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.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Drexel Rallies Over Penn In Battle of West Philly

(Guru's note: Some nights such as Friday, in the early going, the Guru report will take the form of a local roundup. It will extend to D-II and D-III as soon as the Guru gets them in synch with new email addresses. By the way, the Guru may no longer consider it gender equity training at his former place of employment but he will be in print Sunday with a St. Joe men's game being played Saturday against Norfolk State at Hagan Arena.)

By Mel Greenberg

A few days ago Drexel coach Denise Dillon reflected on the Dragons’ season opening win at La Salle noting, “It helps when you make shots early.”

On Friday night, however, in Drexel’s second straight game against a Big Five school, the Dragons (2-0) in their home opener couldn’t do anything at the outset against Penn and fell to a 9-0 deficit.

The Quakers (1-1) were coming off last week’s season-opening win at home in The Palestra against Bryant. Penn, whose campus is a few blocks away from the Daskalakis Athletic Center in West Philadelphia, also had a level of familiarity because of the number of players on both teams who play pick-up games with and against each other.

But the chance of a magical upset in coach Mike McLaughlin’s second season began to unravel once Drexel got on the scoreboard courtesy of freshman Jackie Schluth’s shot with 10 minutes, 21 seconds left in the first half.

Schluth, who lives across the river in Medford, N.J., is a graduate of Bishop Eustace.

Then another Drexel newcomer – Fiona Flanagan of Penn Valley, Pa., and Notre Dame de Namur – hit a shot and suddenly the Dragons were on their way with a 22-3 run the rest of the half and emerged with an easy 62-31 triumph.

“We definitely did recover, but it was the case of constant defense,” Dillon said afterwards. “We tried to keep our players focused and understand we have to keep playing defense no matter what was happening on the offensive end.

“Thankfully, they did that and gave us a chance to knock down some shots. It helped to bring some players in. Jackie Schluth did a nice job off the bench for a freshman. Again, we keep telling our players it’s a team effort. If somebody’s having an off-day, someone else is there to pick you up.”

Drexel needed group therapy to kick start the offense considering that Gabriela Marginean, the all-time scorer in Philadelphia women’s collegiate history, has graduated and is now playing overseas after a brief stint in the WNBA last summer.

“We started taking care of the ball and stopped taking quick shots,” Dillon said of several factors involved in breaking the game open.

The Dragons ended up shooting 49 percent from the field, while the Quakers shot a miserable 22 percent. In terms of defense, Drexel was able to outscore Penn 15-2 off turnovers.

Jasmina Roosseel, a native of Belgium, had 12 points, while Hollie Mershon scored 10. Kamile Nacickaite of Lithuania, who had scored 26 against La Salle, scored eight against the Quakers.

“Our bench players stepped up, which was a key,” Nacickaite said. “I’m really proud of them.”

Unlike many of her teammates, she was not involved in summer league action here in suburban Hatboro.

“I was home playing for the national team in the European championships,” Nacickaite said.

Penn freshman Alyssa Baron scored eight points as no Quaker was able to score in double figures.

“We were playing well on both ends,” McLaughlin said of Penn’s start. “We were moving the ball, we made some good defensive stands.

“And then it just snowballed backwards. We got some poor shots, give (Drexel) credit, they made shots and we didn’t handle it well. Our offense got rushed because they scored and we have to learn quickly to handle that.

“I thought, defensively, if we held them to 60 we might be able to get into position to do something but our offense was just not good enough,” he said.

Freshman Meghan McCullough of Havertown and the Academy of Notre Dame is the only Penn player with a local connection while other players hail from such states as California, Texas, Virginia, Maryland, and Illinois.

McLaughlin thought that makeup affected the mindset of his squad in terms of not being knowledgeable, upper class women the exception, of the intensity of local rivalries with schools such as Drexel and those in the Big Five.

“I didn’t explain until this week the magnitude of a Philadelphia-type game and with some of the players not from this area, I think the magnitude of playing a rivalry right down the street is a big thing and I don’t think we handled it well. If we’re in this situation again, I think we’ll learn a lot.”

Drexel next hosts St. Joseph’s on Tuesday (7 p.m.) before the Dragons host Villanova, Dillon’s alma mater, at 5 p.m. on Friday after Thanksgiving.

“That game with St. Joseph’s is going to be tough,” Dillon said of the next time in uniform. “They’re a lot like us, right now, getting things done as a team effort.”

Penn will travel on Tuesday to Rider in Lawrenceville, N.J., halfway between Trenton and Princeton.

La Salle Nearly Stuns Georgetown

While tracking the other local teams during the Drexel-Penn game, the computer seemed to utter a big gulp when a halftime score out of the nation’s capital showed La Salle (1-3) was holding a 28-18 halftime lead on No. 13 Georgetown in the Hoyas’ McDonough Arena.

The home team had just dismantled No. 21 Maryland on Tuesday night in the same building.

Though the Explorers are short-handed – seven scholarship players – it was then thought that perhaps new coach Jeff Williams might have a few tricks up his sleeve from his previous job as an assistant at Pittsburgh, which plays Georgetown regularly in Big East competition.

However, Hoyas coach Terri Williams-Flournoy must have given some halftime speech because her squad (3-0) opened the final 20 minutes with a 15-0 run to take the lead and hold on for a 50-46 victory. The run actually extended to 20-3.

All-American candidate Sugar Rodgers and Monice McNutt each scored 10 points for Georgetown while Ashley Gale had 18 points and Nadia Duncan scored 12.

The Explorers were unable to try the Villanova method from the outside, shooting a poor 6-for-34 on three-point attempts.

La Salle next hosts Oral Roberts – the school – on Monday at 7 p.m. in the Tom Gola Arena.

‘Nova Blockades Host Navy

Don’t get the wrong idea from the headline for this item. The Wildcats didn’t suddenly all turn into multiple versions of Baylor 6-8 sophomore sensation Brittney Griner against the Midshipwomen in Annapolis, Md., Friday night, at the Naval Academy.

However, coach Harry Perretta did go to the air effectively as Villanova (2-1) bombed Navy (2-1) with 11 three-pointers in the 54-41 victory that was secured by making six straight foul shots in the final 1:32 of action.

Sophomore Megan Pearson from Archbishop Carroll had a career high 15 points and Sarah Jones of Central High scored 13.

Additionally, the Wildcats armada was plentiful with Villanova reserves outscoring the local sailors 33-7 off the bench.

The team will remain in the town of tasty seafood and Colonial ambience to meet Oral Roberts 11 Saturday morning before hosting Patriot League champion Lehigh Tuesday night at the Pavilion at 7 p.m.

Owls Hit Free Throws to Dodge Bulls

Temple (1-2) finally made it to the win column in the opening week of the season, beating Buffalo 74-64 by picking up 26 points making foul shots in McGonigle Hall, the Owls’ other venue on North Broad Street.

Coach Tonya Cardoza’s squad was coming off an upset loss at Seton Hall after fading in the second half. This time, Temple got stronger with a 16-3 run down the stretch against Buffalo (1-2) of the Mid-American Conference.

Newcomer Shey Peddy scored 20 points and was 10-for-10 from the line. Junior Kristen McCarthy scored 18, while senior Qwedia Wallace scored 15 points. Victoria Macaulay had 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.

Buffalo is coached by Linda Hill MacDonald, a native of Delaware County who guided Temple in the 1980s leading the Owls to their best seasons prior to the Dawn Staley coaching era that began in 2000-01 and has continued the past two seasons under Cardoza.

Temple next hosts Northern Illinois, another MAC school, Tuesday night at 7 in McGonigle Hall before heading West after Thanksgiving. The Owls will be at Pepperdine Friday and then visit UCLA Sunday. The Bruins are expected to bolt forward in the AP rankings following their upset win this week at Notre Dame.

-- Mel


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