player in the league, A’ja Wilson, did not play.

Last season at this time, UT was the only team in the nation to win at both South Carolina and Mississippi State, the eventual national title game contenders. They  also had a wild player to interject when needed.

That also brought drama.

This season, the Lady Vols are a better team with addition by attrition and more reliable, coachable.

Unfettered by weird foul irregularities, the visitors stayed with a plan. There was no guarantee of a win, but UT won each of the first three quarters and had an 11-point buffer into the fourth.

Mercedes Russell and Jamie Nared each had 14. Nared was 10-of-11 from the line. Anastasia Hayes, 4-of-5 from the field, brought 11 off the bench.

Tyasha Harris gamely kept SC in it. She was 4-of-6 from the line, 8-of-13 from the field including 3-of-6 3s.

Even though the roar of the 14,763 crowd caused a small infusion of energy, SC never got closer than four but was gassed. UT ripped off a 16-6 close en route to the 86-70 win. 

Russell concentrated on defense in the second half and double up with 12 rebounds, 10 defensive. Evina Westbrook scored 16 with five assists. She had five of the seven, including a 3. Nared and Russell also scored when needed. Harris finished with 28 for the home side, her best outing.

“All my teammates, every single one, had my back,” Westbrook said. “I had to learn from it, move on and on to the next one.”

Russell said she and Nared let their young teammate know that everyone makes mistakes and that Westbrook needed to shake off the end of the A&M game. “You can't get it back so forget about it,” Russell said. “Do the best that you can moving forward.”

It is SC’s worst home loss since 2013, when Tennessee administered a similar whipping.

“This is how we used to beat up on people in this league the last four years,” Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said with a grin. “It doesn't feel so good on the receiving end.”

The Vols continue the toughest road trip of anyone this season the annual debacle at No. 2 Notre Dame before Mississippi State visits in their league off week, only two Sunday games. Warlick has said  the league did not do them any favors.

But she also said the ND game was a tribute to Pat, her mentor Pat Head Summitt, and part of a UT tradition. They are 16-1 already qualified the for NCAA eliminations.

No. 7 South Carolina

Before Tennessee, Carolina finished the trail of woe for Auburn: Road games at Tennessee and SC sandwiched around a home date with A&M.

It was over early as Lindsey Spann hit 2-of-4 3s, A’ja Wilson was 3-of-3 inside and Alexis Jennings 2-of-2 as the Gamecocks cruised to a 30-10 opening quarter. Tyasha Harris already had six assists. Everybody would get playing time.

Wilson finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds, eight defensive. They eased away. 71-63, winning the first and last quarters. She was hobbling a bit as the game wound down, but Harris assured everyone it was no big deal.

Coach Dawn Staley assessed it as a minor sprain, that perhaps a day off would be in order before the Gamecocks welcomed in Tennessee for the week’s finale. Wilson hit two free throws early to push past the program career mark of 2,000 points.

Staley just wants basic basketball. She said when the Gamecocks get up early, they can lose focus and look to make stunning, ooh-and-ahh, no-look passes and long 3-pointers. “We try to swing for the fences and hit home runs,” she said. “Singles are fine. Doubles are fine.’’

After this, SC takes two road winnables, UK and Vandy.

No. 17 Texas A&M

Unnranked Georgia was 6-0 on the road and had a three-game winning streak.
A&M did not get the home benefit at the line it got against Tennessee.

Amazing how those two undercurrents collided.

Without extra free throws, A&M lost to unranked Georgia, eliminating itself from the SEC conference race with the OT home loss, 92-84.

Chennedy Carter had 31 points, one of four in double figures, including Senior Khaalia Hillsman was named SEC Player of the Week, keeping the upperclass march alive.

Freshman Gabby Connally returned to her home state and scored 37, 15 in overtime, before 4,702 witnesses.

Connally, from San Antonio, came in averaging 8.8 points per game with a season-high of 13 but against the Aggies made 10 of 17 shots, including four 3s, plus 13-of-14 free throws. 

Her 37 points rank third all-time among Georgia freshmen behind Coco Miller (45 in 1997) and Janet Harris (39 in 1982). Mackenzie Engram made 6-of-7 3s, tying a career high with 23 points while Caliya Robinson scored 18 with a career-high 19 rebounds.

Connally made 5 of 6 free throws in the final minute. A&M missed its final five field-goal attempts.

“I thought we had the game in hand through the third quarter then they made some uncharacteristic turnovers that gave us a little life,”

“In the fourth quarter when they made three shots in a row, I thought that was the turning point when we had the lead and then all of the sudden we went from a seven to eight point game to they were up by two and making shots. (Gabby) Connally had her career game, but the difference was (Caliya) Robinson. 

“We had some very good shots, and then we had some poor shots that we were trying to do it individually and not collectively. Every game that we have this year in conference is going to be very similar to this. We are going to have to fight through it, and we are going to have to have some young players mature on the scene and some older players step up and be the all-conference performers they are. 

“We ran some sets and sometimes we weren't patient. One time I ran a perfect set when she had their back up post player in there and what did we do? We backed out of the thing. Chennedy got down there, and she backed out after a free throw play, so we threw it to Danni, and we were playing pop a shot in there.

“What we need to do is find Khaalia. When they rested Robinson, we didn’t take advantage of Khaalia inside. When we got Anriel at the high post when they were doubling over her, she knocked down two or three of those shots, and that is what we have to have. 

“Her trouble was scoring when she did a great job on the offensive boards. She is just awfully small, and that is the best defensive player we have played this year. I mean it looked like Robert Williams last year. We were doing a lot of things well, but so was the other team. This is the SEC. We signed up for this.”
Trend: Tennessee is tied for the lead in conference team offense, yet their best scorer ranks seventh among individuals, showcasing coach Holly Warlick’s theories of team before individual.

For the second straight season, Missouri, a ranked team, has declined to participate in our coverage.

The Guru Report: Drexel and Delaware Grab Wins to Stay Locked in Second in the CAA While Big East Villanova Falls at St. John’s

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — Drexel cruised to an easy 68-42 win over UNCW here at the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center Sunday afternoon while down the road Delaware edged Towson 51-49 at the Blue Hens’ Bob Carpenter Center in Newark in a pair of games in the Colonial Athletic Association to stay tied for second a game behind James Madison, which has yet to lose in conference play.

In two other games involving the Guru locals in a light Sunday schedule Villanova fell short in Big East game in New York, losing at St. John’s 70-64, while in a Big Ten game at Wisconsin, Penn State topped the Badgers 69-62.

In other games of note around the country, No. 9 South Carolina, playing at home without A’ja Wilson after an injury in her last game, fell to No. 6 Tennessee 86-70, and Mike Siroky has that one all covered in his weekly SEC Report as he also does Georgia taking down No. 17 Texas A&M 92-84 in overtime a few days after the Aggies had handed Tennessee with its first loss.

Elsewhere, No. 2 Notre Dame recovered off its trashing earlier in the week from No. 3 Louisville to beat visiting Boston College 89-60 in the Atlantic Coast Conference while other results from the conference showed Pittsburgh beating visiting Georgia Tech 68-62, North Carolina State edging Syracuse at home 60-56, Miami beating host Clemson 72-60, Florida State routing visiting Virginia Tech 107-62, and No. 16 Duke beating visiting Virginia 55-48,

Host Dayton topped Saint Louis 101-76 in a battle of two Atlantic 10 frontrunners, while host South Florida topped in-state rival UCF 62-45 in The American, and in the Big 12 No. 5 Baylor handled host Oklahoma 74-52.

Drexel Goes Virtually Wire-to-Wire Beating UNCW

The Dragons welcomed back two former CAA notables in new UNCW coach Karen Barefoot, who had coached Old Dominion, which left the conference for C-USA several years ago, and Tina Martin, the longtime Delaware coach who stepped down in the offseason and then became a member of Barefoot’s staff,

But after the pre-game sociality was put aside Drexel coach Denise Dillon’s group allowed a brief 3-2 lead at the outset by the Seahawks (7-10, 0-6 CAA) and then dashed to a 20-10 advantage at the end of the quarter and stayed in control the rest of the way.

The Dragons (12-5, 4-1) had come off the road after a pulsating comeback 65-58 win in overtime at William & Mary Tuesday night and now will be gone until after a weekend road trip at Northeastern Friday and Hofstra Sunday returning to host defending CAA tournament champion Elon Friday Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.

“Once again our defense set the tone,” said Dillon of the group forcing 25 turnovers. “We made some changes to show some zone and the team showed man and the team worked well out there together.

“We just wanted to make sure our reserves understand the intensity of playing defense with every possession.”

Kelsi Lidge had a game-high 18 points for Drexel while Sara Woods off 5-for-7 from the field scored 12 points and had three steals, Bailey Greenberg scored 11, shooting 5-for-9, and Aubrey Brown was 3-for-5 scoring nine points and grabbing eight rebounds, while Hannah Nilhill dealt three assists and also had three steals.

Sharing the ball well, Drexel had 18 assists on the Dragons’ 28 field goals.

“All of love sharing the ball and finding the open man,” Brown said.

No one on UNCW scored in double figures — Lacey Suggs, the Seahawks’ leading scorer was held to three points, 11 below her average. The top UNCW leader was Chinyere Bell with nine points and eight rebounds while Jenny DeGraff, a former Penn State player, had seven points and seven rebounds.

Delaware Edges Towson

The Blue Hens kept pace with Drexel tied for second with the Dragons at 4-1 in the CAA, a game behind JMU after escaping with a 51-49 home win over Towson.

Delaware (11-5 overall) has won four straight since dropping the CAA opener at Drexel.

In Sunday’s game, Towson held a one-point lead with 13 seconds left in regulation before Abby Gonzales took a pass from Nicole Enabosi and fired a three-pointer.

Enabosi soon thereafter sealed the outcome with a pair of foul shots. She recorded her 12th double double of the season with 14 points, a total matched by Gonzales, and also grabbed 10 rebounds.

Samone DeFreese collected 11 rebounds.

Towson (7-10, 2-4 CAA) got 15 points and 13 rebounds from Mary Cuevas while Danielle Durjan grabbed 15 points and five rebounds.

“This is a gutty group and this is a group that plays together,” said Delaware first-year coach Natasha Adair. “They don’t care who gets the credit. They trust one another.”

Gonzales acknowledged the pressure cooker of the tightly contested action, saying, “It was a draining game, bugt at the same time, it’s so rewarding at the end, especially to get the ‘W.’

“The first couple of games didn’t go our way, but we learned from our mistakes and how to come back in those last minute possessions.”

Delaware next weekend heads to UNCW on Friday and Elon on Sunday.

Fast Finish Carries Penn State Over Wisconsin

The Lady Lions surged from a 52-52 deadlock at Wisconsin with seven minutes left in regulation to pour down 10 straight points and hold on for a 69-62 win in the Big Ten over the Badgers at the Kohl Center in Madison.

Coach Coquese Washington’s group never trailed but did get caught in the tie before pulling away for the road win.

Penn State (11-8, 2-4 Big Ten) connected from beyond the arc for 12 three-pointers, one less than a season high of 13 against Kansas State.

All but one of the Lady Lions’ total came from the starting five, led by Amari Carter, who scored 21 points, and Jaida Travascio-Green, who scored 20. Carter had a career high with five triplets.

Travascio-Green went long range with six 3-pointers, one less than against Drexel in the season-opening weekend.

Siyeh Frazier added 12 points to the Penn State total while Teniya Page scored 11.

Cayla Morris had a team-high 17 points for Wisconsin (7-12, 0-6), which is still looking for its first conference win of the season.

The Lady Lions head home to the Bryce Jordan Center for Thursday night’s 7 p. m. tip off against Rutgers, which they nearly upset in their first meeting back in Piscataway, N.J., earlier this month.

Villanova Falls at Saint John’s

The Wildcats came up short at St. John’s, losing 70-64 in a Big East game in Carneseca Arena at Queens, N.Y., that cost Villanova completing a key three-game road sweep in the conference.

The host Red Storm improved to 12-7 overall and 5-3 in the conference, while Villanova, which fell out of the AP women’s poll a week ago after a seven-week stay, fell to 14-3 overall and 4-3 in the Big East.

Following a late rally that drew the Wildcats close, the Red Storm closed out the game for a win by making 7 of 8 free throws in the final minutes.

Kelly Jekot had 16 points for Villanova while Mary Gedaka had 15 points and eight rebounds. Alex Louin and Jannah Tucker each had 11 points.

Alisha Kebbe and Maya Singleton each scored 16 points while Tiana Englad scored 12 for St. John’s and Singleton also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.

The Wildcats take a brief excursion outside the conference to finish their Big Five business hosting Penn at 7 Wednesday night at the Jake Nevin Field House.

A win will give Villanova the Big Five title outright with a 4-0 sweep. A Quakers win, which would be an extreme rarity in that portion of the City Series round robin means that if Penn also wins at Temple the following Wednesday, for the second time it would get a piece of the title otherwise the Owls will share the crown with Villanova.

The Wildcats then return to conference play Friday night hosting frontrunning DePaul at 7 and then hosting defending champion Marquette at noon Sunday.

And that’s the Guru report.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Guru Report: Penn and Princeton Complete Weekend Ivy Sweeps while La Salle and Saint Joseph’s Rally in the A-10

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — Way after Penn coach Mike McLaughlin had already gushed in the formal postgame press conference about the play of his freshman Eleah Parker in Saturday afternoon’s 70-51 victory over Columbia here in The Palestra to complete a sweep of the first Ivy weekend he continued to praise the 6-4 center from Charlotte, N.C. a little bit more.

“She was just a force out there,” he smiled.

Parker has been setting career highs several times beyond her first meaningful marks this season and Saturday with her third double double, the top of her personal charts were updated again to the likes of 22 points and 14 rebounds, eight of which were on the offensive glass for the Quakers (8-5, 2-1 Ivy).

Since coming to Penn, now in his ninth season, from running the Division II powerhouse Holy Family in Northeast Philadelphia, McLaughlin has brought in several prominent post players in recently graduated Sydney Stipanovich, senior Michelle Nwokedi, and now Parker, who is quickly building her own reputation.

As for why she chose Penn, Parker said of her decision that she was chased by several Atlantic Coast Conference schools, began reducing conferences and in her Ivy mix visited Harvard, then the Quakers, and after her visit here with what is now the two-time defending Ivy champs, “I signed to go to Penn.”

Columbia (6-11, 0-2) arrived here from Friday night’s whipping at Princeton, though star senior Camille Zimmerman had 29 points against the Tigers.

Shaking off the setback, the Lions jumped to a 7-0 lead which McLaughlin said was a result of Columbia going with a small lineup creating a series of mismatches.

But then he made a few adjustments and Penn took off on a 21-3 three run and stayed in control the rest of the way.

“Eleah was really special tonight and Michelle on the defensive end,” McLaughlin said of Nwokedi, who had just two points, a number the Penn coach says indicates little of her play. She also grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked four shots, grabbed a steal, and dealt three assists.

Parker cited how much Nwokedi has been a guide to her rookie season.

“She’s really helping me, talking to me on the court, really helping me to know where I need to be, if I’m out of position, she’ll talk to me a bit. But all the upperclassmen have been helping.”

Ashley Russell added 15 points while Anna Ross had another solid game committing no turnovers in 26 minutes, scoring seven points and dealing seven assists while Beth Brzozowski off the bench dealt three assists, scored three points and was also turnover free in her 15 minutes of playing time.

Phoebe Sterba off the bench scored nine points, fueled by three of Penn’s ten 3-ball connections.

Penn dominated the boards with a 54-36 rebounding advantage, including 21-10 on the offensive glass that resulted in a 22-4 advantage on second-chance points.

While Casey Riley scored 20 for the Lions, the only Columbia player in double figures, in a rarity the Lions’ Zimmerman was held to nine points and had eight rebounds but only one was off the offensive boards.

“Defensively, this weekend, we definitely showed we can defend,” McLaughlin said.

Penn now parks its Ivy pursuits until that part of the schedule resumes with the first road trip on Feb. 2-3 visiting Brown and Yale.

Next, however, is a visit to Villanova, a team that has had Penn’s number, on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Jake Nevin Field House.

The Wildcats, who had been ranked for six weeks until Monday, are 3-0 in the Big Five, having clinched a tie for the city crown, but obviously a win over the Quakers gives then the local title outright.

Should Penn win, however, the Quakers can earn a tie by winning at Temple on Jan. 24, but if the Owls win in that scenario then Temple will have tied Villanova for the crown.

“Villanova, they’re very good and have beat us beat pretty good as of late. But we’ll let it fly and see what happens,” McLaughlin said.

Princeton’s Big Second Half Subdues Cornell

Ahead by a slim 36-34 advantage at the break, the Tigers opened the third quarter with a 17-0 run and then rode comfortably to a 75-54 win at home in Jadwin Gym for their seventh straight overall win and remained unbeaten in the early Ivy action at 3-0.

Leslie Robinson had 16 points for Princeton (13-3), while Bella Alarie had 14 points, Gabrielle Rush scored 11 and Abby Meyers scored 10.

Samantha Widemann had 17 points for Cornell (4-11, 0-2).

The Tigers now take their three-week haitus for finals before resuming the Ivy chase on the same road trip as Penn in reverse order Feb. 2-3 playing at Yale then Brown.

Rutgers Tops Minnesota in Overtime

Coming off a low scoring loss at Purdue earlier in the week, No. 21 Rutgers, which entered the Associated Press women’s poll for the first time in several seasons on Monday, got forced into overtime but prevailed over Minnesota 80-70 in a Big Ten game at home in the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.

The Scarlet Knights (17-3, 5-1 Big Ten) are 12-0 at home.

Tyler Scaife, who earlier in the week became the third player in the program history to pass 2,000 points behind Sue Wicks and Cappie Pondexter, had a game-high 25 points against the Golden Gophers (14-5, 3-3).

Scaife has 2,032 points, 180 short of passing Pondexter into second on the Rutgers all time scoring list.

In addition to Scaife scoring in double figures for the home team, Stasha Carey had 23 points and 14 rebounds.

Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Destiny Pitts had 22 points and Gadiva Hubbard scored 13.

Pitts’ 3-ball tied the score with 15 seconds left in regulation, then Rutgers turned the ball over but Minnesota missed a potential winning layup at the buzzer and the game went into overtime.

An 8-0 run early in the extra period got Rutgers back into the winners column.

The triumph brought Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer’s record to 994-393 bringing her to within six of becoming the third Division I women’s coach this season  and fifth overall to claim 1,000 wins.

Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell reached 1,000 wins on Dec. 19 while the late Tennessee legend Pat Summitt and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer previously reached the total.

In Division II, Bentley’s Barb Stevens reached 999 wins Saturday when the Falcons beat New Haven and could earn her 1,000th on Wednesday when Bentley hosts Adelphi.

Stevens did coach Massachusetts for several seasons while Stringer also coached at Cheyney University in the Western suburbs of Philaxdelphia and also at Iowa.

Speedy Morris, who has coached the La Salle University men and women in Philadelphia, now coaches at Saint Joseph’s Prep and earned his 1,000th career win on Friday.

Rutgers next travels to Penn State on Thursday to complete the home-and-home that earlier this month saw the Scarlet Knights prevail in Piscataway.

Getting to 1000 wins before the regular season expires may take some doing for Stringer.

Running the table the next six means winning at Penn State, then over Nebraska at home, at Indiana and then it gets tricky: at nationally ranked Maryland , home against nationally ranked Michigan, home against Maryland. Then the regular season closes out at Wisconsin, at home against Iowa, at Northwestern, then games in the Big Ten tourney.

Saint Joseph’s Rallies at Massachusetts

The Hawks rallied from a six-point halftime deficit to defeat the Minutewomen 84-79 in an Atlantic 10 game on the road at the Mullins Center in Amherst.

Alyssa Monaghan and Chelsea Woods, who earlier this week reached her 1,000th career point, each scored 19 points for the Hawks (9-8, 4-1 Atlantic 10).

Trailing 46-40,  Saint Joseph’s rode a Monaghan 3-ball to a 51-51 tie halfway through the third period and a 12-3 run over the final four minutes enabled the Hawks to earn an overall 25-12 mark in the period over Massachusetts.

Woods also had 11 rebounds for her fifth-straight double double. 

Monaghan was 5-for-8 from beyond the arc and also dealt seven assists.

Kristalyn Baisden scored 14 for Saint Joseph’s while dealing five assists and Sarah Veilleux scored 13 while Adashia Franklyn had 11 points and eight rebounds.

Bre Hampton-Bey had had a game-high 26 points for Massachusetts (8-9, 0-4), which is still looking for its first conference win of the season. Hailey Leidel had 16 points, Maggie Mulligan scored 11, and Paige McCormick scored 10.

Saint Joseph’s has a week off but stays on the road resuming play next Sunday at St. Louis.

La Salle Edges Saint Bonaventure

Shaquanna Edwards’ three-pointer with 57 seconds left in regulation enabled La Salle to snap a five-game overall losing streak and enable the Explorers to get their first Atlantic 10 win of the season by beating St. Bonaventure 66-63 at home at the Tom Gola Arena at TruMark Financial Center.

La Salle (6-11, 1-3 A-10) had a nine-point deficit with 3:49 left in regulation before Amy Griffin’s two foul shots launched a 14-2 run over the final 3 minutes, 17 seconds of action.

Adreanna Miller tied the score at 61-61 with 1:31 left before the visitors’ Jalisha Terry answered to regain the lead by a bucket for the Bonnies (6-12, 1-4).

Then Edwards connected to put the advantage back with the Explorers by a point and when St. Bonaventure couldn’t score on the next possession, the Bonnies had to foul with 10.4 seconds left.

Miller’s two foul shots accounted for the game’s final score when Mariah Ruff, who had a game-high 30 points, launched a contested 3-pointer that fell short for St. Bonaventure.

Edwards had 17 points and three steals for La Salle while Miller scored 15 points.

Griffin and Shalina Miller each had 13 points.

La Salle now hits the road for two, traveling to Duquesne on Wednesday in Pittsburgh followed by a Saturday visit to Rhode Island.

Temple Downed at Cincinnati Despite Atkinson’s Huge Game

Tanaya Atkinson had the third-best ever individual game for Temple, scoring 39 points but the Owls fell to the Bearcats for the first time since the 2014 season as coach Tonya Cardoza got bested by her good friend Jamelle Elliott 80-72 in an American Athletic Conference game.

Elliott is a former University of Connecticut star and the two spent long stints together on the staff of Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma at Elliott’s alma mater.

A 22-15 Cincinnati advantage in the fourth quarter was decisive as Temple (9-7, 1-3 American) dropped its second straight and third of its last four.

The Owls got close near the finish before an 8-3 run by the Bearcats sealed the outcome.

Atkinson, who was the only Temple player in double figures, also had a career-high six assists. The only two games better scoring wise than her’s in Temple history is Kristen McCarthy’s 42 in the 2009-10 season and all-timer Marilyn Stephens’ 41 in 1983-84 while Nancy Kelly in 1957-58 also had a game scoring 39 points.

Genesis Parker had 17 points for Cincinnati (11-7, 3-2), while Angel Rizor and Llmar’l each scored 14 points and Ana Owens scored 12.

Temple next hosts Houston at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in McGonigle Hall before Connecticut comes roaring through also in McGonigle Hall next Sunday.

Looking Ahead

To save you looking at Saturday’s post unless you want to catch up with the roundup, four local games are on the slate Sunday with two out of the Colonial Athletic Association.

Delaware, which has been on a tear, hosts Towson at 2 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark while at the same time Drexel, where the Guru will be back here in West Philadelphia, hosts UNCW, which is under former Old Dominion coach Karen Barefoot.

Her top assistant is former longtime coach Tina Martin.

Villanova, meanwhile, in a bid to keep its NCAA prospects strong as well as a shot to return to the rankings after a week’s absence, will visit St. John’s, looking to make it a three game sweep of the Wildcats’ week-long Big East road trip.

And in the other game among the locals, Penn State in a Big Ten match will host Wisconsin, also at 2 p.m.

On Monday, Rider visits Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference frontrunner Quinnipiac in a rematch of last season’s conference championship. The Broncs have had depletions through graduation while the host Bobcats maintained a strong roster this season.

And that is the report.


Friday, January 12, 2018

The Guru Report: Local Sweep With Rallies By Villanova and Delaware Along with Easy Ivy Wins by Penn and Princeton

By Mel Greenberg (@womhoopsguru)

PHILADELPHIA — It was a clean four-game sweep for the Guru local teams on the Friday night card with Penn coming off last week’s Princeton loss here in The Palestra to handle Cornell on the front end of the first Ivy back-to-back weekend while the Tigers an hour away up north did likewise to Columbia.

Further up from Princeton in New Jersey, Villanova rallied in the second half to take a key Big East triumph at Seton Hall, while even a bit further north on in Hempstead, N.Y., on Long Island, Delaware captured a win at Hofstra in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Fast Start Carries Penn Over Cornell

Extensive detail not really required for Penn, which jumped to a 22-8 first quarter attack on Cornell to continue way in front to absorb a 13-0 run by the Big Red in the third quarter before finishing with a 68-48 win to go to 7-5 overall on the season and 1-1 in the Ivy League.

Unlike six days ago, Penn coach Mike McLaughlin was all smiles with the performance of his Quakers consisting of freshman center Eleah Parker double doubling with 15 points and 10 rebounds, Lauren Whitlatch also scoring in double figures with 11 points paced by three of the home team’s nine 3-balls, and well rounded games by senior Michelle Nwokedi with nine points, seven rebounds, seven rebounds, six blocked shots and a steal while Anna Ross ran an effective backcourt operation with six points, six assists and a pairs of steals.

“I love what we did tonight,” McLaughlin said. “I said to them in the locker room, the team came out ready to play, we set the tone the way we want to play tonight and carry over to play tomorrow.”

He took accountability for the team slipping on the Cornell run as he was giving everyone a chance to get some time.

Samantha Clement had a career high 23 points for Cornell (4-10, 0-1 Ivy), but everyone else was held in check and early in the third quarter, Penn reached its largest lead of the night at 33 points.

Elodie Furey, a freshman from Episcopal Academy and Villanova, the suburb, whose father Kevin played for Saint Joseph’s, had her second homecoming in her early collegiate career, playing 15 minutes for Cornell, which earlier this season lost up the street at Drexel in a non-conference matchup.

Dylan Higgins, also a reserve, is from Episcopal and the sophomore lives in Bala Cynwyd.

Penn comes right back here Saturday, again in an earlier start, this time at 4:30 p.m., hosting Columbia before the men play the Lions.

This is the second season that Penn’s men and women are playing a few doubleheaders other than the former traditional one against Princeton, as the schedule being adjusted for the four-team Ivy tournament fields, which began last year and again will return to the Palestra in mid-March.

After this weekend, the Ivy business gets parked until the end of the month but between now and then there’s still a piece of the local Big Five title to pursue, visiting Villanova next Wednesday at 7, and then Temple the following Wednesday.

The non-conference slate wraps with a game here against Division III Gwynedd Mercy before the chase for a third straight Ivy regular season title and second straight Ivy tourney title resumes the rest of the way.

Villanova Rallies Over Seton Hall

After being dropped out of the Associated Press women’s poll by a few points following a six-way run, the Wildcats are making a case for a quick return.

Following Wednesday 60-58 win at Georgetown, coach Harry Perretta’s squad overcame a vastly improved Seton Hall squad at the Pirates’ Walsh Gym in South Orange, N.J., to emerge with a 67-59 Big East victory.

Down nine at the half, Villanova (14-2, 4-2 Big East) roared over the home team in the final 10 minutes 29-17 to run an impressive road record to 8-1.

Kelly Jekot scored 21 for the Wildcats, including 10 in the final period, preventing Seton Hall (10-8, 2-5) from making good on a career-high 28 points to go with 13 rebounds from former Temple star Donnaizha Fountain, who transferred and is playing with graduate eligibility. 

The Pirates’ Shadeen Samuels also had a career high with 20 points.

The Wildcats’ Mary Gedaka scored 16 and grabbed eight rebounds while Jannah Tucker scored 11, including three of ‘Nova’s eight 3-balls. Adrianna Hahn had eight points and seven rebounds.

Villanova is 40-22 all-time against Seton Hall. 

Next up is another road stop for Villanova in the New York Metro area visiting Saint John’s on the Island Sunday at 2 p.m.

Princeton Downs Columbia

The Tigers ran their current win streak to six after beating the Lions 69-47 at home in Jadwin Gym following last week’s triumph at Penn to improve to 12-3 overall and 2-0 in the Ancient Eight.

Sophomore sensation Bella Alarie had 18 points and a season-best 13 rebounds for Princeton (12-3, 2-0 Ivy) while Gabrielle Rush and Abby Meyers each scored 11, and Carlie Littlefield scored 10.

The Tigers were able to dominate despite a big night of 29 points from Camille Zimmerman of Columbia (6-10, 0-1), which opened Ivy play.

Princeton, also is involved with the same doubleheader sets as Penn this weekend, so the Tigers on Saturday will host Cornell at 4:30 p.m.

Delaware Tops Hofstra

The Blue Hens rallied in the second half to win at Hofstra 58-51 in a CAA game at the host Pride’s Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead, N.Y.

A 17-9 third quarter enabled Delaware (10-5, 3-1 CAA) to take a third straight conference win following last month’s opening loss at Drexel.

Nicole Enabosi had her 11th double double with 12 points and 15 rebounds while Abby Gonzales and Bailey Kargo each scored nine while Samone DeFreese grabbed 11 rebounds.

Ashunae Durant had 12 points and 14 rebounds for Hofstra (8-8, 2-3).

“This group is really learning how to win,” said first year coach Natasha Adair. “This was a tough road win against a hot Hofstra team. We were very disciplined in the second half and at no point did I see uncertainty in our eyes.”

Delaware now heads home to host Towson in a CAA battle Sunday at 2 p.m. in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

Looking Ahead

Besides Saturday’s Ivy set involving Princeton and Penn hosting Cornell and Columbia, respectively, both at 4:30 p.m., Temple takes to the road in an American Conference game at Cincinnati.

La Salle is hosting Saint Bonaventure at 1 p.m. in an Atlantic 10 game while Saint Joseph’s is making an A-10 visit to Massachusetts in Amherst at 2 p.m.

Rutgers will try to get back on the winning track hosting Minnesota in a Big 10 game at 2 p.m.

On Sunday besides the Nova and Delaware games mentioned, Drexel fresh off its comeback at William & Mary will host UNCW in a CAA game at 2 p.m. in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

The Sea Gulls are under former Old Dominion coach Karen Barefoot, who has on her staff former longtime coach Tina Martin.

Penn State hosts Wisconsin in a Big Ten game at 2 p.m.

And that’s the report.