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.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Imperfect Win Keeps Delaware Perfect in CAA

By Mel Greenberg

NEWARK, Del. - Back in the days of not so long ago when William & Mary was a doormat in the Colonial Athletic Association, there used to a backroom joke about making the match fair with a doubleheader.

In the first half, the other team was going to play Willam and then play Mary in the second half, or vice versa.

The Tribe is no longer a laughing matter to opponents, but we thought about that old saying in watching Delaware's struggle until the Blue Hens emerged with a 68-55 win Thursday night at the Bob Carpenter Center.

Delaware (15-2, 6-0 CAA), which has designs on a spot in the NCAA tournament, had all kinds of difficulty controlling William & Mary in the first half and went to the break trailing the Tribe, 30-24.

"I was not happy at halftime," Delaware coach Tina Martin said after the Blue Hens won their 10th straight.

No kidding.

With a re-match at Hofstra ahead Sunday followed by a visit to James Madison, two of the CAA's top contenders, this was not the time to get tripped up, especially with perennial champion Old Dominion returning to life in conference play following a dismal effort against non-CAA foes.

Despite Martin's appeal to urgency, it still took a while for her team to look like the conference power it had been.

William & Mary (11-6, 3-3) continued to prevail early in the second half and seemed in solid control with a 40-30 advantage with 15 minutes, 44 seconds left in the game Kyra Kaylor, the CAA player of the year last season, nailed a three-pointer.

But then the Blue Hens went to a man-to-man defense, intensified the pressure in the backcourt and began snipping away at their deficit.

"We play the match-up more, but we can use the man-to-man," Martin said of her defensive strategy.

Alena Koshansky, who had five steals, used one of them to score and put Delaware ahead, 46-45 with 9:39 left. Tyresa Smith, who finished with 21 points and 12 rebounds, kept the Blue Hens ahead with a basket and from that point on, William & Mary seemed to deflate.

Chrissy Fisher also scored in double figures for Delaware with 15 points, while Kyle DeHaven parked her pre-game emotions to score 10 points and deal five assists off the bench.

DeHaven is a first-year transfer from William & Mary and played against her former team for the first time.

"I thought the first half was one of the worst halves we've played defensively all year," Martin said, but brushed aside any suggestion Delaware was looking ahead.

"It wasn't that, I'm not quite sure what it was. But we seemed to be out of step and we took too many chances, and that created openings for William & Mary," Martin explained.

"We did what we needed to do to win, and that's what good teams do," she added. "Now these next two games will tell us a lot more about ourselves playing on the road. Hofstra went to wire here and I'm sure it will go to the wire again.

"It's a quirk in the schedule we're seeing them again so soon, but that's the way it is."

Guru's Note. Friday night we'll be on the scene in College Park when Maryland hosts Virginia in an Atlantic Coast Conference tilt.

"It's the Terrapins' first outing since being shot down from their No. 1 ranking by ACC-rival Duke on Saturday in Durham, N.C., in a game that rematched last season's NCAA title game won by Maryland in Boston.

Temple survived Massachusetts in Amherst, Saturday, for the Owls' 10th straight win. Coach Dawn Staley's squad will host Rhode Island Saturday afternoon and then prepare for a visit from Rutgers on Wednesday in a game that will have some kind of NCAA-implication attached to it.

The Scarlet Knights will be at nationally-ranked Louisville Sunday night in a Big East Conference game and a win might return Rutgers to the rankings in time for the Temple game.

-- Mel


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