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, December 10, 2010

Guru Report: Monique Unique As Rutgers Upsets Georgetown

(Guru note: If you got here first by a search or link, a post above this one starts looking at UConn's march to 88 and then possibly 89 straight victories)


By Mel Greenberg

PISCATAWAY, N.J. –
Sugar Rodgers is the spice of Georgetown’s renaissance in women’s basketball. However, despite her 19 points Thursday night all the sweetness was on Rutgers’ side in a 70-53 upset of the No. 11 Hoyas at the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center.

Monique Oliver, a 6-foot-2 sophomore forward, set career highs with 21 points, most of them courtesy of a 15-for-21 effort on foul shots, and 17 rebounds for the Scarlet Knights (6-3, 1-0 Big East) in their conference season and home opener.


A McDonald’s All-American in High School in California, Oliver originally committed to Southern Cal, intending to follow the footsteps of her idol, retired WNBA superstar Lisa Leslie. But when Mark Trakh resigned as coach a year ago in May, USC gave her a release allowing a change of heart and decision to become a Scarlet Knight.

By halftime after Rutgers turned the momentum from a 10-point deficit to a 28-28 tie in the final four minutes, Oliver already had a double double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.

April Sykes finished with 17 points, connecting on 5-of-10 three-point attempts for Rutgers. Khadijah Rushdan scored 14 points.

Rubylee Wright had 13 points and Adria Crawford scored 10 for the Hoyas (7-3, 0-2 Big East) who reached their highest-ever ranking Monday in the Associated Press women’s poll. They have since gone on to lose to two straight unranked conference opponents, including an 81-72 setback in overtime Tuesday night at Miami.

Georgetown, which was on fire from the field at the outset Thursday before getting cooled, has also beaten two ranked teams in Maryland and Tennessee.

Plenty of tough opponents lie immediately ahead for Rutgers, beginning Sunday at former Big East rival Boston College, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference. But Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer felt good for the moment about a win that was the first in a group of four significant challenges to date on the schedule.

“We needed a quality win, including this group in particular, which hadn’t had a chance to claim something as their own,” Stringer said. “They can legitimately say, `You know what, we defended the floor.’ This is a new floor (at the RAC), this is a new era, except for `D.’

“It’s good for us to jell, early. We’re still not there, defensively, but I appreciate the effort, because it was a full game – the 55 (defensive press) – so we’ll work on a lot of things. But we can celebrate tonight and then go see what happens at Boston College.”

Just over a week ago the Scarlet Knights failed to produce any individual offensive rebounds in a narrow upset loss at Temple in Philadelphia. But on Thursday night here Rutgers crashed the boards to dominate Georgetown 21-11 in the category ands also 45-27 overall.

Stringer lauded the ability of her team to get to the foul line, citing a conscious effort to drive inside.

“It just shows we were attacking and rebounding,” she said.

When Oliver was asked about her big night, she said, “It felt good. I just wanted to win the game and stay aggressive,” she said.

Cold Spell Continues at Villanova

Ninth-ranked West Virginia (9-0, 1-0 Big East) caught host Villanova’s cold spell in the second half, but held on for a 39-36 victory over the Wildcats (5-4, 0-1) in the conference opener for both teams at the Pavilion.

“I don’t know what to say, what can I tell you,” Villanova veteran coach Harry Perretta said about the Wildcats’ second straight game of offensive ineptitude after edging Fairfield 30-29 at home a week ago.

“We held the No. 9 team in the country to 39 points and we didn’t win the game,” he continued over the phone from home. “Talk about the second half (Villanova outscored the Mountaineers 24-15), but you are not going to win ball games scoring 12 points in the first half.)

West Virginia seemed on the way to an easy win leading 24-12 after the first 20 minutes. Villanova had a paltry 16-9 lead at the half in the previous game against Fairfield.

But things never are easy in games on the Main Line for West Virginia coach Mike Carey’s group.

The Mountaineer finally got their first win in 13 tries at the Pavilion, but they almost didn’t get out alive.
Junior Lindsay Kimmel, the three-point ace who played at Temple two seasons ago before transferring, hit a trey, her third of the night, to give the Wildcats a 36-35 lead with 2 minutes, 57 seconds left in the game.

That brought her total to 12 as the only Wildcat to score in double figures.

West Virginia’s Liz Rapella, who had a game-high 14 points, got it back with a shot with 1:27 left and then after Kimmel missed a trey attempt, Ali Madina scored a layup with 19 seconds left for the final points of the game.

Villanova next goes to St. Joseph’s Sunday for the second Big Five game of the season for both teams.

A Hawks win would leave the City Series trophy up for grabs until the second half of the season.

A win by the Wildcats, who are defending champions, would then set the Dec. 19 tilt at the Pavilion when Temple visits as the next crucial game in the round robin. That will be the Owls’ first Big Five game.

-- Mel

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