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.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Guru Report: Temple Gets Super Win In Pittsburgh Against Duquesne

By Mel Greenberg

The Temple women’s basketball team ruined any ideas here Saturday afternoon of a complete show of local strength this weekend by the Steel City’s sports teams.

While the NHL Penguins won on Friday night and the NFL Steelers are trying to win another Super Bowl Sunday night when they meet the Green Bay Packers in Dallas, the Owls reduced the two NCAA Division I women’s collegiate squads to a split by gaining an important 61-52 triumph over Duquesne in a key Atlantic 10 game at A.J. Palumbo Center to stay tied for first with No. 7 Xavier and unbeaten in the conference.

Several hours later the University of Pittsburgh pulled a major upset down the road beating No. 14 West Virginia 60-53 in Morgantown that ended the Mountaineers’ home win streak at 31 as Taneisha Harrison had a career-high 30 points for the Panthers (11-11, 3-6 Big East).

Liz Rapella had 21 points for West Virginia (20-4, 6-4), which will host No. 2 Connecticut on Tuesday night.

Temple (17-6, 8-0) ran its current win streak to 10 straight, a four-year high, and opened up a two-game lead over Duquesne (19-4, 6-2), which has been experiencing a renaissance under Suzie McConnell-Serio, a former Penn State all-American who also starred in the WNBA and won an Olympic gold medal in 1988 with the USA squad.

Shey Peddy, the reigning conference and Big Five player of the week, scored 26 points as the only Owl scoring in double figures.

“She had to sit out last year and watch everything (after transferring from Wright State), but when she’s playing this way, we have to keep her healthy because she always give us a chance.

“This is a big one for us,” Cardoza continued. “We knew our defense was going to have to do the job for us, because we know they’re just as good a defensive team. And they play a lot like us where they’re switching with their four player.

“Offensively, they have so many guys who can score that we knew we were really going to have to dig down on defense and try to limit as many touches as they can get.”

Samantha Pollino had 22 for the Dukes and Vanessa Abel scored15 points but the Owls were able to hold standout freshman
Wumi Agunbiade to 1-for-8 from the field and four points, seven below her average; and Alex Gensler to seven, which was six
points off her average.

“When you have three-point shooters that they have and post players that can step out and shoot the three – they just have so many weapons and for us to keep them to 52 points that’s a credit to our defense,” Cardoza noted.

Temple outrebounded the Dukes 43-34, including 17-5 on the offensive end, and grabbed 11 steals in forcing Duquense into 22 turnovers.

Marli Bennett got some cuts in the chin and Qwedia Wallace suffered a minor ankle injury but both are expected to remain in action for Temple.

The Dukes had escaped a major upset here Wednesday night when they scored in regulation at the buzzer and then defeated Massachusetts 84-79 in overtime.

“Turnovers led to easy baskets, turnovers kept giving them second chances, those were things we addressed in the two days we prepared to play them,” McConnell-Serio said. “Making sure we took care of the ball and box out. All five players needed to be accountable with rebounding.

“And we didn’t do that. I thought (Temple) did a good job as the game wore on in penetrating and getting to the basket and forcing us to help and find open players. What’s disappointing is we didn’t show up offensively.

“We’re at our best when we have balance and when we have depth. We didn’t get contributions from multiple players today.”

Temple next on Wednesday goes to St. Bonaventure (15-9, 5-4), which fell into sixth place a game behind Richmond (15-8, 6-3), which beat the visiting Bonnies 56-50 as Brittani Shells scored 18 points for the Spiders in the Robbins Center.

Megan Van Tatenhove scored 11 points for St. Bonaventure, which went cold in the second half following a 23-23 deadlock at the break.

Duquesne Wednesday will host St. Louis (7-16, 1-7), which fell at home Saturday night to George Washington 49-36.

The Colonials (7-15, 2-6) got some tiny breathing room trying to avoid being one of the two teams at the very bottom of the A-10 standings who get eliminated from next month’s conference tournament at the Tsongas Center in Lowell, Mass.

Back at the top of the standings, Temple almost got sole possession of first place but Xavier (19-2, 8-0) rallied for a 64-60 win in overtime at in-state rival Dayton (15-8, 6-3).

Special Jennings scored 19 points for the visiting Musketeers and Amber Harris, expected to be a high WNBA first-round draft pick, scored 16 points and blocked four shots. She also had a winning three-point play with 55 seconds left in the extra period. Megan Askew had six blocks.

Justine Raterman scored 25 points for the Flyers, while Kristin Daugherty scored 17 points and Patrice Lalor scored 14 and dealt eight assists.

Dayton and Temple are two of the four host teams for the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. The other two cities are Dallas and Spokane, Wash.

Meanwhile St. Joseph’s (13-9, 3-5) avoided dropping into dangerous territory in the A-10 by rallying at Rhode Island for a 59-55 win that kept the Rams (6-16, 0-8) in last place.

The Hawks had trailed by as many as 11 points at the Ryan Center before snapping a two-game losing streak.
Samira Van Grinsven, Kelly Cavallo and Ilze Gotfrida each scored 10 points for St. Joseph’s, which temporarily is alone in eighth place.

On Sunday afternoon, either Fordham (10-13, 2-5) or La Salle (6-16, 2-5) will rejoin the Hawks, depending who wins the game at the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena.

St. Joseph’s travels to Fordham Wednesday night and La Salle hosts Rhode Island the same evening.

In the other A-10 game on Saturday Charlotte (18-5, 6-2) took an 80-55 win at Massachusetts (6-18, 2-7) and moved into fourth place a half-game in front of Dayton and Richmond.

The top four teams get byes in the A-10 tournament leading to an NCAA automatic bid.

Penn Falls to Ivy Frontrunner Harvard In A Thriller

The good news is that the Quakers continue to improve in the second year under coach Mike McLaughlin but unfortunately with progress comes pain as the losses are occurring by narrow margins.

Penn (7-12, 1-4 Ivy) nearly stunned new Ivy frontrunner Harvard, but fell 88-84 in double overtime at Lavietes Pavilion Saturday night in Cambridge, Mass.

Ironically, the Quakers men also lost to the Crimson Saturday night in double overtime – an 83-82 setback at The Palestra.

Alyssa Baron, the reigning Ivy rookie of the week, set the Quakers freshman record in the Harvard game with a career-high 38 points.

The total is the fifth best overall for the Penn women behind the all-time single game mark of 42 points set by Diana Caramanico against Albany in 2001.

“She’s very special,” McLaughlin said of Baron as part of his remarks in a video interview posted on the Penn website after the Harvard game. “She wanted it very bad. She was phenomenal. She got her teammates open. She caused a lot of traffic and was able to kick the ball out. She’s very unselfish.”

Harvard (13-6, 5-0) had moved to the top all alone Friday night by ending defending champion Princeton’s Ivy win streak at 22 with a 73-67 triumph at home over the Tigers as Christine Clark scored 18 points.

Princeton got 16 points from Laura Johnson, while Devona Allgood scored 14 points, Addie Micir scored 12 and Krystal Hill had 11 points.

“I thought we really came out flat but adjusted well and gave it a good fight,” Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said at the Princeton website.

The Tigers (15-4, 4-1) recovered Saturday night, beating host Dartmouth, 75-50, in Hanover, N.H., as Megan Bowen scored 14 points while Allgood and Hill each scored 12 against the Big Green (5-14, 1-4) at Leede Arena.

“We really stressed putting a good 40 minutes together,” Banghart said. “I liked our push in transition and how well we shared the ball. Any road win in this league is a good one. Our bench had a great weekend.”

The Tigers have been playing without top player Niveen Rasheed, a sophomore who suffered a season-ending knee injury right before the New Year.

“We knew with the loss of one we’d a little bit more from all 11 and it looks like we are getting that.”

Penn suffered its first narrow loss of the weekend Friday night, losing 68-65 at Dartmouth, the scene of its only Ivy win which came near the end of last season. Baron had 19 points against the Big Green and Jourdan Banks scored 10 points at Leede Arena.

Dartmouth’s Faziah Steen had 28 points, fueled by seven 3-point shots.

“We didn’t defend as well as this team needs to defend,” McLaughin said first of the Dartmouth game. “We scored 65 points, which is great for us, but we gave up 68. But we hung in there and gave ourselves a chance at the end.”
The Penn-Harvard game had 16 lead changes and six ties.

“Tonight was a special game,” McLaughlin added. “I said to the ladies afterwards, the only thing we lost was the score at the end. I was so impressed with their resolve. It was an unbelievable college game other than we came up short.

“We’ve grown up a lot, we’ve learned a lot and to come into this environment. I can tell you that’s a very upset group right now. They put a lot into this and they didn’t get rewarded with a win tonight.

”I told them in this sport if you keep playing and do the right things you will be rewarded and they believe that. It’s hard for them to believe that right now but if they keep going on and doing what they’ve been doing, they’re going to be rewarded.”

Brianna Bradford scored 11 points and Meghan McCullough scored 10.

Emma Markley scored 21 for the Crimson.

Penn hosts Cornell Friday and Princeton hosts Columbia before the two visiting teams switch sites Saturday.

The National Scene

After escaping with a one-point win over Rutgers at home Tuesday night, St. John’s was on the other side of a narrow finish, losing to No. 23 Marquette 55-52 in Milwaukee as Tatiyiana McMorris nailed a 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left for the Golden Eagles (19-4, 7-3 Big East).

McMorris scored 19 points while Da’Shena Stevens scored 11 points for the Red Storm (16-7, 5-5).

No. 9 DePaul (21-3, 8-1 Big East) seemed poised early to give No. 2 Connecticut more of a fight in the Huskies’ Gampel Pavilion on the Storrs campus than No. 3 Duke had done in Monday night’s blowout.

But it was not to be.

Maya Moore set the pace with 34 points, 11 rebounds and six assists as UConn (22-1, 10-0) took over sole possession of the
Big East and ran their recent record to 100-1 with the loss being at Stanford in December that ended the Huskies’ NCAA Division I win streak record at 90 games.

Stefanie Dolson had a career-high 21 points and the Huskies have won 74 straight home games, including the XL Center in nearby Hartford, and 60 straight in the Big East.

Felicia Chester had 19 points for the Blue Demons.

DePaul coach Doug Bruno was an assistant to UConn’s Geno Auriemma on the USA World Championship gold medalists in September and the two along with Moore were part of the recipents of rings and the championship trophy from USA Basketball’s women’s director Carol Callan.

The trophy will be displayed at the school.

No. 4 Stanford (20-2, 11-0 Pac-10) matched its own conference win streak record at 48 straight by beating host Arizona 91-61 in Tucson as Jeanette Pohlen topped all five Cardinal starters in double figures with 17 points while Ify Ibekwe scored 19 for the Wildcats (11-9, 4-7).

One minute Texas Tech had seemed ready to return to the glory days of Sheryl Swoopes but now the Red Raiders (16-6, 3-5 Big 12) are mired with a five-game losing streak after No. 6 Texas A&M (19-2, 7-1) won a conference game on the road in Lubbock as Danielle Adams had 22 of her 26 points in the second half.

No. 8 Notre Dame (20-4, 9-1 Big East) got 19 points from Natalie Novosel as the Irish stopped host South Florida 76-68 in Tampa. Andrea Smith had 20 points for the Bulls, who have lost nine of 10 games.

No. 13 Oklahoma (17-5, 7-2 Big 12) blew a 14-point halftime lead at home in Norman but recovered to gain a conference triumph 65-62 over No. 22 Iowa State (16-6, 4-4) as Danielle Robinson scored 20 points for the Sooners.

No. 17 Georgetown (19-5, 7-3) got 14 points from Rubylee Wright in the Hoyas’ 55-38 Big East win at home in the nation’s capital against Cincinnati (8-14, 1-9).

No. 21 Wisconsin-Green Bay (22-1, 11-0 Horizon League) had an easy 85-25 win at home over Youngstown State (3-19, 1-0) in a conference game in the town that also is the home of the NFL’s NFC champion Green Bay Packers.

Looking Ahead

Two rivalry wars highlight the Colonial Athletic Association schedule Sunday afternoon with Drexel visiting Delaware while James Madison will be meeting Old Dominion.

The Dragons edged Delaware at home last month but this time in Newark at the Carpenter Center the Blue Hens will have sophomore sensation Elena Delle Donne back in action after missing 11 straight games and 12 overall suffering from symptoms of Lyme Disease that affects joints and muscles.

Fifth place is on the line with the winner having a chance to perhaps overtake Virginia Commonwealth for the fourth and final bye spot in next month’s CAA tournament in Upper Marlboro, Md., at the Showplace Arena.

Two of the teams involved in the three-way tie for first meet in a Virginia rivalry as defending champion James Madison meets longtime CAA ruler Old Dominion.

UNC Wilmington, coached by former WNBA All-Star Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, is the other team in first place.

Penn State, holding a half-game lead in the Big 10, will try for a road and season-series sweep to end the two-game trip this week when the Nittany Lions visit No. 20 Iowa (17-6).

No. 11 Michigan State (19-3), which trails Penn State by the half-game, hosts Purdue Sunday and then heads for a showdown Thursday at State College against the Nittany Lions.

No. 10 UCLA (18-2) visits crosstown rival Southern Cal in a Pac-10 game of note.

No. 12 Maryland (19-3) will host North Carolina State in an ACC game after recently escaping Georgia Tech at the buzzer.

In the Big East, Rutgers will try to shake off its recent tough loss at St. John’s and go at home in a Big East game for a season-sweep of Syracuse, which could be considered a must-win game for the Scarlet Knights.

The Orangewomen also need the win after falling from the rankings a while back and struggling in the conference.

Villanova is still looking for its first Big East win, which may be tough to come by when Louisville visits the Pavilion Sunday.

-- Mel


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