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.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Roxbury Girls and UConn Karma Help Temple Upset Rutgers

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA –
A couple of hometown girls from Roxbury, Mass., a section of Boston, gave Temple its best moment of the season Wednesday night when the Owls edged Rutgers 60-58 at McGonigle Hall, the older and smaller venue near the Liacouras Center on North Broad St.

Furthermore, pieces of UConn can be found woven into what is now the first set of back-to-back victories by the Owls over the Scarlet Knights since a two-game sweep in 1984-85 when Rutgers was part of the Atlantic10 wars.

For one, the Guru hears a communication from the Huskies’ staff, whose team is currently on an all-time women’s 84-game win streak, to the Owls’ staff, which has UConn DNA, put 61 as the magic number needed to top the state school of New Jersey.

Temple coach Tonya Cardoza was an assistant to Geno Auriemma 14 seasons at UConn, while her assistant Willnett Crockett played for the Huskies and operations director Stacey Nasser was a manager.

And in terms of the winning points, which came from junior transfer Shey Peddy on a pair of foul shots with 2.3 seconds remaining, that joy is a result of some heroine worshipping of one Roxbury girl of another.

When Peddy was asked what motivated her to transfer from Wright State to the Owls, Temple coach Tonya Cardoza, leaned in her direction, laughed a bit, and said, “Be honest. I’m right here. You can say it.”

Obeying her coach, Peddy responded, saying, “She’s from my hometown and I always looked up to her and I wanted to play for her. And I heard she had a job here. I knew I would eventually want to transfer and come play for her.”

Peddy, a point guard, got knocked around a bit in the first half going to the basket and went to the sidelines for a spell. But she returned and with the game on the line after Chelsey Lee missed a shot for Rutgers (4-3), Peddy grabbed a rebound and headed for the Temple basket. She drove inside, drawing a foul from the Scarlet Knights’ Erica Wheeler.

“Just put it in,” Peddy said of her thoughts when she went to the line. “We always talk about free throws and I know when it came down to those last two, we played a good 40 minutes and I didn’t want to let us have to go and play another five minutes (overtime). I know if I made it then we had a good chance of winning the game.”

Temple (3-4) was coming off a two-game losing streak in California, though Sunday’s 71-61 defeat at No. 13 UCLA drew some respect for the Owls’ performance at Pauley Pavilion. They next play at Auburn, Saturday.

Rutgers, on the other hand, had a four-game win streak, though Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer dismissed the value of the run saying that Temple was her team’s best test since the Scarlet Knights lost at No. 3 Stanford in the first weekend of the season.

“Those games weren’t real,” she said, though she probably forgot that the first win came at the last moments at home on Khadijah Rushdan’s shot against defending Ivy champion Princeton.

The game in McGonigle Hall was close most of the way, though Rutgers arrived at the half ahead 30-25 with Lee scoring 11 of her 15 points, She also had six of her eight rebounds before Temple’s Victoria Macauley and Natasha Thames were able to limit Lee in the second half.

“They really needed to guard Lee,” Cardoza said of instructions at halftime. “She was the one looking to post up a lot and get some easy buckets and just be a little bit physical with her and for guys to help double down.

“For the most part, we were able to get a little bit of help in there – she’s a great player,” Cardoza said. “I remember recruiting her when I was at Connecticut – she’s huge and she’s actually a better offensive player now. She’s definitely put the work in.

“But I thought those guys down the stretch, especially `Vic, limiting her to one shot and actually getting a block or two on her.”
Temple held a slim 53-52-lead down the stretch when Qwedia Wallace nailed a three-pointer and Peddy hit a layup for a six-point advantage.

But Rushdan, a redshirt junior playing not far from her hometown of Wilmington, Del., and St. Elizabeth High School, hit two shots andWheeler scored to create a 58-58 tie with 46 seconds left.

Lee then stole the ball from Kristen McCarthy but missed a shot that Peddy grabbed with 16 seconds to play before she put herself in position to win the game.

Rushdan had 10 points, while April Sykes scored 12.

Marli Bennett had 14 points for the Owls, while McCarthy and Wallace each scored 13.

The way the Owls shot from beyond the arc, Stringer could have thought the bus missed a turn and was really out on the Main Line at Big East rival Villanova instead of a team from the Atlantic 10.

Temple was 10-for-24 on three-point attempts.

“They just put in the time,” Cardoza said of the long-range accuracy from Bennett, McCarthy and Wallace. “Those guys (including Peddy) put in the time and effort to making them and that’s probably our best percentage. It’s almost as good as our free throw shooting.

“They’re confident shooters. And once we got our post players -- `Vic and `Tasha -- able to score in the post, I think it will even open up more for those guys. But right now it’s going to get a little tougher because people are watching and seeing they’re shooting the ball out there pretty well and they’re going to force us to score in the post a little more. But until that happens, I hope those guys keep knocking them down.”

Stringer was most upset by her team’s failure to play defense, saying she was trying to stay calm responding to questions and asked reporters not to get her riled up.

They didn’t have to. The stat sheet did the job revealing that Temple had 13 offensive rebounds to just four by Rutgers.
Let’s go to the audio for that part of Stringer’s postgame analysis.

“This is a pretty startling stat. We had four offensive rebounds? Four offensive rebounds? That’s a mind blower. I’ve never seen this. That means Temple did a great job following up with their shots.

“Everybody should be able to get defensive rebounds or we wouldn’t be in that position in the first place. But we got four offensive rebounds. And that speaks to –and these are team rebounds. So that means no one got offensive rebounds.
“So we did as many things to beat ourselves as we did to win.”

Maybe there’s a long-range good omen for Rutgers.

Stringer’s reaction to the stats recalls a time years ago when WNBA star Tammy Sutton-Brown was a freshman and the Scarlet Knights lost to a smaller St. Joseph’s team on Hawk Hill.

Stringer sat and looked at the numbers afterwards asking several times how her collective post players could go 1-for-5.

But by the time Sutton-Brown was an upper class woman, Rutgers earned its first NCAA Final Four trip in 2000 down in South Philly to the then-called Wachovia Center, the home of the NHL Flyers and NBA 76ers.

Next up for Rutgers Sunday is a visit from Central Connecticut State before No. 12 Georgetown visits next Thursday in the first Big East game of the season.

Incidentally, another positive omen for Rutgers. Several years ago the Scarlet Knights lost to Temple early in the season here but later beat the Owls in the NCAA tournament and made it to the Sweet 16 at the Liacouras Center.

The larger venue is a host facility again in March.

Princeton Clips Delaware As Delle Donne Stays Sidelined

In a battle of Mid-Major poll highly ranked teams at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del., No. 5 Princeton handled No. 10 Delaware 68-50 but Blue Hens star Elena Delle Donne, the nation’s leading scorer, remained on the bench Wednesday night because of fatigue.

Delaware (5-1) had been off to its best start since the 1992-93 season but again, as last year, health and injuries concerning the 2008 national high school player of the year out of Wilmington’s Ursuline Academy continue to a companion story.

Delle Donne left Sunday’s game at La Salle six minutes into the Blue Hens win, never played again, and coach Tina Martin afterwards said the 6-foot-5 sophomore forward was suffering from fatigue due to a yet undiagnosed cause.

Local reports of the win by the Tigers (4-2) said Delle Donne was on the bench in street clothes. Martin after the game characterized Delle Donne’s status as day-to-day.

Despite a drop of almost seven points off her average caused by Sunday’s situation, Delle Donne is still the nation’s leading scorer with a 27.4 points per game average.

The Blue Hens also missed another starter in Jocelyn Bailey who suffered a concussion during the win at La Salle. She is expected to return Sunday when Delaware travels to Navy.

Delaware is then idle until a major showdown on Dec. 19 when the Blue Hens travel to Penn State.

Lehigh Repels St. Joseph’s

Drexel, which hosts Tulsa Thursday night, isn’t the only team bagging Big Five schools these days. Lehigh, the defending Patriot League champion, beat St. Joseph’s 46-40 in Bethlehem, Pa., Wednesday afternoon at Stabler Arena.

Michelle Baker scored 17 point but the Hawks (3-2), who lost their second straight game, shot 27.9 percent from the field against the Mountain Hawks (3-5)

Lehigh’s Erica Prosser scored 16 points and the Mountain Hawks’ Courtney Dentler grabbed 11 rebounds.

St. Joseph’s heads to New Orleans for a pair of weekend games beginning Friday and playing host Tulane.

-- Mel

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