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, November 25, 2011

Deja Vu Erased As Rasheed Leads Princeton Over Davidson

(Guru's Note: While hanging out in Pittsburgh's lavish Petersen Events Center before heading to the hotel, here's the report from Princeton. Guru will catch up with Tigers at Rider in suburban Trenton-Princeton, aka Lawrenceville, N.J., Sunday.)

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Watching Niveen Rasheed as she continued her early season rampage of doing basically whatever she wants on a basketball court, there was really only one conclusion that could be drawn. Whoever operated on her knee did a really, really good job.

A year ago, Rasheed left the Princeton-Davidson women's basketball game in need of an MRI and ultimately surgery on a torn ACL. For the rematch, she left to a loud ovation from a Jadwin Gym crowd who knew that once again it had seen something special.

Rasheed dominated again, scoring 24 points, adding nine rebounds and leading a smothering Princeton defensive effort in a 53-44 win over the Wildcats, in front of a Black Friday gathering of 1,140 fans that included University president Shirley Tilghman.

Princeton improved to 5-0 for the fourth time in program history and the first time since the 1977-78 season. Davidson fell to 2-3.

For the thrid time in five games, Princeton never trailed at any point. Through five games, Princeton has never trailed in the second half.

"I have a deal with Niveen and she made a deal with me," said Princeton coach Courtney Banghart. "We're not going to worry about that. She's going to go out and play the way she does, which is with a lot of passion."

That was clear against Davidson, a team against whom Rasheed suffered her big injury 11 months ago.

"It was definitely really weird coming in today and seeing Davidson," she said. "It brought a lot of memories back. During warmup, i felt like something was bothering me. But once the game started, it was just a game."

For Rasheed, "just a game" means 20 points (her average), nine rebounds (her average), 51.3% shooting (her percentage) and something intangible - the ability to completely impose her will on the game.

Princeton raced out to a 10-0 lead against the Wildcats, led by six points and an assist from Rasheed. For the day, Princeton outscored Davidson by 18 while Rasheed was on the court.

Davidson actually cut it to five on a Laura Murray three-pointer with 17:46 to go, so what happened next? Rasheed went on her own personal 8-0 run, a stretch that grew to 13-0 after a Lauren Polansky basket and a Nicole Hung three-pointer that made it 44-26 with 12:34 to go.

Davidson never quit, but the visitors from North Carolina would get no closer than eight.

"We had runs, and they had runs," Rasheed said. "We didn't put them away like we wanted to. They took us out of our rhythm. It shows we have more work to do, more to work on in practice."

Rasheed was the only Princeton player with more than Meg Bowen's six. Still, Princeton won this one with the combination of Rasheed on offense and great team defense, which saw the Tigers force 24 turnovers and block seven shots.

Davidson had shot at least 50% from the field in five of its last six halves, including 60% twice. Princeton did not allow the Wildcats to reach 40% in either half, the final numbers were 34.6% from the field, 33.3% from three-point range.

Next up for Princeton is a game Sunday at Rider, to be followed by a home game Thursday against a Delaware team that like Princeton is closing in on the national Top 25.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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