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.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Guru Report: CAA Sorts Itself, Penn State Rallies, ACC/Big East Upsets

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA –
On a day in which Drexel looked closer to its form during the nonconference portion of the Dragons’ schedule, the pecking order in the Colonial Athletic Association became slightly more clear-cut heading into next month’s tournament at the Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md.

Drexel prevailed down the stretch at home Sunday in the Daskalakis Athletic Center to defeat Northeastern 70-63, scoring 35 points in each half and getting a career-high 30 points from Kamile Nacickaite.

Taylor Wootton and Hollie Mershon each scored 14 points for Drexel (14-10, 6-7 CAA), which moved back into a sixth-place tie with Hofstra (14-10, 6-7).

Kashaia Cannon had 15 points for the Huskies (8-16, 3-10) if Boston, not to be confused with the more prominent Huskies located elsewhere in New England.

Northeastern’s Christine Huber, a transfer from Rutgers, scored 12 points, Jamie Conroy scored 11, and Deanna Kerkhof scored 10.

Drexel shot 53.8 percent from the field, while the Huskies also shot decent with a 50 percent average.

The Dragons, which lost starting point guard Marisa Crane to a knee injury just before CAA competition began in January, had lost five of their last seven games including a 66-59 setback at Hofstra on Thursday.

“I thought we played better at the Hofstra game, to be honest,” Drexel coach Denise Dillon, a former Villanova star, said. “I don’t think we played too well at the two games leading up to that at Towson (45-43 win in overtime) and at Delaware (53-44 loss).

“I just tried to explain to (her team) of their understanding of shots in the offense, even though you miss, it’s still a good shot, it’s the best shot we can get in that possession.

“And I don’t think they were getting that. They were starting to beat themselves up, they were starting to beat each other up so we had a couple of good practices leading up to Hofstra, had a good game against Hofstra – the last few minutes of the half killed us – that’s why we lost it, and then we came back and practiced pretty good coming into today.”

Dillon said her players need to understand they will be in firefights the rest of the way straight into the CAA tournament.

“We beat some teams (handily) at the beginning of the year, it was a little surprising, they didn’t know us, but our players have to let that go and understand every game is going to come down to last two minutes.

“I think they’re starting to realize that, sadly, we only have five left.”

Drexel only loses three-point shooting ace Jasmina Rosseel, a native of Belgium, from this year’s team.

The Dragons had built a 16-point lead in the first half that Northeastern shaved to six points at the break.

The Huskies continued to surge in the second half, taking a 60-59 lead on Huber’s layup with 3 minutes, 21 seconds left in the game.

But Drexel then relied on its defense to make stops and broke from a 63-63 tie with 1:59 left to mount a run on a three-pointer from Nacickaite and two foul shots from Mershon. Renee Johnson-Allen then hit a foul shot for Drexel’s and the game’s final point.

At the top of the league, defending champion James Madison (19-6, 12-1) stayed one game in front by beating visiting George Mason 53-40 at the JMU Convocation Center in Harrisonburg, Va., as Lauren Jimenez scored a game-high 16 points against the Patriots (11-13, 5-8).

JMU next hosts Towson (8-16, 2-11) on Thursday. The Tigers lost 67-56 at Georgia State.

Old Dominion (17-7, 11-2) and UNC Wilmington (18-6, 10-3) entered Sunday’s game tied behind JMU but the host Lady Monarchs stayed in second with a 68-60 win at the Ted Constant Center in Norfolk, Va.

Shadasia Green had a season-high 19 points for ODU, which travels to nearby Richmond Thursday against fourth-place Virginia Commonwealth (14-9, 9-4), which trails JMU by three games.

The Seahawks (18-6, 10-3), who got 16 points each from Martha White and Alisha Andrews, fell two games off the pace and host Georgia State (9-14, 4-8) Thursday.

Brittany Blackwell added 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for UNCW.

VCU struggled with visiting Hofstra before prevailing 85-76 against the Pride at home as Courtney Hurt scored 26 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for the Rams to set a school single-season record with her 19th double double, which tops the NCAA statistics charts.

Hofstra, which got 25 points and 10 rebounds from West Chester Henderson grad Shante Evans, goes to Northeastern Thursday.

Delaware’s 70-66 win in overtime at last place William & Mary (2-21, 1-12) in Williamsburg, Va., kept the Blue Hens (15-9, 8-5) in fifth a game behind VCU still holding a shot to catch or pass the Rams for the fourth and final bye slot in next month’s CAA tournament.

Blue Hens and fowls are synonymous but it was Delaware’s ability to shoot fouls of the basketball variety that enabled coach Tina Martin’s squad to stay on the comeback trail.

Specifically, several hours before Grammy Awards night, Delaware sophomore sensation Elena Delle Donne was spinning records again making music in the Delaware and CAA achievement books as well as in the one in the Tribe’s Kaplan Arena.

Delaware hit 27 of 31 attempts from the line, including 10 in the second half and 11 in overtime.

“Life on the road in the Colonial Athletic Association is brutal,” Martin said afterwards in postgame comments. “Our kids never gave up, even when we went down and William & Mary got hot.”

Delle Donne, who scored 31 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, tied the Blue Hens single game record for most foul shots made (17) and attempted (19).

She had missed 12 games overall and 11 straight because of suffering from Lyme disease-like symptoms and recently returned two weeks ago.

Her 31 points were her fourth best on the season and 12th time she has scored 30 or more points.

Delle Donne had given Delaware a 51-50 lead on two foul shots with 24 seconds left but the game was forced into overtime when the Tribe’s Taysha Pye missed one of two foul shots on an ensuing possession.

Her 17 foul shots made broke the arena record of 16 set by William & Mary’s Julie Sommer on Jan. 3, 1999.

Penn State Rally Keeps Nittany Lions In Big Ten Hunt

Coming off a woeful performance against No. 11 Michigan State at home on Thursday night that saw No. 23 Penn State slip a half-game behind the Spartans in the Big Ten standings, the Nittany Lions were in danger of slipping further Sunday when they trailed most of the afternoon at Indiana in Bloomington.

But an 18-5 run in the final six minutes gave Penn State an 80-77 victory over the Hoosiers (9-16, 3-10 Big Ten) as Nikki Greene hit a layup to score the deciding basket with 40 seconds left to play.

Two Philadelphia-area connections factored in the win for the Nittany Lions (21-6, 10-3). Freshman Maggie Lucas of Narberth and Germantown Academy hit six three pointers, accounting for all 18 points she scored. Devon’s Julie Trogele, who had 14 rebounds but no points against Michigan State, redeemed herself against the Hoosier with 15 points, seven rebounds, four steals, two blocked shots and a caeer-high 11 assists.

Trogele also found Greene inside for the winning basket.

Mia Nickson and Alex Bentley each scored 12 points for Penn State.

Lucas, who has dominated the weekly Big Ten rookie award this season, scored her 96th trey on the season to move into third place on Penn State’s records list and fourth in the Big Ten, surpassing former Nittany Lions all-American Kelly Mazzante on both lists.

Penn State, which moved into a half-game lead over idle Wisconsin (14-10, 9-3) in sole possession of second, hosts Purdue on Thursday night.

No. 11 Michigan State (22-3, 10-2) stayed slightly ahead of Penn State by grabbing an in-state 69-56 win over visiting Michigan (14-10, 7-5) in front of the first-ever sellout crowd at the Spartans’ Breslin Center for a women’s game.

An announced crowd of 14,797 saw Kalisa Keane score 18 points, Taylor Alton score 16, and Lykendra Johnson get 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Spartans, who are off to their best start and have won their ninth straight over the Wolverines.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, overwhelming preseason favorite Ohio State (15-9, 6-6), who slipped almost out of sight, won its second straight – 83-76 over Minnesota (11-14, 3-9) – and Buckeyes senior center Jantel Lavender scored 29 points to become OSU’s all-time scorer, breaking WNBA legend Katie Smith’s mark of 2,578, set in 1996.

Purdue (17-9, 7-6) got an easy 92-63 win over visiting Illinois (7-19, 2-11) as Drey Mingo scored 23 points for the Boilermakers and Antoinette Howard had 21.

Iowa (19-7, 7-6) erupted into a scoring explosion in the second half with 63 points to down host Northwestern 86-75 at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill., as Kachine Alexander scored 22 points against the Wildcats (16-10, 5-8).

Hurricane Winds and Cavalier Ambush Stir ACC

A week after the Atlantic Coast Conference race got closer it got a little wider again Sunday with first-place Duke, ranked fifth, beating visiting Boston College 66-53.

No. 20 Miami is now the only team one game behind the Blue Devils in the standings after the Hurricanes surprised No. 13 North Carolina 78-66 in the Tar Heels’ Carmichael Auditorium in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Meanwhile, unranked Virginia shocked No. 12 Maryland 60-57 in the Terrapins’ Comcast Center in College Park while Georgia Tech ended a slide with a home-court 74-65 win over North Carolina State in Atlanta.

Ariana Moorer scored 17 points against Maryland for the Cavaliers (14-13, 4-8), who had previously beaten North Carolina State in four overtimes.

Virginia’s Whitny Edwards hit two foul shots with 11.2 seconds left in regulation.

Freshman Alyssa Thomas scored 14 for Maryland (20-5, 6-4), which lost its second straight and is now three games behind Duke in the standings.

The Blue Devils (23-2, 9-1) got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Krystal Thomas and 15 points from Allison Vernerey in the win over the Eagles (17-8, 4-6) in Durham, N.C.

Meanwhile look for the Hurricanes of Miami (22-3, 8-2) to blast up the poll coast after Sunday’s win at North Carolina following a win over Maryland to moved them to a game behind Duke in the standings.

Miami’s Riquana Williams scored 25 points against the Tar Heels (22-4, 8-3), who got 18 points from Laura Broomfield.

A starting lineup shuffle by coach MaChelle Joseph paid off for Georgia Tech (19-8, 7-4) in the win over the Wolfpack (10-15, 1-9).

Alex Montgomery, switched from a starter to a substitute, came off the bench to score 26 points and grab 12 rebounds for the Yellow Jackets.

Tennessee Docks Commodores

The No. 4 Vols (24-2, 12-0 SEC) continue to roll through the Southeastern Conference, beating host Vanderbilt 65-57 despite trailing 28-15 at the half in Nashville.

It was the third-worst scoring half in Tennessee history but like the other two against Rutgers and Virginia, the Vols came back to win.

Shekinna Stricklin had 15 points while Lauren Avant had all 11 of her points in the second half after having ridden the bench for 17 of the opening 20 minutes against Vanderbilt (17-8, 8-4).

The Vols next host South Carolina (15-10, 7-5) Thursday night. Coach Dawn Staley may have the Gamecocks stirring with a second-straight win Sunday, rallying for a 60-53 victory over host Mississippi State (10-14, 2-10) in Starkville.

Ieasia Walker scored 16 points for South Carolina.

In two close games involving ranked SEC teams, No. 24 Georgia (19-6, 9-3) rallied for a 61-56 win over host Mississippi (10-14, 3-9) in Oxford, while No. 15 Kentucky (19-6, 8-4) edged visiting LSU 49-47 on Brittany Henderson’s layup with 1.1 seconds left in the game in Lexington.

Georgia’s Jasmine James scored 19 points while A’dia Matthies scored 16 points for Kentucky, which dropped LSU to 17-10 overall and 7-6 in the conference.

Big East Upsets

Two ranked Big East teams suffered upset losses with St. John’s, which had been ranked earlier, surprising No. 16 Georgetown 75-71 in overtime at home on Long Island while Louisville felled No. 17 West Virginia 57-47 at home in Kentucky.

Amanda Burakoski scored 15 points for the Red Storm (17-7, 6-5) in New York to stop the Hoyas’ win streak at six. Sugar Rodgers scored 23 points for Georgetown (20-6, 8-4).

Shoni Schimmel had 17 points for Louisville (16-9, 7-4), which stuffed the Mountaineers (20-6, 6-6) with their third straight loss. Madina Ali had 12 points for West Virginia.

Looking Ahead

The Guru is about to zip up to Hartford for Connecticut-Oklahoma Monday night while in a Big 12 showdown No. 6 Texas A&M visits No. 1 Baylor.

Then it’s back for Tuesday night’s cellar classic in the Big East with Cincinnati visiting Villanova.

-- Mel

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