Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Rutgers Makes and Takes in Trenton

Rutgers was successful everywhere Tuesday night but as a subject of a story that due to deadline time, major techological errors inside the Inquirer, and other misadventures, did not make it into print or to Philly.com, as far as I can tell.

So here is the raw sushi version of what you would have read. (Details to follow in next blog.).

-- Mel

By Mel Greenberg
TRENTON _ The old Rutgers women’s basketball team with its explosive offense showed up last night at the Sovereign Bank Arena and also brought along a new defensive look.

That combination was potent enough to give the third-seeded Scarlet Knights a lop-sided 82-48 victory over 11th-seeded Texas Christian University in a second-round NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament game.

When it was over, there was so much joy among the Rutgers contingent that even coach C. Vivian Stringer was high-five slapping hands with her assistants after gaining her 750th victory in what also her 1,000th game on the sidelines.

“It was great to see our team execute, really move the ball, take great shots, to find each other,” Stringer said with a grin after her team improved to 27-4 on the season. “It was nice to see them find a rhythm and play so free.”

A surprise zone defense kept Texas Christian (19-12) under control, while all-American Cappie Pondexter led a balanced attack by scoring 24 points.

Pondexter is expected to be taken as the first or second overall selection in next month’s WNBA draft.

The Chicago native was joined in the scoring parade by Matee Ajavon (18 points), Essence Carson (14 points), Michelle Campbell (12 points), and freshman center sensation Kia Vaughn (10 points, 11 rebounds). Ajavon also dished 13 assists.

Vanessa Clementino, Adrianne Ross, and Ashley Davis each scored 10 points for TCU, whose top scorer Natasha Lacy had remained in Fort Worth for personal reasons.

“It was one of the better games I have seen in a long time and it comes at no better time than now,” Stringer said.

She better be right about that.

Rutgers’ next opponent will be none other than second-seeded Tennessee and dunking queen Candace Parker in the region semifinals.

Top-seeded North Carolina, the overall No. 1 seed in the tournament, which also finished first in the final Associated Press poll, will meet fourth-seeded Purdue in Cleveland on Sunday.

The Scarlet Knights and Tennessee last met in Philadelphia a year ago when the Volunteers captured the regional title game at Temple’s Liacouras Center to move on to the Women’s Final Four.

“Somehow I knew a long time ago we’d meet them,” Stringer said of Tennessee. “(Coach) Pat (Summitt) and I have usually had a cup of tea in the tournament dating back to win I was coaching Iowa.”

Rutgers sizzled in the first half from the field last night, shooting 65.4 percent, and dominated the boards overall with a 46-28 rebounding advantage.

“That’s the best I’ve seen anyone play in the first half this year,” TCU coach Jeff Mitte spoke of Rutgers’ 41-22 lead at the break.

“Anyone who’s seen our schedule knows we’ve played some pretty good teams.”

Contact staff writer Mel Greenberg at 215-854-5725 or mgreenberg@phillynews.com.


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