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.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Guru Report: No. 22 Villanova Stays Unbeaten and Takes Lead in Big Five Edging Temple 69-65

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — The feeling was always there on the recruiting trail when the rumors started.

If Harry Perretta was going to get the kid from Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, the multi-Delaware state player of the year, to come to Villanova, look for the Wildcats to attain rankings and get back in the national spotlight.

Wait a minute, you say. That player has been off playing in the WNBA as one of the pro league’s top stars for the last several years.

Wrong. Not talking about that Ursuline star player from Delaware.

The Guru’s talking about Adrianna Hahn, the Wildcats’ top scorer who has helped lead Villanova to a No. 22 ranking, the first Associated Poll appearance in 13 seasons, and a 9-0 start, matching the program’s best since 1979-80.

“It’s cool, last year (Temple) beat us by 30 so we just wanted to come out here and get revenge on them,” Hahn said after scoring 19 points to top three other teammates scoring in double figures leading Villanova to a narrow 69-65 victory in a Women’s Big Five game Sunday afternoon at the Owls’ McGonigle Hall.

The win makes Villanova (9-0, 2-0 Big Five) as the only unbeaten left in City Series competition while the defending City Champs Owls (7-3 overall) fell to 2-1 with just Penn left next month on the local schedule.

Oddly, a week ago Hahn had just two points in the Wildcats’ all-time rout in their series with Saint Joseph’s, but since had 21 against Fairfield on the road Wednesday and the 19 Sunday.

“It’s funny, but that’s just how basketball works sometimes,” said Hahn, a junior who was the Big Five rookie of the year in her initial season with the ‘Cats. “We came out here with intensity. We’re on a run. We’re work hard and play hard and that just brings more things.

“I’ve never been on a ranked team before, a lot of the girls haven’t, so just being recognized like that is just a great recognition. It’s awesome.”

Alex Louin had 15 points, Megan Quinn scored 12, and Jannah Tucker scored 10. Villanova shot 9-for-25 on three-pointers, while Temple was 4-for-20.

The Owls got another stellar performance from Tanaya Atkinson with 24 points and 18 rebounds while Mia Davis scored 13 and grabbed nine rebounds.

“We made four crucial shots and Adrianna made two foul shots at the end,” said Perretta, who is in his 40th season on the Main Line, where he has spent his entire collegiate coaching career.

“We knew we had to make threes to beat them and we got nine and they got four, that’s the difference in the game. They’re a tough defensive team. We had to try trick plays to get shots,” Perretta noted.

Temple is down two players in the rotation — senior Alliya Butts was lost in the preseason with a knee injury while newcomer Desiree Oliver was recently lost for an undetermined amount of time.

So initially it was no surprise when Villanova jumped to an 8-0 lead but Temple rallied to go up 17-13 at the end of the first quarter. And the rest of the way it became your basic Big 5 toe-to-toe battle with seven ties and 12 lead changes.

A 10-point Villanova lead in the fourth quarter got reduced to three with 1:13 left in the game before Louin hit a layup and Hahn made two foul shots to make it 68-63 with 16 seconds left. Atkinson cut it to three with two seconds left and then Louin hit one of two free throws for the game’s final points.

“They’re a very good team, they’re just young,” Perretta said of Temple.

Temple coach Tonya Cardoza acknowledged Perretta’s remark without knowing his comments, noting, “Nobody here played against them last year. So this is a whole new team that played against them and yet overall for a first time, I felt we handled ourselves pretty well. We just needed to buckle down and pay attention down the stretch.”

Nevertheless, she bemoaned the fact the game could have been a get by the Owls and it got away.

“This is one where I felt we had it right here,” Cardoza said. “We were playing against a team that’s undefeated, in the top 25, at home, and I felt we had it in our hands.

“It was like everytime we made a mistake defending them, they capitalized on it. We needed to be more disciplined in the second half. And then down at the end we missed a bunch of easy shots.

“We had a Big Five championship in our hands and we let it slip away. But they’re a good team and a lot of veterans and we’re trying to beat a team like that with a bunch of young guys.”

Both teams are off all week for finals with the Owls returning here to host Marist of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference on Saturday at 2 while Villanova won’t play again until visiting La Salle a week from Wednesday.

Thus, while Villanova at 2-0 is the only team that can win the Big Five outright, La Salle (1-1) is still alive for a share as would Penn be if the Quakers beat Saint Joseph’s Monday night (tonight) at 7 on Hawk Hill at Hagan Arena with also needing to play Villanova and Temple next month.

An Owls win while those potentials exist could mean a tie but Cardoza downplayed the mathematics. “We had it in our hands now you’re asking for help elsewhere, relying on other people.”

Rutgers Romps Over Fairleigh Dickinson

The countdown for Rutgers Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer toward career win 1,000 and the count-up for Tyler Scaife’s further rise on the Scarlet Knights’ all-time scoring list continued Sunday in a lopsided 101-35 blowout over New Jersey rival Fairleigh Dickinson at home in the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway.

Yet another notch on the turnaround indicator from a forlorn season of just six victories 12 months ago was carved as Rutgers (10-2) reached triple digits for the first time since 2014 and third in Stringer’s career.

She is now just 13 wins from becoming likely the fourth women’s coach to win 1,000 since Hall of Fame UConn coach Geno Auriemma is expected to become the third in the Huskies’ next start when they host Oklahoma, Dec. 19, at the Mohegan Sun Arena.

The late Tennessee legend Pat Summitt and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer have already cross the magical milestone.

Meanwhile in the win over FDU (7-3) Scaife scored 25 points, the seventh time scoring 20 or more this season after missing action last year due to a heart defect.

Scaife, with 1,860 career points, is now within 13 points of third on the all-time list for the program, which would put her behind No. 1 Sue Wicks (2,655), the retired WNBA New York Liberty great, and No. 2 Cappie Pondexter (2,211), a past WNBA All-Star now with the Chicago Sky, and former Olympic gold medalist.

In the contest Sunday, reserve Caitlin Jennings had 11 points and 11 rebounds, Ciani Cryor scored 15, and Jazlynd Rollins had 10 points.

Kamrin Weimer scored 12 for FDU, which yielded 23 steals to the Knights, who tied a program record set with 23 thefts against Temple, Jan. 27, 1987.

Next up is a visit Wednesday at 6 p.m. from Ivy power Princeton, which last season a half-hour away at home in Jadwin Gym decimated Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights’ two losses were both in Florida in a tournament last month, a competitive one to defending NCAA champion South Carolina and another to Washington State.

Delaware Downs Delaware State 84-49

The Blue Hens (6-4) easily handled their state neighbor Hornets (1-7) at home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark as Nicole Enabosi had 17 points and 11 rebounds — her eighth double double this season, Samone DeFreese scored 19 and grabbed nine rebounds, and Lizzie Oleary scored 10.

Delaware State’s Ryan Jones scored 17 and Keke Barber grabbed 11 rebounds.

“Today was important because we were able to play everybody,” said first-year coach Natasha Adair, formerly with Georgetown. “Each game I feel we’re learning and improving. Every day, every practice is a teching moment.”

The Blue Hens are unbeaten against the Hornets in the 10-game series between the two schools.

Following an 11-day break, Delaware returns home Dec. 22 at 1 p.m. against Loyola of Maryland. The Blue Hens will then open CAA play a week later Dec. 29 at Drexel 4 p.m.

Lehigh Falls Short at LIU Brooklyn

A three-point attempt that would have forced overtime at the end of regulation didn’t connect and Lehigh fell on the road to LIU Brooklyn 72-69 at the Barclays Center in New York.

Camryn Buhr had 18 points for the Mountain Hawks (6-5), who head for Patriot League competition nearly three weeks from now opening at home Dec. 29 at Stabler Arena against nearby rival Lafayette.

Hannah Hedstrom had 12 points, of which 10 came in the second half, and Cameryn Benz scored 10.

The host Blackbirds improved to 4-5.

And that’s the report.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

The Guru Postgame Scout: A Strategical Review of the Notre Dame-Penn Game

At special games, sometimes revealed, other times not, former veteran coaches now on the sidelines but still close to the game have agreed to exchange a seat on press row to do an analysis of one team or both after a key game. 

Special to Womhoops Guru

PHILADELPHIA - Penn held high scoring Notre Dame to a season low 66 points while forcing 22 Irish turnovers.  

The Quakers utilized a containing 2-2-1 zone press that dropped back into a half court 2-3 zone. This slowed down the Irish and limited their open court looks. It also contributed to 22 Irish turnovers as the Irish tried to score quickly in the half court through a retreating Penn defense.


Notre Dame players have all the innate athletic ability and skill sets one would expect from a top 2/3 team

But what is impressive about the Irish is their discipline and ability to pass.  They used a 1-3-1 offensive set with a baseline runner against Penn’s zone defense. The Irish were able to get the ball to the high post and she distributed the ball.  

Her favorite and preferred target was the low post/ baseline runner.  The post to post passing was fun to watch. The Irish scored 40 of their 66 points in the paint.


Penn was strong with the ball and relentless on defense. They too were disciplined and prepared. 

Consequently, the Quakers were able to handle the physicality and speed of the Irish. They ran their sets; moved the ball and had good looks at the basket.  They got their share of rebounds scoring 14 second chance points. They have a nice balance attack with inside strength and effective 3 point shooters. They never backed down and never gave up.


The Irish countered in the second half by playing an aggressive man to man defense.  They put more pressure on the Quakers perimeter players and picked up the ball closer to half court.  

This was a turning point of the game and forced the Quakers out of their offensive rhythm.  As a result, the Quakers had to settle for contested shots as time wound down on the shot clock.  The Irish capitalized on the Quakers forced shots giving quick open looks to Notre Dame. 

Postgame Scout will be on Hawk Hill Monday Night for the Big Five battle between Penn and Saint Joseph’s.


The Guru Report: Fourth Quarter Surge Carries No. 3 Notre Dame Over Penn at The Palestra

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA - When the marquee teams come to town to play the Penn women in The Palestra, the Quakers usually rise to the occasion.

Saturday afternoon was no different, not that coach Mike McLaughlin’s group was able to stun No. 3 Notre Dame, which was held at bay until pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 66-54 victory.

But still, the two time defending Ivy champs, having taking some time to get re-tooling done in the non-conference phase of the season, stayed within single digits and trailed 42-34 before the Irish powered to.a 20-point advantage and Penn (2-4) finished with an 8-0 run to set the final score.

A crowd of 1,747 saw the Quakers defense limit the opposition to the lowest output for Notre Dame (9-1), which a week ago had top-ranked Connecticut on the ropes in Hartford heading into the last period. Later in the week, the Irish returned home to wallop Michigan State before heading here.”

“I thought Penn did a good job — they wanted it in the ‘60s, we like to play in the ‘80s, we were careless with the ball and they forced us into 22 turnovers, which was not a good day for the Irish,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, who celebrated another homecoming, being a Big Five Hall of Famer out of Saint Joseph’s.

McGraw is 33-18 all-time against the Big Five, much of it against Villanova in the old Big East configuration.

When the conference imploded, she expressed a desire to continue to make visits here, though not necessarily calling on the Wildcats, whose methodic style of play has never been to her liking.

She noted her time playing games in The Palestra with the Hawks before the renovation, calling the legendary collegiate basketball arena “a friendly home environment to play in.”

Before the game, McLaughlin, athletic director Grace Calhoun, and Mary DiStanislao gave McGraw a presentation to note her induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in September.

DiStanislao coached Notre Dame prior to McGraw after the Irish first became a Division I program and was an assistant coach to Cathy Rush at Immaculata during the Mighty Macs’ glory era.

“I bring teams like Notre Dame here to fill the stands for these players, they work so hard, it was a great atmosphere, just proud of the group, not proud of the result, but I thought we got a little bit better today,” McLaughlin said.

Arike Ogunbowale had 20 points, of which 13 came in the fourth quarter for the Irish, while Marina Marbrey scored 15.

“We were in attack mode,” Ogunbowale said of the explosion to burst from Penn. “In the fourth quarter, we knew we had to pick it up. When we attacked, we got people open and got a few buckets.”

Lauren Whitlatch had a career-tying night for the Quakers from beyond the arc, with all 12 of her field goal attempts being 3-pointers of which she sank six and finished with 18 points.

Eleah Parker scored 10, but Notre Dame was able to control Michelle Nowkedi, the reigning Ivy player of the year who had just four points shooting 2-for-14 from the field.

“Defensively, I thought we did a really good job on Michelle,” McGraw said. “That was kind of the key to the game. I thought we were physical with her. Jessica Shepard and the defense defended her well.”

From McLaughlin’s perspective of the defense of his star player, he said, “They gave Michelle some space on the perimeter. She’s been struggling from shooting the ball outside 15 to 18 feet. She missed some real easy ones. They played her really well and I think it snowballed on her.”

The Irish, who at the moment have a nation-best seven road wins, dominated the paint, outscoring the home team 40-18.

They next host DePaul at the end of the week on Sunday.

Penn has little time to regroup, having just one day off and then it’s over to Hawk Hill Monday Night to play Saint Joseph’s at Hagan Arena in a Big Five battle.

The hosts have a three-game losing streak after getting off to a 5-0 start while Penn has lost two straight having been off for over a week since yielding a 13-point lead at La Salle.

Still, the Quakers will be alive for at least a piece of the Big Five if they win though more of the City Series round-robin will clarify after Sunday’s (today) showdown between host Temple and No. 22 Villanova at 2 p.m. at McGonigle Hall.

Both teams are unbeaten in the city with the Wildcats at 1-0 and Temple at 2-0. Both teams still have to play Penn next month.

Princeton Rides Twin Double Double Attack to Down Quinnipiac

The Tigers had identical 16-point and 11-rebound productions from Leslie Robinson and Bella Alarie on the road in Hamden, Conn., to claim a 60-46 victory over Reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Quinnipiac (5-4), which advanced to the NCAA  Sweet 16 last season.

Alarie, a sophomore who was Ivy freshman of the year last March, passed her 500th career point as Princeton handed the Bobcats just their fourth home loss at the TD Bank Sports Center since the outset of the 2014-15 season.

Prior to then, Quinnipiac had won 43 of 46 games played at home.

The Tigers (6-2), who next visit Rutgers at 6 p.m. Wednesday night, moved from a 44-43 deficit with 7 minutes, 13 seconds left in the game, to close out with a 17-2 run the rest of the way aided by nine straight foul shots in the final 1:22 of the game.

Carlie Littlefield added 10 points to Princeton’s attack.

The Bobcats got 16 points and nine rebounds from Aryn McClure, who scored Quinnipiac’s last points before the Tigers’ run began and got the Bobcats’ final two with a field goal with 50 seconds left in regulation.

The home team’s output was its lowest of the season while the shooting percentage of 30.9 from the field was its second worst.

Rider Win Streak Snapped at Mount St. Mary’s

Kamilia Hoskova had a career-high 32 points but the Broncs’ brief two-game win streak was ended narrowly as Mount St. Mary’s triumphed 82-78 in their Knott Arena in Emmitsburgh. Md.

Both the Mountaineers and Rider, which scored its most points on the season, are now 2-7.

Hoskova got the Broncs within a point with 11 seconds left, hitting a pair of free throws but the Mount made two ensuing foul shots for the game’s final points.

Rider held a 40-33 lead at the half.

Jaiden Morris scored 11 points and the Broncs’ Stella Johnson also scored in double digits with 12 points.

“Today was a game in which we got outplayed on both ends of the floor,” Rider coach Lynn Milligan said afterwards. The turnovers we made today were not forced, which is uncharacteristic for us, but cost us a lot of possessions.

“We were sloppy on the defensive end all day. Our switches were off. We gave them 11 threes. You’re not winning games when you give up 11 three-pointers. We came up short today, but we had a lot of controllable errors that we need to lock in.”

Rider is off until Saturday when the Broncs travel up the road to meet NJIT at 1 p.m. in the NJIT Wellness and Events Center in Newark. The game will air on ESPN3.

La Salle Stymied by North Texas

The Explorers started slowly and couldn’t get much of an offense mounted as North Texas romped to a 70-44 non-conference win at home in the Super Pit in Denton.

Amy Griffin, the Atlantic 10 leading scorer last season, was held to a team-high 12 points, while Shalina Miller scored eight. The duo each grabbed a game-high seven rebounds.

The Explorers (4-6) were set on their heels early, falling behind 19-2, though La Salle had a brief spark getting a 9-1 run at the end of the first quarter.

Lauren Holmes had a game-high 17 points for the Mean Green.

La Salle is off the rest of the week for finals and then resume play Sunday at Delaware State.

Drexel Upset Bid Foiled at Syracuse

After a dramatic survival two days earlier beating Niagara at the last seconds, the Dragons were on the way to an upstate New York sweep until Syracuse had other ideas down the stretch.

Fighting back from a halftime eight-point deficit the Orange moved ahead late in the game to gain a 72-62 win in the Carrier Dome and gain revenge for Drexel’s last-second upset a year ago in Philadelphia when Syracuse held a No. 11 ranking and had finished runner up to Connecticut in the NCAA tournament the previous March.

Megan Marecic, the heroine of the fall of Niagara, fired five treys in this one and had a career-high 17 points for Drexel (6-4), while Bailey Greenberg just missed. by a point matching her career-high, scoring 16 for Drexel (6-4). Tereza Kracikova had a career high with 10 points. Kelsi Lidge, however, was held scoreless though she pulled six rebounds.

Five players scored in double figures for Syracuse (10-0), which is 24th in the coaches weekly poll. Digna Strautmane had 19 points and 11 rebounds, Miranda Drummond scored 17, and Tiana Mangakahia had 16, while Gabrielle Cooper and Isis Young each scored 10.

Drexel is off a week for finals and is back in the city for the Dragons’ next game, but it is at Saint Joseph’s, 1:30 p.m. next Sunday.

Penn State Edged by St. Bonaventure

The Lady Lions on the road gave up a 12-point lead they held at halftime, eventually losing to the Bonnies 65-62 inside the Reilly Center in Olean, N.Y., where Delaware recently escaped with a one-point win.

Penn State (8-3) had three chances to shoot with under 10 seconds left in regulation but the Bonnies (5-5) were able to prevail propelled by a 17-3 surge during the second half.

Teniya Page had 18 points for the Lady Lions while Amari Carter scored 12 but no one else on Coquese Washington’s squad could reach double figures on the offensive end. Jaylen Williams, however, did grab 11 rebounds.

Mckenna Maycock had 23 points for the home team and Mariah Ruff scored 22 to give the Atlantic 10 something to cheer about this week from one of its members.

Penn State is off a week until next Sunday when it visits Pittsburgh, coached by one of the Lady Lions all-timers in Susie McConnell-Serio. They have now lost three straight times to the Bonnies.

And that’s the report.


The Guru Report: Scaife Leads Rutgers Over Seton Hall While UConn Takes Auriemma to Win No. 999

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — On a day that Hall of Fame Connecticut women’s coach Geno Auriemma moved to within one win of his 1,000th career victory, Rutgers continued to make it seem more likely that Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer will also be picking up a membership to the prestigious club before the season is over.

In fact, following the Scarlet Knights’ 70-45 victory over in-state rival Seton Hall on Friday afternoon driven by a 29-13 fourth-quarter finish, the Guru quipped to a Rutgers athletic official asking whether the budget allocation for 2017-18 provided funding for a potential achievement celebration with a projection for it to happen by March.

Stringer, who began November just 23 wins short of 1,000 triumphs at her stops at Cheyney, Iowa and here in 47 seasons, is now 14 away from the milestone previously achieved by the late Tennessee legend Pat Summitt and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer and likely next by Auriemma when UConn hosts Oklahoma Dec. 19 at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

On the heels of the worst run ever for Stringer in 2016-17 with just six wins, Rutgers (9-2) has now turned it around as she indicated would happen once the redshirt transfers would become eligible.

And if you are talking comebacks by Rutgers this season you are synonymously talking about Tyler Scaife, who was sidelined with a heart problem 12 months ago, but on Friday scored 23 points in 25 minutes to make it six times she has now scored 20 or more points.

“I told her (Stringer), she’s done a great job of bringing them back to national prominence,” Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella said of the Rutgers improvement. “They’re an NCAA team. Their kids play hard. They trust what they’re doing. 

“She has one of the best players in the country. I’m happy to see the young lady playing. I think she’s a tremendous ambassador for the game. We need players like her,” Bozzella continued.

“She works hard. She was the first person out here before the game practicing. I think Tyler Scaife has a chance to be a WNBA player and I’m impressed with her work ethic. She kept her team in the game in the first half because they really struggled. They were up eight because of her. She kept them there and then their defense turned us over and our offense didn’t do a couple of things.”

Seton Hall (6-2) has also turned things around from a 12-19 rebuilding run and in this game the Pirates trailed just 34-32 with 3 minutes, 23 seconds left in the third period when the vaunted Rutgers defense caused a succession of turnovers enabling the Scarlet Knights to close out the quarter with a 7-0 run, including a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Ciani Cryor, a Neumann-Gorretti grad out of Philadelphia who transferred from Georgia Tech.

The run got extended into 16-0 early in the final period, highlighted by a trey from Kathleen Fitzpatrick, a transfer from Saint Joseph’s.

Cryor finished with 16 points, shooting 6-for-8 from the field, while Stasha Carey had 10 points and 15 rebounds.

Donnaizha Fountain, a transfer from Temple using her graduate eligibility with the Pirates, had a double double with 10 points and 11 rebounds while Shadeen Samuels had 10 rebounds.

Since Bozzella took the Seton Hall job, the Pirates, Princeton (whom Rutgers hosts next Wednesday) and the Scarlet Knights have established an on-going Jersey three in the manner of the Big 5 competition in Philadelphia.

“We played a great game with Princeton (won by the Tigers), I think Princeton’s going to give Rutgers a good game, they are the the things we talk about now, getting the top three in the triangle in New Jersey to play each other,” he said.

“Courtney’s (Banghart) been great about it, Vivian has been great about and we’ve been great about it,” Bozzella said. “It’s been great we all play home and away, I just wish we didn’t play at 2 o’clock, but I understand there’s been a scheduling conflict (Rutgers wrestling played Friday night and already had the date.).

“But next year all three will play at night and it will be on TV and all that stuff. I can’t say enough about how we are treated here at Rutgers, the people here are great. Even the crowd was into the game, which was nice. Give Rutgers a lot of credit.”

Seton Hall plays at Boston College Sunday, while Rutgers hosts Fairleigh Dickinson here the same day at 2 p.m. ahead of the Princeton visit all part of a current eight-game home stand.

Houston closes out non-conference play next Saturday before Purdue visits Dec. 28 to start the Big Ten schedule.

Asked if the staff is pleased with the momentum Rutgers is building heading to the conference, Stringer said the team still needed to get better, things needed to be improved, “but yes, we are pleased.”

Connecticut Handles DePaul as Auriemma Victory Total Hits 999

DePaul coach Doug Bruno had no problem having the women’s national home wreckers come to Chicago to help open the Demons’ new Wintrust Arena with the opposition being top-ranked Connecticut coached by his good friend Geno Auriemma.

When it was over the result was 103-69, a winning outcome like what it has always been expect once going UConn’s way 15-1 in the series between the two schools, much of it played as opponents in the old Big East.

Unlike several times in the past, for once Bruno was not on the opposing side on a milestone night thanks to the stellar upset by Mississippi State in last season’s NCAA semifinal that ended the Huskies NCAA-record run at 111 straight.

So for Auriemma the first crack at 1000 comes against another good friend on Dec. 19 when Sherri Coale brings Oklahoma to Connecticut.

UConn is now 8-0 while DePaul, suffering two previous upset losses, fell to 6-3.

Katie Lou Samuelson, now back on the court, had 20 points for Connecticut, and Crystal Dangerfield had 18, while Napheesa Collier scored 17 and grabbed 10 rebounds, Azura Stevens scored 16, Kia Nurse 13, and Gabby Williams had 11 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and seven turnovers.

Amarah Coleman scored 16 for DePaul.

“We basically got beat badly tonight and at the same time I know we’re better for it,” said Bruno who served as one of Auriemma’s assistants on the 2012 and 2016 USA Olympic Gold Medalists in London and Brazil.

“I wouldn’t continue to play these kind of games if I didn’t know that our team is better for it. It doesn’t feel good right now. It doesn’t feel good for our players right now ... They will be better for having gone through this game.”

And that’s the report.





Friday, December 08, 2017

The Guru Report: A Tale of Two Locals Feature Big Rallies to Victories by Temple and Drexel

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — It was the worst of times. It was the best of times, though a long way from the best ever.

That was tale of the Guru’s only two local teams on Thursday’s card as both Temple here at home in McGonigle Hall and Drexel on the road in upstate New York rallied from deep deficits to defeat underdog opponents heading into major confrontations this weekend.

The action began early in the afternoon at Niagara and ended happily in dramatic style for Drexel where the Dragons trailed by as many as nine points with just over two minutes left in regulation and still by five with 22 seconds left before Megan Marecic zipped a three-pointer with six seconds left for a 66-65 comeback.

It was a combo of offense and defense in the style of Drexel coach Denise Dillon’s alma mater Villanova as the Dragons (6-3) nailed four of their nine triplets, including the game winner, and forced five Purple Eagles turnovers across the final 2:03 minutes of play.

Kelsi Lidge had a career-best 23 points to go with six rebounds, six steals and five assists as she has now played the full 40 minutes of regulation in two straight games.

According to the reliable Drexel stat detail, Lidge’s scoring total was the first by anyone on the Dragons roster to pass the 20-point milestone in a game.

Meanwhile, Bailey Greenberg had a career-high 17 points while grabbing 10 rebounds to mark her second ever double double following one as a freshman last season. Ironically that also came against Niagara (1-8) back in Philadelphia at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

It was the Dragons’ first win this season after trailing at the half and the first since a similar situation a year ago when that opponent was then-No. 11 Syracuse, who had finished runnerup to Connecticut in the 2016 NCAA national tournament.

Besides making Niagara fall Thursday, that win against the Orange also came on a three-pointer. Now Drexel will be returning the visit Saturday tipping off at Syracuse at 6 p.m.

Temple Rallies to Hold Off Hampton

Meanwhile, a few hours later here, Temple became subject to a full scale plundering by the Pirates of the Chesapeake, formally known as Hampton, before the Owls fought back with a huge 22-4 third quarter and some timely offensive and defensive moves late in the fourth quarter to emerge with a 65-56 victory.

“We really did get lucky,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said. “I feel Hampton just ran out of time. We found a way to get back in the game but then got carless with the basketball and allowed them to get back in it.

“But we won the game and that’s important. But we have to be better or teams are going to press us if we turn the ball over like that.”

The Owls were also hampered with the absence of another player in their rotation, freshman guard Desire Oliver, sidelined with an undisclosed injury and her return is not known, though Cardoza said when asked that Oliver wouldn’t be available Sunday.

Meanwhile, the triumph avenged last year’s loss to Hampton in Virginia, the only setback in what is now a six-game series. That game was similar to Thursday night in that the Owls (7-2) fell 19 points behind to coming back to within four in the final minutes before suffering the upset.

In this one Temple trailed by 12 in the second quarter before slicing the deficit in half to make it 34-28 at the break.

The Owls committed 24 turnovers in the first two quarters and a season-worse 35 for the game but a dominating 50-26 effort on the boards helped the comeback and after going cold in the closing minutes, they stayed warm enough on the foul line to prevail.

Tanaya Atkinson continued her fine work with 25 points and 10 rebounds for another double double though she committed eight turnovers while freshman Emani Mayo had 19 points and six rebounds and Mia Davis grabbed 14 rebounds.

DeJane James had 16 points, while Allina Starr and Jephany Brown each scored 13 but Monna Finney-Smith, the leading scorer for Hampton (2-5) with a 13.0 average, was held scoreless from the field on six attempts, of which four were beyond the arc.

Being a point of emphasis, that defense pleased Cardoza, who is right now overseeing Temple’s best start since her second season.

She said no comparison between the two units because the previous one was much more veteran-profiled on the Owls’ roster.

In terms of the difference between the two halves, Cardoza noted, “the same things we’ve gotten in the second half we could have gotten in the first. They just needed to settle down and be aggressive in what we were trying to do.

“The adjustment was basically to get the ball to Tanaya,” she chuckled, “and let her operate or get the ball to the middle and once we got the ball to the middle we got every shot. But it’s just about guys confident with the ball and not shying away from the pressure.”

Hampton missed a slew inside that could have otherwise been a disaster for Temple.

“There were games like this we would find a way to lose at the end, turn it over, give them a three or something. But we made key plays down the stretch to get rebounds and make stops and I thought we did a really good job on Finney. — She didn’t score and fouled out,” Cardoza said.

“And I thought we did a pretty good job keeping them out of the lane. I thought we held them to 30 percent. But again, they score 38 points off our turnovers and 56 for the game and in the halfcourt set I thought we did a pretty good job.

“Most of it were turnovers and transition for easy buckets.”

Mayo and Atkinson each played the entire 40 minutes and Cardoza said, “I never thought about taking them out. Neither of them looked tired that they wanted to come out. Emani gives 110 percent when she’s in there and didn’t realize she played that much until I saw the sheet.”

Next up is a visit Sunday at 2 p.m. from No. 22 Villanova with the Big Five title on the line, though it couldn’t be won outright yet. The Wildcats won their only game — beating Saint Joseph’s — while Temple, the defending City champs, have wins over Saint Joseph’s and La Salle.

“If we win the game, we basically (at worst) share the Big Five,” said Cardoza, knowing only Penn is left next month on the schedule and everyone else already has a loss while Saint Joseph’s has two.

If Villanova wins, the Wildcats could win outright by beating La Salle Dec. 20 and Penn next month.

The Quakers, who host No. 3 Notre Dame at The Palestra Saturday afternoon, could still get a piece of the action by beating Saint Joseph’s on Hawk Hill Monday night and then Temple and Villanova next month.

Meanwhile, on Friday the only game on the Guru’s local slate is Seton Hall’s visit to Rutgers at 2 p.m., The rest of the weekend slate is addressed the Guru report of 24 hours ago.

As for this report, that’s all there is except to say that Temple formally announced that Candice Dupree, one of Temple’s two best-ever all-timers along with Marilyn Stephens, whose daughter Adashia Franklyn plays for Saint Joseph’s, will have her number retired when Dawn Staley’s defending NCAA champion South Carolina squad visits here to play the Owls Dec. 21 next door in the larger Liacouras Center.

Dupree is a WNBA All-Star, now playing with the Indiana Fever.

And now that is the all there is from this report.



Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Guru Report: Rider Stuns La Salle While No. 22 Villanova Stays Unbeaten Routing Fairfield

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA - The phrase, “like old times,” has had different connotations when it comes to Rider women’s basketball.

With an 0-6 start to this season, the Broncs’ early struggles could be likened to the performance of many years past in the program’s history.

But following what is now a two-game win streak, the “old times” version of Rider’s 76-55 upset of La Salle here Wednesday night at the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena at TruMark Financial Center needs only go as far back as 12 months ago when the Broncs established all-time moments and records for the program.

Meanwhile No. 22 Villanova rolled at Fairfield, Penn State rallied at Fordham, Princeton handled its road stop at Lafayette, Lehigh rallied over NJIT, and Delaware triumphed at Army.

On Tuesday, though, in a game we tweeted but didn’t blog due to the late return, Saint Joseph’s got shocked by host Towson in the Tigers’ gaudy SECU Arena .

As for the game here, though Rider (2-6) led La Salle most of the evening, the outcome could still be had by either team as evident by the 32-29 lead held by the Broncs at the half.

 But the arrival of the fourth quarter saw the Broncs thunder with a 14-point advantage to tuck the triumph away.

“That felt like a Rider victory,” said veteran coach Lynn Milligan. “That we won, I thought it was possible, but I wouldn’t have thought we would win by as many points as we did.”

Rider countered La Salle’s 39-28 rebounding advantage and high-scorer Amy Griffin collecting 26 points, by mining 25 points off the 20 turnovers forced on the Explorers (4-5).

Griffin, the Atlantic 10 leading scorer last season, has reached 20 or more points four times to date.

Shalina Miller on the Explorers had her first double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Following the Broncs’ postseason appearance last March, playing in the WNIT, graduation took its toll on the roster sending Milligan and her staff back to the drawing board to rebuild the chemistry.

“You know, I’ve been seeing us begin to get better, little by little,” Milligan said. “It started when we almost beat East Carolina (the third place game of the Seton Hall tourney two weeks ago), then, of course, we beat Vermont, and now the win, here, tonight.”

Four Broncs scored in double figures, topped by Kamila Hoskova’s 23 points — she also had nine rebounds — reserve Jaiden Morris scored 15, Lexi Posset had a season-high 13 and dealt four assists, while Sheila Johnson scored 11. Rider shot 51.9 percent from the field.

“Tonight was a night where you saw a defensive game plan come together and you saw an aggressive offense,” Milligan said. “We had players making plays for each other and doing the things we have to do to be successful.

“With a young team where you are working out your court chemistry, it takes some time and we saw some good, unselfish basketball tonight on both ends of the floor,” she continued.

“I think the team believed in the game plan tonight. It was really a culmination of this week’s practices. We had some really good and competitive practices this week. The most we’ve had in a while. You play how practice and that was definitely evident tonight.”

Rider next goes to Mount St. Mary’s at 1 p.m. Saturday in the first meeting of the schools in five seasons and then after an idle week on the schedule due to finals, visits NJIT up the road in Newark on Dec. 16 at 1 p.m.

La Salle, meanwhile, heads to North Texas Saturday, then takes its finals break in the schedule and resumes action Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. at Delaware State.

Villanova Routs Fairfield to Stay Unbeaten

On Sunday in Villanova’s rout of Saint Joseph’s at home in Jake Nevin Field House, leading Wildcats scorer Adrianna Hahn had just two points, not that the deficiency came off a slew of missed shots.

So consider the small total a mere pit stop after the graduate of Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, Del., fired away Wednesday night, shooting 8-for-12 from the field, 5-for-9 on three-point attempts, and scoring 21 points as No. 22 Villanova, also 20th in the coach’s national poll, shook off an early deficit to rout the Stags 73-44 at Alumni Hall in Connecticut and run its unbeaten start to 8-0.

Hahn had 14 of the Wildcats’ first 16 points.

Kelly Jekot, who was the scoring star against the Hawks, had seven points, while Alex Louin grabbed nine rebounds, and Bridget Herlihy had a career night, shooting 7-for-10 from the field, including 4-for-6 three-pointers, for 19 points.

The Villanova defense is currently ranked third in the nation.

Fairfield (3-6) got 11 rebounds each out of Khadidiatou Diouf, a career mark, and Samantha Cooper while Sam Kramer had a team-high 11 points.

So ‘Nova’s profile for Sunday’s Big Five showdown at Temple is also set with a 1-0 mark in the City Series. The Owls, at 6-2, are 2-0 in the City but first will host Hampton at 7 p.m. Thursday night at McGonigle Hall.

Princeton Tops Lafayette

Sophomore Bella Alarie and senior Leslie Robinson were the fuel the Tigers needed in their tank to grab a 53-45 victory over host Lafayette in the Kriby Center in Easton, Pa.

Alarie, the Ivy freshman of the year last season, picked up her 11th career double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Robinson, the niece of former President Barack and first Lady Michelle Obama, had 15 points, seven rebounds, and a career-matching five assists.

Princeton (5-2) led by as many as 16 late in the third and one point less in the fourth before the Leopards (3-5) rallied to within seven.

Lafayette’s Natalie Kucowski had a double double with 14 points and 15 rebounds while Anna Ptasinski scored 12.

Princeton next heads on Saturday at 1 p.m. to reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Quinnipiac, which advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. The game at the Bobcats’ campus in Connecticut will be streamed on ESPN3.

The Tigers will then stay on the road but not travel far to Rutgers at 6 p.m. Wednesday in a game of interest considering the vast improvement of the Scarlet Knights to date and that a year ago in Jadwin Gym the home team built a humongous lead and was never seriously threatened.

Delaware Outmaneuvers Army

Never trailing, the Blue Hens took an impressive 70-59 over Army on the road at Christl Arena in West Point, N.Y., fueled by a 28-13 domination in the third quarter.

The third stanza was highlighted by the performance of Bailey Kargo, who scored 12 of her 15 points for Delaware (5-4) in the period against the Black Knights (6-3) of the Patriot League.

Nicole Enabosi had her seventh double double out of the Blue Hens’ nine games with 15 points and 10 rebounds while another double double came from Samone DeFreese with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Army’s Madison Hovren had 16 points and 11 rebounds while Lena` Hicks had 15 points and Janae McNeal dealt nine assists.

“Wow, I’m so proud of this team,” said Delaware coach Natasha Adair, who has experienced a roller coaster from the Blue Hens after leaving Georgetown to succeed the veteran Tina Martin, now an assistant at UNCW. “Coming off our last game, we were more dialed in and focused.

“This is a group, that since day one, we can challenge and they will respond. This group wants it and they know they need to be tough, disciplined and give 100 percent. And I thought today, from the tip of the buzzer, we did just that,” Adair said.

“To go on the road and beat a team that was 6-2 overall and unbeaten at home, is terrific.”

Delaware’s schedule has had the Blue Hens away much of the time from the Bob Carpenter Center, which Kargo alluded to in her postgame comments.

“We knew Army was going to be super aggressive and we had to fight back and show toughness. It’s been a little overwhelming being on the road for so long and missing class and trying to catch up with work, but we’re getting better because of it,” Kargo said.

“If we can win on the road and get our stuff done off the court, we can do it at home as well. We’re a close unit at home, but on the road, it’s a completely different environment and it definitely helps our on-court chemistry.”

This was the second meeting between the two schools with Army taking the first one in Delaware last season.

Home is ahead now, hosting state rival Delaware State Sunday at 2 p.m. and then after a  break for finals, Loyola will visit Dec. 22 at 1 p.m. to complete the non-conference schedule.

After that, oddly in terms of the local rivalry in the Colonial Athletic Association usually kicking in late January, Delaware will visit Drexel Dec. 29 in the conference opener for both teams.

Page Propels Late Rally to Lead Penn State Over Fordham

With 7 minutes, 48 seconds left in regulation, Fordham held a 10-point lead over host Penn State, indicating that someone in the Atlantic 10 might give the conference something to cheer, considering what has happened lately.

But then the Lady Lions’ Teniya Page, recently returned from an injury, went to work, scoring 14 points, grabbing five rebounds and dealing an assist in five minutes to send Penn State to a 65-60 victory.

Page finished with 27 points and eight assists for the  Lady Lions (8-2) while Jaylen Williams had blocked three shots by the Rams (4-3), including two down the stretch when Fordam threatened an upset.

Amari Carter scored 19 points in the game in which Penn State shot 56 percent from the field and just missed one of 15 attempts from the foul line.

Lauren Holden had 14 points for Fordham, and Mary Goulding had 13 points and 11 rebounds, while the Rams also got a double double at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park out of G’mrice Davis, who had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Kendell Heremaia had 11 points and Bre Cavanaugh scored 10.

The winning closeout was 19-6 from Penn State, which travels Saturday to St. Bonaventure at 7 p.m.

Lehigh Escapes Slow Start to Top NJIT

The roar from Bethlehem upstate did not have anything to do with holiday celebrations but rather a morning crowd of 4,009, in Stabler Arena for Lehigh’s annual education day tie-in part of the Mountain Hawks schedule.

The crowd, which attracted about 1,000 in the earlier days of this event,  was the first largest ever for a Lehigh women’s home game.

But the initial fun belonged to NJIT, which trailed the Mountain Hawks by a bucket 33-31 at the half before the home team rode the final 20 minutes to a 64-50 victory and keep the Highlanders (0-9) winless.

Lehigh’s Quinci Mann had a game-high 15 points, shooting 6-for-11 from the field, while Gena Grundhoffer scored 12. Mae Williams, a senior, tied a career high with seven rebounds as the Mountain Hawks improved to 6-4.

“I challenged them, honestly, on both ends of the floor,” said veteran Lehigh coach Sue Troyan of her halftime talk. “We had to handle the the ball better and make better decisions with the basketball and play with a higher level of intensity on defense.

“I thought we did a really good job in the third quarter of coming up on the defensive end, really contesting shots and not giving them anything easy.”

Lehigh next visits LIU-Brooklyn Sunday at 1 p.m.

Saint Joseph’s Downed at Towson

So much for a quick turnaround being a cure.

After suffering the worst loss ever by either school Sunday at Villanova in the long-running series between the two Big Five powers, it was thought Saint Joseph’s slated to play again 48 hours down at Towson Tuesday night in suburban Baltimore could be just the mental lift the Hawks could use.

The Tigers, however, of the CAA had other ideas at SECU Arena.

Either inspired by the great start of the counterpart men’s team, who won a tournament in Belfast, Ireland over the weekend, or fired up over the visiting opponent, Towson produced a stunning 90-66 victory in the first meeting of the schools in 23 seasons.

The win was also the Tigers’ first in five overall meetings with the Hawks (5-3) as they improved to 3-4.

“This is really a great win for us,” said new head coach Diane Richardson, who previously was a longtime assistant at such prestigious stops as West Virginia, George Washington, Maryland, and she also worked at American U.

“The kids have bought into what we’re trying to do here. We watched their ‘Nova game and we thought we saw flaws we could expose.”

Raine Bankston had 27 points for Towson, helped by 11-for-12 from the foul line. Mary Cuevas scored 18, Nukiya Mayo had a double double of 13 points and 11 rebounds while Etalyia Vogt scored 11.

Towson later on the conference schedule besides hosting the duo will visit Drexel and Delaware.

After being shut down Sunday by Villanova, Sarah Veilleux had 19 points while Alyssa Monaghan scored 10 and each shot a pair of three-balls.

But Amanda Fioravanti in the post shot 1-for-9, scoring two points, and Adashia Franklyn scored seven points. Chelsea Woods off the bench had 15 points and nine rebounds but was limited to 21 minutes due to an undisclosed but not considered serious health ailment.

The Hawks were outscored 46-28 in the paint, 18-8 in transition, and shot 34.8 percent from the field, while Towson was on fire hitting 32-of-63 attempts for a 50.8 percent accuracy.

Saint Joseph’s after an impressive 5-0 start, looking vastly improved off last season’s early struggles before righting itself in A-10 play, has now lost three straight, including two Big Five games, by 69, 79, and now 90 points.

That sets the scenario for Monday night’s Big Five game when Penn visits, likely coming off a two-game losing streak of its own, having yielded a 13-point lead at La Salle a week ago and will have hosted No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday.

Mathematically, Penn stays in the Big Five hunt with a win and still has Temple and Villanova left to play in January, while Saint Joseph’s, with a long domination of the Quakers, would like of course to get back on overall track and also avoid any more losses in City Series action with La Salle still left to play during the A-10 slate.

Nationally Speaking: No. 3 Notre Dame, which comes to The Palestra Saturday to visit Penn, as mentioned, recovered from its late fade at No. 1 Connecticut Sunday that deprived the Irish of another big upset, by bouncing back with a 90-59 win over Michigan State at home in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind.

Arike Ogunbowale had 23 points and nine rebounds for Notre Dame (8-1), while Lili Thompson had her first career double with 12 points and a career-best 10 rebounds, Jackie Young scored 13, and Jessica Shepard, a transfer from Nebraska given immediate eligibility, scored 19.

“That was as good a start as we’ve had,” said Hall of Fame Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, a graduate of Saint Joseph’s, after dropping Michigan State to 5-3, making it the 21st straight game dating back to after 2009 in the NCAA tournament that the Irish have beaten Big Ten schools.

No. 23 Green Bay, celebrating its return to the AP rankings for the first time this season, went on the road and beat Atlantic 10 reigning champion Dayton 75-64 as Jessica Lindstrom scored 29 points and grabbed 17 rebounds for the Phoenix (7-1).

Lauren Cannatelli scored 17 for the Flyers (5-3).

No. 21 Texas A&M beat visiting TCU 71-58 in the annual renewal of the Maggie Dixon Classic, played predominantly in the past in New York’s Madison Square Garden to honor the memory of the late Army coach who in her first season led the Black Knights to their first NCAA tournament and then died suddenly several weeks later of a heart defect.

Chennedy Carter had 23 points for the Aggies (7-2), who are 20-0 at home in College Station in the series with the Red Raiders (6-2) and 36-4 overall, though they had to rally from a 13-point deficit in this one.

No. 12 Ohio State romped to a 103-77 win over Florida on the road in Gainesville as Kelsey Mitchell collected 30 points to pass WNBA Los Angeles Sparks star Jantel Lavender as the all-time Buckeye (2,840 points) scorer.

Mitchell is currently No. 1 in scoring in the nation with a 25.7 average for Ohio State (9-2), which also got 21 points from Sierra Calhoun against the Gators (5-4).

Elsewhere, No. 15 Maryland (8-2) in a local event hosted Mount St. Mary’s and got an easy 97-57 win while No. 11 Tennessee (9-0) thumped Troy 131-69 at home in Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.

Syracuse topped Colgate at home 79-39 and next hosts Drexel, Saturday, looking to avenge last year’s loss to Dragons in Philadelphia when the Orange were ranked No. 11 and had been the NCAA national runnersup in 2016.

Looking Ahead

As mentioned, Temple on Thursday night at 7 in McGonigle Hall hosts Hampton, which upset the Owls a year ago, while Drexel visits Niagara.

On Friday Seton Hall visits Rutgers at 2 p.m. in a Garden State battle, while Friday night No. 1 UConn visits DePaul in Chicago in the Blue Demon’s new Wintrust Arena as UConn coach Geno Auriemma goes after career win 999. If attained, the first shot at 1000 will come Dec. 19 against Oklahoma at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

On Saturday, all the local games were already mentioned above, while on Sunday in addition to the Temple/Villanova Big 5 Showdown, Rutgers hosts Fairleigh Dickinson at 2 p.m.

No. 11 Tennessee gets its first big test hosting No. 2 Texas in their annual national renewal at 3 p.m. on ESPN2.

And that’s the report.