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.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Guru Report: Stirring Road Rally Carries Villanova Past Butler in Overtime

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

It was sweeps night among the Guru’s local group on Friday highlighted by a tremendous rally from a 22-point deficit in the third quarter to give Villanova a 70-69 victory in overtime at Butler in the Big East in Indianapolis in the fabled Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Drexel got back on the winning side at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center beating Charleston in the Colonial Athletic Association 70-57 while Delaware also took a CAA win, beating Northeastern 65-53.

Also in a first-place showdown things got knotted up as defending champion and preseason pick James Madison hit Elon with its first loss, beating the Phoenix, 76-70.

Incidentally, the Guru was not at any game because of attending a center city farewell party for Inquirer departing sports editor John Quinn, who, by the way, is tuned in knowledge wise to the women’s game.

So this report is drawn off all the reports via email, wires, and  school website postings from the various teams of interest.

Furthermore, because of traveling back from Jersey City Thursday night, the Guru did not get to file, but will here, the Rider win, coach Lynn Milligan’s 100th, over Saint Peter’s in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference he attended, and the Penn State win in the Big Ten in which Lindsey Spann scored her 1000th career point.

He will be back on the case Saturday afternoon when Temple hosts Memphis in an American Athletic Conference game in Monigle Hall going for the Owls’ 11th straight win.

Now, moving on to the Wildcats’ win, their fourth straight overall, and coming just two days after taking the Big 5 contest against Penn in the Palestra.

Out in the Midwest, Butler (5-14, 2-6 Big East), opened a 10-0 lead that expanded four more to a 19-5 advantage at the end of the first period. The two teams played dead even across the next two, each scoring 14 points in the second and 10 in the third, leaving Villanova (10-9, 5-3) in an anemic total of 29 points for the game.

And then the Wildcats, as they did in several games early in the season, exploded in the final quarter, outscoring the Bulldogs 30-16 to even it all up.

Credit the Butler account for the Guru rewrite since Nova being on the road, the Guru did not yet see the Wildcats’ post as of 15 minutes ago (it’s 2:13 a.m.).

After previous exchanges of foul shots inside six seconds, Villanova’s Alex Louin, who may be nominated for a sports emmy for the play, was near mid-court and felt a bump and sent the ball in the air with two seconds on the clock.
The official ruled it an act of shooting, giving the former Mount St. Joseph’s star three shots on the foul line and Louin connected on all three to force the extra period.

In the five-minute overtime, Butler scored first but Villanova’s Grace Stant countered with a triple to give the Wildcats their first lead.

Then ‘Nova freshman Mary Gedaka, who starred in the win over Saint John’s at home last Sunday, scored on a layup to extend the differential by three points.

Megan Quinn, one of the stars in win over Penn, nailed a trey to put Villanova ahead by four points with 36 seconds left in the overtime.

Tori Schickle of Butler, who had a game-high 28 points and 20 rebounds, had eight points in the overtime but the Wildcats would prevail connecting foul shots in the closing minute.

Gedaka hit what became the game-winner with a foul shot with seven seconds remaining for a four-point advantage, enough to sustain Sydney Buck’s trey as time expired.

Villanova rode this one the Wildcats had thrived in other games this season, going to multiple connecting 3-pointers route, which in this one produced 11.

Gedaka, the daughter of former Villanova great Lisa Angelotti, agains off the bench, had a standout game with 20 points while Louin’s foul shooting helped her to collect 16 points while grabbing 10 rebounds for a double double. Quinn had 12 rebounds.

Adrianna Hahn, who exploded in the second half in the win over Penn, was held down in this one, also, for a longer stretch, but rose to score eight points late and finish with nine.

It’s probably one of the bigger comebacks in ‘Nova women’s history – the Guru recalls a game in which Providence eons ago had a lead in the 20s and then rallied with Sue Glenning hitting a three to win the game.

Stant connected on four of the treys and reached 14 points for Villanova, which is now 7-1 in the series with Butler.

With Saint John’s losing to Creighton, the Wildcats are alone in fourth in the Big East, a game behind Marquette, which travels to league leader and 19th-ranked DePaul (16-4, 8-0) Saturday night in Chicago.

The Wildcats next head to Cincinnati to play Xavier in the Cintas Center Sunday  at 5 p.m.

Drexel and Delaware Take CAA Wins

The Dragons used a balanced attack and got fortified help from their bench to get past Charleston 70-57 in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Though close throughout, Drexel (13-4, 4-2) led all the way and though Sarah Curran was the only player in double figures with 10 points, seven others scored seven or more points.

Sara Woods, off the bench, tied her career high with eight points, while Tereza Kracikova did likewise with seven points. Woods also matched a milestone with five steals.

Overall, the Dragons swiped 12 steals and clamped down defensively, forcing a season-high 28 turnovers.

Meghan Creighton, who had nine points off 3-for-5 shooting from beyond the arc, reached her 500th career assist and is one player best of all time in the category, needing to top the 584 in the books from Barbara Yost.

Jessica Pellechio also hit a trio of threes to score nine points.

All seven of freshman Bailey Greenberg’s seven points came in the first quarter.

The Cougars (5-12, 2-4)  got 21 points and 13 rebounds from Breanna Bolden.

Drexel will stay home for Sunday’s conference visit from Hofstra.

Meanwhile, Delaware made it two straight wins, beating Northeastern 65-53 at home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, where possibly the Blue Hens could see more in the stands from famed alum Joseph Biden, now that his vice presidential days have ended.

He made several appearances to the Bob during the Elena Delle Donne era, including the second round win over North Carolina in the 2012 NCAA tournament that sent coach Tina Martin’s team on to the Sweet 16 against Kentucky at Connecticut.

In Friday’s game, Sade Chatman had a career high for Delaware (9-8, 3-3)  while Nicole Enabosi had her fourth straight double double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Francesca Sally had 14 points for Northeastern (6-12, 2-4).

“I feel really good about where everybody’s focus is right now,” said Martin, who picked up her 400th career win, all at Delaware, on Sunday.

“Our defense was outstanding tonight, especially in the first half. If we keep playing team defense like this, it will take us a long way. Defense helps the offensive end as well.

“We’re really playing like a team right now and that shows in everything we’re doing. We have to keep this rolling as there’s still a long way to go in the season.”

Enabosi is the first sophomore since Christina Rible (1999-00) to register at least four straight games with a double double – that’s what the notes from Delaware say, friends, so EDD didn’t exactly do it all, just most of the heavy lifting.

Charleston heads down from Friday’s loss at Drexel to play the Blue Hens Sunday at 2 p.m.

Elsewhere in the CAA, in the JMU-Elon showdown, redshirt senior Precious Hall made the rode trip less weary in scoring 41 points to give the visitors the win and hand Elon its first conference loss of the season in the game played in North Carolina.

The two teams are tied for first at 5-1 with Elon one more overall win (13-5) better than the Dukes (12-5). Drexel, with two losses, both to Elon, is a game behind the leaders, having to still play JMU home-and-home.

Until the third period, there had been eight ties and nine lead changes in the game.

Elon had won nine straight overall.

JMU goes home Sunday to greet Towson, which upset the Dukes two weeks ago in Maryland.

Rider Smokes Saint Peter’s for Milligan's 100th

On Thursday night, the Broncs took the short ride from their Lawrenceville campus up to Jersey City in the Garden State and bounced back off last Saturday’s tough loss at home to Fairfield to down Saint Peter’s 56-43.

Rider’s Robin Perkins had a game-high 24 points in the MAAC game played at the Yanitelli Center.

The Broncs (13-5, 7-2 MAAC) are perfect on the road this season, an achievement that gets tested Saturday afternoon when they visit league leader Quinnipiac in the second part of the home-and-home series.

Quinnipiac’s loss the other night means Rider can move into a first place tie in the MAAC and split the two games in the regular season series.

“I think we bounced back pretty well,” Rider coach Lynn Milligan said. “Another road win in the MAAC, we’ll take it.

“I thought our defensive intensity was good, we forced multiple shot-clock violations and did a good job with switches to keep their players out of their comfort areas.”

Julie Duggan had 10 points, her seventh straight game scoring in double figures.

Freshman guard Safie Tolusso of Switzerland came off the bench to score eight points.

Milligan gained her 100th win with the program where she is in her 10th season.

Talah Hughes was the only opponent player in double figures, scoring 12 points for the Peacocks (3-15, 2-7), who had won two straight at home.

Sammy Lochner, in 38 minutes, scored seven points, dealt six assists, and made both foul shots for Saint Peter’s. She is the daughter of former La Salle women’s coach and current Delaware assistant Tom Lochner.

Penn State Roars Past Nebraska

In the other game in the Guru’s group in action Thursday, the Lady Lions downed Nebraska 86-69 at home in a Big Ten game played in the Bryce Jordan Center as junior Lyndsey Spann reached her 1,000th career point, joining the 36th in the program who have hit that milestone.

Spann had 14 on the night for Penn State (13-6, 3-4 Big Ten), while Teniya Page had a team-high 18 points and scored her 800th career point as a sophomore.

Peyton Whitted was also in double figures for the home team with 14 points.

It’s the second straight game and third time this season that the Penn State bench contributed 30 or more points.

Jessica Shepard had 20 point and 12 rebounds for Nebraska (5-14, 1-6).

Next up is a Monday trip to play Indiana in Bloomington on the Big Ten. TV network with a chance to get revenge for the 89-70 setback dealt by the Hoosiers earlier this season in Happy Valley.

The Wild Pac-12 West

Friday night means the a strong dose of the rankapalooza conference aka The Pac-12, is in action and this week No. 10 Stanford topped visiting Arizona 73-46 while No. 18 Arizona State on the road beat California 54-45, and No. 11 Oregon State beat visiting Utah 70-44.

It’s also travel partner week so No. 8 Washington is off until Sunday, playing Washington State while going for a sweep this week No. 13 UCLA hosts Southern Cal, whom the Bruins already beat several days ago.

In the Stanford game, the countdown continued as Tara VanDerveer, a Hall of Famer,  got closer  with career win No. 996 to joining the late Tennessee legend Pat Summitt with 1,000 victories.

The Cardinal beat Arizona 73-46 as Karlie Samuelson, the older sister of UConn star Katie Lou, had four treys and 15 points in the win over the Wildcats (11-7, 2-5 Pac-12).

“The reason she makes them is she practices them a lot,” VanDerveer said of Samuelson’s long-range ability, which was demonstrated before the morning shootaround when she made a shot from half-court. “Karlie this year is more than 3-point shooting. She has a complete game. She’s working hard on the defensive end.”

Brittany McPhee and Erica McCall each scored 13 points for Stanford (), which has beaten Arizona 15 straight times at home in Maples Pavilion. Overall its 29-1 in the last 30 in the series in terms of Cardinal victories.

Next up Sunday is a visit from 18th ranked Arizona State, whom Stanford (16-3, 6-1)  beat 64-57 at Temple in the desert last month to open the Pac-12 season.

The Sun Devils won at their first stop in the Bay Area Friday night, beating Cal 54-45 in the Golden Bears’ Haas Pavilion in Berkeley in a Pac-12 game that had nine lead changes and nine ties.

Asha Thomas had 13 points for Cal (14-5, 2-5 Pac-12), which had been in the rankings several weeks ago. Kristine Anigwe had 15 rebounds and blocked three shots.

Sophie Brunner had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Arizona State (14-4, 5-2).

Cal is now 1-2 against ranked teams, including a sweep from the Sun Devils. The previous win stopped the Golden Bears’ 13-game win streak with Arizona State emerging in double overtime 72-62.

“Arizona State is one of the toughest teams we face all year,” said Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb. “I thought we were really good for 36 minutes but not good enough … We will be better every single day, starting with Sunday and going from there.”

In the only other Pac-12 games on the books involving ranked teams in the conference, No. 11 Oregon State handled visiting Utah 70-44 at home in Gill Coliseum in Corvalis.

Marie Gulich had 14 points off 7-for-10 shooting from the field and 11 rebounds while Sydney Wiese was 5-for-7 shooting 3-pointers to collect 17 points and deal six assists for the Beavers (17-2, 6-1 Pac-12).

Emily Potter had 12 points and Wendy Anae scored 11 for Utah (13-5, 2-5).

“We knew the key tonight was going to be loosening up their defense,” said Oregon State coach Scott Rueck. “For part of the first half, it was tough to get good looks, but then we started to settle in. I loved the way our team moved the ball, saw the floor and made shots. Overall it was a great performance and a great win.”

Looking Ahead

Besides Temple-Memphis State and Rider-Quinnipiac on Saturday, Saint Joseph’s travels to Dayton, looking for a fifth straight win and a chance to move up in the Atlantic 10 standings. Also in the A-10, La Salle travels to Davidson.

In the Patriot League, the nearby rivals upstate hook up with Lehigh traveling to Lafayette in Easton, Pa., for the 90th game in the long-running series, with Lehigh having won 15 of the last 19.

But it’s been a tough year for both schools, which arrive at the game with a combined 28-game losing streak. Lehigh has lost 10 straight, the longest in 22 years, while Lafayette has lost all 18 since an opening night win at La Salle.

Both have had tough losses. On Wednesday night at home in Bethlehem, Pa., the Mountain Hawks of Lehigh fell 66-64 to Navy after rallying from an 18-point deficit, only to have an inbound pass stolen in the final seconds that resulted in Navy hitting a three-pointer from near mid-court as time expired.

Lafayette had a loss in triple overtime at Army and lost a lead at Colgate.

On Sunday, besides the CAA games mentioned, as well as the Villanova-Xavier game, Rutgers is at No. 3 Maryland in the Big Ten.

No. 1 UConn, which is coming to Temple, Feb. 1 at the Liacouras Center, hosts Tulane, going for win No. 93 to extend its recently acquired NCAA win streak record from the 90 straight the Huskies previously owned.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Hahn's Hot Second Half Help 'Nova Halt Penn in Women's Big 5

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – It took a dominant second half by sophomore Adrianna Hahn Wednesday night, scoring all 23 of her game-high points in the final 20 minutes, to enable the Villanova women to live up to their dominant play in the Palestra and stay alive to earn a piece of the Big Five title by beating Penn 60-48.

Now the the ultimate outcome in the city series will come down to Temple’s visit here next Wednesday night. The Owls, who won their 10th straight overall Wednesday night on the road against Houston in the American Athletic Conference, are 3-0 in the city and a win over the Quakers gives them a sweep.

Otherwise, a Penn win will force Temple and Villanova to share the crown at 3-1.

Meanwhile, in total games played in the Cathedral of Basketball, the Villanova women (9-9, 3-1 Big Five), who share their home court with the top ranked and defending NCAA champion men, are now 24-2 all-time in the Palestra and 42-2 against the Quakers (9-5, 0-3), who had a six-game win streak snapped.

Hahn, a product of the same Ursuline Academy program in Wilmington, Del., that produced all-time women’s great Elena Delle Donne, had been on a tear reaching 20 or more points in four of the last seven games, including 31 at home against Marquette, Dec. 28.

But by halftime Wednesday night, Penn had Hahn under lock and key, shooting and missing her only shot over the first 20 minutes as the Quakers and Wildcats went to the break in a 23-23 tie.

Hahn then became a scoring Houdini, escaping Penn’s defenses to produce 14 of the Wildcats’ 18 points in the third period, including a pair of three pointers, but the Quakers still were in contention, though trailing 41-37 after a Hahn three-pointer closed out the period.

Then early in the fourth, Hahn nailed her third long-range shot from beyond the arc, and teammate Megan Quinn followed with a trey of her own and the Wildcats went to a 10-point advantage never to be seriously threatened the rest of the way.

Fortunately for the Wildcats, Hahn and Quinn were the two-engine attack to get them back to .500 since the rest of the Villanova offense sputtered.

But on the defensive side, the Wildcats kept Penn’s Michelle Nwokedi out of double digits, holding her to eight points while Sydney Stipanovich was limited to 11 and Anna Ross got 12, fueled by three treys.

“I thought when we had control of the game, we were very effective,” said Penn coach Mike McLaughlin, who has yet to beat Villanova in his eight seasons with the program though he has wins over the other three rivals in the City Series.

“I thought when we started the game, we played the first half the right way, the first four, five, six possessions of the second half, the third quarter we had a nice flow and then we lost control – the gap when we didn’t score, things became a struggle, their scoring led to us to have some bad possessions, and then Hahn just took over and slowed us down and took us apart at her pace and we just could never get back into any offensive flow.”

Hahn, who was 7-for-9 in the second half after the one missed shot, connected on 3-of-5 three-pointers, hit all six of her foul shots and dealt three assists. Quinn scored 18 points, connecting on 6-of-13 shots, including 4-of-7 treys.

Penn was missing one of its three-point aces in Lauren Whitlatch, who suffered a knee injury in Saturday’s win over Brown and is not likely to return the rest of the season.

“I don’t know what to really say about that,” Hahn laughed about how things sputtered in the first half. “I don’t know, we were just lackadaisical on offense, our defense is what kept us in the game so that’s good on our part.

“Penn really played us tough, they were bothering me from creating my shot and I just had to keep pumping it and play the game the way I do.”

The win extended Villanova’s current streak to three heading into a return to the Big East wars the rest of the way, beginning at Butler in Indianapolis Friday night.

“I thought we played very good defense,” Villanova coach Harry Perretta, “and it kept us in the game early, and in the second half, Adrianna got it going, and the floor started opening up, she started scoring the ball and then other people got open.

“I wanted Adrianna to split their defense to force them to help so we could start dishing the ball and get other people easier shots because they weren’t getting any easy shots. So by doing that, it opened up the floor and we were able to get the ball to different people.

"Megan came through big time because we had a bad shooting game from everybody else.”

“Sometimes, when you have a tough player like that, you get it going. It was a good win.”


Guru's Local Roundup: Temple Win Streak Hits 10; St. Joe and La Salle Post A-10 Wins

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

It’s getting like old times, at least until the end of the month for Temple, which claimed its 10th straight victory Wednesday night, winning an American Athletic Conference at Houston 69-57.

In other action, Saint Joseph’s kept its positive reversal going as the Hawks beat Fordham 47-44 at home in an Atlantic 10 game in Hagan Arena, while on the road also in the Atlantic 10 La Salle beat Richmond 63-58.

Thursday night Nebraska visits Penn State while Rider tries to recover from Saturday’s tough overtime loss to Fairfield when the Broncs visit Saint Peter’s in Jersey City, N.J.

Meanwhile, down in Houston Temple (14-3, 5-0), which is in the forecast field in the latest ESPN bracketology for the NCAA tournament, had to withstand Cougar runs in the second and third period, but also had their own runs to provide answers.

The Owls, who can wrap up the Big 5 title outright with a win next Wednesday, shot 9-for-21 for 42.9 percent in three-point attempts and owned the boards with a 49-31 rebounding advantage.

Senior Feyonda Fitzgerald was at it again with another double double, scoring 22 points and dishing 11 assists. Donnaizha Fountain had a game-high 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Ruth Sherrill had another standout night on the boards establishing a new career high with 19 rebounds.

Alliya Butts also scored in double figures with 14 points.

Houston (8-10, 1-4) had four players in double figures with Serithia Hawkins scoring 12 points, Jasmyne Harris scoring 11, and Angela Harris and Jacqueline Blake each scoring 10 points.

Temple next hosts Memphis in an AAC game  in McGonigle Hall at 2 p.m. Saturday. The Owls had to go into overtime on New Year’s Day in Tennessee to beat the Tigers when the two met on the front end of the their home-and-home series.

Saint Joseph’s Hand A-10 Leader Fordham Its First Loss 47-44

A tight game throughout came down to the final minutes the way many have had in the series since former Hawks coach Stephanie Gaitley arrived in the Bronx from her previous job at Monmouth.

In this one, Saint Joseph’s led 45-38 with 1 minute, 30 seconds to play, but a run by the Rams got the visitors within two at 46-44 when Fordham’s G’mrice Davis scored on a three-point play.

Early in the season there is a good chance the home team wouldn’t have left the building smiling, considering the number of leads that were yielded until the current four-game streak began.

Even then, with a chance to increase the advantage to four, the Hawks missed two foul shots with 26 seconds left, but after Fordham (15-6, 6-1 Atlantic 10) took possession, the Hawks(7-11, 4-2) got the Rams to commit a turnover with 7.8 seconds left.

Adashia Franklyn’s foul shot made it a three-point advantage and Fordham missed its final chance to force it into overtime.

Chelsea Woods had 14 points and nine rebounds for Saint Joseph’s, while Franklyn scored eight points, had a team-high 13 rebounds, and blocked four shots.

The Rams were held to 25.4 percent from the field.

Depth has become a factor in this latest turn of events with the Hawks mining 26 points from their bench.

Saint Joseph’s heads to a revitalized Dayton squad Saturday and will Fordham again Feb. 9 in the Bronx.

La Salle Edges Richmond

The Explorers broke away at the finish in a tight game on the road, using a 6-2 run with less than three minutes to beat the Spiders 63-58 in an Atlantic 10 game in the Robins Center.

Amy Griffin, the leading scorer in the conference and top scorer last season, hit a couple of jumpers while Adreana Miller hit a pair of free throws.

Ashanti Freeland, who had 10 rebounds for La Salle (10-8, 3-3 Atlantic 10), provided security stealing an inbounds pass after Miller’s foul shots.

Jasmine Alston had 15 points – 11 in the first half – and 13 rebounds, of whch eight came in the first half for the Explorers. Griffin was explosive again, scoring 22 points, of which 13 were collected in the second half.

Miller had 10 points.

Janelle Hubbard had 23 points for the host Spiders (9-10, 3-3).

La Salle stays on the road in the conference and heads to Davidson on Saturday for a 2 p.m. tip.

 Iowa Downs Rutgers in Second Half
The Guru is adding this to the report because in having to catch a train back Tuesday and getting back late he didn’t have a chance to file.

So much for the Scarlet Knight’s three-game win streak at home and forward progress in recent weeks.

Iowa, which was once coached and built into prominence by Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, left the Hall of Famer to deal with wonderment over her team’s Tuesday night performance in a Big Ten game in the Rutgers Athletic Center.

Iowa emerged wth a 71-59 win as Megan Gustafson was a perfect 7-for-7 from the field and had 19 points for the Hawkeyes (12-7, 3-3 Big Ten) while Tania Davis had 15 points, built over a hefty 0-for-11 at the line, and Makenzie Meyer scored 10.

Shrita Parker matched her career mark with 20 points for the Scarlet Knights (6-14, 3-4) and Khadaizha Sanders scored 11.

Each team made 25 fields goals but Rutgers took 32 more shots and also had a dominating 23-4 on the offensive glass and on second chance points outscored Iowa 19-6.

But Stringer knows what produced the stats and it certainly wasn’t anything worth boasting over.

“If you have offensive rebounds, it probably means you need to finish layups, know what I mean?” She said. “That’s so sad. That’s so sad. We knew they were going to take drives. We knew they were going to get to the free throw line.

“There were a number of things that could have been done that we didn’t do, weren’t able to do. They’re a good team. They never stop. There’s nothing they did that surprised us,” Stringer said.

“But at the end of the day, we have to finish layups. We’re missing layups when nobody is … quite frankly we have to do better. And we have to have a lot more control. We just have to learn win games. We’ve come from behind before. I thought we could today. But we were tired and they kept coming at us.”

Rutgers heads to No. 3 Maryland Sunday.

AP Women’s Poll Trivia: Streaking UConn Beyond Wins and Losses

Besides the NCAA continuous streak-breaking actions being exercised by the University of Connecticut women, now at 92 straight, the Huskies continue to put up impressive poll numbers.

They have not missed being in the Top 10 the entire decade, now at 138 weeks, and within that group, nor have they missed being in the Top 5.

They were rolling in both categories at the end of the last decade, so add the 54 Top 5 appearances and the streak is 192 while even further back add 86 straight dating back to 2005 and its 224 straight Top 10 rankings.

Maryland is now sixth all time with 448 appearances having just snapped a tie with Louisiana Tech.  

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Guru's Guide to Reducing the 12 WBHOF Finalists to Six Inductees

By Mel Greenberg @womhopsguru

Under the new rollout on the path toward induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., 12 finalists were announced for the first time during the break in the Notre Dame-Tennessee game that was the first in the Big Monday package on ESPN2.

Until this year, the women’s hall had been the only one of the major sports halls of fame in which finalists were not first named prior to the group of inductees.

In recent summers the inductees were named during the WNBA All-Star game but many times it got lost among everything associated with the annual classic.

Now the class of six inductees from these finalists will be named on Feb. 12, along with the Trailblazer Award winner, and those that can attend will be introduced during the Women’s Final Four weekend in Dallas.

The induction ceremony will be on June 10 in Knoxville, the weekend it has occurred, but expect that to be moved since with more WNBA retired stars soon to be eligible, the league has been unhappy with festivities occurring at a time when the regular season is under way and many officials and others can’t attend because of the schedule.

For complete information here is the web site wbhof.com of the hall.

But to do things differently, the Guru will mention each of the 12 and prospects for those who might emerge as one of the six inductees.

Sheryl Swoopes – A recent inductee to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in September, having been a super scoring star at Texas Tech, in the Olympics and part of the four-time WNBA champion Houston Comets, Swoopes is already being called the headliner, in part because many of today’s generation does not have ties to all the names.

To answer what you’re thinking: The Guru is aware of 11 of 12 and has met or dealt with all of them.

Joan Bonvicini – Coached Long Beach State and Arizona to high profile standings and has over 700 career victories. At the moment among the first 19 coaches on the list in terms of appearances in the AP Poll, Rene Portland (Penn State) at 10th and Bonvicini at 19th are the only two not already in the women’s hall. So consider chances strong.

Sally Bell – Having had a 33-year career in the profession, the Guru can tell you in terms of officials who worked many big games and can be known immediately in conversations just by hearing Sally. She also would be considered a strong candidate.

By the way, it is the WBHOF board of directors who call the shots on the 12 finalists and the ultimate inductees.

Rick Insell – A coach now at Middle Tennessee and who also coached the famed Shelbyville Central High power house, he would be a familiar name to the board and being operational in the Volunteer State means he would draw enough of an entourage buying up tickets for induction weekend.

If all four of these make it that means two out of the rest of the group.

So let’s do a cluster:

Evelyn Blalock, a well-known junior college coach who died in 2014, Rose Marie Battaglia, won over 700 games, a junior college coaching hall of famer, but well known for her Paramus Catholic High powerhouse in North Jersey.

Usually someone in this categorical mix makes it but unless the board decides Insell serves as well as this category because of Shelbyville, the Guru nods to Battaglia because two of her prized Paramus stars were the Donovan sisters – Anne and Mary. Rose also could be seen at many Penn State games in her time.

Christine Grant, under contributor, a founder of AIAW, chief women’s administrator at Iowa, a major meeting/ballroom is named for her at NCAA headquarters by the way, Louise O’Neal, veteran, coached Southern Conn., (not in the bio but was once the SWA at Dartmouth early in the NCAA women’s era, Nora Lynn Finch, once Kay Yow’s top assistant, but as an administrator, first chair of the NCAA committee. Currently, the top women’s exective in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Veteran, a category, means people from pre-Title IX days.

The Guru believes one of these three will make it – likely Grant because she was the power in her day and part of the Midwest philosophy that used to drive a young coach at a Catholic university in suburban Philadelphia … Shocked everyone though, when she plucked Vivian Stringer out of Cheyney to coach the Hawkeyes into a national power. As for O’Neal, she was Connecticut in that state before UConn and if the poll existed well before the Guru introduced it, her program would have gaudy numbers. O’Neal was also a person with an open mind who helped the Guru get the AIAW out of the 16-team finals circus into a Final Four format.

You want more: The Guru remembers like yesterday when the battle to survive the coming of the NCAA was on and the vote was taken in Miami to start championships, Grant stood up after the vote when reps were allowed to speak and Grant said forcefuly into the mike, “I hope you remember what you did today.” The little speech caused the Guru to quip, “It didn’t long for Grant to burn the bridge but Lopiano was smart enough to stop at the tollbooth.”

If the Guru had to vote, yes he thinks all had merit, he’d go for Finch, for one, she understood the importance of media and media partnership and selling the sport big time when people still weren’t paying much attention. It depends how many oldtimers versus the modernists go between Finch and Grant.

So who’s left for the last spot – all players:

Yelena Baranova – Russian who played on the NY Liberty in the early days of the league;

Crystal Robinson, another early Liberty player not mentioned in the bio,  also a star on the ABL’s Colorado Xplosion: Here’s a snippet from the Blaze signing Robinson to stay in NY: In my mind Crystal is one of the best two-way players in the WNBA -- it was one of my top priorities to ensure she remains in a Liberty uniform,” said Blazejowski. “And, while Crystal may be best known for her offensive prowess, she is one of our strongest defensive players, there’s no question she brings value to our team on both ends of the court.”

Kara Wolters, one of the stars of the first UConn powerhouse --- actually the third, not already inducted as are Rebecca Lobo and Jen Rizzotti. If one of these three make it, something has to give from the other category blocks – knowing the board Bonvicini could lose out this time around.

For now, the Guru would vote Robinson first out of the three when you take the WNBA career under consideration, but, Wolters means Geno comes to Knoxville. Pre-Candace Parker flap what Guru observed when Rizzotti went in is that with Pat no longer the public force because of the illness, in the land of movers and shakers – not those who live on internet social media debates – you want to make money at an event and draw a crowd – even here Geno’s the one.

As for who didn’t make it – the Guru was aware of campaigns for former Queens coach Lucille Kyvallos, who has been way overlooked for her contributions out of New York City, in fact in the arrival days, she was a major factor in helping the Guru quickly become the Guru, she also coached at West Chester.

The other that started several years ago was Brian Agler, who the Guru thought might have a great shot at least getting this far with the recent Los Angeles Sparks WNBA title to go with one wth the Seattle Storm, and the two ABL crowns with the Columbus Quest.

  And that’s the report.

Tennessee Pulls Its Upset of the Season Beating Notre Dame

By Mike Siroky
Reports contributed to post

Holly Warlick finally got a statement win at home, erasing No. 6 Notre Dame’s personal win streak in the series Monday night and defeating the Irish, 71-69, in Knoxville

Several times, UT fell behind. Each time they rallied.

Diamond DeShields scored 20.

“She’s a marked woman, so she had to step it up,” Warlick said. “I was more proud of her defense. When she’s on, she’s on and we just follow her.”

On a tie up caused by Mercedes Russell, Tennessee had possession on their end. After a timeout, Jamie Nared made a jumper for the final points.

“If it was a zone, we went inside, if they were in man, we went for the screen,” said Warlick.
“Jamie has ice in her veins.”

And the biggest shot of the UT season. She scored a dozen, including all four free throws.

Jordan Reynolds also had 12 and Russell 13.

The most impressive statistic underlines the winning comeback. As Warlick was proud to point out, they won the final quarter, 19-7. They won the half, 40-25.

No one has done that to ND in many seasons.

Russell had two blocks and two steals in the final quarter. She also had the composure to leave the paint and come out to commit a foul as UT burned the clock with three successive fouls they had available in the final nine seconds, leaving just four.

The Irish could not get a shot off quickly enough.

ND coach Muffett McGraw has often said this season she has the best player in America and the best point guard in America.

There was none of that talk this time.

“I thought Tennessee did a great job down the stretch. When they made their run, they rebounded,” she said.

“They held us to one shot, and I thought that was the difference in the game. We were outrebounding them in the first half, but in the second half, we could not get a rebound, especially at the offensive end.

“We were disappointed in our effort defensively and our inability to guard the ball screen really killed us down the stretch. We talked about it, but we weren’t able to guard them in the ball screen.

“ We just made a lot of mistakes. To their credit, they took advantage of all of the mistakes we made.”

She complimented DeShields.

“I thought she got to the free throw line, and made her free throws. She couldn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but we had difficulty staying in front of her. We had a freshman guarding her, and that was probably a mistake on my part. We couldn’t find her in the zone, and we let her run free. She’s incredibly talented.

“I thought it was a lot of layups. We missed a lot of layups. We drove the ball like we wanted to, but we couldn’t get to the free throw line.

“That was really bad. In the fourth quarter, they only had one team foul going into the end of the game. That won the game for them. So, if we could have gotten to the free throw line in the fourth quarter, I think that it would have been a different finish.”

The best crowd in America this week – 10,517 – made an impression as well.

“I thought it was a great atmosphere,” McGraw said.

“Anytime you make a run like that, the crowd gets excited. The crowd gets into the game. You have to be really poised when you have possession of the ball. You have to really value the ball. You have to take care of the ball. The crowd was very influential for them.”

Warlick said, “We were tired of getting beat by Notre Dame and tired of getting beat in general. If we had lost, a lot of people would have said that we should have lost but we cannot go out and lose three games in a row.

“Our team is full of winners and I think that our heart showed tonight. We were willing to sacrifice and do what we needed to do for each other to get this win. It was not about any individual, tonight we played team basketball and I think that is where the offense came from.

“We found who was open and those players delivered.”

So, after the win, this particular team can fashion an identity.

“I believe we can go somewhere we have never been,” Warlick said. “Regardless of what that looks like, I do think we can go there and we can get there as a team. We cannot look back. The Stanford and Kentucky wins were great but we have to move forward. There’s no turning back now. Our team sometimes just falls back into a slump and we cannot afford to do that.

“So moving forward hopefully we can keep the momentum going and continue playing the way we did tonight.”

Nared also looks for continuity

“I know we are a mentally tough team. The story of our season has been which Tennessee team will come out.

“Tonight just showed that we are mentally tough, despite our record. We needed to get this win. We got stops when it counted. It was not the most perfect game but when it counted we got stops. It shows that we are tough and we compete.”

The Irish had won every game in this annual series since 2008.

The win evens the SEC’s 20-game season against the Atlantic Coast Conference.

It gives UT 11 wins and an outside chance at 20 regular-season wins, but a definite chance at 20 after the league post-season tournament. That would guarantee an NCAA berth, as any SEC team with 20 wins has always gotten into the NCAA elimination tournament.

It might, in a few weeks, move them back into the national rankings. With some fortunate wins, they move close to hosting the Sweet 16 qualifying rounds.

All this on an inconsequential (for conference) win. Warlick must now reign in the emotions before they resume the conference hunt with three winnable games before going to South Carolina.

The cautionary tale is they were outhustled at Ole Miss in the previous game.

To The Future

The McDonald’s High School All-America teams confirm Tennessee has the best incoming freshmen next season.

The Lady Vols have four state players of the year and more McDonald’s elite selections than any team in America.

This class is second only to a legendary Pat Head Summitt 1980 class which had five state players of the year and ultimately two All-Americans in college.

 In the interim, Summitt produced McDonald’s groupings of five twice, with Holly Warlick as the top recruiter.

The newbies: Rennia Davis (Jacksonville, Fla.), Anastasia Hayes (Mufreesboro, Tenn.), Kasiyahna Kushkituah (Alpharetta Ga.) and Evina Westbrook (South Salem, Ore.)

This class, combining with the outstanding juniors among six this season, has potential to elevate back among the elite. Former statirng point guard T’ea Cooper will return after sitting out a season rehabbing a knee

Plus, two junior college players are coming, guard Jazmine Massengill, Chattanooga,  and forward Amira Collins, Fairfax, Va.

 Will name tags be needed with half of the roster first-timers?

It can be traced directly to hiring respected recruiter Sharonna Reaves.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Guru Report: Villanova DNA Aids Wildcats Win Over St. John's

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Mom got cited at halftime while her daughter was the rest of, but not entire, show on the Main Line Sunday afternoon as Villanova held back Saint John’s for a narrow 55-50 victory in a Big East game in the Wildcats’ Pavilion.

Freshman Mary Gedaka stepped off the bench to score career-highs of 16 points and eight rebounds to help lead Villanova (8-9, 4-3) to its fourth win in its last five games and complete a weekend sweep at home in the conference.

Saint John’s (12-6, 4-3) came roaring in here having won 10 of 12 and helped along the way by another former Neumann-Goretti star – starting freshman Alisha Kebbe, who already has three weekly Big East newcomer citations to her credit.

But it was the Villanova newcomer who was the talk of the arena, ironically occurring during  the program’s annual Alumni Day when the stars of past glories are honored.

“I’m feeling very confident right now,” said Gedaka, a graduate of Gloucester Catholic in South Jersey who is from Mullica Hill. “More important, it was a great team win. Saint John’s is a really good team.

“I think we played really well together. Defense was a key for this win today and I think everybody locked down.

“ I’m typically not a scorer but it went in my favor today. Some of my shots were hitting. I tried to look for the basket but when (Saint John’s) were helping me or guarding me, I looked to kick  it, it was a good thing.”

Gedaka comes from great Wildcats DNA, especially among the long list of outstanding players who thrived in coach Harry Perretta’s system.

Her mom, Lisa Gedaka, may not ring any bells in the memories of veteran Villanova fans, but apply her maiden name – Lisa Angelotti – and instant acknowledgement will surface of a star from the Shelly Pennefather era who claimed her own Big East player of the year award in 1987 when the league two eras ago was comprised much like it is today.

After struggles early in the season with a young roster, the Wildcats freshmen are starting to blossom. Kelly Jekot had a big game Friday afternoon in the win over Seton Hall in the annual Education Day promotion.

On Sunday, it was Gedaka who stepped up.

“I think that’s a big key for our team this year,” Gedaka said. “The majority of the players are inexperienced. It’s big, obviously Alex (Louin) and Andrianna (Hahn), need to step up with Jannah (Tucker) out (concussion), points wise, Megan (Quinn) and Samantha (Wilkes), too.

“But if we have players who usually don’t score as many points in games start contributing, that’s going to make us much more of a bigger threat, because we’re going to lock in on defense and our defense is going to hep our offense in a way and vice versa,” she added.

“So hopefully, if we keep this trend of players who don’t usually score double digits keeping going, we can be very dangerous later on in conference.”

The win put Villanova in a fourth-place tie with Saint John’s behind front-running DePaul, Creighton and Marquette, all of whom are responsible for the Wildcats’ three losses in the Big East to date.

Louin had a game-high 19 points and Hahn scored 13, but with the Red Storm leading the nation in limiting three-pointers, the long-range ace was just 2-of-3 from beyond the arc on Sunday.

However, several times Gedaka and others were able to give up their air attack and go with the ground game dribbling inside to score.

“We needed help from other people besides Adrianna and Alex and we got it today from Mary,” Perretta said. “It really helped us.

“(Gedaka) came off the bench and played very well. It’s something that probably wouldn’t have happened earlier in the year.”

The Wildcats had a productive day at the line shooting 17-of-19 free throws.

Akina Wellere had 16 points for the Red Storm while Jade Walker scored 13, including her 1000th career score, and Imani Littleton grabbed 10 rebounds.

The game was close throughout with the visitors’ only gaining a two-point lead while Villanova’s largest advantage in the game grew to seven points.

Villanova had a slim 46-45 lead with 4 minutes, 18 seconds left in regulation but Saint John’s missed its next five shots while Gedaka and Louin drove inside for layups and a 50-45 advantage with 1:35 left in regulation.

Louin went 1-2 from the line for a six-point advantage with 29 seconds left.

“I thought that was our best defensive effort of the year,” Perretta said.

Aaliyah Lewis’ layup reduced the differential to four points but Hahn then connected on a pair of free throws with 14 seconds left.

The six-point ‘Nova advantage was sliced in half by Wellere’s trey with seven seconds left before Gedaka, who made all six of her attempted free throws in the game,  appropriately locked it up for the home team with a pair of shots from the line.

 Next up is a visit to the Palestra Wednesday at 7 p.m. to step out of conference and play Penn in a Big Five game. The Wildcats have dominated the series with the Quakers and two years ago prevented them from winning their first title outright, forcing a three-way tie.

Villanova needs a win to clinch at least second place at 3-1. A loss gives the crown to Temple outright with the Owls at 3-0. Should the Wildcats beat Penn then Temple needs to do likewise the following Wednesday for an outright crown or the two will share this year’s local bragging rights.

“I just hate to play a Big Five game in the middle of the Big East schedule,” Perretta said. “They’re on a break (from the Ivy slate). We have to jump on a plane the next day and go to Butler (in Indianapolis).”

The logistics are not as big a concern to Gedaka, who is experiencing her first go-round in the City Series alongside the Big East and rest of the non-conference schedule.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “My mom harped about how big and exciting those Big Five games were. We will focus on Penn now and see how far it takes us.”

In those games, mom was usually one of the talks of the town.

Now everyone is starting to talk about mom’s daughter.

Elsewhere in the Big East, No. 21 DePaul won its 10th straight beating Xavier 85-69 at home in Chicago for the Blue Demons’ longest win streak since the 2010-11 season.

DePaul (16-4, 8-0) also had 10-game winning runs during back-to-back seasons in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Brooke Schulte scored 28 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the home team.

Xavier fell to 10-8 overall and 2-5 in the conference.

Elon Foils Drexel Again While Delaware Ends Skid to Give Martin Victory No. 400

The Dragons’ bid to get into the first-place mix in the Colonial Athletic Association and avenge a setback to Elon back in Philadelphia last weekend went for naught Sunday in North Carolina as the Phoenix, the only unbeaten team in CAA play, turned aside Drexel 75-65.

Jessica Pellechio had a game-high 24 points but Drexel (12-4, 3-2 CAA) was destroyed by early foul trouble and an Elon 11-2 run at the close of the third period.

Prior to this season the Dragons had not lost to the Phoenix (13-4, 5-0), a recent addition to the CAA.

Meanwhile, Delaware coach Tina Martin in her 21st season with the Blue Hens, picked up career-win No. 400 – she has spent her entire head coaching career with the program – as her group snapped a two-game losing streak to win at Hofstra 73-56 at the David S. Mack Sports Exhibition Complex in Hempstead, N.Y.

“A lot of people really worked hard,” Martin said about her milestone. “This is a team sport. This isn’t for one person. This accomplishment is attributed to the hard work that some terrific coaches and players have put in through the years.

“They really established such a great winning tradition for Delaware women’s basketball. I especially want to thank associate head coach Jeanine Radice alongside our current assistants Tom Lochner, Jade Singleton and Kayla Miller,” Martin continued.

“I can’t say enough about the administrators I’ve had in my time; they’ve all been great and supportive. I bleed blue and gold; I love this place.

"It's a proud moment for this women's basketball program and I’m very proud of my players and staff over the past 21 years.”

Elon coach Charlotte Smith, a former North Carolina star, also reached a milestone, picking up her 100th career victory with the win over Drexel.

“I’m really pleased the way the team is playing right now,” she said. “We’re playing with a lot of confidence and that makes all the difference in the world. I’m just really proud of this team and the effort we put forth today.”

The loss drops the Drexel two games off the pace in the CAA standings and one behind preseason favorite and defending champion James Madison, who wiped out Northeastern at home in the JMU Convocation Center 74-54.

Pellechio’s performance was her best since scoring 30 against Penn State in the season-opener at home back in November. She shot 6-for-12 on three-point attempts, and had six rebounds and three assists.

Sarah Curran was in double digits with 15 points while Meghan Creighton and freshman Bailey Greenberg each scored seven.

The Dragons were perfect from the line making all 12 attempts but Elon got there more at 27 times and connected on 16 attempts.

Drexel got hit with five offensive fouls by halftime.

Lauren Brown had 19 points for Elon, while Jenifer Rhodes scored 13, Maddie McCallie, the daughter of Duke women’s coach Joanne P. McCallie, had 11 pints, and Shay Burnett scored 10.

Malaya Johnson grabbed 10 rebounds.

Drexel got killed on the boards with Elon holding a 42-35 advantage, including 21-10 on the offensive glass.

The Dragons next head home to the Daskalakis Athletic Center to host Charleston Friday night at 7 and then stay there for Sunday’s visit from Hofstra at 2 p.m.

In the James Madison game, freshman Kamiah Smalls from Neumann-Goretti in Philadelphia, tied her career high with 18 points for the Dukes (11-5, 4-1), while redshirt senior Precious Hall scored 18 points.

Northeastern fell to 6-11 overall and 2-3 in the CAA.

JMU heads to Elon Friday night for another first-place showdown in the conference.

Delaware, meanwhile, exploded with a 17-2 run at the close of the third quarter to get its win and Martin to her historic moment.

“We got win number two in the conference today and that’s what really matters right now,” she said of the outcome. “We’re trying to climb the ladder and hopefully this will give us a little bit more confidence. We need to build upon this race in the conference.

“I have to give credit to our point guards, and, well, really all our players as they controlled the tempo. We went strong to the rim today., there was definitely a better effort on the glass, and we took better shots.”

Nicole Enabosi had a career high 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for her eighth double double of the season. Another career high for the Blue Hens (8-8. 2-3 CAA) was registered by Makeda Nicholas with 19 points while Erica Brown had 10 points and six assists.

Delaware ruled the boards with 45 rebounds to 29 for the Pride (8-7, 1-3) and held a lopsided 18-1 advantage on the offensive glass.

Ashunae Durant had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Hofstra.

The Blue Hens had lost two straight and five of their last six before beating Hofstra.

Delaware is back home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark next weekend, hosting Northeastern Friday night at 7 and then Charleston at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Nationally Noted: Late Buckets Help Plum Check Arizona State Off Her Pac-12 Bucket List

After becoming the 12th Division I player to reach 3,000 points in a win at Arizona Friday night, Washington senior scoring sensation Kelsey Plum had one more thing to take care of Sunday night to call it an enjoyable weekend in the desert with the rest of the eighth-ranked Huskies of the Northwest: Bring home a first-ever win in her Pac-12 career over Arizona State.

For a while, though, it looked like she might have to wait until the 19th-ranked Sun Devils visit Seattle in the other part of the conference home-and-home series to get her wish.

Though leading the nation with a 31 points per game scoring average, Plum was a long way off the mark toward another night in the 30s at the end of the third quarter in Tempe.

Not to worry, even with Arizona State down just a point at 51-50 with 6:02 left in regulation.

Plum, giving a whole new meaning to light up time, scored eight points in a Washington 10-0 run, 15 overall in the final quarter, and made all six of her shots in the period to lead the Huskies to a 65-54 triumph.

Finishing with 34 point for the game, Plum’s latest exploit enabled the Huskies (18-2, 6-1 Pac-12) to stay all alone atop the conference.

“She’s just so tenacious,” Washington coach Mike Neighbors observed. “She has that wearing effect on defenses, too, and she’s so well-conditioned that she’s at the advantage at the end of games.”

Arizona State’s Reili Richardson had 11 points for the Sun Devils (13-4, 4-2).

Overall, Plum’s career total is now 3,041 after jumping from 11th to seventh on the all-time list.

 On the way toward the top she pushed her way in the line in front of such notables as Cheryl Miller (USC), Chamique Holdsclaw (Tennessee), Maya Moore (Connecticut), and Elena Delle Donne (Delaware).

Washington also has the leading rebounder and Chantel Osahor did her part grabbing 20, well above her 13.5 average while on the offensive side of things she made it a double double with 10 points.

“I try to forget,” Plum explained in the postgame comments reported by the Associated Press, among other organizations. ”I have amnesia. When the clock struck zero and it was the fourth quarter, I was like, `Hallelujah, let’s go to work.’”

Arizona State coach Charlie Turner Thorne believes Plum belongs among the best.

“She can shoot the 3s, mid-range, get to the rim,” she said. “She’s developed her game. Every year she’s gotten better.”

Neighbors is ready to back the cause of his star. “Man, if there’s a conversation about the best scorers and she’s not in it, give me a chance to debate that person.”

Wth six ranked teams in the current poll, which might be reduced in the new one Monday, there was other action in the Pac-12 to take notice.

Utah upset No. 24 California 63-57 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Sat Lake City as Emily Potter and Malia Nawahine each scored 15 points for the Utes (13-4, 2-4 PAC-12).

“In our six conference games that we have played so far, this was our fifth ranked opponent,” said Utah coach Lynne Roberts. “It is a tough conference and I’m proud of our team for chipping away and sticking with it.”

The visiting Bears fell to 14-4 overall and 2-4 in the PAC-12.

No. 13 Stanford shook off a slim 42-41 halftime deficit to top host Colorado 84-70 in Boulder as Karlie Samuelson and Brittany McPhee combined for 38 points for the Cardinal (15-3, 5-1 PAC-12). The Buffs, who were ranked several weeks ago, fell to 11-6 overall and 1-5 in the conference.

No. 10 Oregon State recovered from Friday’s loss across town at No. 17 UCLA in Los Angeles and beat host Southern Cal 74-60 Sunday at the Galen Center as Kolbie Orum had 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting along with nine rebounds for the Beavers (16-2, 5-1 PAC-12). Sadie Edwards scored 17 points for the Trojans (10-7, 1-5).

UCLA made it a weekend sweep of the Oregon schools in the conference Sunday, beating Oregon 79-63 at Pauley Pavilion as Monique Billings had a career-high 30 points. It was the 22nd straight home win for the Bruins (13-4, 4-2 PAC-12), who are tied with South Dakota for the fourth active streak behind, who else?, the 57 put together by Connecticut.

Ruthy Hebard had a career-high 29 for the Ducks (12-6, 2-4).    

The Rest of the Nation

 In the Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 23 North Carolina State upset No. 12 Duke 55-52 at the Wolfpack’s Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C.

The Blue Devils (15-3, 3-2 ACC) trailed by 14 before the end of the first half and rallied before falling short to N.C. State (14-5, 4-2). Duke’s Rebecca Greenwell had 11 points.

Dominique Wilson had 16 points for the Wolfpack and Chelsea Nelson had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

No. 9 Louisville edged No. 14 Miami 63-59 in the Yum Center as Mariya Moore had a game-high 24 points for the host Cardinals (16-4, 4-2 ACC) while Adrienne Motley had 13 for the visiting Hurricanes (14-4, 3-3).

No. 7 Florida State crushed host Clemson 86-27  as Ama Degbeon had a career-high 13 points off the bench for the Seminoles (17-2, 5-1 ACC) beating the Tigers (11-6, 0-5).

Kauai Bradley had career highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Pittsburgh over visiting North Carolina 68-48 in the Petersen Events Center. It was the fewest amount of points the Panthers (1-7, 2-3 ACC) have allowed the Tar Heels (12-6, 1-4) in the teams’ all-time series dating back to 1981.

In the Big 10, No. 11 Ohio State edged host Purdue 61-57 as Stephanie Mavunga had 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Buckeyes (15-5, 5-1 Big 10) in West Lafayette, Ind. Ashley Morrissette had 13 for the Boilermakers (12-7, 3-2).

Penn State (11-6, 1-4 Big 10) on Monday night at 7 will host Wisconsin (5-12, 0-4) in the Bryce Jordan Center in State College.

In the Big 12, second-ranked Baylor got 16 points from Kalani Brown and 15 from Nina Davis as the Bears beat host Kansas 92-43.

 Baylor (17-2, 6-0 Big 12) rode to a 23-point halftime lead over the Jayhawks (6-11, 0-6) in Allen Fieldhouse.

Looking Ahead

The Big Monday national series of games on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. gets under way this week and appropriately with it being “We Back Pat,” week, the first game originates from Knoxville where Tennessee will host No. 6 Notre Dame.

Competition wise, with the Lady Vols having been out of the poll for the second longest in-season stretch in Tennessee history, an upset of the Irish is imperative toward finding a way back to the rankings but Notre Dame has been on a streak of wins in the series.

Special attention will also be made to the new Pat Summitt Alzheimer’s Clinic, which just opened. This is the first season the “We Back Pat” theme has been carried since the Tennessee legendary Hall of Fame coach passed away last June after a nearly five-year battle fighting the disease.

Also airing from Knoxville, the home of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, comes a first – at halftime during the telecast will be the announcement of the 12 finalists for this year’s class.

Unlike other halls, the WBHOF had never named finalists prior to the actual announcement of the induction class, which, in recent seasons, occurred usually in July at halftime of the WNBA All-Star game.

This time, the class will be named next month and then those available will be welcomed at the Women’s Final Four in Dallas to be celebrated.

The actual induction is still set for June, though that date is likely to be changed because as more notables start to retire from the WNBA, having the ceremony in June when the league is under way prevents many from that sector from attending the event.

At this writing, the Guru does not have the 12 – he’s been very busy this weekend and no need prior to mid-day Monday to know ahead of time – but names that have been mentioned in recent times by backers as worthy candidates are former Queens College coach Lucille Kyvallos from the AIAW era, Los Angeles Sparks coach Brian Agler, who may have gained momentum off the WNBA title in October; Former Penn State coach Rene Portland.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mike Siroky's SEC Report: Big Game of the Year on Deck

By Mike Siroky

The big dogs of the Southeastern Conference of women’s basketball have separated from the others.

Mississippi State, No. 4 in America, visits South Carolina, No. 5 in America, next Monday.

The leadup saw each win. They are the only undefeateds at home in league play, a prerequisite for winning conference.

Each can go undefeated at home, beatable only by their own selves against all comers. It is now an upset of they lose to anyone else in conference.

If SC wins and hip hops above State, that will change again when UConn whomps SC next month.

This is the “We Back Pat” week in which each team honors the legacy of the late Pat Head Summitt and her foundation’s ongoing work.

No. 4 Mississippi State

The Bulldogs ride along with their highest ever ranking, and program best start, 18-0. They disposed of fast-falling Florida. They have gallant Ole Miss at home and then competitive Alabama before the Collision in Columbia.

Which means they can reasonably expect to be 20-0.


The third straight win over Gators started with a focus on high-scoring Ronni Williams.

“Well I am not sure we can slow her down, limit her touches.

“I really love my point guard right now; Morgan William is special. We find a way to win on tough nights and usually defend pretty well.

“So even on nights when we do not score, we can defend.”

His words were prophetic as they allowed one basket in the final eight minutes of a 24-9 opening quarter. Williams had four points. State ruled the rebounds, 15-5.

Florida scored one basket in the final 2:20 of a 48-22 half. Backup State center Teaira McCowan scored 12 on 6-of-6 from the floor. Victoria Vivians was 6-of-6 from the line and also had 12. William had four assists. It was 69-33 after three.

It ended 82-49.

 McCowan missed once from the floor and scored a personal best 25. Viviana had 21. William had six assists. The team had 10 steals.

Freshman Blair Schaefer, refusing to wear a mask to protect her broken nose, took four charges. They had 32 baskets off 27 turnovers. They held Williams to 11 points. They drew 5,575, third-best nationally.

“We give God the glory for 18-0,” Vic Schaefer said. “It is the second time in three seasons to start 18-0. The kids continue to surprise me. I didn’t see that one coming. Our spacing of the floor, our execution and our defense in the first half was outstanding.

“To do it against the schedule they have done it against makes this really special. The kids have continued to go about their business and continued to work hard.”

It was Vivians’ 12th straight game in double figures.

“I’m really proud of how we played,” Schaefer said.

“I liked our focus. You move onto the next one. I think our kids have done a great job just going one at a time. Our kids have done a great job of being the next one up, willing to go to practice and work. Let’s try to improve.”

Of Vivians, he said, “She is learning to enjoy the assist. She has made some really good choices with the ball. When you add the rebounding, the defense and the assist piece to what we knew was a very prolific scoring piece, that’s when you start molding and putting together an all-American basketball player.

“ That’s what I notice right now about her. She’s starting to add the other pieces that make it hard to defend her and add to our team.”

Running mate William said, “Our post players are getting down in the lane and posting up; we've got to get them the ball. It makes it easier on us because we don't have to always create and just throw up something; we can drive, dish to them for an easy bucket and get assists.

“If they get double-teamed, they do a good job of throwing it out to our shooters, like Blair and Victoria to get easy buckets.”

With all the focus on his guards, Schaefer reminds us of the work ethic of his post players.
“You have to remember that there aren’t many high school teams that have 6-5, 6-7 players on their teams. Some of them don’t even have post players than can finish.

“Teaching a guard to add that to their game can take a while. There is an art to feeding the post. Our post players are doing a great job catching some ‘through the needle’ passes.

“ Teaira and Chinwe [Okorie] have earned the trust of our team. The team knows that if they get the ball down low they are going to finish.

“Chinwe is shooting 58 percent right now. Teaira is up to 55 percent. That’s overall; it may be better in conference. There is a playing together and feel factor for one another, knowing where somebody is going to be on the court and knowing where you are upposed to be when we are driving.

“ Again, Teaira is only a sophomore so she is midway through her second year. Chinwe is just in her third year. All that plays into it.

“We typically work on what we call ‘triangle passing.’ We are just teaching those kids both numbers. If our guards can see both numbers, we have a chance to get you the ball. Unlike a lot of teams, we have two that we want to pin as deep as they can get. We get them as deep as we can on ball reversal and have them put it up.”

Vivians again made the 25-player midseason cut for the John R. Wooden National Player of the Year award.

No. 5 South Carolina

The 13-1 Gamecocks did their part, taking Georgia and winning at LSU with Ole Miss this week as the tuneup for the state sister school.

Georgia this year is not Georgia last year, which is to say they really need some upsets to earn another NCAA invitation. They have 10 wins with a dozen regular-season games to go.

 They fall in that NCAA wild card category of being evaluated fairly against even champs of weaker conferences.

They are no longer playing with Andy Landers’ players, graduating 65 percent of their scoring.

Recruiting has not lit up. They have eight scholarship players.

LSU has 13 wins, but is still a shadow of an NCAA contender, even a step down from Georgia.

They have to earn an invitation in all likelihood.

In the 66-63 escape win over Georgia, SC was not SC. One starter was missing and the other frontliner was shackled by fouls.

Alaina Coates continued to amass a wonderful final stat sheet.

She has double-doubles in 10 of Carolina’s first 15 games. The center leads the SEC and ranks third nationally in field goal percentage, and her team-leading 10.6 rebounds per contest are good for second among conference players. Coates has naturally led the Gamecocks on the boards 10 times.

Junior A’ja Wilson is right there with her, 16.9 points and 7.6 rebounds with 31 blocked shots.
But Wilson was out for the Georgia game with a sprained ankle. Coates had foul trouble throughout.

Freshman Mikiah Herbert Harrigan got her first start instead.

She averages 18 minutes a game, mostly in the blowouts when the starters get limited playing time so depth can develop.

Gail Goestenkors, broadcasting for the conference network, correctly predicted a defensive struggle as these teams seldom hit 70 against each other. She was correct as Coates was in foul trouble so the Gamecocks were without both leading scorers.

SC closed the first quarter on a 15-0 run while allowing one of those single-digit efforts on defense. Coates had eight points and eight rebounds, well on her way to that double/double.

She rested to start the next quarter with two fouls.

SC never was never overtaken. The network broadcasters were already pimping the next game.
Early in their third quarter, Coates got whistled for her third as part of a double technical and sat down again.

Bianca Cuevas-Moore led the scoring with a career-high 25 off the bench, 17 after halftime, to the delight of the nation’s best crowd, 12,043. She was the new fifth starter in the half.

Georgia won the final quarter by four but not the endgame.

They missed a chance to tie at the line with a miss. There were five seconds left.

 Alisha Gray got the rebound, was fouled and drained both. She scored 14, 5-of-6 from the line, on her 20th birthday.

 Games like this is exactly why she transferred in from North Carolina.

“We’re a different basketball team without Wilson in the game,” said coach Dawn Staley.
“We got some key experience. Sometimes, freshmen are gonna be freshmen, but they have to get playing time to learn.

“It’s good for us to go through this, good for us to learn from this.

“The bench gave us the offensive boost we needed. A game like this, we can learn and be a better team because of what Georgia did to us.”

Georgia next went and flatlined at Kentucky, proving the concept that the top teams get the best shots of opponents.

South Carolina went to LSU, with Wilson still sidelined.

Coates started by hitting both shots from the field 7and 4-of-5 from the line as they eased into a 27-18 quarter lead on 67 percent shooting. Cuevas-Moore, back as a starter in a four-guard lineup, had nine.

LSU’s Raigyne Moncrief, in her return year after missing a season with a blown knee, also had eight points. She is averaging 15 in the league season.

It was decide by halftime, of course, 49-36.

Coates had 18, 5-of-6 from the field, 8-of-11 from the line, six rebounds.

Cuevas-Moore had 12 and Alisha Gray 10, 3-of-4 from the line (2-of-2 3s), with two assists and two steals. She and fellow-transfers Kaela Davis and Alexis Jennings  are the difference in SC maintaining their level of national prominence.

Moncrief was stifled, with no second quarter points. The Ben-Gals were shooting 63 percent from the field and still losing.

By the end of the third, Coates had extended her double/double spree, 18 points and 10 rebounds. Gray had 17 points. Moncrief had one more basket. It was 64-49.

As the game wound down, Coates was 8-of-11 from the line, Gray 5-of-5, Davis 4-of-4 and Cuevas-Moore 3-of-4. Go ahead and hack ’em. They can beat you so many ways.

It ended 84-61. Coates scored 24, with 11 rebounds, Gray 21, Cuevas-Moore 17. Moncrief wilted and only had the one basket in the third and one basket and one free throw in the fourth.

Coates was just comfortable.

“I think the matchups just worked in our favor. They stayed in a zone and we were able to see where the weak spots were, getting into the weak side really helped us out and we practiced that so we pretty much knew to find the person on the weak side and take them out and we should be successful.”

“We were really concerned about the amount of times they turn people over,” Staley said.
“Obviously we have practice players that do a great job simulating their presses, trap us, and press us a little bit more than what they did, but since they did not I think it alleviated the aches we could have had coming into the game.

“For us we knew that we needed to take care of the basketball and make good decisions out there whether they were going to trap us, play man on their matchup, zone I just thought we were well prepared. We just had to make sure that we executed and did not turn the ball over.”

“They are much better (than last year). Anytime you have the services of a Moncrief, you get better on both sides of the ball. She has been in our league for a few years now and she has a pretty good reputation.

“They are much better on both sides of the ball. They know exactly where they want to get their shots. They wreak havoc on the defensive side of the ball, they just play with a lot more cohesion and that comes with just having your team healthy being able to practice and not have to patch together when you have injuries.”
t was a separation game. Instead of both being 4-1 in conference, one is 5-0 and the other 3-2.

The losers attracted only 2,840 fans, or about 8,000 less than SC attracts at home.

Coates and Wilson also made the Wooden cut. Coates leads the voting, though Wilson is a three-time finalist and the defending league Player of the Year.

Other SEC winners

Texas A&M had the walkover week, Arkansas at home and at Florida. With 14 wins, the Aggies are 4-1 in conference, a solid third, but among the final nine in the regular season, they still have two with Mississippi State and South Carolina visits in the next-to-last game of the season.

When they re-establish a national position, the larger audience will come to know the SEC’s leading scorer, Danni Williams (17.8), rebounder Arriel Howard (11.5) and assister Curtyce Knox (9.9).

Kentucky won twice and is in the soft part of the league schedule leading up to opening February against South Carolina.

Mississippi got its program statement win, No. 13, with a 40-30 second half over faltering Tennessee, the first Rebel win after 28 losses in the series. There were only 1,503 witnesses.

Makayla Epps of Kentucky is also on the Wooden midseason list

Penn Completes Weekend Palesta Sweep Beating Brown in Ivy Tilt

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – It may take until Harvard comes to town Feb. 3 to jump to any conclusions about the Penn women’s basketball team’s ultimate destiny in the Ivy League, especially with the new four-team tourney attached to the end of the regular season here at the Palestra.

But what can be said is the Quakers made a major leap this weekend taking a back-to-back sweep at home that started with a win over Yale Friday night and concluded Saturday night with an 86-60 win over Brown, which arrived off a high-scoring shootout victory at Princeton the previous evening.

It took a bit for coach Mike McLaughlin’s bunch to apply the brakes to a Brown-style tempo that threatened to turn the Palestra into an indoor Penn Relays but the Quakers had plenty of firepower to contend with the Bears until they began to lock things down, defensively.

Once that occurred, separation from Brown on the scoreboard in a winning direction did not bring a ton of resistance, especially with another hot shooting night in which Penn (9-4, 3-0 Ivy) shot 55.7 percent from the field and also hit 50 percent of their 3-pointer opportunities nailing 13 treys off 26 attempts.

When the final tally of play involving some, but not all, of the Ancient Eight was concluded, the defending champions with more games than other league rivals were standing all alone at the top at 3-0 to go with their overall 9-4 mark.

It was also Penn’s sixth straight triumph.

“We certainly didn’t want to get into an open court shootout with them,” McLaughlin said afterwards. “That’s the style they play. I felt we had to control the tempo. We had on dead balls to keep the ball in front of us.

“For the most part there were a few periods where they got on a roll in the first half – we didn’t matchup in transition, but I thought defensively, the way we played, the style we played, as hard as we played and only had seven fouls and guarded the ball hard with good team help.”

Anna Ross, completing a pair of games that often result in Ivy player of the week accolades, had a team-high 19 points, dealt seven assists, blocked a shot, grabbed two steals and shot 7-for-10 from the field, including a perfect 3-for-3 on attempted treys while making both her free throw opportunities.

“We played three previous games here and, of course, it didn’t go our way so coming out here and making it a sweep on our court and finally getting a win is amazing,” Ross said. “We stayed mentally strong for both games and I think it just showed how we’re going to play for the rest of the season.

“We definitely saw the Princeton score last night,” Ross said about dealing with Brown’s attack. “And what we got from that: Brown can score the ball. They’re going to push the ball and they’re not going to stop.

“So we had to come back against that and we did. We pushed the ball up, I think we got a lot of transition points, more than we really have and we shot the ball great. Our percentage was crazy. All around we played the way we had to beat them.”

The inside play of the Quakers was as good as could be anticipated with Sydney Stipanovich scoring 17 points, grabbing seven rebounds, dealing four assists, blocking a pair of shots and taking a steal. She also shot 8-for-12 from the field.

Michelle Nwokedi, right alongside, did her thing with 11 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and a pair of blocks while shooting 5-for-9 on attempted field goals. And once again off the bench, Princess Aghayere contributed with eight points, four rebounds, three assists, while shooting a perfect 3-for-3 of which one was a triplet.

Kasey Chambers, another attacking guard, had 10 points, shooting 4-for-9 with a pair of three-pointers.

Justine Gaziano had 24 points for Brown (10-5, 1-1) while Erika Steeves and Taylor Will each scored 10 points.

Penn owned four of the five key categories, leading 24-18 on points in the paint, 17-8 for points in transition, 11-9 on second chance points, and 26-12 off the bench.

The Quakers are at the outset of a stretch of seven home games, though the next two are Wednesday night Big 5 encounters hosting Villanova and Temple before Stevens Tech arrives and then Ivy play will resume with visits from Harvard and Dartmouth.

“It’s got to help us,” McLaughlin said of the string of home games. “The ball started going in the basket. We did a lot of shooting here the last week. The confidence was here. The crowd was great. It’s got to help us.”

He was once again pleased with the depth off the bench and the ability to give some rest to Nowkedi.

“Again, Princess was playing well. We had great control when she was in the game. I took Michelle out to give her a breather and we started to roll when Princess got on a roll. And then we got ahead so I never put Michelle back in.

“Princess was tremendous again,” McLaughlin said. “Princess and Anna Ross were super and Sydney defensively was the Sydney we all know. She dictated where the ball was going to go just by her presence. And Kasey and Beth Brzozowski on the ball were pretty good.”
Brzozowski had nine points, knocking down 3-of-5 three-point attempts for all nine of her points.

“We’re starting to play out of double teams, out of crowding pretty good, we’re starting to see the open player and we’re starting to make shots. It’s all coming together a little bit at a time.”

Next up is Villanova, which has owned Penn especially with the Wildcats’ 3-point prowess.

Perhaps the array of threes shot by the Quakers Saturday night might give hope that Penn might level the field a bit when the Wildcats visit Wednesday night.

“We’re not even on them, it’s about what we did today,” McLaughlin said. “Of course, you’d like to carry something over but each game is it’s only entity. There’s no guarantee you’re going to make those shots Wednesday.

“But play that team we’re going to have to do some of that. But we have our hands full, no question.”

Princeton Slide Stops

With a threat beginning to loom of fighting among a crowd just to land a spot in the Ivy tournament instead of contending for the top seeds among the four participants, Princeton rallied to down Yale 74-62 at home in Jadwin Gym and earn the Tigers’ first Ivy win of the season.

A 25-6 fourth quarter attack not only carried the home team but also made it a lost weekend for Yale being swept on the road in the Bulldogs’ first two league games.

Leslie Robinson had her second straight double double for Princeton (7-9, 1-2 Ivy), which will now engage in its annual most of January hiatus from games during the final exam period. They return on Feb. 3 to host Dartmouth and then Harvard on back-to-back Friday and Saturday nights.

The niece of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle had 16 points to go with a career-high 15 rebounds and Robinson, also the daughter of former Princeton star Craig Robinson, also had six assists.

Freshman Bella Alarie, who set a Princeton freshman blocks record with seven in the loss to Brown, had 13 points and 10 rebounds while Tia Weledji had 17 points.

During the comeback, Princeton held the Bulldogs (9-6, 0-2) to one basket the last 6 minutes, nine seconds of play.

Tamara Simpson had a game-high 22 points for Yale, while Lena Munzer had 13 points and Jen Berkowitz scored 11. Princeton held the opposition to 37 percent shooting in the second half.

Saint Joseph's Wins at La Salle To Extend Win Streak to Three

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – Healthier with the recent return of Sarah Veilleux (concussion) and Chelsea Woods (broken bone in foot), Saint Joseph’s has taken off on a three-game win streak, the latest triumph of which gave some satisfaction of revenge.

The Hawks’ victim Saturday afternoon was La Salle, which Saint Joseph’s topped 75-55 in the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena in a game counting in the Atlantic 10 standings but not in the Big 5.

That will come in part two of the home-and-home local Atlantic 10 setup on Feb. 12, Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Hawks’ Hagan Arena.

While that will be the last of the City Series clashes this season, the outcome will not impact the Big 5 title chase.

That will be long decided before the two local Atlantic 10 rivals meet again. Saint Joseph’ is 1-2 and La Salle is 1-2 in the City Series and the ultimate outcome will come the next two Wednesdays when Villanova visits th Quakers this week and Temple travels to the Palestra 10 seven days later.

The Owls, currently on a nine game win streak, are 3-0 so a win at Penn gives them the title outright. Villanova is 2-1 so a loss automatically gives Temple the title. If both lose to the Quakers, the Owls back in at 3-1 or if Villanova wins and Temple loses then it’s a tie.

The Wildcats won last year at 3-1, defaulting into the outright winner because of what happened here last season in February when La Salle ended a long streak of losses against the Hawks to deprive them of sharing local Big 5 bragging rights.

So perhaps a bit of that was encased in Saint Joseph’s memory when the Hawks met the Explorers Saturday or maybe it was just a matter of continuing to shed the awful November and December experiences with a new approach since A-10 play began.

A 23-11 second quarter advantage and a closing 21-10 fourth quarter rout did the job for coach Cindy Griffin’s team (6-11, 3-2 Atlantic 10), which this time didn’t let an opponent rally against the Hawks even if leads shrank a bit on separate occasions.

“We’re finding our way,” Griffin said of the turnaround. “These last couple of games there’s been a difference in the mentality. When some teams showed some resistance we didn’t always fight back and I think we’re learning to do that.

“La Salle has become a good team. And it’s evident by their personnel, by their coaching and by their record,” she continued. “It was a scary game because they have a kid that can beat you. And we did a really good job.

“Veilleux was terrific off the bench.Chelsea Woods was terrific off the bench. Two kids that started for us early due to injuries, they’re coming off the bench and I just think we’re better because we’re into a little bit of a slow and it’s not so much as who starts. It’s just based on how the game goes.”

La Salle (9-8, 2-3) had just been closed out in a non-conference game at the buzzer here Wednesday night by Harvard, which is looking like a renewed force in the Ivy League off its 13-1 overall record.

The setback was the fourth in five games, a series that began after La Salle had shaken off an 0-3 overall start to then go on an 8-1 binge which could have been 9-0 had not Villanova edged the Explorers 52-49 on the Main Line in a Big 5 clash.

The two formerly injured Saint Joseph’s stars were also the top players Saturday with Veilleux scoring 18 points, making all seven of her shots, including all three 3-point attempts and her only free throw attempt, and Woods picking up 17 points, aided by a perfect 7-for-7 at the line.

Adashia Franklyn had a double double with 10 points and 11 rebounds while Alyssa Monaghan scored 10 points.

Amy Griffin, the leading scorer in the Atlantic 10 and defending scoring star of last season, collected 16 points in this one and Michaya Owens off the bench scored 14, while everyone else was held in check.

There was one highlight for La Salle as Jasmine Alston entered the contest tied with Jennifer McGowan (1988-93) for the all-time steals record in the program so her first of two Saturday give her ownership of the new mark and her second makes her career total now 235.

Saint Joseph’s is back on Hawk Hill Wednesday night hosting Fordham while La Salle heads to Richmond the same night to launch a brief road trip.



Temple Streak Continues Though Eclipsed By UConn's New Record in American Action

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Temple picked the wrong day in the wrong conference to continue to do the right thing Saturday when the Owls beat Tulsa 58-49 in the Reynolds Center in Oklahoma for their ninth straight victory to stay tied at the top of the American Athletic Conference standings.

The Owls (13-3, 4-0 AAC) are one of just two teams yet to lose to another American opponent this season.

Once again, two of the Temple backcourt were explosive as Feyonda Fitzgerald and Donnaizha Fountain each scored 19 points while another guard also reach double figures in Alliya Butts, who scored 13 points.

Temple’s Ruth Sherrill grabbed 12 rebounds.and has been a big part of fueling the current run by the Owls, who next visit Houston 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Shug Dickson had 21 points for Tulsa (5-12, 1-3).

The Owls forced 20 turnovers, and limited the Golden Hurricanes to 35 percent from the field and just 2-for-12 on three-point attempts for 16.7 percent.

But the Temple streak was the other news of the day in the American.

That’s because down in the deep south, top-ranked and four-time defending NCAA champion Connecticut kept pace with Temple at the top of American by routing host SMU 88-48 in Dallas, Texas, where the overall unbeaten Huskies (16-0, 4-0) are now a threat to return in late March to claim a fifth straight national crown. The Women’s Final Four will be at the American Airlines Arena, home of the NBA Dallas Mavericks.

The win was the 91st straight for UConn, which snapped the tie with its own previous NCAA mark of 90 that was achieved earlier in the week at home in Hartford with a 65-point rout of No. 20 against South Florida.

On Saturday, Hall of Fame UConn coach Geno Auriemma’s squad showed little sign of nerves with its new date of history on hand by opening up a 21-0 lead from the outset on SMU (`0-7, 1-3) at Moody Coliseum..

“This team is pretty good at just keeping things on an even keel,” he said. “Even afterward, there’s a feeling of accomplishment, they feel like they’ve done something significant. But there isn’t this over-the-top screaming and yelling as if we just won a national championship.”

The last setback came in overtime after holding a double digit lead at sixth-ranked Stanford on Nov. 17, 2014.

The previous mark of 90 occurred more than six years ago, at the time gaining extra notoriety for breaking the NCAA men’s mark of 88 by the fabled UCLA squad under the legendary John Wooden.

Now the Huskies have broken it twice. Before that was the then mark of 70, broken in the old Big East title game of 2003 by Villanova at Rutgers.

“I’m not taking for granted at all this is one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of, said Katie Lou Samuelson, who scored 28 points. “Now we can really just focus each game at a time, and not have to worry anything if we’re keeping it up or not.”

The biggest looming threat to snap the new record run is No. 5 South Carolina, which will visit UConn’s Gampel Pavilion in Storrs on campus in a non-conference game in early February.

If the string keeps going, that will be for 100 straight.

The Huskies have yet to lose a game in the American, which was carved out of the old Big East with additions from former C-USA members among other teams. They are 58-0 in regular season games in the conference and swept each of the last three AAC tournaments.

Ironically, the old 90-win mark also came after losing to Stanford, then in the 2008 NCAA national semifinal in Tampa and the Cardinal stopped the run at 90 at home on Dec. 30, 2010.

With the graduation of three superstars, who went 1-2-3 in the WNBA draft in Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, and Morgan Tuck, even Auriemma doubted that his squad would still be untouched consider a tough non-conference schedule that has now included a narrow opening day win at Florida State, a home win over No. 2 Baylor and road wins over sixth-ranked Notre Dame and No. 3 Maryland, which threatened late last month to end the current run when the Terrapins hosted the Huskies.

Besides Samuelson’s big total, Napheesa Collier had 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds, while Gabby Williams double doubled with 19 points and 10 rebounds, besides dishing six assists.

The achievement didn’t bring an immediate call from President O’Bama, whose term ends Friday, like the previous one did after UConn topped Florida State in Hartford for the 89th straight to pass the UCLA mark.

But it did draw a statement from Anucha Browne, NCAA Vice President Women’s Basketball Championships.

“Congratulations to Geno Auriemma ad the UConn Huskies on the sustained excellent it has taken to establish a new consecutive games won record,” Browne said. “Even though they make it look easy at times, 91 wins and counting is an unbelievable accomplishment.

“It is saying something when you have broken the all-time consecutive games won record three times. To have won over 70 games ina row three times over the last 14 years is a testament o the UConn student-athletes, coaches, administrators and fans who continue to fuel the program. Kudos to the UConn women’s basketball program for continuing to raise the bar for the rest of the sport.”

UConn first plays Temple this season on the road Feb. 1 in the Owls’ bigger Liacouras Center, as opposed to McGonigle Hall, where the women play most of their games and sold out or reached near sellout capacity the last several times the Huskies played in Philadelphia.

New SMU coach Travis Mays observed of the opposition, “What a good team. What a very good team. I hear people say at the beginning of the year UConn was supposed to have a down year. That’s not a down year. That’s a program that has a pedigree, and the culture is there. You go there, they just plug you in and they keep on winning.”

Having played the other conference unbeaten team in Temple, now Tulsa gets UConn next on Tuesday night before the Huskies return home to host Tulane on Jan.22.

Rutgers Upsets Michigan State in Big Ten

The Scarlet Knights rallied from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter at home in the Rutgers Athletic Center to shock the Spartans 62-58 in the Big Ten.

Rutgers (6-13, 3-3 Big Ten), which has improved since hitting the conference portion of the schedule, trailed 54-44 before launching an 11-2 outburst with Aliyah Jeune connecting on a three-pointer to bring the home team within a point at 56-55 within the final minute of regulation.

Michigan State’s Tori Jankoska hit a pair of free throws to in the final seconds to maintain a small lead but Khadaizha Sanders then grabbed a steal and Kandiss Barber completed a traditional three-point play for the Knights.

Jankoska missed a three-point shot for the Spartans and Jeune hit two foul shots to seal the win.

Michigan State (13-5, 3-2), had just knocked No. 11 Ohio State out of the conference unbeaten column prior to visiting Rutgers, whose Shrita Parker had a career-high 20 points in Saturday’s game. Barber scored 15 points and Jeune scored 13 for the home team.

Jankoska topped Michigan State with 20 points. Prior to her foul shots in the final seconds, Barber had given Rutgers the lead going length-of-floor for a layup. Then came the steal and score for the upset.

The Scarlet Knights next host Iowa in a Big Ten game 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Rutgers was able to get 26 points off Michigan State turnovers.

Rider Suffers Overtime Loss at Finish on Fairfield’s Four-Point Play

The Broncs at home in Alumni Gym in Lawrenceville, N.J., had a four-game win streak ended by the Stags, who claimed their fourth straight in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game.

Julie Duggan scored her fifth straight double double for Rider with a season-high 21 points and 10 rebounds in the 68-67 setback.

Down one with just over two seconds in the extra period, Rider (12-5, 6-2 MAAC) went to Kamila Hoskova for the potential game-winner to preserve the Broncs win streak but her shot was blocked by the Stags (8-8, 5-2).

Rider had just ended a 27-game losing streak to Marist when the Broncs traveled to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Thursday night.

Less than a minute remained in overtime when Lexi Posset tied the game for the Broncs at 64-64.

Fairfield then missed a pair of foul shots and Robin Perkins nailed a three-pointer for a 67-64 lead with four seconds to go in the overtime for Rider.

Then Fairfield’s Sam Kramer out of a timeout and then in traffic tied it with a 3-pointer and was fouled, thus sent to the line to get the game-winner.

“It doesn’t come down to one play,” Rider coach Lynn Milligan said afterwards. “It comes down to us giving up a lead in the fourth quarter. We just didn’t defend well enough today to get it done.

“This is a hard lesson for us to learn,” Milligan said. “When you have a game like this in your hands, you have to stay focused for 45 minutes and we didn’t do that. We made a lot of plays that are uncharacteristic of us and that’s because Fairfield did a good job executing.”

Kelsey Carey had 25 points for Fairfield.

It was the first Rider loss in 12 games after leading at the half.

The Broncs next head to a MAAC game at Saint Peters Thursday 5 p.m. At the Yanitelli Center in Jersey City, N.J.