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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.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guru Report: Kimmel's Career Night Helps Villanova Snap Streak

(Guru’s note: There is a post of interest above this one, depending how you got here.)

By Mel Greenberg

Somebody had to break out of a long losing slump in the rugged Big East Conference Tuesday night when Villanova hosted Cincinnati.

Thanks to a second-straight career performance on scoring and long-range shooting from Lindsay Kimmel, who formerly played at Temple two seasons ago, the host Wildcats prevailed 64-44 in a scoreboard reversal of scoring struggles by Villanova.
Kimmel matched Saturday’s total of seven three-pointers set in the loss at Syracuse and topped her 21-point total against the Orange with 23 here against the Bearcats.

Prior to the Syracuse game, Kimmel had connected with four treys in two straight games.

“I think the team is finding the rhythm,” Kimmel said. “I think shots are going to come but the team is finding the rhythm and we’re making passes and finding people open and doing a good job with that in working the ball around. It’s more of a team thing.”

Kimmel felt that the Wildcats (9-16, 1-11 Big East) were getting close to getting back to the victory column.

“It’s long overdue,” she said. “We’ve had quite a few games that were winnable but we just couldn’t tie the knot at the end. Now it’s good feeling but we have to keep this going.

“Coming from the (Atlantic 10), it’s not the same story as it was there. It’s a tough league and we’re doing the best we can but we have to get some more `Ws.’

Devon Kane had a career high with 11 points and Laura Sweeney scored 10.

“Thank God,” Perretta said, adding that he returned Kimmel to the starting lineup to provide some leadership.

He had previously noted that in games considered winnable his players seem to be tighter than in games against the slew of ranked teams in the Big East.

Villanova, which had trouble earlier in the season breaking out of the teens scoring in the first half, rode to a 32-20 lead at the break.

But they missed their first six shots of the second half, mostly attempted treys, before Kimmel’s trio from beyond the arc helped extend Villanova to a 43-24 advantage with 13 minutes, 24 seconds left in the game.

“You could see our younger players, I thought they were nervous – they were getting wide-open shots,” Perretta said. “They weren’t even hitting the rim.

“I thought when Lindsay made the first three in the second half, then everybody took a deep breath. Then Rachel (Roberts) got that offensive rebound and banked it in. The first offensive rebound went over the backboard.

“At this point we’re just trying to play.”

The win was Perretta’s 596th leaving him four short of 600.

Villanova, using 12 players against seven, also had a depth advantage against the injury-riddled Bearcats (8-16, 1-11) who have now lost 10 straight and whose only conference win was a 57-56 outcome at South Florida to start the conference schedule on Jan. 5.

“You have to have the players to compete,” said Cincinnati second-year coach Jamelle Elliott, a former 12-year assistant at Connecticut who was highly regarded for her recruiting skills.

Jeanise Randolph scored 20 points for Cincinnati and Shareese Ulis scored 11.

“I’m just trying to learn this conference and see what we need to do,” Elliott said. “We need to score. I can’t remember the last time we saw 60 points in game.”

That was a 65-63 win over Hofstra of the Colonial Athletic Association in the Maggie Dixon Surf N Slam Classic in San Diego on Dec. 30.

Two nights earlier Cincinnati almost upset then No. 23 Texas, losing 80-77 to the Longhorns who have since fallen out of the Associated Press poll.

“We knew Villanova was going to shoot threes – they live and die by the three and unfortunately we started off man-to-man early and they were able to get some threes off of us and then we went zone and that’s worst thing you want to do against a team like Villanova.

“At some point we’re going to have one of these games where we shoot the ball well.”

Villanova will try to make it two in a row Saturday when the Wildcats travel to Seton Hall (8-16, 1-10), which hosts No. 22 Marquette (19-5, 7-4) on Wednesday.

Rutgers Rally Dies

If the Scarlet Knights still had the likes of WNBA players such as Cappie Pondexter, Matee Ajavon and Essence Carson, offering handicaps by dropping behind early in the contest would not be a worry.

But although there’s plenty of talent on the Scarlet Knights, it is not working out as well when deep deficits occur against the Big East heavyweights.

That was the case again on Tuesday night in Chicago where Rutgers’ road woes against ranked conference opponents continued with a 66-62 loss to No. 10 DePaul (24-3, 11-1) after slicing a 19-point deficit to two but no more.

The loss keeps Rutgers (14-11, 7-5) on the proverbial NCAA bubble, dropping to seventh place in the conference.

The Scarlet Knights have been getting shuffled in and out of projections of mock bracket analysts.
April Sykes scored 15 points for Rutgers, while Khadijah Rushdan and Chelsey Lee each scored 13, and Erica Wheeler scored 11.

The Blue Demons hit six of their first seven three-point shots to jump to an 18-5 lead at McGrath Arena.

Keisha Hampton had 22 points for DePaul, whose only conference loss is to second-ranked Connecticut, and Sam Quigley scored 14.

Rutgers basically has a “must win” road stop in terms of NCAA hopes Saturday when the Scarlet Knights visit Marquette in Milwaukee.

In another Big East game Tuesday host Pittsburgh beat Providence 60-57 to break an 11th-place tie with the visiting Friars (11-13, 4-8) as Teneisha Harrison scored 20 points for the Panthers (13-12, 5-7).

Pittsburgh’s Chelsea Cole, who leads the Big East with 14 double doubles, had 13 points and 13 rebounds. It was the second straight game the Panthers had trailed by 11 points before rallying for a victory.

Delle Donne Honored

Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne, the reigning CAA player of the year who also took the top rookie honor last season, following her
nod as conference player of the week, on Tuesday was named ECAC Division I player of the week.
While it is Delle Donne’s first weekly award from the organization, she was named rookie of the year and to the ECAC first team last season.

She has also won four CAA weekly awards this season despite missing 11 straight games and 12 overall because of symptoms of Lyme disease.

Looking Ahead

The three Big Five teams in the Atlantic 10 will be looking to extend winning ways in games Wednesday night – two on the road and one at home.

Temple (19-6, 10-0) will try to keep pace atop the conference with sixth-ranked Xavier (21-2, 10-0) when the Owls visit George Washington (8-16, 3-7), which is trying to avoid being one of the bottom two teams in the 14-member conference to
be eliminated from playing in the A-10 tournament.

The Musketeers will visit St. Louis (7-18, 1-9).

The Owls can clinch one of four byes with a win aihead of Saturday’s visit from idle Dayton (16-9, 7-4) in a TV game at the Liacouras Center.

St. Joseph’s (15-9, 5-5) will look to move up a bit from eighth when the Hawks visit fourth-place Duquesne (20-5, 7-3).

La Salle (8-17, 4-6) will be looking to move closer to formally making the Atlantic 10 field for the first time in four seasons when the Explorers host third-place Charlotte (20-5, 8-2), which is beginning to show up in some NCAA projections.

If St. Louis losses to Xavier and Rhode Ialand loses at home to Fordham, La Salle can also back in with a loss because the Explorers will be three games in front of those two and own tiebreakers with victories over both.

-- Mel


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