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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Guru's College Report: Penn Has a Debutante Ball As Freshman Key Rout of New Hampshire

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Penn offered a debutante party at The Palestra Tuesday night against New Hampshire in what was quite the coming out performance by freshmen Michelle Nwokedi and Beth Brzozowski in a lopsided 74-39 non-conference win over New Hampshire that featured a 58-15 differential from the Quakers’ bench.

After producing four straight rookies of the year in the Big 5 coach Mike McLaughlin may have an in-house fight on his hands between the two in getting the streak extended to five.

The visiting Wildcats (3-0) arrived here for their first-ever meeting with the Quakers unbeaten and made the opening five minutes a closely-fought battle until the newbies got into the action.

Just as she had done last time out at Navy Saturday night, Nwokedi quickly nailed a trey, this time to tie the score, and Brzozowski followed on three field goals from senior Kara Bonenberger to score one herself and Penn (3-1) was on its way to a third-straight triumph after the season-opening loss at No. 4 Tennessee on Nov. 14.

Nwokedi, a top 100 recruit from Missouri City, Texas, had game and career highs of 17 points and 14 rebounds, more than totally collected her three previous games, while Brzozowski, who was part of three New York state high school champions at Hathaway Brown in Highland Heights, Ohio, finished with 14 points, matching the entire total of her first three games.

Sharpshooting from the outside, Nwokedi was 3-for-5 on 3-point attempts and 7-for-14 in overall field goal attempts and Brzozowski was 4-for-5 and 5-for-7 in overall field goal attempts.

For good measure while not lighting up the scoreboard statistically, Anna Ross in another start still showed a steady hand running the offense. Lauren Whitlach got in off the bench and scored a basket in seven minutes of play.

Then there was the veteran, but newly re-made Keiera Ray, slowed or sidelined the last two years by nagging leg injuries, who had her second straight productive night, shooting 4-for-6 from the field for 11 points.

“We weren’t beating them when they were shooting like that,” said New Hampshire coach Maureen Magarity, who comes from a well-known basketball family from here and whose father Bill’s eventual Patriot League champion Army team fell at the hands of the Quakers last season. “They are good.”

The Quakers, who led at the half 42-14, built a differential of 39 points, the largest of the six-year era under McLaughlin and the 35-point differential at the finish is the second largest by just a point less than a win over NJIT last season.

Sydney Stipanovich, the reigning Big 5 co-player of the week with Saint Joseph’s Natasha Cloud, and reigning Ivy co-player of the week with Princeton’s Blake Dietrick, blocked another pair of shots.

Villanova’s Alex Louin was another local winner this week earning the Big East rookie honors.

Penn dominated the boards 58-38 as well as 22-10 on the offensive end.

“I thought we could play as well as we good play with 10 in and 10 out,” McLaughlin said afterwards. “It is a little warm in here and I do want to get them in the flow, refreshed, and I think we did that, and when you defend a lot of good things happen, and we made shots and when you make shots we really felt good about ourselves.

“ We’ve been working with Michelle on the pace of the game and working as hard as she can and she’s really just starting to develop overall. Offensively, she’s getting more comfortable, she’s shooting the ball with confidence, she can shoot and she can really spread the floor and I’m really loving the way she’s developing.

“Keiera is really managing herself well, she sees an opportunity to make an impact on this team, I give her all the credit in the world.”

Said Ray, “It feels really good to get this win. Everything we’re doing at practice is really paying off.”

As for choosing Penn in light of many top national teams chasing here, Nwokedi said, “When I graduate, I want to have a job, I don’t really want to go play in the WNBA (sorry guys), and I thought Penn was the best fit,” Nwokedi said.

“And the coaches and team, I loved my official visit and felt Penn in the Ivy League would be the best fit for me.”

No one scored in double figures for New Hampshire, whose Elizabeth Belanger had a team-high nine points.

Penn is off a week before heading next Tuesday to Easton, Pa., and an improved Lafayette team that beat visiting Rider 66-48, Tuesday night, No. 22 Rutgers stayed unbeaten with an 81-53 win at nearby Wagner, Drexel ended a three-year losing streak to Saint Joseph’s, beating the Hawks at home, 76-63, while La Salle has won two straight, beating Manhattan at home in an afternoon kids special at the Tom Gola Arena, 61-48, while Delaware fell at home to defending Atlantic 10 champion Fordham 49-44 and Penn State fell again at home to a mid-major for the third straight game, losing at the finish to Saint Bonaventure,, 56-54.

To look further at the large slate of the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW games that everyone in action except Temple, Princeton, and Villanova, let’s go to the written tape.

La Salle Evens Things Up -- Michaya Owens had another strong outing, tying a career high with 23 points for the Explorers (2-2), who won their second straight 61-48 after being routed at Penn a week ago, while Ebony Wells had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Shayna Ericksen and Kayla Grimme each had 10 points for the Jaspers (1-3) and Grimme also grabbed 10 rebounds.

“We’re feeling a sense of urgency,” La Salle coach Jeff Williams said. “But we’re still not playing like we need to play. When you get handled by Penn the way we got handled – Penn is a very good team – but I felt we didn’t show up. So I think we still have a lot to clean up.

“We’re still missing Alica Cropper (leg injury), our leader – Michaya Owens had stepped up, Jasmine Alston has played well, and Ebony Wells is doing a good job – she’s getting more comfortable out on the court. But we’re still not defending, the way we need to be defending. We may get Alicia ready to play this weekend.”

La Salle will be in Long Island’s tournament in Brooklyn, playing the host team at 2 p.m. Friday and then meeting Towson Saturday in the pre-determined format for the two-day event.

Drexel Deals Saint Joseph’s -- The Dragons are off to a 3-1 start and got a key win at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center, beating the Hawks 76-63 to hand Saint Joseph’s(1-3) their second straight loss, both on the road.

Sarah Curran had a career-high 25 points for Drexel while Meghan Creighton had her first career double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Dragons, who are off until playing St Bonaventure Bonaventure in the first round of the Brown tournament in Providence, R.I., Dec. 6, led by as many as 18 points at 45-27.

Curran’s total is the most by a Drexel player since former star Hollie Mershon had 28 in the semifinals of the WNIT they eventually won in 2013 in April.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick had 18 points and Ashley Robinson scored 16 for Saint Joseph’s, which next plays Saturday against Saint Francis of N.Y. at noon.

Rutgers Still Pefect -- A pair of 20-point effort spurred the No. 22 Scarlet Knights (4-0) to a win over Wagner (0-3) on Staten Island, N.Y. at the Seahawks’ Spiro Sports Center.

Betnijah Laney had 22 points and 11 rebounds while Kahleah Copper scored 20 points to ruin Wagner’s home opener. Tyler Scaife also scored in double figures, tallying 15 points while tying her career high with seven rebounds and also dealing six assists.

Jasmine Nwajei had 16 points for the Sseahawks, who are still in search for their first victory, while Lyndsay Rowe scored 13 points and Jordyn Peck had 12 points.

Rutgers next hosts Colgate at 2 p.m.. Friday.

Delaware Falls Short to Fordham -- The host Blue Hens (1-3) continue to struggle despite three players scoring in double figures as they lost their second straight 49-44.

Courtni Green missed a game-tying 3-point attempt in the last 10 seconds and the defending A-10 champion Rams got the rebound and went to the foul line to collect the game’s final two points.

Erika Brown had 14 points, Green scored 12 and grabbed eight rebounds while Hannah Jardine scored 10.

Emily Tapio had 18 points for Fordham (3-2).

“We need to continue to get better,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said. “Do I feel encouragement because we took the Atlantic 10 champion down to the wire? Yeah, we played an older team tough, but we want to come up with a W.

“We continue to improve daily, but we need to keep clawing and fighting to win games like this.”

Delaware next goes to Vermont Saturday and visits Temple next Wednesday. Fordham will also visit Temple next month, meeting a former rival member of the Atlantic 10 now in The American on Dec. 7.

Penn State Skid Reached Three -- History was made on both sides as St. Bonaventure edged the Lady Lions (1-3) 56-54 on Nyla Rueter’s layup with 1.4 seconds left in regulation at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa.

It’s the first win ever for the Bonnies (3-2) of the Atlantic 10, over Penn State in 11 attempts, including 5-1 in Happy Valley, giving them their first taste of some prominent success since winning the regular season league title in 2012 and advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

On the other hand, following two other narrow losses this week at home to Albany and Seton Hall in the Pre-Season WNIT, it’s the first time Penn State, who led most of the way but was outscored 16-5 down the stretch, is 1-3 since the start of the 2006 season.

“We had a couple of empty possessions where we didn’t get any offensive rebounds,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington ticked off causes for squandering a nine-point lead. “And then (the Bonnies) did a good job of attacking the zone.

“We had a couple of breakdowns, defensively. We had a great shot at the end. Candice (Agee) had a pretty shot and didn’t follow. They get the rebound and go down and had a great shot,” she alluded to the final seconds. “Hats off to them. They made a great play at the end.

“We had a chance, didn’t make the play. They had a chance, they made the play. There you have it.”

Depending how one wants to classify Seton Hall in re-configured Big East it would be the first time the Lady Lions lost three straight to mid-majors since the terminology game into play, let alone losing all of them at home.

“You talk about the last couple of games and we’re five points away from being undefeated,” Washington said. “But again, it’s early in the season and we’ve got some they we have to shore up. And we gotta get more consistent play. But getting consistent play out of young kids, that’s a tough thing but they’re really to get back at it.”

Sierra Moore had a game and career-high 15 points for the Lady Lions, while freshman Lindsay Spann had 13 points and a fledgling career-best five assists.

Katie Healy had 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Bonnies, while Rueter scored 13 points and Emily Michael had 11 points.

Penn State next heads to Atlanta for Georgia State’s Thanskgiving Tournament, opening against Liberty Friday and then playing either Samford or Georgia State Sunday.

Princeton plays Wake Forest on Thursday night at the Cancun Challenge, Montana on Friday and Charlotte on Saturday.

Villanova opens Friday in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Naples, Fla., against Arizona State.

Temple next plays Harvard Sunday at the Hall of Fame Challenge at the Mohegan Sun at 5 p.m.

All PhilahoopsW teams are idle Wednesday.

That’s it for the moment.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Monday, November 24, 2014

Guru's College Report: Princeton Beats American to Stay Perfect

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Princeton was well connected on the court and off the court Sunday night to stay unbeaten with a 63-56 win over host American University in a non-conference game in the Eagles’ Bender Arena.

It was as much a tough loss for American (0-3), which has been competitive but winless against three prominent opponents, in light of denying the Tigers (4-0) a field goal over the final 10 minutes, 43 seconds.

While Princeton couldn’t connect from the field, the Tigers still found ways to get to the free throw line and make nine foul shots and also grab offensive rebounds when they missed those attempts, which cut off any chances of American to rally to a triumph.

“We’re beating good conferences, this was a really good team – balanced, tough, on the road,” Tigers coach Courtney Banghart said of American.

“Our kids battled. They were tremendous defensively and they found a way. It wasn’t our best performance, offensively, but we found a way.”

As for Princeton being well connected off the court, after the Guru realized the secret service guy in the parking garage’s elevator wasn’t there for his arrival, it was apparent something presidential was in the air.

While Delaware has hit it big at the vice presidential level in recent years because of the alumni and former state U.S. Senator connections with Joe Biden, Princeton has friends in the White House, where the Tigers took a tour after arriving in the nation’s capital on Saturday.

It all stems from freshman Leslie Robinson, who is in position to call the current residents at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue downtown either aunt, uncle, or in the case of Barack and Michelle Obama’s two daughters – cousin.

Although the president didn’t make it here as originally intended, though the preliminary plans were not made public, the first lady, who is a Class of 1985 Princeton alumna, appeared and gave a halftime talk in the Tigers’ locker room after they took a 36-26 lead across the first 20 minutes.

She is the younger sister of Leslie’s father Craig Robinson, the former Oregon State men’s coach who is now an ESPN analyst after being let go last season.

He is one of only two players out of Princeton to be a two-time Ivy player of the year.

“We wanted Michelle to come and say hi to the kids,” Banghart said. “So she spoke to the kids, which was very cool.”

If the Republicans want equal time with the Ivy power, they can always have New Jersey governor Chris Christie invite the Tigers over for Sunday bunch, considering he lives in a mansion in the neighborhood of Jadwin Gym, where Princeton produced four straight Ivy crowns until Penn broke up the monopoly in Jadwin on the final day of the Ivy schedule last March.

The younger Robinson had five rebounds in 11 minutes.

At one point during last season, her father was being speculated for the then-vacant Princeton athletic director’s position.

Meanwhile, back at the business at hand in Bender, Blake Dietrick scored 19 points and scored seven rebounds for Princeton, while Annie Tarakchian had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Alecx Wheatley, a past Philly summer league performer out of Council Rock South in lower Bucks County, scored seven points.

American, which has previous narrow losses to George Washington and James Madison, got 13 points from Jen Dumiak, 12 from Arron Zimmerman, and 10 from Ari Booth,while former Noth Penn star and Philly League performer Lauren Crisler came off the bench to score five points and grab two rebounds in 16 minutes of playing time.

Late in the second half, American of the Patriot League began to narrow the score but couldn’t get below a deficit of five points in the last minute because every team Princeton went to the free throw line when the Tigers missed a shot they got a rebound and went back to get the score.

Unlike a year ago when former Ivy player of the year Niveen Rasheed and several top players had graduated, this time Banghart has some familiar faces of experience to work with at the outset.

The crowd of 1, 628 was believed to be American’s largest ever, though that couldn’t be officially verified at the moment but longtime Eagles observers said it definitely was the best in about five seasons.

It is not known if the appearance was connected with the presidential celebrities since there was no advance buildup though some suspected that perhaps knowledgeable people leaked the word through social media platforms.

“I thought we competed for 40 minutes, we played hard,” said second-year coach Megan Gebbia, a former assistant with MAAC power Marist who was a strong candidate for the Maggie Dixon Award last season that goes to the top Division I newcomer in charge at the sidelines as awarded by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

“I think what it comes down to is us doing the little things, which is the rebounding, boxing out on free throws, making free throws and just making good decisions down the stretch,” Gebbia added.

“It’s frustrating for this group because they’re talented to be able to play with these better teams, bigger programs, but not being able to finish out. We need to figure out so we can do a better job.

“It is they need to settle down when they can’t hear (because of the large crowd) because they’re used to being able to hear everything.”

Alabama Overcomes Temple -- The Owls were the only other of the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group to play Sunday and they fell to the Crimson Tide 58-51 in the final of the initial part of the Hall of Fame Challenge in Kansas’ historic Allen Fieldhouse.

Temple (2-3) had to play three straight games over the weekend, winning big over Georgetown Friday night but then losing likewise to host Kansas Saturday and then falling to Alabama, which won all three of its games.

The Tide are now 4-2 which for the moment looks good enough to be making progress after finally yielding to public pressure in the offseason and allowing former player Daisha Simmons to play immediately at Seton Hall following her transfer out of Alabama.

After being tied 27-27 at the half, the Tide launched a 10-2 run and never trailed again though the Owls got to within five with 4:25 left to play before being denied from rallying any further.

Temple’s Tyonna Williams scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and dealt five assists while swiping three steals, and freshman Alliya Butts had 10 points and grabbed four steals. Erica Coville grabbed 11 rebounds to go with her nine points.

Alabama’s Ashley Williams had 20 points and 11 rebounds while Hannah Cook scored 13.

The four teams who played in Kansas will be joined by four others who are playing their part of the tournament at Notre Dame, including the third-ranked Irish, to come together this Sunday in Uncasville, Connecticut, at the Mohegan Sun, home of the WNBA Connecticut Sun and American Athletic Conference tournament, of which Temple is a participant.

The Owls will play Harvard at 5 p.m.

No one from the PhilahoopsW plays Monday but on Tuesday, Penn State hosts St. Bonaventure at 5:30 p.m., part of a double header with the Nittany Lion men; La Salle hosts Manhattan at noon in a traditional kids day game; Penn hosts New Hampshire in The Palestra at 7 p.m., the same time Drexel will be hosting Saint Joseph’s up the street at the Daskalakis Athletic Center; Delaware will host Fordham at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark at 7 p.m.; and No. 22 Rutgers will visit Wagner at 7 p.m. on nearby Staten Island, New York.

Princeton next plays Wake Forest on Thanksgiving Day in the opener of the Cancun Challenge followed in succession by games against Montana and Charlotte.

The Guru will mention the other games on the PhilahoopsW slate following Tuesday’s heavy slate of action.

Nationally Noted

Only one major thing to mention immediately is the anticipation of the next Associated Press women’s poll being released in late morning or early afternoon in the wake of current No. 1 Connecticut losing at No. 6 Stanford in overtime a week ago before Stanford then lost to No. 10 Texas in overtime at home.

So the question is wether the Huskies hold on at the top in a mixed vote, or No. 2 South Carolina, coached by Dawn Staley, makes the one-step move to the top for the first time ever; or No. 3 Notre Dame leaps over both by evaluation of all the teams; or Texas gets credit for its win and makes an unprecedented move all the way from No. 10 to the top, though at the very least look for the Longhorns to make some significant jump.

The Guru will have all the AP notes from the new poll in the next post to appear Tuesday morning.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Guru's College Round Up: Penn Sinks Navy and La Salle Hits The Victory Board

Guru’s note: Information for games other than here in Maryland from the wires and team reports was used to compile the roundup. And your Guru apologizes for a late post but needed some shuteye after coming down here off an all-nighter from Friday working the previous post.

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Can this edition of the Penn women’s basketball program possibly surpass the noteworthy one that closed the books eight months ago with the Quakers’ third Ivy championship?

It’s too early to say for sure but the signs are definitely there after Penn put together a second straight solid effort beating Navy 60-51.

The Quakers won down here Saturday night at the Naval Academy for the first time ever and the outcome from the action in Alumni Hall only looks close because of the Midshipwomen narrowed a 22-point deficit in the final nine and a half minutes with a Villanova-like barrage of three-pointers.

“After going coming off a good win over La Salle and to be able to do the same thing for us would be a good step on the road if we could do it, and we did it tonight,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said afterwards.

“I thought we defended them very well. I give them a ton of credit. They hit a ton of threes late that were heavily guarded, we had a couple of breakdowns, but we’ll learn from that.”

Keiera Ray came off the bunch to lead Penn (2-1) with 22 points off 11-for-14 from the free throw line and connecting on 4-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-5 on 3-point attempts.

The inside attack continued to be a force with sophomore Sydney Stipanovich getting eight points and eight rebounds and she also blocked four shots while Kara Bonenberger had eight points and grabbed nine rebounds.

Rookie Michelle Nwokedi showed more promise of what she will bring when early in the game she nailed a pair of 3-pointers as the Quakers began to put distance between themselves and Navy.

“I thought it was good that she had the confidence to take those shots,” McLaughlin said.

Kathleen Roche added nine points to the Quaker attack that is showing signs of being deeper than last year.

“I work on my shots every day so if I keep practicing I’m going to hit those shots,” Ray said. “It’s amazing to be able to come down here and win on their court.”

Navy (1-2), much younger the bunch that either won or were in connection for Patriot League titles the last several years, connected on 11 three--pointers fueed by the air attack near the end.

Chloe Stapleton was the only Navy player to score in double figures, tallying 14 points and hitting four of the triplets while Danielle Poblarp had nine points and three of the other treys.

Sarah Reilly grabbed 10 rebounds.

“A lot of things impressed me about Penn,” said Navy coach Stefanie Pemper, now in her seventh season, but prior to that was an assistant at Ivy power Harvard.

“They’re playing a couple of freshman and they lost their perimeter player (Ivy player Alyssa Baron) and point guard (Meghan McCullouch), who was very good and I’m impressed how well they kind of know roles,” she said.

“We did a decent job on their two big kids and they still had kids who went to the basket at the right time,” Pemper continued. “I think what they run is good and for being only three games into the year I’m kind of impressed how well they know their roles.”

Penn next hosts New Hampshire on Tuesday night in The Palestra.

Elsewhere, two Big 5 teams were on opposite ends of narrow finishes with La Salle (1-2) winning its first game of the year just before time expired in the Tom Gola Arena, beating Howard 65-64 while Saint Joseph’s played its second straight overtime after edging Temple on Hawk Hill Tuesday night and fell at the finish at Liberty 76-75.

Drexel, bounced back from Wednesday’s 59-43 loss at Princeton to beat Colgate 59-51 at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center to avenge last year’s road loss while Rutgers stayed unbeaten, winning a key road game at LSU 64-57, though the Tigers have been struggling since the start of the season.

Penn State was shocked for the second straight game at home, falling to Seton Hall 75-70 in a consolation final of the Preseason WNIT in what was a huge triumph for the visiting Pirates in the second straight year under Tony Bozzella.

And Temple, in the second game of the Naismith Hall of Fame Challenge, followed up Friday’s big win over Georgetown by getting routed by host Kansas 76-56. The Owls (2-2) play one more on the trip to Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence meeting Alabama Sunday afternoon.

Let’s go to the written tape.

Penn State Falls Again -- Chalk this up as a milestone for the visiting Pirates of Seton Hall (2-1), whose only lost to date is a narrow one at Big 12 power West Virginia and who hosts Saint Joseph’s this weekend among several teams in an invitational holiday tournament.

And also call it another sudden setback to the youthful Lady Lions (1-2), who fell last Sunday to 54-53 to Albany in the second round of the then-winners bracket of the Preseason WNIT in the first year after the Maggie Lucas era.

That’s two losses to mid-majors by a Big 10 team for those who are keeping count.

“We’re not that far away if we can fix a few small things,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said afterwards. “I think our youth showed itself today, different possessions, different decisions. It’s tough to have a free throw with a chance to tie and not come away with it.

“Normally, we’re a good free throw shooting team but when you miss that many it hurts your chances to come back earlier.”

Ka-Deidre Simmons had a game and career--high 28 points, of which 23 came in the second half, for Seton Hall while Candice Agee had a career-high 21 points for Penn State.

However, after the Lady Lions had sliced almost all of an eight-point deficit with 1:09 left in regulation, she missed a chance to tie the game on a foul shot and the visitors connected on four straight from the charity stripe to conclude the contest.

Penn State sophomore Sierra Moore had her first career double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while freshman Lindsey Spann scored 12 points and tied a career-high with 10 rebounds.

The Lady Lions host St. Bonaventure at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday as part of a double header with the PSU men, who will play Akron.

La Salle Gets Into the Victory Column -- Following a narrow loss at Temple in the season opener and a wipeout at Penn, the Explorers edged the Bisons as Amy Griffin, who finished with 11 points, scored on a fastbreak layup with nine seconds left in regulation.

Michaya Owens scored all 21 of her points in the first half where La Salle went to the break ahead 40-29.

Ebony Wells had 16 points and 15 rebounds for the home team.

Howard’s Cheyenne Brown had 24 points.

La Salle next hosts Manhattan at noon Tuesday.

Saint Joseph’s Edged on the Road -- Karly Buer connected on a second foul shot after missing the first to give the host Flames the overtime win in Lynchburg, Va., and even the series between the two teams.

Ciara Andrews had an open shot from midcourt to try to rescue the Hawks (1-2) but it hit the rim and bounced away as time expired.

The loss wasted a career effort from Natasha Cloud, who had a career-high 29 points and also q career one from Andrews, who scored 23.

Buer led four Liberty players in double figures with 15 points and a 16-4 run in the first half accounted for a major portion of the damage to the Hawks, who visit Drexel Tuesday night.

Saint Joseph’s was outrebound 53-32 but caused 20 turnovers and had 15 steals.

Drexel Tops Colgate -- The Dragons (2-1) led the all the way in this one as Sarah Curran scored 19 points, shooting 7-for-12 from the field, while Meghan Creighton scored 14 points and Rachel Pearson scored nine points.

As mentioned in the previous item directly above this one, the Dragons host Saint Joseph’s Tuesday night.

Rutgers Still Perfect -- The No. 22 Scarlet Knights (3-0) had to endure 15 lead changes and eight ties but prevailed 64-57 over the struggling Tigers (2-3).

Tyler Scaife scored 16 points for Rutgers, who next head to Wagner Tuesday night. Betnijah Laney had 10 points and a career-high 16 rebounds while Rachel Hollivay and reserve Briyona Canty each scored 13 points.

Temple Pounced by Jayhawks -- The Owls (2-2) got overwhelmed at the outset as Kansas (3-1) jumped to a 15-2 lead before Temple got closer at 17-8 before the Jayhawks responded to go up 29-10 and eventually lead by as many as 30 points.

A silver lining for Temple was the freshmen in the offense as Alliya Butts score 19 points and Tanaya Atkinson scored 12 to go with six rebounds. Safiya Martin had nine carooms to lead the Owls off the boards.

Chelsea Gardner had 22 points for the hosts who finish up their end playing Georgetown Sunday. The four teams will go to the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut next Sunday to play teams in the other quad and Temple will meet Harvard at 5 p.m.

“We knew were going to have problems with Gardner, so we tried to pack it in and their guards showed up and knocked down shots,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said.

“I feel in the second half our approach was a little bit different, we were a little more hungry. We found ways to get out in transition, but they just scored way too much early on for us to come back. It’s a learning experience for us and I hope we’ll take something away from this.”

Nationally Noted

The Guru had time to slip into Washington, where he will return Sunday night for the American-Princeton game, and a saw a half of a good one which was tied after 20 minutes before No. 9 Maryland from nearby College Park went on to a 75-65 win over the Colonials (2-2).

GW did manage to reduce the offensive thrust Maryland (4-0) had produced prior to the game, averaging 97 points with a 52-point scoring differential advantage.

Laurin Mincy had 23 points for the visitors, who also got 16 points and eight rebounds from Shatori Walker-Kimbrough while Lexi Brown had 14 points and five steals.

Jonquel Jones had 18 points and 10 rebounds for GWU while Caira Washington had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

The Colonials host Grambling at noon Monday while theTerrapins host Loyola-Maryland, whose staff is loaded with Saint Joseph’s DNA in coach Joe Logan, a former Cindy Griffin aide, and his aides Katie Kuester and Erin Shields, who are former Hawks stars.

That’s it until late Sunday night.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Guru College Report: Temple Routs Georgetown; Lauren Hill Scores Again

Guru’s note: team and wire reports were used to help compile quotes and iother information for this report.

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Temple roared back from its narrow overtime Big 5 setback on Tuesday night to romp over Georgetown 81-58 in the opener of the Naismith Hall of Fame Challenge Friday night at the historic Kansas Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.

In the other game the host Jayhawks fell to Alabama 85-80 and the four teams will continue in a round-robin format Saturday and Sunday before all four will head to the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., next Sunday to meet teams from the other quad with Temple slated to meet Harvard at 5 p.m.

The Owls (2-1) play Kansas (2-1) Saturday at 5 p.m. and then meet Alabama (2-2) on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. The Hoyas (2-2) play Alabama Saturday and Kansas Sunday.

Temple’s Tyonna Williams, who nearly beat the Hoyas (2-2) of the Big East with one eye closed because of a poke in the other eye at practice Thursday, scored a game-high 21 points.

Two other of the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group also played with Villanova getting its first win of the season out west with a 50-43 win at Cal-State Fullerton while Delaware got thumped in a day game at East Carolina, 89-60.

Nationally, Lauren Hill, of Division III Mount St. Joseph’s in Cincinnati who is coping with an inoperable brain tumor, joined her teammates in tournament in Cleveland and entered the second half action to score another basket following the two field goals in her emotional season-opener on Nov. 2 at Xavier’s Cintas Center back home.

Father Judge graduate Joe McKeown of Philadelphia reached his 600th career victory win as his Northwestern Wildcats beat Kent State 72-54 with the milestone including a long run at George Washington in the nation’s capital and his first Division I head coaching job at New Mexico State.

Apparently having less trouble scheduling each other, which had been avoided because of their longtime friendship, Notre Dame coach Muffett McGraw of No. 3 Notre Dame put on a rout of her former Saint Joseph’s boss Jim Foster as the Irish destroyed his Chattanooga squad 88-53 in South Bend, Ind.

Both Philly coaches are in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

Former Oklahoma star Stacey Dales, a key player in the school’s rise to national prominence in the early part of the last decade, had her number 21 retired in Norman before the Sooners topped Bradley 104-55. She is is the school’s first female-athlete to have her number retired.
Dales played on the 2002 NCAA runnerup squad to Connecticut and was drafted by the Washington Mystics and also went into broadcasting, doing analysis work for ESPN right out of college.;

Host Towson edged Rider 53-51 in a Preseason WNIT consolation game.

In the Temple game, freshman Tanaya Atkinson scored 15 points, sophomore Feyonda Fitzgerald scored 13, and Erica Coville scored 10 and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Owls beat the Hoyas for the second time in their now-six game series and first time since February, 1982.

Three Georgetown players – Katie McCormack, Faith Woodard, and Dominique Vitalis each scored team-highs of 10 points, each.

When the two squads last met in Washington in January, 2013, the only current Temple players who were involved were Coville and Williams in what became down the stretch a narrow loss.

“It was big for us to rebound, we played a tough team today from a good conference, there was some bad blood between us because of some comments they made before the season,” Williams said.

“Knowing some of the stuff they said and to come out and get a big lead early and keep that lead, to put our foot on the gas, it felt good. And you definitely want a win like that coming off a loss.”

As for playing with the injury, Williams said, “Honestly, it was really hard to see out of this eye.

“It was kind of funny, though, everyone said I was going to have a good game today, since my shot has been off the last few days. It’s nothing big, obviously I was able to play and play my part, my role. It’s not going to be a big deal tomorrow, either.”

Temple coach Tonya Cardoza was pleased at her group’s resilency after the loss to the Hawks.

“It was a huge win after having such a close game with Saint Joe’s on the road. It was a big comeback from us. We’re a young team, traveling all the way to Kansas to face Georgetown,” Cardoza said.

“I thought our guys handled themselves well. I know after the game at Saint Joes’s they were bothered by that and they wanted to make sure they came out today and proved a point.”

As for Williams playing through the injury, Cardoza said, “This was a big game for T, she got poked in the eye yesterday and her eye is completely shut, so we weren’t even sure she was going to play today.

“But we had confidence that today might be that day, because she wouldn’t be focusing on shooting the basketball and she had a great night from the floor and definitely got us on the run.

“She was huge for us, she was a confidence booster for our young guys and she set the tone.”

Unlike the games in the win at home over La Salle and the Saint Joseph’s matchup, this time the Owls held a lead once they took control.

“That’s something that we talked about, when you have a team down, you have to put them away,” Cardoza said.

“And today, once that lead grew, we talked about that and made sure that it didn’t slip away, and grew that lead,” she added.

“ With a young team, sometimes that happens where you let teams back in. I told them during one of the timeouts, that this was going to be big for us, to see if we can now progress and make the lead larger,” Cardoza said.

“They responded to that. I’m proud of the effort and we also got some guys some good minutes, which is big. I thought right from the start we took it right to them and we didn’t back down. We were on the offensive boards and that’s what they’re really good at.

“They’re a pressing team and early on they couldn’t even press us, so there was some really good things that happened.”

Villanova Gets Its First Triumph

After two tough losses to host Chattanooga and South Florida in the tournament in Tennessee, the Wildcats went West on a one-game trip and third of their eight-straight road travels and used their three-ball proficiency to top Cal-State Fullerton 50-43, in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

The team against the winless Titans (0-3) served as a homecoming trip for Villanova’s Taylor Holeman.

Five different Wildcats combined to nail 11 triplets, with eight of them coming in the first half to go with one regular field goal for a total of nine.

Coach Harry Perretta’s squad was back in command of its ball-control acumen, committing only six turnovers after putting up double digit miscues in both games last week. But going the other way Villanova gained 15 points from Fullerton’s mistakes.

Caroline Coyer had 15 points for Villanova and freshman Alex Louin continued her fine play with 14 points. Fullerton’s Chante Smith was the only opponent player in double figures with 14 points.

The Wildcats next head to the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament next weekend in Naples, Fla., meeting Arizona State on Saturday, Wis.-Green Bay or Georgia Tech on Saturday, and either Connecticut, Charleston, Vanderbilt or Minnesota on Sunday.

Delaware Downed at East Carolina

The Blue Hens ventured into the South Friday morning and fell to the Pirates, a newcomer this season to The American, 89-60, unable to succeed in phase of their game.

Coach Tina Martin’s team (1-2) committed 27 turnovers to help the Pirates (4-0) stay unbeaten.

East Carolina got 31 points out of the Delaware mistakes while the Pirates plundered the paint with 38 points and scored 13 second-chance points.

Courtni Green had 18 points for Delaware, Erika Brown had 10 points, and freshman Makeda Nicholas grabbed seven rebounds.

Jasmine Phillips topped four ECU players in double figures with 20 points.

“We did a lot of things fundamentally wrong today and gave up some very uncharacteristic turnovers,” Martin said afterwards. “We didn’t handle their pressure well at all and were overwhelmed physically as ECU is bigger, stronger, and quicker than us in every position.

“It’s the third game of the season.We played a better opponent and the game got away from us and snowballed, no question about it. We’ll get back home now and work on our fundamentals. We have to get better.”

It was the worst ball handling for Delaware since the 2009 season when the Blue Hens committed 27 and 29 against Hofstra.

The Blue Hens next host defending Atlantic 10 champion Fordham on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

Looking Ahead

Besides the Temple game, the action picks up elsewhere in the PhilahoopsW group with Penn visiting Navy Saturday night where the Quakers have never beaten the Midshipwomen.

The Guru plans to be there with perhaps an afternoon stop at George Washington for the Maryland game. And staying in the nation’s capital, he will make a Sunday night visit to American for the Princeton game.

No. 22 Rutgers travels to LSU for the second test of the season for the Scarlet Knights. Colgate visits Drexel at 2 p.m., the same time Saint Joseph’s will be in Virginia playing Liberty. And La Salle, looking for its first win, hosts Howard at 4 p.m.

Penn State, in a consolation WNIT game will be hosting Seton Hall in a good test for both teams at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Nationally Noted

Hill Scores Again Though reports earlier in the week suggested Division III Mount St. Joseph’s freshman Lauren Hill, who is suffering from an inoperable brain tumor, might not play again, she did allow that if she felt up to it in a given situation, she could see action again.

Apparently that’s what happened Friday night when she traveled with her parents to Berea, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland to be with the Lions against Bethany College in the opener of the Baldwin Wallace Invitational.

During the game, according to Cleveland.com, she kept pestering coach Dan Benjamin to get in the game and warned him she was beginning to fade before she got inserted into the lineup and scored her third basket after the two she scored in her first game on Nov. 2, which was billed as “The Last Game,” among others because of her terminal diagnosis.

Maybe, since we now have two appearances by the 19-year-old Hill, who was given the United States Basketball Writers Association Pat Summitt Most Courageous Award at halftime of that game with Summitt herself making a special trip for the presentation, perhaps we should go back and re-edit the event as “The First Hurrah.”

Here is the link from the Cleveland Plain Dealer report of Friday’s event. http://www.cleveland.com/sports/college/index.ssf/2014/11/one_more_layup_for_lauren_hill.html

Joe McKeown of Northwestern in the Wildcats’ Welsh-Ryan Arena after victory No;. 600 and 3-0 on the season: “It’s very humbling. As a coach you’re always coaching your next game. I looked at some of the coaches on the video board (NU filmed in advance in anticipation including the Guru, which was done at Big 10 media day) that helped me over the years like (former NBA Boston Celtics coach) Red Auerbach, Gary Blair, Pat Summitt, that just really were there to help me when things were tough.

“And Cheryl Reeve, who coaches in the WNBA and was named to the Olympic team and is one of the great coaches.

“I wish we didn’t have to play Kent State (his alma mater) tonight. So go Flashes, too. It’s just a fun place to be right now.”

A Nurse for UConn's Offense. Reports out of Connecticut from the Huskies’ practice on Friday have coach Geno Auriemma saying one of his prized freshman Canadian Rachel Nurse, a niece of former Eagles quarter back Donovan McNabb, was going to start Sunday in the home opener against Creighton following Monday’s upset loss in overtime at Stanford.

If things work well, they can’t write that Nurse was just what the doctor ordered for UConn’s offense because the doctor, as the Guru reported last weekend, Tom Trojian, is now down here in Philadelphia as the head of Drexel’s sports medicine.

Incidentally, perhaps Creighton’s star player junior Maissa Janning owes UConn for being named Big East preseason player of the year by the conference coaches.

After all, since the Huskies remained with the football side of things when the old Big East broke apart a year ago, the path was cleared for Janning when the new member Blue Jays joined, since otherwise Breanna Stewart would have been blocking the path to that distinction.

And that’s the report for now.

-- Mel

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Guru's Musings: AP Women's Poll Voting Suspense Dead Ahead For Picking No. 1

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

For the first time in a long while the voting panel is going to have to do some head scratching in determining the top team, actually the order of the top five squads, for the next Associated Press women's poll to be released Monday.

And considering that the coaches' poll had an extra day off its cycle there may even be two different teams heading the top 25 lists.

That's because the coaches who dropped UConn to fourth, yeah seems outlandish to your Guru, made Stanford first and are now dealing with a different configuration to determine their next poll.

Just a little over a week ago the vote for number one all season appeared headed for cruise control because of the perceived invincibility of Connecticut in another wire-to-wire run at the top.

But then in a first full week of action still not completed the Huskies got taken down in a shocker at Stanford in overtime before three days later the Cardinal at home became the overtime victims to a revitalized Texas squad.

So what happens?

Not helpful to the panel is the timing in which some premium teams start out dining on cupcakes while a few went for the meat and potatoes.

So there is no even evaluation set up in place for comparison.

The fact that the situation exists is a key reason why the Guru is not prepared to launch a Sweet 16 poll if he does but hasnt told you yet until early January the same way the special football committees operate.

There is going to be mixed philosophies which may help UConn stay number one which has happened before to teams at the top including the Huskies.

No team has ever jumped from No. 10 to first but Texas winning on the road is going to draw attention if the Longhorns prevail at UCLA.

Some will flat out stay with UConn looking at a narrow overtime loss on the road to a team that couldn't duplicate another premium trumph in its own building.

And then there is the step ladder approach which leaves South Carolina as the team in waiting if the No. 2 Gamecocks, who have never been No. 1, emerge unscathed.

If that happens, South Carolina will be on top for the first time ever but coach Dawn Staley has been there before as a player with the then-cruise control Virginia bunch in the early '90s who last held the position on March 15, 1992 in the final poll of the season.

If she gets there, Staley will join Kim Mulkey of Baylor who played at Louisiana Tech as the only two women to play with and coach No. 1 teams in AP women's poll history.

Stay tuned.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Guru's College Report: Penn Drubs La Salle While Princeton Downs Drexel

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Penn didn’t have to worry about starting out in a funk in the home opener against La Salle Wednesday night because of any lingering memories from the season-opening 97-52 drubbing at No. 4 Tennessee, Friday night.

The memories of last season of glory were put on display prior to the opening tip as the Quakers had a public reception and then watched as the banner from the Ivy championship was unveiled high on the ceiling of the fabled Palestra.

Then the business of this season resumed and Penn went on to take a 9-0 lead and make quick work of the Explorers with a 57-29 victory to go 1-0 in the Big 5 and even the overall record at 1-1.

La Salle is now 0-2 and also 0-2 in the Big 5 following the narrow season-opening loss at Temple Friday night.

Two other of the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW teams also went head-to-head in the only other game on the books Wednesday and Penn’s Ivy League power sister Princeton, winner of the four previous league titles, drubbed Drexel 59-43 at home in Jadwin Gym.

Yes, for those wondering, mark down Jan. 10 on your Ivy calendars when the Quakers and Tigers will play their traditional Ivy opener, this time at Princeton at 2 p.m.

But Penn coach Mike McLaughlin doesn’t like looking ahead beyond the next game, which is a visit to Navy in Annapolis, Md., Saturday night, so let’s stay in the moment and flash back to the Quakers’ third straight win over the Explorers and fourth in the last five seasons.

With Alyssa Baron missing from the lineup on the Palestra floor for the first time in five years as she plies her post-graduate pro career in Israel, Sydney Stipanovich, who became last season’s annual rookie sensation, had a double double with 15 points and 15 rebounds.

Incidentally, newcomer Michelle Nwokedi from Texas, a strong threat to be the fifth straight post season top rookie for McLaughlin, came into the game in the last three minutes and scored two layups and a trey for seven points.

No one else on either team scored in double figures or did anything else in double figures but Penn’s Kathleen Roche had eight points, Kara Bonenberger had six points and five rebounds, rookie guard Anna Ross scored seven, matching Nwokedi’s total.

Keiera Ray had six points off the bench and Katy Allen scored four.

La Salle, which was missing Alicia Cropper because of a foot injury, got seven points out of Siobhan Beslow.

“It was a time to celebrate last year but ‘Coach stressed that take in the moment and then move on,” Stipanovich said. “We had a game to take care of and we were prepared.”

Roche, who played in the Philly summer league in the offseason, noted, “It was awesome and great to see all the seniors from last season here, too,” said of the extra events that saw the return of Meghan McCullouch as a civilian and three others offer greetings through video messages.

As for any lingering effects from the Tennessee game, Stipanovich said, “No one likes to get beaten that way, but we took it for what it was, we wanted to play all the best teams we can play before conference play begins.

“We were excited to get back on our home court and get a win,” Roche said.

Stipanovich is from St. Louis, but it didn’t take long to understand what local success in City Series play means.

“The Big 5 is special, I found that out last year,” she said.

Penn forced La Salle into 23 turnovers and outscored the Explorers 13-5 in transition and 11-3 on second chance points.

The Quakers also held La Salle, which hosts Howard Saturday, to a 22 percent shooting effort from the floor and outrebounded the Explorers 45-35 while denying them any three-pointers in 11 attempts.

It was the fewest points Penn held an opponent in a Big 5 game since topping Temple 65-29 in January 1995 and the largest Big 5 victory since that game.

It’s the first time the Quakers have won three straight over a Big 5 rival since beating Temple 1980-82, which match the first three seasons of formal City Series competition for the women.

“They were ready to play,” McLaughlin said of his team. “They wanted to finish this night off with an exclamation point and have a great day.”

As for any lingering problems from traveling to the South, McLaughlin said, “We laid out our goals. We didn’t hide from the fact of who they were. We didn’t back down but we knew what we were in for.

“We didn’t except anything but playing our best.”

Penn is no longer a doormat as displayed Wednesday night, but McLaughlin noted, “Winning a Big 5 game is awesome but our goal is to win every night and if it is a Big 5 game, that is awesome. We won two last year and were in two others. The intensity of those games allows our kids to turn it up to another level.”

Thje Quakers are winless at Navy and 2-5 overall in terms of the series against the Midshipwomen (0-2 right now), who are coached by former Harvard assistant Stefani Pemper.

The game is free on the Patriot League streaming network.

Princeton Pounds Drexel

It’s now 0-6 for the visiting Dragons over the last six years in their series with the Tigers though this time Drexel (1-1) held its biggest leads in that span with early seven-point advantages at 9-7 and 13-6 before the Tigers rallied for a 59-43 victory to stay unbeaten at 3-0 on the heels of sweeping Pittsburgh and Duquesne in the Steel City.

Princeton in taking its home opener in Jadwin Gym in central New Jersey got 13 points and three rebounds from Alex Wheatley while Blake Dietrick scored 12 points and Annie Tarakchian’s 11 rebounds were one short of a career high.

Rachel Pearson was the only Drexel player in double figures, scoring 15 points.

Drexel next hosts Colgate on Saturday while Princeton travels to American University in Washington Sunday night.

Nationally Noted

The way the poll turns, so to speak, will be in play Thursday night in the wake of No. 6 Stanford’s narrow but impressive home win over top-ranked Connecticut on Monday.

The Cardinal, which shot to the top of the coaches’ poll, whose votes are collected a day later than the AP weekly release, will be hosting No. 10 Texas while No. 2 South Carolina has a local in-state match against Clemson.

UMBC’s 78-65 win over Coppin State makes the Terriers 3-0 for the first time since 1989-90.

A good win for The American with new member Tulane taking an in-state win at LSU, but also a tough loss with South Florida, picked second by the coaches in the conference behind UConn, losing at No. 9 Maryland 85-67.

LSU and Alabama have all four losses at two each among the entire Southeastern Conference membership while the newly-configured Conference USA group has posted 18 wins in the first six days of season action.

Georgia, in a three-way tie at No. 24, went to unranked Ohio State in Columbus and used a 22-9 run down the stretch to beat the Buckeyes 67-59.

Career roots in CoSIDA, known as the Collegiate Sports Information Directors Association, is getting to be a good basis to become chair of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Committee.

The Big 12 Dru Hancock is the current chair and the Guru first met her when she worked at Minnesota more than three decades ago.

On Wednesday, the NCAA announced the next chair will be Pac-12 executive Chris Dawson, who the Guru first knew when she was the media liason for Cal.

That’s it for the moment. If the Guru gets his decks cleared, with all local D-1s idle, he plans to make a surprise D-II visits to a site in which one of his immediate locals will visit Thursday niight.

-- Mel --

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Location:Guru's College Report: Drexel Drubs LaSalle While Princeton Downs Drexel

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Guru's College Report: St. Joe Tops Temple in Big 5 Thriller; Niagara Team Rescued

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

In a throwback to what the series had been between Temple and Saint Joseph’s in the last decade, the Owls and Hawks after several momentum swings battled into overtime before Saint Joseph’s prevailed 78-74 Tuesday night in a Big 5 thriller at Hagan Arena on the Hawks campus.

So now it is Saint Joseph’s, the defending Big 5 champs, carrying a streak, having won the previous two by scores of 449-41 in overtime here at Hagan and last year’s 73-53 rout at Temple.

In the only other game played Tuesday among the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group, No. 22 Rutgers broke away from Northeastern of the Colonial Athletic Association to go 2-0 on the season, both wins at home, with a 74-60 win over the Huskies.

Rutgers’ previous win was over these Hawks in the season opener for both Friday night, a 76-52 triumph. On the same night Temple edged La Salle at home in the Liacouras Center 75-72.

So the bottom line in what ios shaping up as an interesting Big 5 race this time around, the Hawks in what was their home opener are now 1-1 on the season, the same as Temple, while the Owls are also 1-1 in the City Series.

Just 24 hours later another Big 5 tilt pops up Wednesday night (tonight) when La Salle (0-1, 0-1) drops by The Palestra to visit Penn (0-1), which lost its season opener on the road in a massive wipeout at No. 4 Tennessee.

But while La Salle will try to keep from falling further behind in the local wars, Wednesday night’s home opener for Penn will be about celebrating last season’s overall success as the Quakers hang their Ivy championship banner.

Adding to the festivities, Penn will hold a public reception adjoining the Palestra at 5:15 p.m. through 6 with some eats, speeches and alumni from last season in the room.

Penn has had success beating La Salle in recent seasons since the arrival of Mike McLaughlin and last year before the Quakers’ got geared up and ended the four-year Princeton domination of the league in the Tigers’ very own Jadwin Gym on the final day of the regular season, the big story was the near miss when Penn played three straight Big 5 games in January on the road.

A perennial doormat in the city, Penn fell just short at Saint Joseph’s and Villanova before beating Temple, which made it only the second time the Quakers won two Big Five games in the same season.

A threat to win the Ivy again, the game against La Salle will show how much of a factor locally Penn can be again this year – win or lose against the Explorers.
Speaking of Princeton, the Tigers in the other PhilahoopsW game on Wednesday’s card, which involves two of the Guru’s locals, hosts Drexel, which won its season opener at home Sunday against Cornell of the Ivy League.

Meanwhile, back here, as can be expected, Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin was pleased over her team’s bounce back from Friday and in the Temple game while Owls coach Tonya Cardoza was dismayed at one that got away, though one could see a potentially bright future ahead for the Broad Street contingent.

“What a great game, what a great Big 5 city game in November, couldn’t get better than this – an overtime game – of course, winning is always fun,” Griffin said in the postgame press conference.

“We were kind of fighting from behind in the first half and then we came back at the end of the first half and we showed what we were made of and we were able to hold on throughout the second half,” Griffin said.

“There were a lot of ebbs and flows and (the Hawks) fought and fought and they believed.”

Before Temple jumped to The American last season, this game would be much later in the season and also counting in the Atlantic 10 standings with a second game also played since the teams were scheduling partners in the old A-10 setup.

Now that pairing is between Saint Joseph’s and La Salle.

Sarah Fairbanks had a big night for Saint Joseph’s with a career-high 23 points and 13 rebounds while Ciara Andrews and Kathleen Fitzpatrick each scored 14 points and Ashley Robinson scored 11.

Senior leader Natasha Cloud had to cope with foul trouble and scored just nine points but made some critical baskets with the game on the line.

“I think for us, we rely on our grit and our resiliency. Today was a good team win because we came together at the end because we wanted it more,” Cloud said.

Temple was in solid control at 28-17 with 6 minutes, three seconds left in the half before the Hawks stirred with a 15-0 run before Safiya Martin plugged the Owls’ drought with a layup with 41 seconds left in the half.

Andrews then hit a layup for Saint Joseph’s while freshman guard Alliya Butts nailed a trey with seven seconds left and the Hawks went to the break with a 34-33 lead.

In the second half, Saint Joseph’s was up by eight 59-51 with 5:29 left in regulation and then Temple surged with a 5-0 spurt and went on to take the lead 63-62 with with 50 seconds left, though Martin missed her other foul shot opportunity.

Andrews hit a layup but Butts went 1-2 from the line with 22 seconds left and the Hawks were unable to win at the finish before regulation expired.

Freshman Tanaya Atkinson tied it for Temple with a layup 68-68 in overtime with 2:59 left but then Fairbanks made a three-point play for the Hawks.

Feyonda Fitzgerald, the reigning Big 5 women’s player of the week, got Temple with a point on two free throws and then the teams exchanged points on two Cloud foul shots and a jump shot by Butts to make it 73-72 with 1:53 left.

Cloud scored for a three-point lead with 28 seconds left and Temple countered on Fitzgerald’s shot with 20 seconds left.

Fitzpatrick hit two foul shots, Butts then missed a 3-point attempt, and Jordan Strode hit one of two foul shooting opportunities for the Hawks with six seconds left for the game’s final points.

“We felt like this is one we let slip away,” Cardoza said. “You don’t come into someone’s home court and have them on the ropes and let them get back in the game.

“In the first half, we’re up by double figures and we have their best player (Cloud) on the bench with fouls and I felt we just got careless and reckless and didn’t take advantage of our opportunities.

“And then of the defensive end they just exploited that we’re a small team. They’re smart and know how to pick someone to focus on. More importantly, what we take from this game is that when we show up for practice and that we’re disciplined and pay attention on the defensive end.”

Butts had a career-high 22 points in her second career game for the Owls, while Fitzgerald scored 18 points, Atkinson scored 17 points and Martin had 10 points and 14 rebounds.

Temple travels to Kansas this weekend to play three straight games Friday-Saturday-Sunday in the Naismith Hall of Fame tourney against Georgetown, the host Jayhawks, and then Alabama.

“We’re going to just worry about our next game and not look ahead,” Cardoza said.

The Owls finish the Hall of Fame event the following weekend playing Harvard at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut, the home of The American tournament. They are back on Broad Street, February 3 against Delaware.

Saint Joseph’s travels to Liberty Saturday and then visits Drexel on Tuesday and then travels to Seton Hall’s tourney meeting Saint Francis of New York on Saturday and then either St. Peter’s coached by Griffin’s former Loyola, Md., boss, Pat Coyle, or the host Pirates.

The Hawks return to Hagan against Lehigh Dec. 4.

Rutgers Tops Northeastern The Scarlet Knights produced an array of double digits in the 74-60 win over the Huskies (1-1) in a game that saw Rutgers bolt from a 10-point halftime lead into double that over the final 20 minutes.

Sophomore Tyler Scaife had 15 points, while double double performances consisted of Betnijah Laney with 14 points and 13 rebounds and Briyona Canty with 12 points and 10 assists for the home team.

Additionally, Kahleah Copper and Rachel Hollivay each scored 10 points.

Tiffany Montagne led the Northeastern attack with 22 points.

Rutgers now wades into competitive waters on the road visiting LSU on Saturday in Baton Rouge, La.

Niagara Team Rescued

Here is the front part of Doug Feinberg’s AP Story After Staying on the Case for us throughout the night.

Stranded on the highway for more than a day, the Niagara women's basketball team is finally making its journey home.

The team was stuck on its bus for nearly 30 hours because of a huge storm that dumped 4 feet of snow around Buffalo and was blamed for at least six deaths.

Niagara was coming back late Monday night from a loss at Pittsburgh when the squad was marooned on the New York State Thruway. Early on Wednesday morning, players at last tweeted photos of a plow starting to clear the road.

A few hours later, state troopers picked them up and brought them to a nearby police station where another bus was waiting to take them back to campus, Niagara guard Tiffany Corselli said.

"It started to get bad fast at about 2 a.m. (Tuesday morning) and we came to a dead stop and haven't moved since," Niagara coach Kendra Faustin told The Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday night. "It was a rough weekend for us on the court and it just won't end."

The coach, who took over at Niagara in 2007, said everyone was OK and the team was in good spirits. Players had been running low on food, but local officials dropped off snacks and drinks. There were 25 players and coaches aboard the bus as well as Faustin's 1-year-old son.

"We have snacks, some granola bars and pretzels," Faustin said. "We found six bottles of water and have been rationing it. We thought we'd be here for a couple hours and a couple of hours turned into 12 hours. It's now 24 hours."

Before the supplies arrived, the team actually turned some of the snow into water. Faustin described snow drifts higher than 6 feet that covered cars. Other motorists came aboard the bus seeking shelter and bonded with the team.

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