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, December 30, 2011

Guru's College Local Report: St. Joseph's Dispatches Boston College

(Guru’s note: Commentary on the Delaware-Maryland game is in the post above this.)

By Mel Greenberg

It is not possible to edit the final chapter of a previous season, already in the record books for posterity, to alter the result or anything else that contributed to the outcome that might erase feelings of dismay from a loss.

Scores can’t be changed, performances can’t be altered, and injuries, if they existed, can’t be restored to full health.

But next time around when facing the name of the same team again, if not the exact roster, the chance is offered to exact a piece of revenge and inject a mood of personal satisfaction.

St. Joseph’s was able to do just that Thursday night before a lively crowd of 2,781 persons at Hagan Arena where the Hawks handled Boston College 74-57 at home to close out the 2011 portion of their schedule at what is also the site of the Atlantic 10 women’s basketball two months from now.

The last time St. Joseph’s (8-4) met the Eagles (4-8) was in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament where Boston College racked up an 86-59 win at home in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, to close out the Hawks’ business for 2010-11.

“If we would have played well up there last year and given it our best, then it would have been sitting with us a little better,” St. Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said in contrasting the two games. “We just did not play well up there.

“This team is about revenge and redemption and that’s a motivating factor and certainly protecting our home court is very important and beating an (Atlantic Coast Conference) team is always important, not only for St. Joe’s but also for the Atlantic 10,” she continued.

“We felt this was a great opportunity to get all those things in one night and we did.”

The win was the Hawks’ third straight and sixth out of the last seven with one more nonconference game Tuesday night at
Quinnipiac before entering primarily Atlantic 10 competition the rest of the way.

The lone exception is a Big Five game against an improving Penn squad at home January 14.

Thursday’s game between B.C. and St. Joseph’s was already on the books ahead of the WNIT matchup that appeared out of nowhere last March by virtual of the pairings created for the 64-team field draw.

The more recent game was considered to be part of the Jesuit Basketball Spotlight project, which is highlighting more than 90 games this season between men’s and women’s teams from the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities across the nation.

But the extra reason that helped draw one of the better crowds was the second reunion on the court of Hawks sophomore Erin Shields and her sister Kerri of B.C., a junior, going against each other after being teammates at Archbishop Carroll when both played at the Catholic League school.

When the two played against each other last spring, they lit up the scoreboard as Erin produced a career-high 21 points and Kerri led the Eagles, scoring 26.

The big offensive numbers came elsewhere Thursday night as Kerri was held to eight points and Erin scored seven but still considered the extra competition as part of family fun.

“It’s always fun but its kind of nerve wracking,” Erin said with a smile. “Because I always want her to do well separate from her team. It’s weird practicing against her every day and then coming up and playing against her but it was fun.

“She helps me as well, but it’s weird (considering) the backyard games and always shooting in gym and then being on the other side of it.”

It’s even more nerve wracking for their mom – Renie (nee Dunne) Shields, a former Hawks star and Big Five Hall of Famer, who broadcasts the women’s games at her alma mater and since last spring has been promoted to Associate Athletic Director for Varsity Programs.

Michelle Baker topped the St. Joseph’s scorers against Boston College with 17 points, while Kelly Cavallo scored 14, Ashley Prim had 13, and Ashley Robinson, who had 10 points, was 6-for-6 from the line.

Katie Zenevich had 18 points for Boston College and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Joy Caracciolo scored 13 and Kristen Doherty had 10 points.

The Hawks also won the battle of the boards, outrebounding the Eagles 30-22. They also were 21-for-22 from the line compared to Boston College shooting 11-for-17.

“Tonight we got great production from a lot of different players and we were solid across the board,” Griffin said. “I thought we played consistently for 40 minutes and we were in attack mode, shooting the ball well (50 percent from the field). Getting good shots and shooting the ball well had a lot to do with how we played, and shooting from the free throw line was a great thing for us.”

Though St. Joseph’s has had good play in some recent December months the ability to have a veteran lineup is giving them extra momentum heading into Atlantic 10 competition.

The Hawks had an RPI ranking of 37 prior to Thursday’s game, a decent number that if maintained or lowered could go a long way to ending their 11-year drought of not appearing in the NCAA tournament.

Villanova Upends St. Bonaventure

The Wildcats continue to bedevil Atlantic 10 teams, this time stopping St. Bonaventure 55-44 in the opener of the Monmouth Holiday Tournament in West Long Branch, N.J., to advance against the host Hawks 4 p.m. Friday.

At this rate it will be intriguing to see what Harry Perretta’s group does against Big East competition, which opens at home Tuesday night against Pittsburgh, which recently lost an inter-city showdown with A-10 power Duquesne.

The Wildcats were picked 12th by the conference coaches, but there appears to enough of an underestimation that Perretta could end up as Big East coach of the year. Villanova also just needs to beat Penn to win the Big Five outright after going 3-0 as of now.

Thursday’s win, including a rally from a 20-12 deficit, was the seventh straight overall and Villanova (10-2) is also 4-0 against A-10 schools, previously beating preseason co-favorite Temple, St. Joseph’s, and La Salle.

The Bonnies fell to 11-2, a record that will add more luster to Villanova’s RPI, which had been 14th in one simulation of the ranking used by the NCAA tournament committee to seed the field and also pick at-large squads.

Laura Sweeney topped the Wildcats in scoring against the Bonnies with 16 points, her 23rd game in her last 26 placing in double figures, including 10 of 12 this season.

Megan Pearson had a season-high 14 points and Emily Leer scored eight off the bench.
Doris Ortega had nine for the Bonnies.

Monmouth (4-8) advanced with a 69-62 win over Norfolk State.

Penn Still On Fire

The Quakers (7-2) now are at an all-time best nine-game start in their history after beating UNC-Greensboro 47-36 in San Diego State’s Surf ‘N Slam Classic in Southern California and will meet the host Aztecs Friday in Viejas Arena.

Sophomore Alyssa Baron had her first career double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, the only player in double figures in either category for the Quakers, who led by as many as 23 points but again held off a rally by the opposition as UNCG fell to 2-10.

Penn opens the Ivy season next Saturday at home in The Palestra 7 p.m. against two-time defending champion Princeton.

The Tigers in a meeting of two of the better Mid-Majors beat host Hofstra 74-69 as Kate Miller drew a pair of charges and hit two key foul shots for Princeton (9-4), which played in its closest game to date in either wins or losses.

Lauren Edwards had 17 points, Niveen Rasheed scored 14, while Devona Allgood, Nicole Hung, and Megan Bowen each scored 10 points.

Lauren Polansky had 10 rebounds.

The Tigers have a nonconference stop Saturday afternoon playing another member of the Colonial Athletic Association when they visit Drexel.

Ncole Capurso had a career-high 24 points for Hofstra (9-3) in the game at the Mack Sports Center while Shante Evans of Henderson High in suburban Philadelphia double doubled again with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Katelyn Loper and Marie Malone each scored 10 points for the Pride, who were outrebounded by a slim differential 38-37.

La Salle Handles Dartmouth

The Explorers (4-9) scored the first nine points quickly in the opening minute and stayed in front all the way to a 60-47 win over the host Big Green (2-9) of the Ivy League in the opening round of the Blue Sky Classic in Hanover, N.H.

La Salle faces Vermont Friday in the event that is not in true tournament format. No. 15 Georgetown was the other winner Thursday in beating the Catamounts the Explorers will face.

Three Explorers scored in double figures as Alexis Scott scored 14 points, Jada Payne had 13, and Nadia Duncan scored 12.
Faziah Steen was Dartmouth’s high scorer with 12 points.


Besides the teams of interest in the Philadelphia area continuing in tournaments, Friday, Temple will host No. 8 Duke Friday night in McGonigle Hall in one last shot at a major nonconference victory.

Penn State opens Big 10 competition at home hosting new member Nebraska, which has moved from the Big 12.

Rutgers visits George Washington before launching Big East play next Tuesday.

-- Mel


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