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.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Guru's AP WBB History: Combo Coaching and Playing For Top 25 Teams

                                         (Played for and Coached Ranked Teams)


1. Katie Abrahamson-Henderson    Missouri St. Georgia/Iowa
2. Cheryl Burnett         Missouri.St. Kansas
3. Amanda Butler%                         Florida                                        Florida
4. Nikki Caldwell                             UCLA                                       Tennessee
5. Tonya Cardoza                              Temple                                      Virginia
6. Pokey Chatman%          LSU       LSU
7. Cynthia Cooper-Dyke%                 Southern Cal                             Southern Cal
8. June Daugherty        Boise St./Washington Ohio St.
9. Nell Fortner         Purdue/Auburn     Texas
10. Susie Gardner         Arkansas             Georgia
11. Michelle Clark-Heard% Western Kentucky Western Kenbtucky
12. MaChelle Joseph                          Georgia Tech                              Purdue
13. Linda Lappe%                               Colorado                                      Colorado  
14. Wendy Larry%         Old Dominion Old Dominion
15. Joanne P. McCallie         Michigan St./Duke         Northwestern
16. Kathy McConnell-Miller              Colorado                                     Virginia
17. Muffet McGraw          Notre Dame             St. Joseph’s
18. Katie Meier                                 Miami                                         Duke
19. Cheryl Miller%         Southern Cal             Southern Cal
20. Kim Mulkey         Baylor  Louisiana Tech
21. Mary Murphy         Wisconsin             Northwestern
22. Kathy Olivier         UCLA   UNLV
23. Carolyn Peck         Purdue/Florida                           Vanderbilt7
24. Laurie Pirtle         Cincinnati              Ohio St.
25. Jennifer Rizzotti                        Hartford                                       Connecticut
26. Carol Ross%         Florida/Mississippi Mississippi
27. Bev Smith%          Oregon                         Oregon
28. Dawn Staley                      Temple/South Carolina Virginia
28. Jan Ternyik      San Francisco Montclair St.
30. Charli Turner Thorne          Arizona St. Stanford
31. Amy Tucker*                    Stanford Ohio St.
32. Holly Warlick%                            Tennessee                      Tennessee
33. Coquese Washington                    Penn State                      Notre Dame
34. Terri Williams-Flournoy            Georgetown/Auburn                  Penn State

     *-Filled in for Tara VanDerveer in 1995-96
    %-Ten played and coached at same ranked school.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Guru's Overniter: Temple Upsets No. 22 South Florida And Looks to End NCAA Six-Year Drought

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

It’s time for Temple to go up in the attic and dust off those dancing shoes that have been stored away since 2011.

Remove the word “bubble” and replace it with the word “lock.”

The Owls, trolling American Athletic Conference waters in Tampa Sunday afternoon, snatched victory from the jaws of defeat to upset No. 22 South Florida 77-71 and become a prime contender for one of the 32 at-large invitations to the NCAA women’s tournament.

Temple (21-5, 11-2 American), seeking revenge for a game that got away in the first meeting with the Bulls (21-6, 9-4) last month at home in Philadelphia, seemed ready for another one of those heartbreak setbacks off the past when control of much of the game and a 13-point lead vaporized into a 67-64 USF advantage with 2 minutes, 43 seconds left in regulation time.

But then Feyonda Fitzgerald and Donnaizha Fountain launched another of their game-changer acts, combining to outscore USF 13-4 over an ensuing two-minute stretch to land Temple the victory and a two-game bulge over the Bulls in second place with three games left on the schedule.

The bad news is the Owls now head Wednesday to a probably fired-up Connecticut squad over escaping Tulane Saturday night from having the Green Wave stop the meter on the Huskies’ NCAA-record win streak at exactly 100.

The good news is that USF will host UConn Monday meaning whatever happens next to Temple short of doing Tulane four points better will be a wash.

So ironically, the Owls can clinch the spot the American coaches forecast for them in the fall by beating Cincinnati and Temple coach Tonya Cardoza’s good friend Jamelle Elliott Saturday afternoon in McGonigle Hall.

USF and Temple are probably not through with each other. Barring upsets, the two teams are likely to meet in the semifinals of the American tournament next month at the Mohegan Sun near New London, Conn.

But that means not having to deal with UConn until whoever gets to the title game.

Temple, which drifted into the USA Today coaches poll at No. 25 last week, picked the right day to take care of business.

A bunch of teams in the Associated Press women’s (media) poll took hits making it likely that the Owls could be among the Top 25 for the first time since 2006 in the grandmama of all the polls when the new rankings are released early Monday afternoon.

USF is the second ranked team Temple has beaten this season, having upset Big East frontrunner DePaul in McGonigle Hall in September.

The last times the Owls beat a ranked team on the road was on a neutral court over Purdue in November 2007 and Rutgers of the old Big East on the Scarlet Knights’ court in 2006.

Prior to Sunday’s win, Temple’s RPI was in the low 20s, one of the best ever for the program.

Last month the Owls also achieved a lingering goal of recent seasons, sweeping their way 4-0 to the Philadelphia Big 5 title.

As for the final stats Sunday, Fitzgerald finished with 23 points and seven assists while Donnaizha, who hails from Cardoza’s hometown of Roxbury, Mass., had 22 points and five rebounds.

Alliya Butts scored 13 points and Tanaya Atkinson had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

USF, which was coming off another upset loss at home earlier in the week by Central Florida, was led by Maria Jespersen, who had 26 points and 11 rebounds while Kitija Lacksa had 14 points and Tamara Henshaw and Ariadna Pujol scored 10 each.

Villanova Takes Another Overtime Thriller

Following Friday night’s double overtime victory against Xavier at home in the Pavilion, the Wildcats had to put some more extra minutes in play Sunday afternoon before emerging from the Pavilion with a 61-58 win in overtime against Butler.

The Big East triumph got Villanova (16-11, 11-5 Big East) a sweep of the visitors and the previous one in Indianapolis also went into overtime.

The Wildcats are now tied with Marquette for third and the Warriors (20-7, 11-5) made things interesting Sunday upsetting No. 17 DePaul 96-81 at home in Milwaukee, forcing the Blue Demons (22-6, 14-2) into a first-place tie with Creighton (20-6, 14-2), which beat St. John’s 67-60 at home.

Marquette hosts Georgetown Friday night while Villanova visits DePaul. Given the Wildcats are underdogs in that game, if the Hoyas knock off the Warriors, Villanova finishes up at Marquette Sunday and can get third on a head-to-head win.

But being third is now murky since it is unknown until next weekend who is in that semifinal bracket – Creighton or DePaul.

As for Sunday’s game on the Main Line against Butler (5-22, 2-14), both teams had several chances to win in regulation

With the score tied 58-58 with 1:55 in the overtime remaining, the teams went scoreless a stretch before Alex Louin hit two foul shots with 34 seconds for a two-point lead.

Butler missed a shot on its next possession and Louin was fouled getting the rebound and made 1-of-2 from the line for a 61-58 lead with 8.7 seconds left.

The visitors took a time out and then advanced the ball to the front court.

Taylor Buford missed a game-winning three-pointer and Villanova’s Kelly Jekot was fouled with 3.6 seconds left.

Jekot missed both attempts and then Burford tried to knock one down from 35 feet out but it missed and Villanova had the win heading into Friday’s game at DePaul.

Jannah Tucker had 14 points for the Wildcats while Louin had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Jekot and Mary Gedaka each scored nine.

La Salle Wins at Massachusetts

The Explorers kept their postseason hopes alive with 57-52 win at Massachusetts in Amherst that gave La Salle a home game in this weekend’s conference tournament openers before the event the following weekend moves to Richmond, Va., for the quarter, semi, and championship finals at the Richmond Coliseum.

Fordham upset first-place Dayton at home on senior day and heads to La Salle (16-11, 9-6 A-10) Wednesday so the close of the regular season just got a little more interesting.

As for the Explorers’ action at the Mullins Center, they got a sweep of the Minutewomen (9-19, 3-12) with freshman Sofi Ngwafang scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.

Anemone Scheel had a career-high 13 points and Lisa Mintzer matched her career high with 10 points.

Amy Griffin did not score her normally high amount of points but did dish seven assists, tying a career high while Jasmine Alston had nine rebounds and seven assists.

Maggie Mulligan had 18 points for the host Minutewomen.

Saint Louis, George Washington and Dayton are now tied for first with one game remaining while Saint Joseph’s is fourth hosting George Mason Tuesday as the favorite in the season finale.

If they lose and Fordham wins at La Salle there is a tie and since the Hawks and Rams split, best win comes into play but best win is unknown until the top determines which has the Number 1 designation, etc.

Fordham would win out for fourth over the Hawks if Dayton became the best win while Saint Joseph’s does have a win over St. Louis. If La Salle beats Fordham, the Explorers get the fifth seed and cannot finish worst than sixth.

National Results: Day of Upsets

There were big crowds and a lot of upsets among the ranking set Sunday.

We’ve already talked about No. 17 DePaul, No. 22 South Florida, and Mike Siroky in his SEC report addressed No. 6 South Carolina shocked at the finish 62-60 at Missouri and No. 3 Mississippi holding off soon to be dispatched No. 23 Texas A&M 72-67 on the road.

Michigan State ruined No. 20 Michigan 86-60 and the Wolverines’ big day and 12,000 crowd in Crisler, while unranked Wake Forest on the road in nearby Raleigh took down No. 15 N.C. State 89-77.

Not an upset but in the Atlantic Coast Conference when somebody had to lose, No. 13 Duke handled visiting No. 16 Miami 83-70.

No. 7 Notre Dame in the ACC slipped past No. 21 Syracuse 85-80 in upstate New York where a crowd of 11,021 was a record for the host Orange.

The Irish, whose coach Muffet McGraw is again a finalist for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, are alone in first in the ACC trying for their fourth straight regular season title since joining the conference.

Syracuse advanced to the Women’s Final Four last season.

In the West, No. 9 Washington in the Pac-12 held off host Southern Cal 87-74 in Los Angeles at the Galen Center as Kelsey Plum, the nation’s leading scorer, collected 35 points and is now second in NCAA career history with 3,315 points to move ahead of former Baylor star Brittney Griner.

Though Kansas’ Lynette Woodard scored more in the AIAW era that preceded the NCAA, the top position held by Missouri State’s Jackie Stiles with 3,393 points is just 78 points ahead of Plum.

And that’s the wrap.

Drexel Finishes Delaware Sweep In Overtime To Claim CAA 3rd Seed

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – When it comes to Drexel’s longest rivalry in Delaware and vice versa for the Blue Hens, the label “storied,” is certainly applicable.

They’ve had classics first in their days up north in the America East and several other pre AEC configurations and the two schools didn’t lose that tradition once they moved to the Colonial Athletic Association.

Each has had a marquee star dominate and help win dramatic confrontations in Drexel’s Gabriela Marginean followed by Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne.

And the great thing is the long-standing friendship between Delaware coach Tina Martin and Drexel coach Denise Dillon who only suspend it during the two 40-minutes their teams battle each other and sometimes another 40 in the CAA tournament with titles on the line.

On Sunday afternoon in the second meeting of the season they had to keep a halt a few minutes beyond those parameters after a jump shot from Delaware’s Hannah Jardine with 13 seconds left in regulation sent the game tied 44-44 into overtime here at the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center.

What Drexel didn’t achieve in shooting from the field in overtime, the Dragons more than compensated over the extra five minutes at the line as freshman Bailey Greenberg, Sarah Curran, Kelsi Lidge, and Jessica Pellechio combined to shoot 7-for-8 on attempted free throws to give the Dragons a 53-49 victory and a clinch of third seed in next month’s CAA tournament at James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va.

Erika Brown had all five of the Blue Hens’ points in the extra period off an old fashioned three-point play and a layup.

Delaware (14-12, 8-7 CAA), which has lost four of the Blue Hens’ last five, held its two-game lead in fourth place despite the loss, since William & Mary and Charleston lost to the front-running duo of Elon and James Madison.

“We found a way to win today, that’s what it came down to,” Dillon said afterwards. “It definitely wasn’t one of our pretty games.

“A month or so back we would have ended up losing, so I was pleased with the effort in the second half to pick it up on defense. I thought Jess played a pretty good game. That was nice. I thought she was under control but other than that it was piece by piece to put some pieces together and figure it out.”

Typical of most games in the series, the action featured nine ties and nine lead changes.

“Down there we had a great first half,” Dillon said of the season sweep by Drexel (20-6, 11-4), “but it still became a 10-point game.”

Drexel won that game 54-44 at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark after holding a 39-22 lead at the half.

“Then here you knew they would make adjustments and they did. I hoped we would make some outside shots to start just to get the floor open.

“It’s all about how you finish and controlling your own destiny. We couldn’t give this one away, even though we weren’t playing well.”

It's the first time in six seasons Drexel has won a game extended to an extra period after losing six straight overtime encounters.

It’s also the sixth time and fourth under Dillon that the Dragons have reached the 20-win mark on the season. It’s the fourth they reached 20 before conference tourney action and they have three games left to tie or pass the regular season program record of 21 triumphs.

Pellechio was the only Drexel player scoring in double figures with 23 points while Brown had 21 for Delaware and Nicole Enabosi grabbed 11 rebounds.

“We had opportunities but we didn’t capitalize when we needed to,” Delaware’s Martin said. “We had shots and layups that just didn’t convert. It’s frustrating, but I’m proud of this team’s effort.

“We’re playing extremely hard and it’s disappointing not to finish this one out. We definitely didn’t lose because of lack of effort. This was a great game and it’s a shame someone had to lose.

Drexel, two games behind CAA co-leaders James Madison and Elon, hosts JMU Friday night at 7, which is also senior night before finishing on the road at Hofstra and William & Mary.

The Dragons likely would land a home game opener if they are part of the WNIT field but until a CAA tourney winner is claimed, they remain through that route in the hunt for the NCAA field, but are likely out of the mix for an at-large slot.

Delaware hosts Elon Friday night so both the Blue Hens and Dragons that night can affect the top of the standings in playing the conference co-leaders. Delaware finishes at College of Charleston and hosting Towson.

As for the CAA co-leaders, tied record-wise in first place, Elon at home beat William & Mary 70-57 while James Madison won at Charleston 84-78.

Drexel has lost both Elon games and one James Madison game so it is not likely, barring upset losses by the leaders, that over the closing stretch that the Dragons can finish higher than third, though in the race at the top, in a potential CAA semifinal Elon might be the better deal.

James Madison swept Elon during the season.

In the James Madison game at Charleston, key foul shots down the stretch gained the win for the Dukes (20-6, 13-2 CAA), who have won eight straight.

JMU nearly squandered an 18-point lead that existed before the break.

Though ineffective from the field the final 6:01 of the game, the Dukes went 13-for-16 on foul shooting attempts.

Precious Hall had 25 points while Amber Porter scored 18 for JMU, Lexi Barrier scored 16, and Tasia Butler scored 11 in the game at TD Arena in South Carolina.

Charleston fell to 9-17 overall and 6-9 in the CAA.

In the Elon game, the Phoenix under former North Carolina star Charlotte Smith, reached an overall mark of 21-6, the best ever in the program in which a 20-win total was reached in 2011 before Smith was hired.

“I didn’t know how we would come out today on Senior Day,” Smith said, “but it’s kind of surreal to see it all come full circle for the seniors.”

Jenifer Rhodes scored 11 point, Essence Baucom scored 10, Shay Burnett scored 11, ans Malaya Johnson scored 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Bianca Boggs scored 13 for William & Mary (16-10, 6-9).

By the way before the final seeding for the tournament, as a fallout from Charleston discovering it had used a men’s ball most of the season, William and Mary will gain one win and erase one loss in the CAA as will UNCW while Charleston will have two more losses and two less wins.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Mike Siroky's SEC Report: Gamecocks' Loss Yields New Big Dogs in SEC

By Mike Siroky
As we are almost done with the regular season, little mystery remains for the Southeastern Conference of women’s basketball.

It seems evident Mississippi State will win the conference regular season title, by staying unbeaten at home, a conference reality for three seasons.

They match South Carolina with only one road loss.

The top four get a double-bye in the conference tournament.

South Carolina started the ratings week by being the designated loser to UConn’s magnificent 100-game winning run.

It makes the conference 144-40 against America leading into the NCAA elimination games. But SC looked baffled at Missouri and also lost the unbeaten on the road thing, falling into second place.
No. 3 Mississippi State

The Bulldogs set their highest ever ranking, all but assured of a top seed in the NCAAs. 

The three teams already at 25 wins, with the best chance at chance at 30, lead the Associated Press parade. All the other top teams have at least 20 wins. 

State has 51 straight weeks in the AP poll, the seventh-longest active streak in the nation. 

The Bulldogs also have a program best 15th consecutive weeks in the Top 20 and 11th in the Top 5. Every win is a school record, overall and in conference.

The final game of the conference tournament will be interesting as either State or South Carolina are likely to lose in that title game for the SEC title recognized by the NCAA seeding committee.

That means the other will be the rare No. 1 seed awarded such as an at-large bid. No other conference has this strength.

It showed in a very competitive game this ratings week.

 Mississippi State started so slowly against Georgia, with the almost always deadly first quarter, six points. Thirteen percent from the floor is a program record you don’t want to have. And at home. The 5,431 in attendance were stunned.
They started the second quarter with three straight misses and a turnover. Now shooting 11 percent, the score was an electrifying 17-8. Four State starters combined for zero points.

They dug in and cut the lead to two at halftime. The bench – Teaira McCowan and Katera Chapel -- bailed out the starters with nine and five points. They were 5-of-8 from the floor; the starters were 1-of-17.

There was still no energy in the third quarter. They needed a bailout.

They got it in a 19-7 fourth, returning the single-digit defensive stand and thus avoiding the jinx their ownselves and defending the only undefeated home court.

 They were outrebounded and outshot and had 16 turnovers. McCowan and Chapel had a steady 14 each. McCowan had three blocks.

Years from now we will only remember State won by nine, as expected, vs. Georgia, 5-8 in conference.

 If there is an eighth SEC team in the eliminations it will be one with a losing conference record.

 Georgia, 14-13 overall is playing the best of those.

“God presents challenges for us every day and we will give Him the glory for victory No. 26 and try to grow from it,” coach Vic Schaefer said. “This team is not immune to off games. They have bad days in practice.

 “You give credit to Georgia. I am proud of our toughness down the stretch.

“We were fortunate and lucky to win. We allowed seven points in the fourth quarter and that was important. These kids made some real plays down the stretch.”  

At newly ranked Texas A&M, the third-place team in conference, it was also a struggle. The home team in this series had won the past four confrontations.

The State coaches had an advantage of knowing South Carolina had already lost before they closed the Sunday games.

McCowan was in early. She had half the points in a 12-11 opening quarter. Vivians was 0-fer. A&M was 31 percent from the floor.

It was 30-30 at half, each side winning a quarter by one. A&M coach Gary Blair puts an emphasis on the endgame, saying every SEC game should come down to the last minute. He was right again.
By the middle of third, Vivians warmed up to 11. 

But Okorie, McCowan and point guard William each had three fouls in a one-point game. A&M had three in double figures and no foul trouble.

So here came Blair’s fourth, the home team five up.

“You go in and make the junkyard plays, Blair said. “If you gotta get to the line, do it. If we get to the one and one we’re back in it.

“One play, one stop at a time. No turnovers. You have zero this half.”

It did not work out. For the second straight game, Mississippi State looked like champions and won the fourth quarter, this time 22-12 for a 72-67 win.

Vivians had 25 in the final three quarters, 10-of-11 from the line. 

In case anyone doubted, McCowan can play, with the double/double on the road, 16 points and 11 rebounds. No one fouled out.

They were down seven with 8:43 left. After a rebound scramble, William fed Blair Schaefer for a 3.

A&M scored, but Vivians had an answering drive for a layup. The Aggies hit a 3, but Vivians drove and scored again.

Enough of this trading baskets, William stole it back They fouled Vivians and she was automatic. 

Another A&M 3 and it was still a six-point edge.

McCowan claimed a defensive rebound. With five minutes left, Vivians rebounded and was fouled. Two more free throws.

William stole another. In the next sequence, Chapel got a rebound. State missed again but caused another turnover and Vivians hit a jumper.

Three minutes to go. McCowan had another defensive board.

 Jazzmun Holmes kicked it back to Chapel for a 3 and the visitors were up by one. Chapel had two other 3s all season.

Timeout at the two minute mark.

Khaalia Hillsman  made a layup to take back the lead. Holmes fed McCowan for a jumper.

Vivians got the rebound off a miss. Holmes fed McCowan again, her third assist within three minutes and her only assists of the game. The visitors were up by three. Each side used a timeout.

The shortest player on the court, 5-5 William, got the rebound off a miss, got it to Vivians and she was fouled. It was her third feed in the closing minutes.

Vivians’ free throws sealed it. The 5,243 in attendance had seen a wonderful show. The Aggies hit a school record 7-of-7 3s.

“Every time we would make a run tonight they would answer right back,” Blair said.
“Then before the first half ended, we let Danni (Williams) commit a foul on a 3. I put Jasmine (Lumpkin) in to not give up the right-hand drive and Vivians runs right by her. You can’t give them five free points. 

“When we got up seven, Vivians wanted the ball down the stretch and Vivians beat us with her right hand in that fourth quarter. 

“This was just like guarding (Mercedes) Russell of Tennessee. You have to contest shots and get the rebounds when they miss or at least make it harder on them.”

He took the loss personally.

“I went back and told my kids that effort was great but I’m not in this thing for moral victories. We were up seven and we are supposed to win that game at home. We ran the wrong play on the last two possessions. 

“That’s my job in those end of game situations. Mississippi State played with a lot of poise and this was a great game for national TV. We are trying to hold on to our standing in the SEC.

“We are going to have to play better against South Carolina, they are even more polished than Mississippi State. 

“I don’t know if South Carolina can play as hard as them, though. You don’t get very many opportunities to play two Top 5 teams at home. Hopefully, the fans will be back Thursday night because this was a hell of an effort.” 

Of Vivians, he said, “Great scorers look for their next points, not their next shot. She’s not a shooter, she’s a scorer. She made the baskets that counted and that’s why she’s first team All-SEC. 

“She’s just a hard player to defend and we work on taking away the right-hand drive away all week. When you give that up, it makes you think what are we doing as coaches after all we do to prepare for that all week. This was a ballgame we should have won, and that's on me.”

“It was a heck of a basketball game,” Schaefer said. “You hate that someone had to come out on the losing end.

 “I'm very proud of my kids. It was a game of runs. There were a lot of runs. We just happened to get the last run. There was no bigger shot in Ketara's career than the one she made in front of our bench.

“We have kids who embrace wanting to be in the moment. Teaira was phenomenal. She has been on a tear here of late.”

At the end . .. “We were switching everything. We went through that play yesterday where the two can’t beat you. I’ve always had a lot of confidence in my half-court defense. Much rather give up the basket and put the faith on my defense. I thought we really contested the shot well. 

“Both teams played so hard today and I’m proud of my kids. They‘ve done it all year. It was a great atmosphere for college basketball, it got loud and it got rowdy and I thought the key was we were able to respond to all the runs.”

 Vivians said, “We been down in plenty of games.  ‘Coach told us to come out there and defend and make shots. We were done, ‘coach said, ‘They can’t guard you, so be more aggressive.’ So I did. They did not want to foul. When I see them on their heels, I go for it.

“Defense is our key. We stop them from scoring and then we go ahead an score.”

They retain their national ranking and prospects for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA eliminations. They can check off the 5-for-5 finish.

They are now favored to take the regular-season title. They can win at not-deep and very tired Kentucky, then launch an unprecedented party in StarkVegas when Tennessee comes to close the season.

They can earn 29 wins before the SEC tournament.

The Bulldogs close as spoilers at Kentucky’s senior night then have their own Senior Day against Tennessee.

Last season, Mississippi State defeated Tennessee for the first time in program history. This season, they have another record opportunity to defeat them twice.

If they win out, Schaefer can gain his 200th as State coach in the quarterfinals of the league tournament.

If not for the Georgia game, this would be heady stuff for the big dogs of the toughest conference in the nation.
No. 6 South Carolina

Will SC fall as a No. 6 losing at No. 1? 

Certainly also losing at an unranked team makes their proposed No. 1 seed in the eliminations shaky. They can recover with the automatic bid by winning the league tournament.

The Gamecocks failed to shake off the competitive loss at UConn, losing two of three for the only time this season. That was the immediate challenge for coach Dawn Staley.

Surely women’s college basketball is beyond needing to interrupt conference seasons just for a TV game.

You risk an injury in a game which means nothing in your primary goal of winning your league.

You risk an artificial high if you win and an equally meaningless low when you lose.

 OK, so now you know under game conditions what it means to play UConn but you can’t see them again until the fourth game of a five-game title run, if you both survive, to the national semifinals.

So it was back to business, with a terrible Vanderbilt team at home then onto an inspired Missouri team which earned a second straight NCAA bid, fifth in conference and assured of 20 wins.

The Gamecocks ended the Vanderbilt threat early, allowing a six-point first quarter. One again, no competitive SEC team has had a single-digit quarter and survived.

Before the 44-25 half, the guards got a workout as Kaela Davis had 13. 

A’ja Wilson was content to rebound, with seven. She and fellow-forward Alaina Coates were each a basket away from 10 points. Vandy was hitting 27 percent from the floor and had 13 turnovers.

This is not what lured Vandy coach Stephanie White from the WNBA, yet the team is still better than last year’s edition and that year’s coach is now director of coaching analytics in Columbia.
It spun into the 31-point win. Four of five starters in double figures.

 South Carolina had likely won the conference. Everybody knows their role. All they have to do is hit their averages. No drama. 

The best attendance for the women’s game in America hit again, 13,089.

“We have a 24-hour rule,” said Staley. “Twenty-four hour to celebrate or 24 hours to sulk. Either way, we put it behind us.

“If you live in the past, it will come back to bite you where you don’t want to be  bitten.”

She said they do not take anyone in the league lightly.

“You get back on the pony and we do what we do,” she said.

“We got up and down the floor, we shared the ball and we just competed. We didn’t do anything different. Our guards attacked well. Kaela Davis just used all of her skills.

“She took it upon herself to impose her will, driving to the basket, taking outside shots. We need more of that. Now we gotta get Allisha Gray going. She has been concentrating too much on defense. I like seeing her process all of this. But I’d like to see her elevate the other areas of her game.

“Everyone wants to feel the ball. Everyone wants to feel like they’re gonna contribute.”

The crush almost continued at Missouri. But they stumbled late.

Wilson tried to carry them. Late in the third quarter Coates had one basket on one shot and Wilson was 6-of-7 from the field, 2-of-3 at the line in a game featuring half of SC’s usual offensive output. Maybe everyone is giving into the grind. Gray took her coach’s advice and had scored 13.

Winning every quarter but hitting 40 percent from the field, they were tied at 44. They fell behind on free throws – and Coates’ fourth foul – with six minutes to go. Coates fouled out. 

Mizzou would win the final quarter by six.

It was up to Wilson. She hit two. She scored 23.

 Diminutive Sophie Cunningham – Mizzou’s best – grabbed a rebound, laid it in and was fouled. 

She missed the crucial free throw. She is an 84 percent free throw shooter.

But Davis steamrolled into a defender with 24 seconds left. Mizzou earned possession and worked for a late shot.

Who else but Cunningham, recovering an errant pass and driving right up the gut for a winning layup, giving her 26 points. SC could not get a shot off.

Missouri won rebounds by six, shattering for the moment the SC title defense. They drew a respectable 5,789.

“They packed it in in us,” said Staley. “If the other team is gonna get calls in the paint then my big girls need some of that too.

“That’s not me calling out officials. I am just calling what I see. My big girls have gotta be as protected as other players.

“We turned the ball over and let them have extra possessions. I think we fouled too much and let them back in.

“They stayed in it. The crowd got them engaged. It was a game of runs.

“This is life in the SEC. It’s what we signed up for. If you can’t get up for the SEC, you are probably playing the wrong sport.”

Amazingly, the Gamecocks are 1-2 to start their final five games.

Missouri used a very weak pre-conference season (though they did lose against a tiny extension school IUPUI) to get 10 wins.

 They have two winnable conference games left to get to 21 and reserve a second NCAA invitation at 10-5 in conference, winning the final five games. They are alone in fifth.

SC could punish Texas A&M on the road and then monitor Mississippi State. 

This underlines why A&M will not win 20 in the regular season, with both the top teams during the closeout games.

The Gamecock’s emphatic season ends at home against Kentucky. SC does not have to leave the state to win the automatic bid, as the league tournament is at Greenville.

SC will need one conference tournament win to tie last season’s seniors with 121 wins in their four years, with more post-season games left.

Between the end of the season and that series, the league will award its season honors, with SC having two first-teamers.

If transfers qualified for rookie of the year they’d win that too. The first year big impact player is unmistakably Allisha Gray, a junior in class standing.

Alabama’s has had the freshman player of the week more than any other program.

Then again, Evelyn Akhator of UK has won more outright league Player of the Week honors – three --than anyone else and she will not be the Player of the Year. She has faded down the stretch.

The coach of the year should be Schaefer.

All you gotta  do is close out road wins.
No. 23 Texas A&M

A&M’s win at Tennessee returned them to the rankings in UT’s place and the inconsistent Lady Vols spun back into the revolving door, out but still getting the next-most votes in the league.

The Aggies spiraled back out with two losses and the league is left with two ranked teams.

Hillsman , who scored the winning points against UT, was selected SEC Player of the Week
Of course, A&M started its ranking week by losing by two at LSU. 

The Ben-Gals started their week losing at Vandy, the team with one conference win, cementing the idea no conference team will win three in one week this season.

A&M posted a 16-14 lead after one quarter, which is in itself an accomplishment.

 Hillsman already had 10. They were hitting 89 percent from the floor. LSU won the second quarter by seven and had a five-point edge.

Raigyne Moncrief led the upset with 23. They drew 1,926.

“I thought we were doing a good job when we were coming back in the second half, but we made a lot of uncharacteristic bad turnovers,” said Blair.

“We just didn't get the job done. I told the team before the game that this game was going to come down to the last minute, like so many other of our conference games."

The Ben-Gals can still win 20 with two winnable games to close its season 9-7 in the league, a definitive NCAA entrant again.

 A&M will not win 20, but are 9-5 in conference, alone in fourth. A&M has the tiebreaker after winning their third conference game of the season on the road

This final week, the Aggies have South Carolina at home on their Senior Night then the closeout at Ole Miss.

 They will be 2-3 in the final five which will impact their NCAA seeding.
Also Rans

No longer ranked Tennessee coach Holly Warlick does not have the depth of the top two in conference. 

They lost leading scorer and likely All-Conference performer Diamond DeShields to a stretcher removal during first quarter of the loss at woeful Alabama.

The Tide had lost five straight tries at win No. 16, a number they hadn’t seen this century, three coaches ago. They drew 2,221.

Tennessee is no doubt an NCAA entrant. Even if they are sent to UConn’s regional, all it means is it about time for the two pre-eminent programs in the history of women’s NCAA hoops to start playing each other again.

The business at hand was to return home for a third  1-1 week by defeating Arkansas for a 17th win, or just where they were last season, 8-6 in conference, sixth place. 

The Lady Vols were seventh in conference last season. They drew the best in the nation 10,613.
They won without DeShields. Even the sports information department was not advised of her status. 
She did dress out and participated in shootarounds before each half. Warlick said she is day-to-day.

Their final games are Senior Day vs. long-disappeared Florida and then the nice clash at Mississippi State. This likely means 18 wins once again in the regular season. Two marquee wins are the difference on this plateau.

 Losses at Ole Miss, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia are the embarrassments which define this team. 

UT has the 14th best RPI in America. SC is No. 3 and Mississippi State No. 4.

 The Lady Vols surpass teams ahead of them in league play, Kentucky (15) and A&M (16).

 Only LSU (24) is also in the RPI Top 25.
But the best they can hope for is 2-3 in their Final Five, seeded as an also-ran in the NCAA eliminations.
Kentucky won No. 18 at awful Arkansas and 19 at home vs. equally unspectacular Florida. 

That leaves Senior Night vs. Mississippi State and then the designated meat grinder at South Carolina’s finale and a 10-6 SEC finish.

 They are tied with A&M for fourth. 

Their first five games against weak competitors and still the lack of 20 wins is why they are not ranked. 

Coach Matthew Mitchell earned his 100th win as an SEC coach. They are likely 3-2 in their final five which will set their NCAA seeding.
If three more conference teams get into the NCAA eliminations, they are truly gift recipients because of the conference reputation. 

Alabama and Auburn are arguing with each other about a 10 seed, though neither will have a winning conference record. 

Guru's Overniter: UConn Escapes Upset While Penn Felled, St. Joe's Wins

(Guru note: This report compiled from team, wire, website reports and the Guru on the scene in New Haven)

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

The Green Wave of Tulane nearly became the tsunami that took down Connecticut’s heralded win streak Saturday night less than a week after the Huskies reached the magic number of 100 straight beating then No. 6 South Carolina Monday night back home on campus in Storrs.

Down in New Orleans, it was a league rival, no less, out of the American Athletic Conference in which the UConn women have yet to lose, that suddenly threatened in the final minute to post one of the great upsets in any season before the Huskies held on for a 63-60 triumph that became consecutive number 101 in the NCAA streak that became a new record when they reached 91 several weeks ago.

The Huskies are 76-0 in all conference regular season and tournament games in the league that was configured out of a chunk of the former old Big East.

UConn against Tulane was without Kia Nurse because of a sore ankle suffered in the win against the Gamecocks and she’s likely not to play when Temple visits Wednesday night.

Despite her absence, the other notables on Geno Auriemma’s squad ultimately came through with Napheesa Collier scoring 26 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, while Katie Lou Samnuelson did her own streak thing, scoring 15 straight in a second-half run before finishing with 17, and Gabby Williams had 14 rebounds.

With NBA All-Star activities going on elsewhere in the area, the UConn developed into the internet center of attention in a tight battle until the Huskies’ seasonal unbeaten marks were able to be updated to 26 overall and 13-0 in the American.

Tulane (16-11, 7-7) got 19 points from Kolby Morgan, while Leslie Vorpahl had 16 points, and Tene Thompson scored 14.

While Tulane among the mortals in the American is considered one of the better ones in the group, consider that Temple beat the Green Wave 86-71 at home last month and 76-50 two weeks ago in New Orleans.

“We played everybody and everybody gave us something, Green Wave coach Lisa Stockton said. “This team was focused and didn’t let anything get them down and they kept battling.”

Tulane got within a basket several times late in the game but couldn’t contain the Huskies but with four seconds left, the Green Wave got possession only for Thompson’s attempted trey to force overtime not go down.

They became the third team in the streak, all this season, to lose within 10 points joining Florida State, who fell at home 78-76 in the season opener and Maryland, whio lost at home 87-81 on Dec. 29.

"What happened today is the wrong team won," Auriemma said. "We had them down 17 and our guys are used to the other team maybe missing shots or struggling and this team decided to fight back. We had no business winning that game.”

Meanwhile, the conference appears to have backloaded its schedule leading up to next month’s tournament continuing at the Mohegan Sun, home of the WNBA Connecticut Sun, near New London, Connecticut.

Temple, in second place and which earned a No. 25 ranking last week in the USA Today Coaches Poll, is at Associated Press Poll No. 22 South Florida on Sunday trying to even the season series before visiting Connecticut on Wednesday night.

Tulane hosts USF Wednesday and UConn visits USF next Monday night.

Lobo, McGraw, Mulkey and Wayland Baptist Team Part of Naismith Hall of Fame Finalists

Besides being able to get out of New Orleans with another win, Auriemma got some good news earlier in the day when former Huskies star Rebecca Lobo was named one of the four women’s subcommittee nominees among the finalists for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

Inductees will be announced at the men’s final four in Phoenix, though considering who’s in the mix, some exploring is going as to whether if any of the women’s nominees reach induction, the announcement be made in Dallas as the women’s final four.

Lobo, who has been an ESPN analyst, was the mainstay of the original group of UConn players who were part of their first NCAA title in 1995. The All-American has ok’d being switched to contributor status as a way to have more weight with the honors committee considering her impact on the game off the court as well as on.

Notre Dame coach Muffett McGraw, a former St. Joseph’s star, was a finalists last year and thee was much surprise she didn’t past muster with former WNBA, collegiate and Olympic star Sheryl Swoopes.

Kim Mulkey was actually on the list separately as a former star at Louisiana Tech and in the Olympics besides being a coach of Baylor’s national powerhouse for which she was submitted.

Both Notre Dame and Baylor are contenders to reach the Women’s Final Four in Dallas, while Lobo will be doing broadcasting duties for ESPN.

The Wayland Baptist Team that was a finalist a year ago and actually as an AAU competitor won more in a row than UConn was re-submitted again. Last year was the first the women’s subcommittee was allowed to increase entries from two to four, in part, to recognize the growing list of WNBA stars becoming eligible in retirement.

The Ivy Race Takes a Turn

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Well, in the previous Ivy-only post the discussion of suspense that was avoided when Penn began the weekend escaping up at Brown in Providence, R.I., has been injected after what happened here at Yale and over at Cornell.

The defending champion Quakers, still holding first, were upset by Yale 61-48 at the Bulldogs’ John J. Lee Ampitheater while Cornell took down visiting Harvard 57-52 in Ithaca, N.Y.,  snapping a 18-game losing streak to the Crimson, and Princeton won it’s seventh straight in the league, winning at Brown 81-75 to avenge last month’s loss to the Bears in Jadwin Gym that put the Tigers starting out at 0-2 in league play.

In the other game that had little impact, Columbia made it a season sweep of Dartmouth, winning 69-48 at Levien Gym at home in New York after taking the first game in New Hampshire in historic four overtimes.

The outcomes would have a different feel in the former setup where the season champion becomes the NCAA automatic qualifier.

But with the new four-team tourneys for men and women at The Palestra next month on Penn’s campus, the upper teams are still in good shape though the seed race narrowed.

The Quakers (15-7, 8-1 Ivy), becoming the last of the league unbeatens to fall and having an overall 12-game Ivy win streak snapped, are still on top, but Princeton (13-9, 7-2) moved past Harvard (19-4, 7-3) into third place.

Had Penn won, the Quakers would have virtually wrapped up a berth and would be three games ahead of the third-place Crimson and two ahead of the Tigers.

Cornell (14-9, 5-5) with the win got new life moving into a tie with Brown (14-9, 5-5).

As the Ivy schedule closes out Penn must still play Princeton, Harvard and Cornell among its last five while likewise Princeton playing Penn and the other two in the same set.

As for the game here, Yale (12-11, 3-7), which many thought might be one of the tourney contenders, opened a seven-point lead in the first period before the Quakers got to within two at 12-10 after the first 10 minutes elapsed.

The two teams played even into halftime at 30-30. Then Yale built a seven point lead in the third and were never overtaken the rest of the way though Penn was contending until the final minutes.

There were five ties and 14 lead changes in the contest.

In many ways, Penn looked more like the team that struggled early in the season. Princess Aghayere, who had become a factor, was held to two points off the bench.

Sydney Stipanovich provided the one bright note for the visitors, with her one block she became the all time career leader in Ivy history with 306 while she scored 12 points and had six rebounds. Michelle Nwokedi had another double double with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

The Quakers committed 19 turnovers which Yale used to outscore them 18-9 in points off transition.

Jen Berkowitz had 26 points for Yale while Mary Ann Santucci scored 15.

I’m proud of the kids and the way they played tonight,” said Yale coach Allison Guth. “Hopefully, this is the game that turns the corner. Mike (McLaughlin) has done a great job and they’re going to go a long way.”

Last week when the Penn coach was discussing the new tourney when the Quakers were at Columbia and the toughness of the league, it sounded like sooner or later he felt his team might take a hit.

So if it was to be, for the moment, it wasn’t such a terrible thing for it to happen Saturday night.

Meanwhile at Brown, the Tigers of Princeton completed another weekend sweep with the 81-75 win at the Pizzitola Sports Center.

Leslie Robinson scored 17 points, while freshman Bella Alarie had 12 points and 10 rebounds to go with three blocks and two steals. Gabrielle Rush had 15 points, fueled by four three pointers coming off the bench while Taylor Brown had 14 points.

Justine Gaziano had 24 points for Brown and Shayna Mehta scored 21.

Princeton grabbed 13 steals.

The Tigers on Friday host Columbia while Penn hosts Cornell and then the two visitors switch sites on Saturday.

Princeton has swept 43 of the last 47 Ivy two-game weekends.

Cornell got new life and endangered Harvard’s fight for a good seed with the win by the Big Red in Newman Arena.

Samantha Widmann had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Cornell in gaining her first double double. Nicholle Aston had 13 points, of which 10 came in the first half, while Nia Marshall scored 11 and Megan LeDuc scored 10.

Katie Benzan had 16 points for Harvard and Madeline Raster scored 13 while Destiny Nunley scored 12.

Though Cornell got a life out of the weekend, the Big Red now go head-on into Penn and Princeton while Harvard will have Brown in its weekend mix next time around.

The Crimson in the Cornell series were held to their lowest point total since 1982-83.

 The Big Red senior class has 57 triumphs, winningest in program history.

In the Columbia win, the Lions shot a season-high 53 percent while Camille Zimmerman had 20 points and Tori Oliver scored 11.

With the Lions starting next weekend at Princeton, it will be Columbia first-year coach Megan Griffith’s first return to the Tigers campus since returning to her alma mater in New York after a long stint as an assistant on Courtney Banghart’s staff.

Saint Joseph’s Keeps Streaking

The Hawks won their third straight beating Davidson 69-54 at home in Hagan Arena on senior day to gain a key Atlantic 10 victory and clinch fourth place for the tournament, which begins next weekend.

Alyssa Monaghan had 21 points, matching her career for Saint Joseph’s (14-13, 11-4 Atlantic 10) while Adashia Franklyn had 12 points, 10 rebounds, and blocked three shots; Amanda Fioravanti, one of the outgoing seniors along with Jaryn Garner, Mackenzie Rule, and Jazmin Horne, had 10 points while Chelsea Woods scored 11.

Justine Lyon had 23 for Davidson (6-21, 4-11).

The Hawks stay at home to finish up Tuesday night hosting George Mason at 7 p.m. and will be hosting a first-round Atlantic 10 game Saturday or Sunday.

Rutgers Takes Another Loss

The Scarlet Knights fell 53-41 in a Big Ten game at Wisconsin in Madison at the Kohl Center as Avyanna Young scored 14 points and Cayla McMorris had 10 for the winning Badgers (7-20, 2-12).

Shrita Parker had 16 points for Rutgers (6-21, 3-11) and Victoria Harris scored 11.

Rutgers next heads Northwestern Thursday before hosting Ohio State Sunday in the regular season finale.

Texas Upset

In the other national game of note, the No. 8 Longhorns got caught in a trap game of sorts, losing on the road to No. 19 Oklahoma 74-73 in a Big 12 game in Norman with a wild finish.

Peyton Little hit a three-pointer from the corner with two seconds left and Nancy Mulkey, no relation to Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, hit a free throw for the deciding point.

The Longhorns had won 19 straight and now must host No. 4 Baylor Monday night in a tie for the conference lead rather than a game ahead.

Little had 15 points for the Sooners (21-6, 12-3 Big 12) while Vionise Pierre-Louis had 21 points. Gabbi Ortiz scored 14 points and Gioya Carter scored 10.

Texas hit a three at the buzzer for the final points.

Mulkey stole the ball and was fouled.  

Brooke McCarty had 16 points for Texas (21-5, 14-1)  in a game that had 16 lead changes.

Looking Ahead

Repeating from the previous post, the big game among the locals has Temple, as mentioned, at No. 22 South Florida trying to build a two-game lead for second in the American rather than settling for a tie.

Drexel hosts Delaware, two games ahead of the Blue Hens in third place in the Colonial Athletic Association. The game at the Daskalakis Athletic Center is at 3 p.m.

Villanova hosts Butler on senior day at 2 p.m. In a key Big East game for the Wildcats.

La Salle, in sixth place in the Atlantic 10, visits Massachusetts needing to win ahead of Wednesday’s visit from Fordham in the home and season finale.

A bunch of ranked teams within conferences play.

In the Atlantic Coast, No. 14 Louisville hosts North Carolina, while No. 13 Duke hosts No. 16 Miami, No. 15 North Carolina State hosts Wake Forest, and No. 21 Syracuse hosts No. 7 Notre Dame.

In the Big East, a key game in which No. 17 DePaul, the conference leader, visits Marquette.

In the Pac-12, No. 18 UCLA hosts Washington State, No. 11 Oregon State visits Utah, No. 9 Washington visits Southern Cal, and No. 10 Stanford hosts Cal in the Bay Area war, part two for this week.

Other national games of note, have No, 20 Michigan hosting Michigan State in the Big 10, No. 25 Drake visiting Loyola of Illinois in the Missouri Valley, while in the Southeastern Conference, No. 3 Mississippi State visits No. 23 Texas A&M, and No. 6 South Carolina visits Missouri.



Saturday, February 18, 2017

Guru's Overniter: Drexel Youth Carries Dragons Over Towson

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

In a switch, the Drexel freshmen sealed the deal Friday night in the Colonial Athletic Association and when the trio of Aubree Brown, Bailey Greenberg and Ana Ferariu finished dominating the last two quarters or second half, take your pick, the Dragons had themselves an 80-65 victory at Towson.

They also had stronger control of third place, courtesy of Delaware losing at Northeastern in Boston, opening up a two-game lead that could grow to three Sunday afternoon since the Blue Hens are heading for part two in the local rivalry, visiting the Dragons at 3 p.m. In the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

James Madison, with a 70-59 win at UNCW moved a half-game in front of idle Elon in terms of first place in the CAA, but the Dukes are already holding a projected number seed in next month’s conference tourney they will host since they swept the season series with the Phoenix.

Drexel (19-6, 10-4 CAA) is two games behind the leaders but having been swept by Elon and already losing one at JMU, third place is the likely seed, though perhaps Elon might be the lesser of two evils in a projected semifinal game in the conference tourney.

As for Friday’s action, the three rookie amigos collectively had 31 of Drexel’s 44 points at SECU Arena in suburban Baltimore as the Dragons have now beaten Towson (11-14, 4-10) for a string of 17 straight times.

Sarah Curran, an elder on the roster as a senior Dragon, had 19 points, but Brown had a career-high 14 for her rookie season, Ferariu scored 15, and Greenberg had seven. Meghan Creighton scored 10 points.

The game was a homecoming for Sarah Woods, who six points, two rebounds, two steals, and a pair of assists.

Kelsi Lidge, who has been on the sidelines with a wrist injury suffered in the James Madison game on Jan. 27, had two points, a rebound and an assist in ten minutes of play returning to active duty.

Meanwhile, Delaware had trouble scoring again, losing to Northeastern 50-41 in Boston.

Makeda Nicholas had a career-high six blocked shots go for naught, all of which were also the Blue Hens’ total. She finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Erika Brown had 11 points for Delaware (14-11, 8-6), which fell two games off the pace from third place Drexel, heading into Sunday’s local visit to the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Claudia Ortiz had 14 points for Northeastern (9-17, 5-9), while Jess Genco had 10 points.

“The decision-making wasn’t at the level that it’s been the last few games and we really made some questionable shot choices,” said veteran Delaware coach Tina Martin. “You have to hand it to Northeastern, they made big shots when they needed to and their guards really hurt us in transition.”

Delaware shot just 7.7 percent off 1-for-13 in the third quarter.

Sunday’s game at Drexel will be on the American Sports Network and in Philaadelphia on Comcast SportsNet.

Meanwhile, as Elon stood at rest, James Madison, the defending champs and preseason favorites, continued to roll, winning 70-59 at UNCW in North Carolina.

The Dukes (19-6, 12-2 CAA) were checked off elected quickly in this one, bursting to an 11-0 lead at the outset.

Precious Hall continued to do her thing, scoring 29 points while Amber Porter and Lexi Barrier each scored 10.

Believe it or not, JMU makes just its first meeting with Charleston, Sunday, playing on the road.

Time Out:  It’s Naismith BHOF’s Turn to Announce Finalists

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., will be making its annual announcement of the induction finalists at NBA All-Star Weekend, of whom the honors committee will decide who earns entry and the winners will be announced at the men’s final four, though there is a movement to have the winners if any out of the women’s committee to be announced a day or two early in Dallas at the women’s final four.

The announcement will be carried at 11 a.m.

Considering who is in the mix among the women’s finalists to the subcommittee, if they are voted out, which will be known Saturday, some may have to be in Dallas anyway.

With Sheryl Swoopes inducted in September off the expanded allowance of four from two candidates, it will be interesting to see who has been moved forward.

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw could be expected to be sent up again since there was much surprised she wasn’t elected last time around.

Other people who were under consideration with Guru’s odds in parenthesis

Marianne Stanley as a coach (50-50)
Harley Redin as a coach (30-70) only because has lost out in honors several times
Barbara Stevens as a coach (40-60) – local consideration to Mass. Coaching Bentley
Pearl Moore (55-45) – as a player past great from yesteryear
Jennifer Azzi (50-50) – as a player depends how fares to others and how ABL years factor
Susie McConnell (50-50) – Olympic great and college great out of Penn State
Theresa Grentz (50-50) – as a player only. Was face of the game in her time at Immaculata
Theresa Weatherspoon (60-40) – Was La Tech, Olympic, and WNBA great

Kim Mulkey (70-30) – Didn’t come out last year but with Swoopes elected, chance to be moved into the mix as a coach. Less likely as a Louisiana Tech star.

Leta Andrews (50-50) – Was finalist in 2016  and strong credentials as h.s. coach in Texas.

Rebecca Lobo (65-35) – Just the Guru’s opinion on odds and electability. Could have easier time in honors than did in subcommittee. Depends if total impact on game considered.

Wayland Baptist (55-45) – Was moved last year. Could try again since hold all-time streak and in light of the UConn attention, might get some reflection.

Still Time Out: The MAAC Race

Quinnipiac defeated Iona to get back into a tie for first with Rider in the MAAC race. The Broncs are idle until hosting Monmouth Tuesday night but could clinch at least the two seed with a win, which would put them in good shape for a shot at the WNIT if they don’t win the NCAA automatic qualifier.

Time In: The Wild West Pac-12 Resumes as UCLA Beats Washington

Just three ranked teams played Friday night, two games in the Pac-12 with the big story, No. 18 UCLA upset No. 9 Washington 90-79 at home in Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.

Jordin Canada, who didn’t practice all week rehabbing an injury and who didn’t start, came off the bench to score 22 points for the Bruins (19-7, 10-5 Pac-12) .

“I thought they were very efficient without her, but then she took it to another level when she came in,” said Washington coach Mike Neighbors. “She was in total command.”

Monique Billings had 19 points and Nicole Kornet scored 15.

Kelsey Plum of the visiting Huskies, who leads the nation in scoring, poured 39 points while Chantel Osahor had another double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Plum is now three points behind all-time NCAA runnerup Brittney Griner, the former Baylor star, who finished with 3,283 points, while Plum has 3, 280.

The all-time NCAA leader is Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Jackie Stiles of Missouri State, who finished with 3,393 points, which is 113, though Kansas’ Lynette Woodard had more playing in the AIAW  just before the onset of the NCAA.

The Bruins’ win stopped a four-game streak by Washington (24-4, 12-3), which advanced to the Women’s Final Four last season.

Meanwhile, No. 11 Oregon State escaped a near-upset from host Colorado in Boulder, hanging on to a 54-49 win as Sydney Wiese scored 14 points and  Kolbie Orum scored 10 for the Beavers (24-3, 13-2 Pac-12).

Colorado fell to 4-12 overall and 4-11 in the conference.

Drake, which is not in the Pac-12, but the Missouri Valley Conference, returned to the AP Poll for the first time since 2001 this week and was the only other ranked team in action Friday.

The Bulldogs won their 14th straight, beating host Indiana State, 64-45, in Terre Haute as Brenni Rose had four three-pointers and scored 14 points.

Back in the Pac-12, Arizona upset in-state rival Arizona State, 62-58, depriving the Sun Devils a chance to return to the rankings after falling out on Monday. Oregon, which has been hot lately, won at Utah 73-61, while Southern Cal won easy over visiting Washington State, 80-64.

Looking Ahead

You got the Ivy lineup for the locals and rest of the conference in the Guru’s separate post, but in the Atlantic 10, one big one Saturday afternoon.

Saint Joseph’s hosts Davidson  at 2 p.m. and the game will air on the A-10 network. It’s senior day for the Hawks (13-13, 10-4) at Hagan Arena but with a win and a Fordham loss at home Sunday to Dayton, they could nail down fourth for this month’s tournament, which starts next weekend on home courts before moving on to Richmond, Va., the following weekend for the quarterfinals thru championships.

Theoretically, they could move into a three-way tie for second if George Washington lost to visiting George Mason and Saint Louis lost to visiting Richmond, but probably couldn’t move up in that mix.

They might, however, if just Saint Loses, which puts them in third on a tie-break.

La Salle goes to Massachusetts Sunday and if Fordham loses to Dayton, the Explorers could be in position to move into fifth.

In the Big Ten Saturday, Rutgers is at Wisconsin, while in the Patriot League, Lafayette travels to Lehigh.

Connecticut, in its first game since winning 100 straight on Monday night, visits Tulane in New Orleans going for win No. 101.

On Sunday, Temple is at nationally-ranked South Florida trying to expand a one-game lead in second to two and virtually clinching second place.

In a big national game Monday night, Baylor goes to Texas in the Big 12 seeking to avenge a recent loss in Waco to the Longhorns.

And that’s the wrap.

Guru's Ivy Overniter-1: Penn Rally Over Brown Keeps Quakers Safe in First

By Mel Greenberg @womhoops

If it was earlier this season, Penn might have gone down for the count at Brown Friday night and new suspense would have been injected into the Ivy League race.

If it was last season, the countdown would be under way with magic numbers on the horizon as the Quakers shoot for another crown to add to their recent collection.

But this is the new world – one of which the Ivies are no different than the other 31 conferences in holding tournaments that send their winners with automatic entries to the NCAA tournament.

 In the instance of the Ancient Eight, however, only four will qualify in the men’s and women’s competition for next month’s inaugural event at Penn’s Palestra.

So dispense with the past and focus on the now and the first order of business – getting to the field.

Thanks to a tremendous comeback from a 16-point deficit in Providence to stay unbeaten in league play with a 71-68 win over the Bears and two games in front in the loss column of Harvard and Princeton, the first order of business can be achieved Saturday night with a win at Yale and if Cornell loses at home to Harvard.

In fact, the Big Red are the only team behind the first four that has a half-decent mathematical shot at forcing its way into the mix but that discussion will clarify more here following the outcome of Saturday’s action.

So for the moment, let’s look at Friday’s results, since Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said last week in New York talking about the new tourney that one thing that doesn’t change is valuing each game for a win.

And actually, the top seed will still be called the Ivy champion.

The outcome, dating to last season, was Penn’s 12th straight in the league and in sending Brown (14-8, 5-4 Ivy) to defeat, it stopped the Bears in fourth place from putting a little more distance from Cornell (13-9, 4-5), which beat Dartmouth 72-57, putting the Big Green on the verge of elimination.

In completing a sweep of Brown, which on the front end was much easier at the Palestra, Penn (15-6, 8-0)  thrived on a 45-33 advantage on the boards and 32-18 in the paint to win the game.

Center Sydney Stipanovich, who needed two blocks to become the all-time Ivy career in that department, picked up one to tie the 305 rejections registered in the Ivy books by Columbia’s Kathy Gilbert in 1991.

Michelle Nwokedi picked up her eighth double double on the season with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Anna Ross had 15 points, four assists, two steals and four rebounds.

That Stipanovich did not play during much of the rally is not a good thing for the league already trying to stop the Quakers from repeating because it means a large chunk of the Penn of the near future triggered the comeback.

Brown had a hot first period from the field, shooting 11-for-15, until things slowed down in the next quarter and Penn grabbed the chisel and began chipping into the deficit.

The Quakers got to within three but settled at six down when halftime arrived.

Nwokedi then scored the first eight points of the third and after a few lead changes Penn’s 20-12 scoring enabled the Quakers to head to the last stanza with a 53-51 lead.

Brown, which meets a Princeton team Saturday night that it upset last month at Jadwin Gym, stayed in contention.

 However, a three-point play, not shot, from Ross gave Penn a 69-68 lead with 1 minute, 27 seconds left in the game.

Then Kasey Chambers controlled the action in the backcourt and hit two foul shots for the final score and on to a happy bus ride down I-95 to New Haven, Conn., and Saturday’s action, tipping at 6 p.m.

Meanwhile, on the scene at Yale Friday night, Princeton made it six straight following the Tigers’ 0-2 start in the league, putting a strong fourth quarter on the Bulldogs to post a 69-47 triumph at the John J. Lee Ampitheater.

Taylor Brown and Bella Alarie each scored 13 points for the Tigers (12-9, 6-2 Ivy), who are a half-game behind Harvard (19-3, 7-2), which again had to hold off Columbia (12-10, 2-7), this time 58-55 in the Lion’s Levien Gym in New York.

Princeton took a 49-38 lead on Yale into the final quarter and outscored the Bulldogs 20-9 over the final 10 minutes to put Yale (11-11, 2-7) on the verge of elimination from tournament contention.

Roxy Barahman led Yale with 10 points.

Princeton will try to avenge its loss to Brown when the game tips in Providence at 3:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, it was another thriller with Harvard and Columbia, which may not show in the won-loss record but on the court definite progress under Megan Griffith, the new coach and former Princeton assistant to Courtney Banghart.

Columbia fell behind early by 12 just as the Lions dug a hole up at Harvard last time they met following Columbia’s win at Dartmouth in four overtimes the previous evening.

Against the Crimson, the Lions were down eight with under three minutes in regulation and moved within one with 19 seconds left after a pair of foul shots from Tori Oliver.

Columbia fouled, got possession of the ball, but then traveled and sent the Crimson to the line, with no other option. Harvard misses the second shot, but Camille Zimmerman was unable to connect and force an extra period.

“We have to start the fight, be fighters, and put the gloves on at the beginning of the game,” Columbia’s Griffith said. “Defensively, we’re really focused and engaged. As soon as we can get both sides of the ball working for us, I think we’ll be a fun program to watch.”

Zimmerman, a contender for Ivy player of the year, had 28 points and 12 rebounds for Columbia while Destiny Nunley, another contender, had 20 points off 8-for-16 from the floor for the Crimson and Katie Benzan scored 12.

Ivy Standings

Team   W.L.     W.L.     G.B.

Penn 15-6 8-0 –
Harvard 19-3, 7-2 --  1.5
Princeton 12-9 6-2 – 2.0
Brown 14-8 5-4 – 3.5
Cornell 13-9 4-5 – 4.5
Columbia 12-10 2-7 – 6.5
Yale 11-11 2-7 – 6.5
Dartmouth 6-16 1-8 – 7.5

Tournament Also Rans

Team W-L. G.B.  G.L.
Cornell 4-5 1.0 5
Columbia 2-7 3.0 5
Yale 2-7 3.0. 5
Dartmouth 1-8 4.0 5


Hahn's Career Night Leads Villanova Over Xavier in Double Overtime

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Bowl eligible.

That’s not the terminology used on the women’s collegiate basketball circuit.

However, in a parallel universe similar to their football counterparts, that’s what the Wildcats achieved Friday night here at home in the Pavilion with a gritty, gut-checking Big East 76-71 triumph over Xavier in double overtime as Adrianna Hahn hit a career-high 33 points.

Hahn single-handedly beat the Musketeers in the second period scoring all 11 of Villanova's points.

 The victory clinched a plus .500 won-loss record on the season to be eligible for at-large consideration in the 64-team WNIT, which attempts to take the best of Division I that did not land in the NCAA field.

“I know, that’s why this game was very important,” veteran Villanova coach Harry Perretta said after Hahn rescued the Wildcats (15-11, 10-5 Big East).

Winning here on Senior Day, when Butler visits Sunday, is also imperative considering the last two games on the pre-conference tournament schedule are at front-running DePaul and at Marquette, the team Villanova is chasing for third seed with a chance to catch the Warriors.

But Perretta wasn’t about to tell his players the significance beforehand.

Why get them extra jittery?

Furthermore, one had to be confident in the wake of the previous game played against the Musketeers (11-15, 3-12) in Cincinnati and won 72-47 on Jan. 28.

"I don't get too excited over it,” Perretta said of Friday's thriller. “It’s great for the team, it gives them confidence. It was just a great win.”

Furthermore, until eliminated from the hunt to land an NCAA automatic bid or at-large status, that’s where the focus is, according to Hahn.

"It would be cool to go to the WNIT, but we really want to reach for that NCAA because it hadn’t happened in a while and I think with the team we have, with this talent, we can definitely get there.”

Villanova is in fourth place but just a game behind Marquette, which plays front-running DePaul, the only nationally-ranked Big East team, Sunday and, then hosts Villanova in two of the Warriors’ last three games.

But the Wildcats will have to play at DePaul in Chicago next Friday and likely, unless someone helps in the Big East tourney at Marquette, knock out the Blue Demons and win the event to earn an automatic bid as the only path likely to the Big Dance.

Villanova is also only a game in front of St. John’s, but swept the Red Storm during the season and has momentum now winning four straight and 11 of 14 since 2017 arrived.

As for the game, it was a wild one with eight ties and eight lead changes and heroines stepping up on both sides throughout.

Hahn shot 7-for-21 from the field, including 7-for-14 on three-point attempts, and was also 6-for-8 from the line.

Alex Louin, who played all but one of the entire 50 minutes, had a double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and connected on three of the Wildcat’s season-high 15 treys, as did Megan Quinn, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds, while Samantha Wilkes grabbed 10 rebounds.

Villanova, known for its ball control, committed just five turnovers.

Raeshaun Gaffney had 16 points and 12 rebounds for Xavier while Kindell Fincher had 14 points, as did Marquia Turner.

  The extra 10 minutes matched a previous double overtime game, also a Wildcats win, as the longest two women’s games ever played at the Pavilion, though Villanova has played in similar games on the road in its history.

“It was one of those games, to be honest with you, we were just lucky,” Perretta said. “We missed four layups, which would have put us down one, instead we get a kick-out three, which tied the game.”

Hahn hit that shot with 15 seconds left in regulation and then took a charge.

“And the next time, we’re down two and run our panic-2 play and Alex gets to the hoop and they don’t want to foul and we get the game in double overtime,” Perretta replayed the action.

“And then Adrianna takes over in the double overtime. She’s been playing phenomenal. She’s been shooting the ball phenomenal. We have to get offense from our other players.”

In the second overtime, Xavier took a two-point lead, then Hahn, a graduate of Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, Del.,, got Villanova ahead with a trey.

Then both sides missed shots until Hahn was fouled and knocked down both free throws to make it 70-67 with 1:31 left in the second overtime.

Gaffney, on the ensuing Xavier possession, missed both foul shots, and then with 59 seconds left Hahn broke the game open with a trey for a six-point Wildcats lead.

Xavier got two back with a basket and then Hahn was fouled and when Musketeers coach Brian Neal had a comment or two to the official, a technical was assessed.

Hahn was 1-for-2 shooting the penalty and then hit the two she was entitled to for a seven-point lead with 19 seconds left.

Turner scored but failed to connect on the and-one for the final scoring for the game.

“It was tough,” Hahn said of the action. “It was very nerve-wracking because we would score, then they would come back, then we were down, so we just really made a lot of clutch shots and it just shows how much we built throughout the season because I bet if it had happened earlier, we probably would have lost the game and not even had overtime chances.

“So we just came together, we didn’t give up, Harry kept us motivated, our whole team, so we just stayed in it.”

As for her own game, Hahn said,

“I just kept shooting the ball, I was confident in my own shot. I missed a couple. I had a space of time where I was missing three or four in a row, so I just had to keep shooting.

“My defense in the beginning was pretty tough, the girl I was guarding was really quick, so I just had to stay low and play tough on her, she was pretty good.”

Hahn liked her trey that forced the overtime. “I thought she was going to tip it. I didn’t know if I was going to get it off in time. It was clutch. But then I turned around the charge on defense, so it was pretty cool.”

As for her own special show in the second overtime, Hahn related, “Once we were up three and I knocked down that three that put us up six, then I was really like, `Ok, we got this. It’s not going to go into a third overtime,’ but it was a pretty good feeling.

“Right now, we put ourselves in a pretty good position. So we need to win on Sunday and at least one more next weekend to get third place. Tonight we played well, we played tough, but we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that situation.”


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Guru's Overniter: Opening Burst Sends Temple Past SMU to 20th Win; St. Joe's Stays Hot

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – Temple took care of business early against SMU Wednesday night and then allowed the Mustangs to do some roaming with their superior height but not run wild the remaining three periods in a 66-52 triumph in the American Athletic Conference.

The outcome made 20 become 7 as Temple (20-5, 10-2AAC) reached a 20-victory or more win total for the seventh time in Owls’ coach Tony Cardoza’s nine seasons running the program.

It was act as a national power night for the home team in McGonigle Hall.

Just 24 hours earlier, Temple was made No. 25 in the USA Today coaches’ poll, the first ranking appearance for the Owls in either the coaches’ or Associated Press weekly media votes since 2006 when Candice Dupree was the headliner under Dawn Staley.

Cardoza, however, has her own marquee performer in senior Feyonda Fitzgerald, who has had a nice supporting cast at the moment living up to the second-place forecast the American Coaches placed on Temple back in the fall.

The point guard product of Norfolk, Va., who is on several national watch lists for player or guard of the year, had 17 points, dealt six assists and grabbed five steals while shooting 7-for-14 from the field, including 3-for-7 on three-point attempts.

Donnaizha Fountain, who hails from Cardoza’s hometown of Roxbury, Mass., did her two-way threat again for the second straight night, this time collecting a game-high 19 points and grabbing 12 rebounds while blocking two shots and also tossing a trio of 3-pointers.

Alliya Butts, the the all-time Temple leader in treys, only had one and scored just seven points but still dealt five assists and grabbed three steals.

Tanaya Atkinson scored 12 off the bench and Ruth Sherrill had a game-high 13 rebounds while dealing two assists and blocking three shots.

SMU (13-12, 4-8) arrived here fresh off becoming Connecticut consecutive victim number 99 in Storrs on Saturday and in the first 10 minutes, the Mustangs could have felt they were still in Gampel on the Huskies’ campus.

Temple may not have shot very well but the Owls ripped off 12 points before SMU got its first score and basket with 2 minutes, 25 seconds left in the period and then the Mustangs were swamped 7-2 the rest of the quarter to make it 19-4 before the visitors could get their bearings.

In the first period, the Owls did not commit a turnover nor a foul and only had seven turnovers the rest of the way while, defensively, refused to allow an opponent trey for the second time this season with SMU making only two attempts.

“Being able to get out in transition is key for us,” Cardoza said of the explosive start. “Obviously, they’re really big, they can score inside, so they started taking advantage of their low post game and got out in transition, but I just felt we found ways to increase the lead.”

In the first half, Temple threw a shutout in points off turnovers, 7-0, before SMU came back to win the category by one 11-10, though moot by then.

“That was really important,” Cardoza said of the statistic after two periods, “because that’s how we get our energy by getting stops and then getting out in transition, and then everyone is touching the basketball.

“We really do thrive off of that and when we’re not doing it, we’re a little stagnant. So we’re always harping on it, trying to get stops and get out and run and it just so happens, they were scoring and we let them set up in their defense.”

Dai’ja Thomas had 18 points for SMU while Stephanie Collins and McKenzie Adams each scored 10 for the visitors.

As for getting her first ranking with Temple, Fitzgerald said, “This really means a lot. This is what we’ve been waiting for the whole time, but to know the hard work has paid off and being noticed is great but, like coach says, we’re not going to stop here.

“Just because we’re ranked … now we have to make sure we’re going to keep going and do what we have to do each and every day as a team so we can compete.”

Meanwhile, thanks to Central Florida’s road upset of South Florida on Tuesday in Tampa and the Owls’ win here, Temple is a game ahead of the Bulls in second but just ahead is part two of the pseudo Bermuda Triangle the conference set up on the schedule.

The Owls head to USF Sunday at 1 p.m. and then on to Connecticut next Wednesday and Storrs where Temple will likely become UConn consecutive victim No. 102. They then finish up the regular season hosting Cincinnati and visiting UCF.

Obviously, a win at South Florida and then getting Ws out of the last two games and the early rounds of next month’s tournament at Mohegan near New London, Conn., would lock up an at-large bid to end the recent drought of absences from the NCAA tourney.

So what does it take Sunday to get that key win?

“Just making shots,” Cardoza said. “I mean, what did we lose by here last time, four points (55-51)? So just making shots. And obviously we will have to play defense.”

Saint Joseph’s Wins While La Salle Loses in Atlantic 10 Action

The Hawks continued to shine down the stretch in pursuit of a good seed position in the Atlantic 10 tournament next month in Richmond by visiting the city ahead of time Wednesday night, beating Virginia Commonwealth 80-70 while La Salle missed a golden opportunity at home in Tom Gola Arena, losing to St. Louis 79-74.

It was the last time on the road in the regular season for Saint Joseph’s and the Hawks enjoyed the trip by shooting over 70 percent in the third period to put distance between themselves and the host Rams (13-14, 6-8 A-10) in the Siegel Center.

The Hawks had their big quarter coming out of a 33-33 tie at the half and at last reached .500 and a chance to get WNIT eligible for an at-large bid.

 They are also 10-4 in the conference and since the horrendous low point of 2-11 in early January, they have been on an 11-2 run that could be at least one better in that stretch, having lost at first-place Dayton in overtime.

Adashia Franklyn had a double double with 19 points and 10 rebounds while teammate Sarah Veilleux got her first one, likewise, with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

The Hawks were .500 on three-point attempts, shooting 9-for-18 and also were 15-for-19 on the foul line.

Chelsea Woods was also in double figures with 10 points and Alyssa Monaghan scored 16 while Mackenzie Rule tied her career best with nine points as the visitors gained a sweep in the season series.

Karen Robinson led two other teammates in double figures with 19 points.

Celebrating senior day Saturday, the Hawks will host Davidson at 1 p.m. and then George Mason next Tuesday.

Saint Joseph’s is alone in fourth, two games behind first-place Dayton (18-8, 12-2) and one behind the second place duo of Saint Louis (21-6, 11-3) and George Washington (18-8, 11-3).

The top two teams get byes and the next six will host first-round games the weekend of Feb. 25-26 before the remainder of the tournament moves to the Richmond Coliseum the following weekend.

The Hawks must win one of their last two or Fordham lose one to finish fourth and there is an outside chance they could land in third.

La Salle (15-11, 8-6), meanwhile is alone in sixth, one game ahead of Duquesne (14-13, 7-7) and Richmond (13-14, 7-7) after Wednesday night.

The Explorers, who finish up at Massachusetts Sunday and hosting Fordham next Wednesday, have lost to Duquesne and beaten Richmond in terms of head-to-head tiebreakers in the final standings.

If they finish in a tie with Fordham for a spot, the outcome of their head-to-head will decide the tiebreak while if they were to tie Saint Joseph’s, they would lose on the Hawks’ 2-0 sweep of them..

In Wednesday’s game, two La Salle stars had season highs – Amy Griffin with 26 points and Jasmine Alston had 17 -- while Adreanna Miller had 15, but La Salle was unable to overtake the Billikins down the stretch.

There were five lead changes in the middle of the final period before Jordyn Frantz of the visitors hit a pair of free throws for a 67-66 lead with 4 minutes, 11 seconds left in the game.

Sadie Stipanovich, who is a cousin of Penn senior star Sydney Stipanovich, had 28 points and eight rebounds for Saint Louis, who had been the preseason favorite in the A-10 coaches poll.

Rutgers Topped by Purdue in Big Ten Showdown of Defenses

The host Scarlet Knights lost out in a conference battle at home 55-42 to the visiting Boilermakers (16-11, 7-6 Big Ten), who got 19 points from Ashley Morrissette while Dominique Oden scored 10 points and Ae’Rianna Harris grabbed 14 rebounds.

Shrita Parker got 11 points for Rutgers (6-20, 3-10) while Desiree Keeling had eight points and eight rebounds.

The two teams battled to a 9-9 tie after the opening period and then the Boilermakers at 15-11 over the halfway mark of the next period began to pull away and never trailed though Rutgers was back within one on the next possession off a Aliyah Jeune three-pointer.

The Scarlet Knights head to Wisconsin Saturday for a noon tip, then head to Northwestern Thursday before returning to host Ohio State the following Sunday, Feb. 26.

Purdue is alone in sixth by a half-game at the moment while Rutgers is tied with Illinois for 11th but in 12th off a head-to-head loss.

Looking Ahead

None of the locals are playing Thursday but on Friday and Saturday, Penn and Princeton are back on the road in the Ivy race over the halfway spot as they head to lower New England.

On Friday, the defending champion Quakers of Penn are at Brown with a two-game lead and the only team unbeaten in the league race for the four spots in the new tournament that will be at The Palestra next month.
Brown is holding the fourth spot at the moment with a two-game lead on Cornell, which will need the Bears to get swept and themselves beat visiting Dartmouth and Harvard to get into contention.

Princeton, a half-game behind Harvard, opens at Yale and then Saturday to Brown, which upset the Tigers in Jadwin last month. Penn will close its trip Saturday in New Haven. Both games are on front ends of doubleheaders with the men, a setup caused by rearrangements to accommodate the tournament.

Yale cannot afford to get swept and actually needs to sweep the Ivy southerners and get help to avoid being virtually eliminated after many expected the Bulldogs back in the preseason to be one of the four in the tourney field.

Villanova, trying to enhance its WNIT at-large possibilities as a backup or standings slot in the Big East, on Friday will host Xavier at 7:30 p.m. and then will host Butler Sunday at 1 p.m.

Drexel visits Towson while Delaware visits Northeastern, Friday, both games at 7 p.m., and then Sunday it’s part two of the Colonial Athletic Association border war with the Blue Hens coming to town here at 2 p.m., a game right now behind the third-place Dragons, who will host in their Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Speaking of border wars, on Saturday, Lafayette is at Lehigh at 2 p.m. in the Patriot League.

UConn is a Tulane Saturday night going for win No. 101.

The other games have been mentioned for Saturday.

The Sunday action has also been mentioned in the preceding narrative.

So that’s the wrap.