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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Guru's USBWA Talk: Delle Donne and Hayes Among Key Candidates

(Guru's note: There is a post under this in blogspot looking at the Maggie Dixon rookie coach contenders. Also AP Poll notes, some NCAA outlook, and other items. If you are in melgreenberg.com, just click the mel's blog button on the left to get to the archives.)

By Mel Greenberg

At one point back in time Connecticut’s Tiffany Hayes and Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne would be sharing the UConn roster as senior classmates on the No. 3 Huskies.

Instead they’re in a competition of sorts for the United States Basketball Writers’ Association (USBWA) new national player of the week.

Down the road they might even cross paths in the NCAA tournament if one mock bracket scenario plays out, though much needs to occur first before that would become a reality.

Meanwhile, the USBWA pool of candidates – the winner is announced early Tuesday afternoon – is derived from the list of 31 conference players of the week awards.

Delle Donne, who ultimately decided to attend Delaware and forego her UConn scholarship back in 2008, has already gained one USBWA award this season. This week she picked up another honor from the Colonial Athletic Association after averaging 32.0 points, including a 41-point effort against Hofstra, and 12.0 rebounds.

While Connecticut is way up the Associated Press poll list, Delle Donne has moved the Blue Hens into the rankings for the first time this season and Delaware is making strides up the ladder having jumped from 15th to 12th this week.

Hayes, who won the Big East award, became the first UConn player to score an overall total of 68 points in consecutive games and averaged 34.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in Huskies wins over Syracuse and South Florida.

Meanwhile Stanford’s Chiney Oguwmike whose older sister Nneka on the Cardinal has already won a USBWA award is knocking on the door again this week after picking up her third straight honor from the PAC-12, this time for her one-game 27-point, 18-rebound performance in a 74-71 overtime win against California.

Brittney Griner of top-ranked Baylor, also a USBWA honoree this season, picked up her fourth weekly Big 12 award from a media panel after averaging 23.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and six blocks in two conference wins by the Bears.

Temple’s Shey Peddy picked up two honors as Big Five player of the week in Philadelphia and as Atlantic 10 conference player of the week with an average of 20.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in two wins by the Owls, who have an important showdown at St. Joseph’s Wednesday night.

Speaking of Philadelphia, Vanderbilt’s Christina Foggie, who is from the Philly burbs in Mount Laurel, N.J., was honored by the Southeastern Conference for her 34 points in the Commodores upset of nationally-ranked Georgia.

In the America East, New Hampshire’s Morgan Frame averaged 17.0 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in two wins to move closer in the standings to front-running Boston University.

Fairfield’s Taryn Johnson averaged 15.0 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in two wins to pick up the weekly award in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

The Ivy League honored Janna Graf for averaging 17.5 points and 7.0 rebounds in leading Yale to two wins.
Virginia Tech’s Monet Tellier scored 31 points in the Hokies’ upset at Maryland to gained the nod from the Blue Ribbon committee that selects the honorees each week in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Ki-Ki Moore of Fresno State averaged 23.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.7 steals in two wins to gain the Western Athletic Conference’s weekly kudo.

Conference-USA honored Memphis’ Jasmine Lee for averaging 20.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in a pair of wins.

Megan Herbert of Central Arkansas is the Southland player of the week after averaging 29.0 points in a pair of wins.

In the Mountain West, San Diego State’s Courtney Clements averaged 20.0 points and 5.5 rebounds in a pair of wins by the Aztecs.

The Missouri Valley Conference cited Rachel Hackbarth of Drake after averaging 22.5 points and 11 rebounds. She leads the MVC in both categories.

Though the following is not in the USBWA mix, this is as good a place as any to announce that University of Sciences freshman Brianne Traub averaged 20.3 points and 6.7 rebounds to pick up another rookie honor from the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference in Division II.

Again, much quality to choose from in making the pick. Look for a Guru tweet at @womhoopsguru early Tuesday afternoon once the USBWA sends the winner around.

- Mel

Guru's College Report: A Look At The Maggie Dixon Award Chase

(Guru’s note. Highlights candidates for the weekly USBWA national player award are in the blog above this one. Also, the Guru has a print notebook in Philly.com setting up Temple-St. Joseph’s and talking to Jess Knapp, who is now back in action at Penn playing with an ACL.)

By Mel Greenberg

Back in mid-December it was noted the nonconference records were so mediocre for the most part among the newcomers to Division I head coaching jobs that conference competition might be where the winner of this year’s Maggie Dixon Award may be decided before the presentation by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association at the Women’s Final Four in Denver.

Here then is the update with the frontrunners sorted to the top.

Records are through Monday night’s games of Jan. 30.

Jen Hoover (High Point) 14-6, 9-0 1st Big South: School last year: 16-15.

Cara Consuega (Charlotte) Rec: 13-8, 5-2 fourth in Atlantic 10; School last year: 27-10 WNIT semifinals.

Jennifer Gross (Cal-Davis) Rec: 13-7, 5-3 (3-way tie for second in Big West. School last year: 24-9 Big West Champs. She moved up off a retirement.

Zenarae Antonie (Texas State) 12-7, 4-2 tied for second in Southland: School last year: 9-20. She had been on Tom Collen’s Arkansas staff.

Jenny Palmateer (Monmouth, N.J.) 12-9, 7-3 3rd NE Conference: School last year: 23-10.

Marlene Stollings (Winthrop) 11-10, 5-4 tied third Big South: School last year: 13-18.

Cori Close (UCLA) Rec: 10-10, 5-4 tied for fourth in Pac-12; School last year: 28-5. The Bruins have been hard hit by injuries, especially one to Jasmine Dixon, who previously played at Rutgers.

Charlotte Smith (Elon) 10-11, 6-6, 6th Southern : School last year: 20-13.

Carlene Mitchell (UCSB) 8-11, 3-5 7th Big West: School last year: 19-12.

Amy Waugh (Xavier) 4-15, 1-5 13th A-10: School last year: 29-3. But Musketeers graduated two WNBA first round picks and a three-point shooting ace transferred to Maryland.

Oties Epps (Evansville) 4-16, 1-8, Last place Missouri Valley. School last year: 8-22. He was a Wisconsin assistant.

Dennis Wolf (Va. Tech) 7-15, 3-6, 9th ACC: School last year: 11-19

JD Gravina (W. Illinois) 8-13, 4-6 tied 7th Summit: School last year: 8-21.

Bobbie Kelsey (Wisconsin) 8-13, 4-5 tied 7th Big Ten : School last year: 16-15.

Yvonne Sanchez (New Mexico) 6-14, 0-6 tied for seventh Mountain West: School last year: 13-18.

Wendy Palmer (UNC Greensboro) 3-17, 2-10 tied last Southern: School last year: 13-16.

Ty Margenthaler (SE Missouri) 5-17, 2-7 tied ninth Ohio Valley: School last year: 8-21. He was also a Wisconsin assistant.

Bethann Shapiro Ord (Weber State) 2-19, 0-8 last Big Sky: School last year: 3-21.

Greg McCall (Cal St. Bakerfield) 4-19 (Indp). School last year: 22-12. He moved up.

Beth O’Boyle (Stony Brook) 4-18, 1-8 last America East: School last year: 7-23. She was an aide at Canisius.

Nicci Hays-Fort (Colgate 5-17, 2-5 tied 7th Patriot; School last year: 7-22. They just snapped 10-game opening losing streak by beating Wagner.

The one element needed to be determined is that after the tragic loss of Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke in a plane crash in November, Jim Littell after being promoted to interim coach was made head coach and the Cowgirls currently are 12-5 overall and 4-4 in the Big 12. That would make him a frontrunner if he is eligible for consideration, though much basketball is still to be played.

AP Poll Notes

Wisconsin-Green Bay made its first-ever appearance in the Top 10 and is 10th with the only Division I unbeaten record besides Baylor.

Delaware’s ranking of 12th is the highest for a team out of the Colonial Athletic Association since Old Dominion was 11th in the final poll of the 2007-08 season.

If the Blue Hens get to ninth, that will be the highest for a CAA team since Old Dominion’s sixth place finish in the final poll of the 1995-96 season.

DePaul’s exit means the Big East is reduced to a tie with the Atlantic Coast Conference with five teams each in this week’s rankings. Georgia Tech moved in to gain the ACC tie. The Big 10 has four teams, the Big 12 and SEC have three each, the West Coast has two reps, and the Pac-12, CAA and Horizon have one each.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey moved into a tie for 25th with former Nebraska/Western Kentucky coach Paul Sanderford on the all-time AP list with 182 appearances and next week will tie WNBA Washington Mystics assistant Marianne Stanley at 24th.

Stanley picked up her numbers at Old Dominion, Southern Cal., and a one-year stint at Stanford when Tara VanDerveer was coaching the Olympic team in 1995-96.

St. Bonaventure just missed making its debut and now have a tough Atlantic 10 game Wednesday at Duquesne.

NCAA Outlook

With Duke losing to Connecticut Monday night at home in Durham, N.C., if the bracket were drawn today the winning Huskes, Notre Dame, Stanford and Baylor would likely be the No. 1 seeds.

The only other team capable right now of getting into the mix is Kentucky depending what the Wildcats and the others do.

Delaware’s RPI continues to be amazingly strong, registering a six on the NCAA’s official weekly RPI ranking, as well as the same ranking on Jim Sukup’s RPI publication as well as RealtimeRPI.com.

Villanova is at 15 and a strength of schedule at three but while bracketologists have the Wildcats in the tournament, the reality is they will have to finish in the middle of the Big East pack, which is mathematically possible right now, but maybe not realistically so.

Looking Ahead

Seton Hall, coached by Anne Donovan visits Villanova Tuesday night but the Guru will forego that Big East game to be up the road at Rutgers for the showdown with Notre Dame in the conference.

Khadijah Rushdan suffered a mild concussion in Sunday’s loss and won’t play until possibly the Connecticut game in Storrs Saturday night if cleared.

That’s it for now until early Tuesday afternoon.

-- Mel

Monday, January 30, 2012

Guru's College Report: Temple Still Streaking Through A-10

(Guru's note: Material and quotes beyond the Temple game site Sunday drawn on wire and team reports).

By Mel Greenberg

Temple has turned what seemed a death march on the front part of the Owls’ Atlantic 10 portion of the season schedule into potentially a life-saving experience in terms of continuing to appear in the NCAA tournament.

Though having lost at home to conference-leading St. Bonaventure, the Owls have since defeated what can be considered the premium group of opponents with one left on Wednesday night at 7 when Temple travels to play St. Joseph’s (14-6, 4-2 A-10) at the Hawks’ Hagan Arena.

That is not the double counter in terms of the Big Five, which will be later next month when St. Joseph’s visits the Liacouras Center.

Temple made Charlotte the latest victim Sunday afternoon, beating the 49ers 65-55 in the Liacouras Center to move into third place a half game behind Dayton, whom the Owls have beaten on the road.

Charlotte (13-8, 5-2 A-10) found a way to lasso the Owls’ backcourt in the second half but not before Shey Peddy and Kristen McCarthy each scored 19 points in the opening period. McCarthy finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Peddy scored 22.

Temple (12-8, 5-1) recently changed to a taller lineup with both Joelle Connelly and Victoria Macaulay making contributions in the post. On Sunday Connelly, a transfer from Hofstra who became eligible last season, had six points and four rebounds while Macaulay had eight points and five rebounds.

The Owls’ defensive effort was also prominent again this time forcing the 49ers into 20 turnovers compared to Temple’s 10 and in transition outscored Charlotte 20-6.

Jai Forney had 16 points and nine rebounds for the visitors and Gabby Tyler scored 10 but keying on the opposition’s top scorer, Temple held Jennifer to four points and five rebounds, well off her 13.6 points per game and 9.7 rebounds per game averages.

“I thought it was a really good win for us against a really good Charlotte team—a team that’s physical – they’ve got good inside-outside play and guys that do a really good job on the backboards and I thought our guys did a really good job of getting on the offensive boards as well and try to limit as much as possible Charlotte’s offensive boards,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said.

Though to outsiders Temple’s schedule would seem to ease after playing St. Joseph’s, Cardoza will hear none of that talk, taking each game one at a time to try to keep the win streak going until the end of the regular season.

The Atlantic 10 tournament will be across town at St. Joseph’s in March.

“We don’t have one more big one – we have eight,” Cardoza said of a conference that has become wide open since two-time defending champion Xavier graduated all-Americans Ta’Shia Phillips and Amber Harris.

“We have to take care of each game – we’re not worried about St. Bonaventure (20-2, 7-0) any more,” she added. “That was our opportunity and we let it slip away.

“We’re just focusing on the game in front of us – looking and hoping to play good basketball and whatever happens at the end, happens.”

Charlotte is under new coach Cara Consuegra, a 2001 graduate of Iowa who had been associate head coach at Marquette in the Big East and before that the director of basketball operations at Penn State.

“Temple is a tough team and certainly McCarthy and Peddy gave us great games,” Consuegra said of her first experience playing the Owls. “I was disappointed in our team. I felt we didn’t make them work hard enough, they’re two good guards that if you give them open shots, they’re not going to miss them.

“We needed to just a better job checking them and finding them. They’re a great team and certainly play well on their home court and for us we just hope we get another chance to play them,” she added.

“Temple is very well balanced – the one thing that stands out to me is they know their roles and they don’t try to do anything they’re not supposed to do. They know their place on the team and that makes them dangerous.”

Consuegra is in just a small group of new Division I first-time coaches with winning records making her a prime candidate for the Maggie Dixon rookie coach of the year award from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

Delaware Rallies Drexel Falls

In the Colonial Athletic Association 15th-ranked Delaware found a way to keep streaking and win its third straight conference 1 vs. 2 game beating host James Madison 72-65 after the first-place Blue Hens (18-1, 9-0 CAA) rallied from a seven-point deficit over the Dukes (15-5, 6-3).

Hofstra topped host Drexel 68-61 in the Daskalakis Athletic Center in a much closer contest to complete a sweep of the Dragons (10-9, 6-3) as the Pride (15-5, 7-2) moved into sole possession of second place two games behind Delaware.

James Madison and Drexel fell into a third-place tie with UNC Wilmington (13-7, 6-3), which beat Towson 76-61 but if the season ended today Drexel would have the third seed for the CAA tournament having beaten JMU and UNCW on the road.

In the Delaware game, junior Elena Delle Donne, the nation’s leading scorer, had 23 points and nine rebounds while Lauren Carra scored a season-high 22 points.

Two years ago Delle Donne as a freshman scored 54 points at the JMU Convocation Center in a loss in overtime and the Blue Hens also lost to the two-time defending conference champions in the CAA title game last March after pulling two upsets as a 7th seed to advance.

Danielle Parker scored 10 points as the Blue Hens jettisoned a nine-game losing streak against the Dukes.

Delaware, the nation’s second best foul shooting team prior to the contest, went 33 of 37 at the line.

"I'm not going to lie, it was a little nerve-racking out there, and we, at one point, were kind of letting it slip away when we weren't grabbing the rebounds and weren't getting the loose balls," Delle Donne said of the second straight game the Blue Hens had to fight back.

On Thursday, Hofstra bolted to an early lead on the Blue Hens’ court before Delaware rallied.

"I still felt confident in our team. I know the type of fight we had in us . and that's what a championship team does,” Delle Donne said. “And I think that's something we'll be able to build on throughout the year and look back on this win and see that took a lot of grit."

On Sunday, the Dukes forced Delle Donne into a mediocre 5-of-17 effort from the field but these days Delaware’s other options such as Carra are making the Blue Hens more than a one-star show.

"We executed better offensively, overall," Delaware coach Tina Martin said of the way the game went. "JMU likes to run and push and has really good athletes. You can't turn the ball over. If you do that, you're in trouble."

James Madison’s Tarik Hislop scored her 1,000th career point and finished with 17 for the game while Kirby Burkholder scored 15 points and Jasmine Gill had 10.

The Dukes travel to Old Dominion on Wednesday night.

"We talked a lot at halftime about being composed on offense," Martin said. "I thought we made a lot of mistakes early on offense that led to some turnovers, which is not something that's happened to us recently."

Delaware travels to UNCW Thursday attempting to complete a season-sweep before returning home Sunday to host Virginia Commonwealth.

Meanwhile, Hofstra outscored Drexel 23-8 at the outset of the second half to gain control as Katelyn Roper finished with 21 points and seven rebounds, and Shante Evans, a graduate of Henderson High in West Chester in the western Philadelphia suburbs, had nine points, which ended a 31-game streak of scoring 10 or more points, which had been fifth longest in the nation.

Drexel, which will host George Mason Thursday, got 22 points from Kamile Nacickaite.

Penn Downed By Cornell

In a homecoming victory of sorts for Cornell coach Dayna Smith, the Big Red defeated the Quakers 67-53 in the Palestra in front of 1,081 spectators for the largest home crowd of the year.

Smith was an assistant to former coach Kelly Greenberg, now at America East-leading Boston U., when the Quakers won their first of two Ivy titles.

Alyssa Baron had 24 points for Penn (8-9, 1-2 Ivy), which will host Yale and Brown Friday and Saturday nights. Jackie Kates had 10 points.

Clare Fitzpatrick had 14 points for Cornell (8-9, 2-1) pacing three other teammates in double figures including Allyson DiMagno, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

League-leading Princeton’s three-week vacation for final exams will end Friday night when Brown visits before Yale is at Jadwin Gym on Saturday.

Rutgers’ Offense Comes Up Nil In Loss At Georgetown

At one time in early January it seemed No. 11 Rutgers would be barreling into the high point of the Scarlet Knights’ schedule in trying to make a statement in the Big East Conference when No. 2 Notre Dame visits the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center on Tuesday night and then Rutgers travels to No. 2 Connecticut at the Huskies’ Gampel Pavilion arena on campus in Storrs on Saturday.

But now the games have become really formidable in terms of trying to hold position following a recent upset loss at unranked St. John’s, a last-second escape at home over No. 23 DePaul, 65-64, and Sunday’s disastrous 54-36 defeat at No. 20 Georgetown in Washington.

Tia Magee had 21 points for the Hoyas (17-5, 6-3 Big East) while Sugar Rodgers added 19 points.

Rutgers (17-4, 6-2), barely holding third place in an identical tie with No. 16 Louisville a half-game ahead of Georgetown, got 13 points from April Sykes.

The Scarlet Knights shot a poorly 30.8 percent from the field and missed all 14 three-point attempts.

More important, senior Khadijah Rushdan, Rutgers’ second leading scorer, went down with an apparent head injury late in the first half, was helped off the floor in a wheel chair, but returned to the bench in the second half.

Scarlet Knights’ Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer said Rushdan would receive a further medical evaluation on Monday and her status for Tuesday’s home game with Notre Dame is unknown.

If Rushdan is out for any length of time, her absence could be costly, though she certainly could continue to provide leadership from the bench and in the locker room.

Penn State Upset At Michigan State

No. 18 Penn State joined No. 9 Ohio State Sunday in being unable to take advantage of No. 13 and first-place Purdue’s upset Saturday loss to unranked Iowa in the Big Ten conference.

Michigan State gained a season sweep and an 83-77 ambush of the Lady Lions (16-5, 6-3 Big 10) at home in East Lansing as Porsche Poole had a career-high 34 points for the Spartans (13-9, 5-4).

Maggie Lucas had 21 points and Mia Nickson had 18 for Penn State, which stayed in fourth place falling a game behind second-place Ohio State and No. 19 Nebraska.

Minnesota (12-11, 4-5) shocked the Buckeyes 76-65 as Rachel Banham scored 20 points for the host Gophers in Minneapolis.
Ohio State (20-2, 7-2) fell into a second-place tie with No. 19 Nebraska (18-3, 7-2).

Samantha Prahalis had 19 of her 25 points in the second half for the Buckeyes, who also got a game-high 26 points from Tayler Hill.

Nebraska moved into a tie with Ohio State by winning at Illinois 67-47 as Lindsey Moore scored 20 points for the visiting Cornhuskers in Champaign.

Ivory Crawford had 12 points for the Illini (7-15, 1-8).

Miami Keeps Heat On Duke

In the Atlantic Coast Conference No. 10 Miami won at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass., 88-57 as Shenise Johnson had 16 of her 22 points in the first half for the winning Hurricanes (19-3, 8-1 ACC), who are in second place just a half-game behind No. 5 Duke (17-2, 8-0).

The idle Blue Devils are hosting No. 3 Connecticut Monday night in a nonconference game in Durham, N.C., that will have implications involving the race for No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament.

Tessah Holt had 12 points for the host Eagles (5-16, 0-8),

No. 25 North Carolina (16-5, 6-2), holding third place and trying to stay in the AP poll, edged host Wake Forest 75-71 in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt collected 19 of her 21 points in the secondhalf for the Tarh Heels, while teammates Chay Shegog (19 points, 10 rebounds) and Laura Broomfield (20 points, 18 rebounds) each had double doubles.

Lakevia Boykin scored 21 points for Wake Forest (12-9, 2-6), which held a four-point lead with four minutes left in regulation.

Elsewhere in the ACC, Ariana Moorer had 15 points to lead host Virginia (16-7, 4-5) to a 62-52 win over Florida State (12-11, 4-5) at home in the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville and move to a three-way with the Seminoles and North Carolina State (14-8, 4-5) for sixth.

The Wolfpack became part of the tie after a 63-52 win over Virginia Tech (7-15, 3-6).

Georgia Tech (16-6, 6-3) moved into fourth a half-game in front of idle Maryland and one half behind UNC by gaining a 63-54 win over Clemson (5-14, 1-7).

Kentucky Still Pacing The SEC

Keyla Snowden had 14 points and A’dia Mathies had 13 as No. 6 Kentucky beat visiting Alabama 82-68 and the Wildcats (20-2, 9-0 SEC) remain unbeaten and in first place in the Southeastern Conference.

The Crimson Tide (10-12, 0-8) are in last place and still winless.

No. 7 Tennessee (16-5, 7-1) in second place in the SEC completed a sweep of No. 17 Georgia with a 67-50 road win over the host Lady Bulldogs (16-6, 5-4) in Athens.

Shekinna Stricklen had 24 points for the Lady Vols, while Meridith Mitchell had 13 for Georgia, which fell into fourth place a game behind South Carolina (17-5, 6-3), which advanced beating Mississippi State 69-43.

Texas A&M Survives Iowa State

The defending NCAA champion Aggies got a pair of free throws from Sydney Carter with 2.4 seconds left and No. 14 Texas A&M (14-5, 5-3) moved into a four-way tie for second in the Big 12 with Kansas (16-4, 5-3), Kansas State (14-6, 5-3) and Oklahoma (13-6, 5-3) three games behind top-ranked Baylor (21-0, 8-0).

The Cyclones (11=8, 2-6) are in ninth place in the 10-team conference.

Adaora Elonu scored 19 points for Texas A&M, which also got 14 from Tyra White, while Iowa State’s Chelsea Poppens had 22 points and nine rebounds.

And that’s Sunday’s news. The Guru will return in the next 24 hours, maybe even sooner with some NCAA talk and other discussions.

-- Mel

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Guru's Report: Kuester Keeps St. Joseph's In A-10 Title Race

(Guru's Note: Updating for later Saturday games and a note about Tiffany Hayes not making the midseason Wooden watch list.)

By Mel Greenberg
St. Joseph's senior Katie Kuester went bananas on the scoreboard Saturday afternoon scoring a near-career high 20 points as the Hawks beat Duquesne 72-51 in a key Atlantic 10 game at Hagan Arena to stay in the top of the tightly-packed conference standings.

 "It's funny, our other shooting guard Shelby Smith gave me a banana before the game as she swears that's what made me shoot better," said Kuester, who was 7-for-11 from the field and 6-for-9 on three-point attempts.

  "But I haven't been shooting well, that's obvious from the stats, but shooters keep shooting and that's what my coaches have been telling me so I just tried to execute and stay with the game plan and luckily they fell today."

St. Joseph's (14-6, 4-2 A-10) was coming off a tough 68-61 loss Wednesday night at conference frontrunner St. Bonaventure.

"We battled. They're a very talented team. We hope we get another chance at them at the A-10 tournament (at St. Joseph's) but to bounce back going into Temple Wednesday, it was a good win."

  Kuester is the daughter of John Kuester, the former NBA Detroit Pistons coach who is now an assistant with the Los Angeles Lakers.

   The Hawks moved into sole possession for fifth place though the standings will change again Sunday following the conclusion of the battle between Temple (11-8, 4-1) and Charlotte (13-7, 5-1) in town at the Owls' Liacouras Center.

   St. Bonaventure (20-2, 7-0) stayed unbeaten a game in front after winning in town here 75-57 at La Salle (9-12, 3-3).

    Dayton (14-5, 6-1) is in second after a 74-56 win at George Washington (10-11, 3-4) followed by Charlotte, Temple and then the Hawks.

    Duquesne fell to 15-6 overall and 3-3 in the conference.

     St. Joseph's, which had not been shooting well, sizzled Saturday with a 53.7 percent effort from the field as Michelle Baker added 13 points, and Samira Van Grinsven and Ashley Prim scored 10 each.

     Kelly Cavallo grabbed 10 rebounds.

     Duquesne's Alex Gensler scored 17 points and Carly Vendemia scored 13.

      "I thought it was a great game to come home to -- Katie Kuester got us off to a great start making shots early, giving us momentum, giving us some cushion and the other kids stepped up," St. Joseph's coach Cindy Griffin said.

     "To have 20 field goal assists out of 29 (made shots) says a lot about this team and how we moved the ball today," Griffin said.

       "We're taking it one game at a time. We had a chance to beat 'Bonnies and we beat ourselves in a lot of regards and certainly we wanted to learn from that and move on and that's what we did today," she noted.

       "We were very efficient with our offense and our defense was tremendous again. We did a nice job on their top three kids."

        Duquesne was held to 34.4 percent.

         Discussing Kuester's performance, Dukes coach Suzie Serio-McConnell, the former Penn State all-American, Olympic gold medalist, as well as WNBA all-star and coach, noted, "She hadn't had a game like that all season.

         "But still the type of shooter she is and what she is capable of doing, obviously we didn't challenge her like we needed to -- she made great plays. We couldn't finish. A lot of disappointing things in my mind. St. Joseph's played a great game and we didn't compete."

         In one of the ironies of life, one of the officials working the game was former Tennessee star Dawn Marsh, a contemporary of Allentown's Michelle Marciniak on the Lady Vols back in the day.

      "Yeah, I played against her," McConnell-Serio said. "We beat them my senior year."

      Meanwhile, in the La Salle game, the Explorers' Jada Payne was held to 11 points, while Nadia Duncan and Alexis Scott scored 10 each,

       The Bonnies' Jessica Jenkins, selected national player of the week Tuesday by the United States Basketball Writers Association, scored 28 points, while Megan Van Tatenhove had 16 points, while Doris Ortega scored 12.

        Coach Jim Crowley's squad had been nearing a first-ever appearance in the Associated Press women's poll with the Bonnies' only loss were to Villanova in Monmouth's tournament and at home to No. 15 Delaware.

        In another Atlantic 10 game of note two-time defending conference champion Xavier, decimated by the graduation of two all-Americans and the transfer of the Musketeers' best outside shooter finally won a conference game as well as snapping an 11-game losing streak.

     Xavier (4-15, 1-5) got a career-high 27 points from Tyeasha Moss in a 67-57 win at Rhode Island (1-20, 0-6) while Jessica Pachko scored 14 points.

In two Atlantic Ten games later in the day stretching into the night Fordham topped host Massachusetts 56-54 as the Rams reached .500 overall at 11-11 and improved to 2-5 in the conference. The Minutewomen fell to 6-15 overall and 1-5 in the A-10.

Richmond (16-5, 4-3) picked up a 63-45 win at Saint Louis (7-14, 1-5).

      Villanova Edged at Louisville

    The Wildcats (13-8, 3-5 Big East) nearly stole one at No. 16 Louisville (17-4, 6-2 Big East) in Kentucky, losing down the stretch 62-58.

      Asia Taylor, who had a season-high 14 points, scored 12 of them in the second half for the Cardinals, while Shoni Schimmel scored 18 for Louisville and Bria Smith had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

       Villanova held a 38-32 lead with 11:30 left in the game.

        Laura Sweeney had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Wildcats.

        In other highlight games on a heavy card out of the rugged Big East, No. 2 Notre Dame won at St. Johns, 71-56, No. 3 Connecticut beat visiting South Florida, 77-62, No. 23 DePaul won at Seton Hall 71-59, while Cincinnati edged hosted Syracuse 55-54, and Providence topped visiting Pittsburgh 66-50.

          In the win by Notre Dame (21-1, 8-0 B ig East), Skylar Diggins followed up her 27 points in Monday night's lopsided nonconference win over Tennessee at home by scoring 24 against the Red Storm (13-8, 5-3).

        Deveraux Peters had 18 points and 15 rebounds for the winning Irish along with five blocked shots and four steals.

         The Irish, whose only loss is at top-ranked Baylor, next visit No. 11 Rutgers Tuesday night following the Scarlet Knights' trip Sunday afternoon to Washington to play No. 20 Georgetown.

         In Connecticut's win at the Huskies' second home in the XL Center in Hartford, Tiffany Hayes, who scored 35 points in Wednesday's win at Syracuse, scored 33 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in Saturday's win over the Bulls (12-10, 4-4).

          The 68 points over the two games are the most ever by a long line of prestigious all-Americans at UConn.

          Stefanie Dolson, the sophomore center for UConn (19-2, 8-1) whose only losses are at Baylor and Notre Dame, got 22 points and 18 rebounds.

          It was the 790th win for Huskies coach Geno Auriemma, which is sixth on the all-time list and just ahead of Georgia coach Andy Landers.

          Connecticut next heads for a major nonconference meeting Monday night at No. 5 Duke in Durham, N.C.

            The game will be one which has a major implication in NCAA tournament pairings since both the Huskies and Blue Devils are in contention for No. 1 seeds, though their will be much to be played yet over the next month in Duke's Atlantic Coast Conference and UConn's Big East.

             DePaul (16-6, 4-4) was returning to the Garden State days after losing an excruciating one-point loss before the buzzer at Rutgers after holding a 16-point lead earlier in the second half.

             Jasmine Penny scored 19 points for the Blue Demons against the Pirates (7-15, 0-8).

             DePaul, down to seven players, had lost three straight and needed a win Saturday ahead of playing two other ranked teams in the conference in Louisville and Notre Dame.

             Seton Hall, under second-year coach and Hall of Famer Anne Donovan, have lost 21 straight conference games at home dating back before her hire after she had been head coach of the WNBA New York Liberty.

UConn's Tiffany Hayes Misses Wooden Watch List -- Yes and No

In the wake of UConn senior Tiffany Hayes completing the best back-to-back scoring efforts in the Huskies' long and storied history some individuals in coverage of Saturday's win over South Florida took time to note that Hayes was not on the midseason Wooden Award watch list of 20 players.

In the interest of journalistic enhancement the Guru feels compelled to bring some clarity to the situation before the fan base begins running amok and thinking those who vote are a bunch of dopes.

Understand that ballots were due prior to last weekend at a time when Hayes was being overshadowed by her teammates, especially Bria Hartley and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis.

Between that deadline and the release of the 20 names, election central will usually come back around the horn if a gray area develops involving the lowest totals of those holding the the last few spots and highest of those who just missed the cut.

If the break was clear cut between No. 10 and No. 11 then it's end of story.

But if, say, only a very few points separate No. 8 -- it could be a little higher depending on the totals -- and No. 12 there is a chance for re-consideration so the best candidates at this point in time are in the mix.

Also understand between now and the actual end game producing the winner there will be another go round and then a paring down to five finalists.

There are people not on the list who might be next time and vice versa.

When the Guru got a call Wednesday for his turn to provide input he was aware of what Hayes was doing in the Syracuse game and asked where she was in terms of the also rans.

The reply was Hayes nowhere near the high also rans which means to lift her into the mix this time would play havoc with the integrity of the ballot because, remember, the vote was based on the national picture at the time of the ballot.

Also, sports reporting off the first of the two games depicted Hayes making a dramatic improvement in her production, which inherently certifies there hand't been much offensive production compared to others at the time of the vote.

After the adjustments, only election central internally knows the final result and then releases the list.

So the list of 20 was in the books before Hayes' effort in Saturday's win over South Florida.

Thus to start implying Hayes was bypassed is technically correct in not making the list but incorrect in terms of Hayes' performance at the time of the initial ballot.

If Hayes had had a couple of 15-point games instead of the two monster games it would seem the allusion to not making the Wooden ballot would not even had occurred.

If she continues to be more of an prolific scorer, Hayes would definitely be a stronger candidate the next time around. And as the five finalists go, barring major alterations between now and the end of the season, most believe that four spots are virtually locked up -- not only in the Wooden vote -- with Baylor's Brittney Griner, Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins, Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, and Stanford's Nneka Oguwmike getting the nod. Then it becomes a tight race among perhaps six or seven persons, if not more, right now for the fifth spot on the finalists list.

So that said, it's time to return to the rest of the roundup.

 Penn Gets Even In the Ivies

     There will be a further update after the Quakers host Cornell Sunday but in a Friday night game at The Palestra Penn evened its overall record at 8-8 and Ivy record at 1-1 with a 75-50 win over Columbia (2-15, 0-3).

        Renee Busch had a career-high 20 points while Alyssa Baron scored 13 and Jackie Kaites scored 10.

        Tyler Simpson had 19 points for Columbia.

        Penn shot 10-for-21 on three-pointers, including 4-for-6 by Busch but the highlight was the return of senior leader Jess Knapp, who suffered an ACL injury on the trip to San Diego State's tournament at the end of December, but has fought her way back on the floor.

        Knapp returned to practice this past week.

       "It certainly is inspirational to see her do that," said Columbia coach Paul Brown.

       The National Scene

     In a major upset in the Big Ten host Iowa upset No. 13 Purdue 59-42 to knock the first place Boilermakers from the unbeaten column in the conference.

     No. 12 Wisconsin-Green Bay stayed overall unbeaten with a 65-37 win at host Valparaiso in the Horizon Conference.

     Top-ranked Baylor, the only other unbeaten Division I women's team, beat visiting Kansas 74-46 in a night game in the Big 12 as Brittney Griner scored 28 points and had five blocks to move into second place on the all-time rejections list with 506.

Former Michigan State star Alyssa DeHaan had been second while the all-time NCAA leader is former St. Mary's, Calif., star Louella Tomlinson, who had 663 blocked shots.

     Elsewhere in the Big 12, No. 21 Texas Tech edged Texas 75-71, Oklahoma beat Missouri 62-59, and Kansas State beat Oklahoma State 67-56,

      The two teams out of the West Coast Conference that made the poll last Monday had major conference challenges before No. 22 Gonzaga beat host St. Mary's, Calif., 75-70 and No. 23 BYU pulled away in the closing minutes to beat host Santa Clara 74-64.

And in a Pac-12 neighborhood battle in the Bay Area in northern California No. 4 Stanford at home survived California 74-71 in overtime.

Chiney Oguwmike, the sister of Nneka who is the two-time reigning Pac-12 player of the week, had a career-high 27 points and a career-high 18 rebounds for Stanford (18-1, 9-0 PAC-12), whose only loss came in a non-conference trip to No. 3 Connecticut early in the season.

California (15-6, 6-3) got a career-high 19 points from Brittany Boyd, while Toni Kokenis scored 18 points and Layshia Clarendon scored 17, including her 1,000th career point.

  Looking Ahead

      No. 15 Delaware will try to stay unbeaten in the Colonial Athletic Association Sunday when the Blue Hens visit James Madison, the two-time defending conference champion who is in a three-way tie for second with Drexel and Hofstra

      The other two will meet each other Sunday afternoon at Drexel's Daskalakis Athletic Center.

     The Delaware game is a rematch of last year's conference title game when the Blue Hens rode upsets of Old Dominion and N.C.  Wilmington to meet the Duchesses for the championship won by JMU.

      Temple, trying to keep a streak going to gain a safety valve at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, hosts Charlotte Sunday at 2 p.m. in a game betwen two upper tier teams in the Atlantic 10.

       Rutgers, as mentioned, is at Georgetown, while No. 18 Penn State, the preseason favorite in the Big 10, has a chance to gain some ground with a win at Michigan State.

In other games involving ranked teams Sunday, No. 6 Kentucky will host Alabama in a Southeastern Conference game, while No. 7 Tennessee will go for a sweep visiting No. 17 Georgia in another SEC game.

No. 9 Ohio State will be looking to move into a tie with Purdue in the Big 10 when the Buckeyes visit Minnesota while in another Big 10 game No. 19 Nebraska visits Illinois..

No. 10 Miami visits Boston College in the Atlantic Coast Conference while No. 14 Texas A&M will host Iowa State in the Big 12. Also, in the ACC, No. 25 North Carolina will visit Wake Forest.

That's it for now.

     -- Mel 




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad10

Friday, January 27, 2012

Guru's College Report: "41" Magic Number For Delaware and Drexel in CAA Wins

By Mel Greenberg

NEWARK, Del. –
Individually, mark “41” down as the number of the night Thursday for 15th-ranked Delaware and junior all-America Elena Delle Donne here at the Bob Carpenter Center while to the South note “41” as a defensive team gem for Drexel in the two major games on the Colonial Athletic Association card.

The Blue Hens here are getting the hang of 1 vs. 2 games in the conference.

Four days after turning away Drexel’s attempt to gain a tie at the top of the CAA standings Delaware rode Delle Donne’s explosive 41-point performance to repulse a similar attempt from Hofstra in an 84-66 win over the Pride to open a two-game lead while staying perfect in conference competition.

Drexel, meanwhile, kept Virginia Commonwealth under control with a 47-41 win over the Rams in Richmond to move into a three-way tie with Hofstra and James Madison for second place heading into Sunday’s visit from Hofstra at the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center in Philadelphia.

The high-scoring Pride (14-5, 6-2 CAA) forced Delaware into early turnovers and drove to a nine-point lead at 19-10 with 11 minutes, 25 seconds left in the half before the Blue Hens (17-1, 8-0) rallied to gain a 37-37 tie at the half despite having starters Akeema Richards and Danielle Parker missing significant minutes because of foul trouble.

Delle Donne, who had already scored 16 points by halftime, got Delaware’s first nine points of the final 20 minutes but the outcome was still in the balance at 55-55 with 11:11 left in the game.

Just when it seemed this thriller was going to stay close to the wire, an array of Blue Hens launched a 14-0 run and by the time the game ended Delle Donne had a new building record topping her 40-point performance here earlier in the season in the upset of then-No. 11 Penn State.

Delle Donne also has gained 40 points against George Mason on the road.

Her nation-leading scoring average had shrunk to 27.9 over the previous four games but Thursday’s performance shot her up to 28.7, which is 4.4 points better than runnerup Florida International’s Jerica Coley, who is averaging 24.3 points per game.

Delle Donne, who was 10-for-10 at the line and connected on 14-of-a-career-tying 29 shots, also grabbed 15 rebounds, dealt five assists, blocked two shots, had a steal and committed two turnovers.

Lauren Carra added 16 points to Delaware’s total and reserve Kelsey Buchanan off the bench set a career high with nine points, all scored in the first half.

Hofstra’s Shante Evans, on a two-game homecoming trip including Sunday’s game at Drexel, had 22 points.

She is a graduate of Henderson High and lives in West Chester, Pa., a Western suburb of Philadelphia not far from here.

Katelyn Loper scored 14 points, while Candice Bellochio had 10 points.

“Against a great time like that we have to play at our best – we can’t lose focus,” Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Stevesky said, adding that her group has one, possibly two more shots at the Blue Hens, including the Feb. 16th visit from them to Long Island and the Pride’s arena in Hempstead.

“Two games we have lost we got outrebounded badly.”

Delaware had a 48-25 advantage on the boards, including 17-7 on the offensive end. The Blue Hens also dominated 22-4 in second chance points and 15-4 in terms of points from the bench. Hofstra gained a 16-9 advantage in points off turnovers while Delaware outscored the Pride 46-34 in the paint.

Delle Donne, who had a series of injuries and illnesses her first two season, has been on fire as a junior, especially in the wake of her performance as the top scorer and rebounder on the gold-medal USA Basketball World University team in China last summer.

“I think we came out in the first half like we were scared to lose and we were playing passive, really sloppy, weren’t going after loose ball,” Delle Donne said of the way the game went for Delaware.

“The second half more than anything, more than scoring and rebounding, I just wanted to get the hustle plays to get my team going. Once you get those you can really push ahead.”

As for her own effort, Delle Donne said, “We were kind of in a little bit of a lull tonight and some nights you just have to put your team on your back and be a leader for them and this was one of those nights where I saw it, be a leader, and step up.

“I haven’t had to do it as much this season because we’ve had such a balanced attack but we have those nights and there are nights when people put me on their backs. We needed it so you just have to step up to the plate.”

Delaware had another big crowd at 3,510 in the 5,000-seat arena that was sold out for the first time ever for a stand-a-lone women’s game Sunday.

“We got in foul trouble, which really hurt us, so yes it was a test,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said of the Blue Hens’ rally from the nine-point deficit.

“I thought Kelsey Buchanan came in and played solid,” she said. “It’s really hard when you’re a sophomore and you’re going up against Shante Evans, a first-team all-conference player.

“In the second half, we held them to 29 points and the defense speaks for themselves. The kids realized they were in a battle. Give Hofstra credit, they threw the first punch and our kids were surprised by that.

“But we made adjustments and the fact we got a tie at the half, it was a big key. Hofstra runs a dribble-drive offense to just go like a bat out of you know what, just put your head down and try to get into the paint. Then they try to dish off to Shante Evans, who is a big strong lady or kick out to the shooters,” Martin explained.

“They have a senior-laden team, seniors and juniors, those kids know how to play and Hofstra’s a solid program.

“Everybody’s giving us different looks and doing different things. Like I said, I think our team has to adjust on the fly some times. It’s an adjustment because (Hofstra) plays different than anyone else in conference.”

Dragons Slay Rams

Kamile Nacickaite scored 17 points and Fiona Flanagan scored a career-high 10 points in Drexel’s win over Virginia Commonwealth.

Defensively, the Dragons (10-8, 6-2 CAA) held the Rams’ Courtney Hurt, one of the nation’s top scorers, to nine points, well below her 22.8 average.

“It was an ugly defensive game but Fiona came up big for us and Kamile really shot the ball well tonight,” Drexel coach Denise Dillon said.

Andrea Barbour, VCU’s other big scorer, got 14 points.

Drexel’s game with Hofstra Sunday to wrap up the first half of CAA play tips off at 2 p.m. while Delaware visits James Madison (15-4, 6-2), the two-time defending CAA champions.

So for the third time in a row, Delaware will be in a 1 vs. 2 game, though the Blue Hens have a margin of error. A Blue Hens win would put the Hofstra-Drexel winner in sole possession of second place.

Hofstra beat the Dragons at home 76-65 earlier this month to open CAA play.

Elsewhere in the CAA, William & Mary beat area rival Old Dominion 83-80 in Willamsburg, Va., as Taysha Pye had 23 points for the Tribe (9-10, 2-6).

It was the first win over the Lady Monarchs (6-14, 3-5) in 37 years since 1975.

Old Dominion, which went 17-0 winning CAA titles after joining the conference in 1991-92, went 11-7 in the conference in 2009, the year Drexel knocked off the Lady Monarchs in the semifinals to end their string of titles.

The five CAA losses are second most for ODU, tying the five in the inaugural year in the conference when they began their string.

Penn State Tops Michigan

On a day that the Penn State community attended a memorial service at the Bryce Jordan Center for legendary former football coach Joe Paterno, who died Sunday, the 18th-ranked Lady Lions stayed perfect as road warriors in the Big Ten Conference, beating Michigan 77-56 in Ann Arbor to go 4-0 away from home for the first time in the conference since 1993-94.

Penn State (16-4, 6-2 Big Ten) sizzled from the field, shooting 56.1 percent as Maggie Lucas, the graduate of Germantown Academy from Narberth, Pa., outside Philadelphia, scored 23 points – the 11th time this season she has scored 20 or more points.

Alex Bentley, the preseason conference player of the year, scored 18 points against the Wolverines (16-5, 5-3).
Penn State, the preseason favorite, is tied with Nebraska (17-3, 6-2) for third place a game behind Ohio State (20-1, 7-1) and two behind Purdue (18-3, 8-0).

On Sunday, Penn State visits Michigan State, who fell at home to Illinois 72-62 in overtime to fall to 12-9 overall and 4-4 in the conference.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, No. 13 Purdue got a career-high 29 points from Courtney Moser in an 80-70 road win at Northwestern (12-9, 2-6) in Evanston, Ill.

No. 19 Nebraska beat visiting Iowa 60-53 at home in Lincoln as the Cornhuskers got 22 points and 15 rebounds from Jordan Hooper in the win over the Hawkeyes (11-10, 3-5).

No. 9 Ohio State got all of Tayler Hill’s 18 points in the second half as the Buckeyes rallied on the road to beat Indiana 73-55 and drop the Hoosiers to 5-16 overall and 0-8 in the conference despite Aulani Sinclair’s career-high 27 points.

Virginia Tech Shocks Maryland

The No. 7 Terrapins were taken down 75-69 by the Hokies (7-14, 3-5 ACC) in the Comcast Center in College Park, Md., as Montel Tellier tied a career-high 31 points in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Maryland (18-3, 5-3), which now trails front running and fifth-ranked Duke by three games in the ACC, got 21 points and 10 rebounds from Lynetta Kizer, 19 points from Laurin Mincy, and 18 from Tianna Hawkins.

Terrapins coach Brenda Frese said the absence of leading scorer Alyssa Thomas, who was recuperating from a sprained left thumb, was no excuse for the upset.

“I’m mostly disappointed,” Frese said. “I really like coaching this team. I think this team has a lot of great parts to it. I think as young players, it’s important for them to understand the big picture.”

That situation is the Terrapins probably said adios to remaining in the hunt for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

As far as missing Thomas, Frese noted, “We also have a lot of talented players in the locker room that should be able to step up in her absence.”

Maryland next hosts Boston College (5-15, 0-7) next Thursday.

In the only other ACC game on the books, No. 10 Miami (18-3, 7-1) grabbed a 64-39 win at home in Coral Gables, Fla., over Wake Forest (12-8, 2-5) to stay a game behind Duke as Stefanie Yderstrom and Riquana Williams each scored 14 points.

Vandy Gets Dandy Win Over Georgia

Christina Foggie had a career-high 34 points as Vanderbilt (15-5, 3-4), which just fell out of the Associated Press women’s poll, upset No. 17 Georgia 68-48 at home in a Southeastern Conference game in Nashville, Tenn.
Anne Marie Armstrong had 15 points for Georgia (16-5, 5-3).

Elsewhere in the SEC, No. 6 Kentucky (19-2, 8-0) stayed unbeaten in conference play as A’dia Mathies scored 20 points in a 66-48 road win at Auburn (10-11, 2-6).

No. 7 Tennessee (15-5, 6-1) recovered from Monday night’s 72-44 drubbing at No. 2 Notre Dame in a nonconference confrontation to beat host Alabama 86-56 in Tuscaloosa as Shekinna Stricklen had 14 points and Glory Johnson scored 13 in the win over the Crimson Tide (10-11, 0-7) to stay a game behind Kentucky.

Markeshia Grant scored 20 points in a 61-43 win by South Carolina (16-5, 5-3) at home in Columbia over Mississippi (12-9, 2-6).

Still Playing Perfect

Top-ranked Baylor and No. 12 Wisconsin-Green Bay stayed unbeaten with respective conference wins.

The Bears (20-0, 7-0) of the Big 12 got 18 points and seven blocked shots from Brittney Griner in an 89-58 road win at Oklahoma (12-6, 4-3), which got 19 points from Whitney Hand in Norman.

Julie Wojta scored 13 of her 15 points in the first half as Wisconsin-Green Bay (18-0, 7-0) scored a road win in the Horizon League over host Butler (7-12, 3-5) in Indianapolis.

In the only other game involving a ranked team, Stephanie Golden came off the bench to score a career-high 15 points for No. 22 Gonzaga (18-3, 7-1) in a 79-61 home win in Spokane, Wash., over Loyola Marymount (5-15, 1-7).

Quakers Return To Ivies

In the only area Division I game on the card Friday night Penn returns to finish out its season with Ivy League games only as Columbia visits the Palestra at 7 p.m.

CACC Race Tightens

Philadelphia University and Holy Family both suffered losses in Division II Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference games to tighten the Southern Division race.

In East Falls, though Stephanie Agger became the 27th player to reach 1,000 points for the Rams, they fell at home in overtime to Georgian Court 83-80 in the Gallagher Center.

Agger, who joined teammate Christine Wooding this season in the 1,000-point club, scored 19 points for the Rams (14-5, 8-2) while Goldey Beacom (12-6, 7-4) got 14 points and 11 rebounds from guard Ashley Rosario in snapping Philadelphia U.’s six-game win streak.

Meanwhile, University of the Sciences at home at the Bobby Morgan Arena in Southwest Philadelphia, beat Holy Family 65-53 for the Devils’ fourth straight win.

USP (11-7, 7-3 CACC) posted its first win over the Tigers (13-7, 9-2) in a regular season home game since a narrow 60-59 win on Feb. 7, 1995, though the Devils also beat Holy Family at home in a conference tournament game in 2006.

The Devils moved to with a game of first place, where Holy Family and Philadelphia U. are tied.

Freshman Brianne Traub had 16 points for USP, Carolyn Edwards and Jessica Sylvester each scored 13 points, and Becca Ruggear had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Isabella Ross pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.

Erin Mann scored 15 points for Holy Family as the only Tigers star in double figures.


Carolyn Sprague, Pittsburgh’s longtime senior women’s administrator who also served on the NCAA women’s basketball tournament committee, is set to retire at the end of the school year.

As part of the reorganization, Stacey Brann, the sports information director for women’s basketball who moved to the Steel City from Rutgers last season where she was the press aide among other activities for Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer, will be promoted to assistant athletic director for women’s basketball, though Boss Brann will also retain her SID duties.

Some conspiracy theorists jokingly thought the announcement was timed for Brann to steal the thunder from the news at her former place of employment which learned Thursday that football coach Gregg Schiano had been named the new coach of Tampa Bay in the NFL.

Elsewhere, longtime Bowling Green women’s basketball coach Curt Miller will miss Saturday’s game at Central Michigan in the Mid-American Conference after a medical diagnosis Thursday determined he suffered a mild stroke late in Sunday’s win over Eastern Michigan.

Miller’s return has not been determined, though he said in a statement, “This is a wake-up call for me and I have already begun the process of finding a healthier balance.”
Jennifer Roos, associate head coach will run the team, which is 16-3 overall and 6-0 in the MAC.

“Our first priority is Curt’s health,” athletic director Greg Christopher, said in a statement. “Although he has been cleared to continue coaching, we all felt it was best to take a step back right now. We fully expect Curt to return to the bench, soon.”

Christopher is also the new head of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament committee this season and is also the first male head since the organization began sponsoring the championships in 1981-82.

And that’s it for now until tweeting from the Penn game Friday night.

-- Mel

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Guru's USBWA Talk: Strong Field Continues In Weekly Candidate List

By Mel Greenberg

Here are some of the performances in the week ending Sunday that produced conference player of the week honorees, which in turn makes them eligible for the new United states Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) women's national player of the week award.

The winner, baring complications of technology, will be announced Tuesday afternoon.

In the Southeastern Conference Sarah Watkins of Arkansas was chosen for her performances in a rare win by the Razorbacks over Vanderbilt in which she tied a school record with six blocked shots and she also helped in a win over

Performances in Monday;s big win by No. 2 Notre Dame over Tennessee won't get into the process until next week but at the moment the Irish's Deveraux Peters took the Big East prize for averaging 19.5 points in wins over Pittsburgh and Villanova to stay unbeaten in conference play.

In a key conference game in the Atlantic Coast Duke's Chelsea Gray had 17 points and dealt 11 assists in Duke's win over Maryland and with her performance over Georgia Tech finished with a 16.5 scoring average in the two games and a 7.5 assists average to earn the ACC citation.

Teri Oliver helped Southern Illinois break a 24-game losing streak in the Missouri Valley Conference with a win over Missouri State as she averaged 25.5 points and 5.0 rebounds.

Chantell Alford of Boston University is the reigning America East player of the year and at the moment helped keep the Terriers in first place with an 11.7 average with 5.5 rebounds in three wins including a comeback win over arch-rival Hartford.

The new career leader in three-point connections in the Atlantic Ten is St. Bonaventure's Jessica Jenkins with 293. including six against Charlotte last Saturday night in North Carolina while she finishe dwith 23 points. She also had 18 against Richmond to send the Bonnies into sole possession of first place as the only team in the A-10 that still has a perfect record.

George Mason's Taleia Moton averaged 28.8 points and 4.0 rebounds in wins over William & Mary and VCU to earn the weekly award of the Colonial Athletic Association.

It's two weeks in a row that Stanford's Chiney Oguwmike has taken Pac-12 honors this time with a 17,.0 scoring average and 11.5 rebounds in the Cardinal's home sweep of Washington and Washington State. Her older sister Nnemkadi earlier this season captured the USBWA prize.

Aarynb Ellenberg of Oklahoma starred with a 24.5 scoring average to go with 4.5 rebounds and 5.5 steals in Sooners wins over Kansas State and Texas to bring home the honor from the panel that deliberates the Big 12 award.

Hawaii's Kamillah Jackson had a 16.0 average and 13.0 rebounds to be given the Western Athletic Conference player of the week award for wins over Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State.

The Mountain West honoree is Kayla Woodward for a 25.5 scoring average, 8.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals with Wyoming.

Loyola of Maryland's Miriam McKenzie took home the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference player of the week award with averages of 20.5 points and 11.0 rebounds as the Greyhounds went 1-1.

And in the Southland Nicholls State's Sumar Leslie had a career-high 34 points in a win over Southeastern Louisiana. She leads the conference with a 20.8 scoring average.

That's just a sampling. When the Big Ten winner is known Tuesday morning that honoree will be tweeted here and then the USBWA winner will be tweeted when it is officially released. If you are not following the Guru the handle is @womhoopsguru.

On the local front, La Salle's Jada Payne took home the Atlantic 10 freshman of the week award while Temple's Shey Peddy earned another Big 5 women's player of the week award.

Philadelphia University's Christine Wooding captured player of the week honors in the Division II Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference while University of Science's freshman Brianne Traub picked up another rookie of the week award from the CACC.

In other news, the Guru doesn't have the link at the moment but if you google around or get on twitter on Delaware's Elena Delle Donne's twitter you will be led to a YouTube flash dance mob video in which the entire family performs.

Perhaps whatever WNBA team Delle Donne ultimately lands on, the entire group can be hired in the manner of the New York Liberty's Timeless Torches to perform during timeouts and thus Elena can have the whole brood around in the summer for home games whatever part of the country she is at.

Will this be like 1997 for Tennessee. The Vols got knocked around that season with 10 losses, though most were competitive, and still claimed the first of what became a three-peat of NCAA titles. So far the Lady Vols have suffered an upset at unranked Virginia to go with losses to Kentucky, Stanford, Baylor and, now, Notre Dame.

There is a lot of season left so don't count Tennessee totally out for now. At this time in 1997 no one thought a championship would be attained, either.

That's it for now. The Guru will be at Rutgers for the DePaul game Tuesday night but will be tracking Temple at Xavier and Cincinnati at Villanova on the local front as well as other national games of note.

And the Guru closes on this note. However badly things went down at the end of the life of Penn State legendary football coach Joe Paterno, no one championed the cause of women's sports more than Paterno back when he was athletic director several decades ago.

When the Lady Lions were in the Atlantic 10 and the Guru made trips to Happy Valley because of the Rutgers-Temple-St. Joseph's games, there was seldom a time that Paterno was not at a home game as well as attending the many postgame receptions of the booster club afterwards.

-- Mel

Monday, January 23, 2012

Guru's College Report: Together At Last -- Delle Donne, Biden and Delaware

(Guru's note: There is a print version of Sunday's Drexel game in philly.com. Tuesday's notebook will lead with St. Joseph's in the print section. Material on Penn State drawn from wire reports. At some point Monday a Big East notebook will appear in Full Court Press at the web site.).

By Mel Greenberg

NEWARK, Del. –
On the front and back ends of a weekend in late August 2008 down here, the two biggest news events of the year in this state occurred.

On a Saturday it became official that U.S. Senator Joe Biden had been picked by Barack Obama to be his running mate on the Democratic ticket for the presidential campaign, which resulted several months later with Biden becoming vice president of the United States.

Two days later local high school sensation Elena Delle Donne, the high school national player of the year out of Wilmington’s Ursuline Academy dropped the other shoe after foregoing her scholarship to powerful Connecticut.

Delle Donne held a press conference here at the University of Delaware to say she had enrolled but to play volleyball saying she had suffered burnout from the sport of her acclaim.

Much has happened to the two marquee names since that eventful weekend in which some noted Delle Donne’s presser drew more reporters than the throng who camped out near Biden’s house expecting his appointment by Obama.

Biden has gone on to be anything but the traditional bit player vice presidents have been as he has helped Obama in establishing policies of the administration.

Delle Donne eventually returned to basketball the following spring, transferring sports again and joining Tina Martin’s squad to ultimately lead Delaware to new vistas in this her junior season with a first-ever national ranking as well as becoming the frontrunner and favorite in the ongoing title chase in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

Though it seemed it should have happened before, the two finally crossed paths Sunday afternoon when Biden was part of a first-ever women’s single-game sellout of 5,021 at the Bob Carpenter Center that watched Delle Donne and her teammates on the 16th-ranked Blue Hens hold off longtime rival Drexel for a 60-49 win to move into sole possession of first place in the CAA at 16-1 overall and 7-0 in the conference.

Drexel (9-8, 5-2) dropped from second to a third-place tie with James Madison but another 1-2 CAA showdown looms Thursday night when Hofstra (14-4, 6-1) visits.

Biden is a Delaware graduate and also at the game was Delaware governor Jack Markell.

Drexel missed its first seven shots, falling 10 points behind and making it appear that for once this encounter was not going to be the closely-fought encounters that are a staple of the series dating back to the days when the two battled in the America
East before joining the CAA for the 2001-02 season.

But the Dragons rallied, got to within two near the end of the half. However, Delaware, which was part of Drexel’s only sellout two seasons ago in Philadelphia, did not yield ground and eventually pulled away late in the second half.

Delle Donne finished with 21 points, below her nation-leading 28.4 average. She’s still comfortably ahead in the NCAA statistics.

Since Martin doesn’t like the use of the phrase “supporting cast,” in terms of Delle Donne’s teammates, she heartily enjoyed the phrase “other options,” to discuss the across-the-board blend of Delaware’s attack.

Akeema Richards had a first-ever double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while Danielle Parker and Lauren Carra each scored 10 points.

Drexel, which had a four-game win-streak snapped and was held to a season-low output, got 12 points from Kamile Nacickaite and 10 from Tyler Hale.

But before getting to the normal basketball talk there was the excitement of the surprise visit by Biden and of course the record crowd to address by Martin.

“It was an honor to meet him and the kids were thrilled they got a chance to meet him,” Martin said and reported Biden came into the locker room after the game.

“He even did a U-D Hoop Squad cheer. It was really cool. He was in the locker room with the kids, taking pictures and what an honor for our team and he said he’s been trying to come for two years now to see us play,” Martin continued.

“Obviously, he said, we’re the happening thing right now in Delaware so that was nice of him. That was very complimentary. It’s a thrill. It’s not every day you meet the vice president of the United States. It was very cool.”

Martin said she wasn’t aware of the impending visit until informed during her pre-game radio interview.

“I said, `What??’ I heard the governor was coming but I didn’t hear about the vice president.

“They were keeping it low key. The secret service was there. He obviously bleeds Delaware through and through so he was rooting for us all the way. It’s just an honor that he came to the game.”

As for how the game played out, Martin said, “Drexel and Delaware, we know each other so well. And these kids play against one another and it’s always going to be that way.

“You throw out the records, you throw out the statistics – we’re 35 miles apart from each other and all the games are like this – they’re knock down, drag out games. To win by double digits speaks volumes about our team.

“Drexel certainly put up a great fight and they’re a good basketball team and they understand now they’re really playing well together, they’ve got their two shooters going – I thought we did a very good job of defending them today,” Martin continued.

“But they’re going to fight and scrap and I have the utmost respect for Drexel as a team. I knew it was going to be a fight – it always is when we play them – and it’s going to be a fight when we go up to Drexel.

“This is the type of game you get – good, intense college basketball.”

Martin cited her team’s ability to be more aggressive in the second half to stay in control.

“(Drexel) was playing a triangle and two to start and then they switched to a box-and-one and then they went to a 2-3 zone and they stayed in that 2-3 zone but every time Elena got the ball they were playing her man-to-man in the zone.

“So wherever she cut, she had somebody hanging on her, so we moved her outside a little bit more to open up some of the driving lanes. Akeema Richards took advantage of that, Lauren Cara got to the rim a couple of times – to have four people in double figures – and obviously Danielle Parker got some looks out of that too. And Elena was able to slice, cut, and get some looks herself.

“I thought we shared the ball and attacked the rim much more effectively than in the first half. We were a little impatient.”
Delaware will have to switch gears Thursday to deal with Hofstra’s explosive attack.

“Hofstra plays a different style. Obviously Drexel like to run a motion type offense, a lot of back screens, a lot of things curl-ins, back-door cuts and things like that, whereas Hofstra just likes to run a 100 miles an hour and score 100 points,” Martin explained.

“They’re a hard team to defend because they just run, run, run. We’ve got to be again patient on the offensive end and do some good things against them because their tempo is going to be different than this game.”

Martin referred to the conference run as a “grind it out” effort at the moment compared to earlier in the year in playing the likes of Penn State, Princeton, St. Bonaventure, and Maryland.

“Everyone knows what you’re doing. A lot of junk defenses. Very physical. We have a target on our back and people are coming after us and how can you not be excited as a player,” Martin said in talking about the ambience in the arena.

“I don’t care if you are on Drexel, Hofstra, whoever you are. You come into this building and there’s 4,000 people every night – today this was obvious a sellout. This is why you put the uniform on.

“Then the vice president is here on top of that. So you’re up. Your blood is pumping and you’re ready to go. Every game is going to be like that because the opposing team knows there’s going to be great crowds, so it’s what college basketball should be.”
As for the matter of second options:

“Our other options are really starting to step up,” Martin said of the total team effort. “Elena scores a lot of points and certainly she’s got a great shot but these kids are screening and passing the ball to her and she couldn’t go 1-on-5 against anybody in the country – not even a Division III school.

“So credit goes to our other options. Our players for all the things they do – getting Elena looks and in turn Elena getting them looks – the combination of Elena and Trumae (Lucas) and Parker and Carra – it’s all those players combining their talents – if Elena scores, we all score; If Parker scores, we all score; If Carra scores, we all scores and our kids realize that.

“It’s great to have four kids score in double figures today. It’s a team and everybody needs to realize that and respect that and give these kids credit because I’ll tell you what – bodies are flying out there – these kids are playing their hearts out for Delaware and they deserve respect for thoat.”

Penn State Stays In Big Ten Hunt And Mourns Paterno

Playing hours after the passing of former Hall of Fame football coach Joe Paterno at the age of 85 because of cancer, the No. 22 Lady Lions beat Iowa 68-52 in a Big Ten game at the Bryce Jordan Center as Alex Bentley scored 21 points.

Penn State coach Coquese Washington said Paterno took care of her from the moment she arrived in Happy Valley from her previous job as associate head coach at Notre Dame, her alma mater, when she was hired in the spring of 2007.

“It wasn’t like we had Sunday dinner every week,” Washington related. “But the times we spent together he was always giving me some advice and inspiration.”

The Lady Lions (15-4, 5-2 Big Ten) had black bands on their uniforms and Washington had a black ribbon on her sweater.

“I know he would have been ticked off if we lost,” Washington said. “We just wanted to play our best today, give our best effort in honor of a man who always gave his best to Penn State.”

The Lady Lions, trailing 50-48 with 6:32 left in the game, surged with a 20-2 rally to beat the Hawkeyes (11-9, 3-4).

Temple: New Digs and New Look In Win Over Penn

After moving into impressive new offices and practice facilities built on the top of McGonigle Hall, Temple used a special post presence Saturday to beat Penn 72-47 in a Big Five game that was the last nonconference event for both teams before the Owls head back to the Atlantic 10 with a Tuesday visit to Xavier and the Quakers head back to the Ivy League to host Columbia on Friday night at The Palestra.

Victoria Macauley had a career-high 20 points and Joelle Connelly, a transfer from Hofstra, had the best effort as an Owl with 16 points.

Penn also had two players with landmark games in their careers as Jackie Kaites scored 17 points and Kristen Cody scored 12.

The Quakers on the grueling part of their schedule are now 7-8 overall on a six-game losing streak that included a league-opening loss to powerful Princeton at The Palestra. The Tigers are the two-time defending Ivy champs and league favorites.

Penn finished 0-4 in the Big Five, playing three City Series games in January after having gotten off to the best 10-game start in the program’s history.

Temple is 10-8 and 1-1 in the Big Five, already won by Villanova. One of the Owls’ Atlantic 10 games with St. Joseph’s will also count in the Big Five as will the regular-season-ending visit to La Salle.

Shey Peddy had 15 points and Kristen McCarthy scored 10 marking the first time this season four Owls scored in double figures.

Penn used the city’s subway system to travel from the Quakers’ campus in West Philadelphia to Temple in North Philadelphia.

“I thought our posts came up hugh for us, I thought our defense did a good job limiting (Alyssa) Baron’s touches,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said. “Last year she had a really good game against us.

“Our post presence took the pressure off our guards,” Cardoza said. “That’s how you would like to play – shooting high percentage shots.”

Despite the outcome, Penn coach Mike McLaughlin felt his players competed much better than in their previous outing, losing at Villanova on Tuesday.

“I thought we had so many open shots that we missed, but we ran a better and cleaner offense and I thought we executed better than we did the last five games.

“We need to look at the progress we are making and I thought we did. Unfortunately, we have to make those shots, playing a team like this who made us pay for every mistake we made,” McLaughlin said.

“We did some real good things in our non-league. Jackie Kaites had a breakout game – she needed one – and she controlled our portion of what we wanted to do today and that’s going to help us immensely.”

It’s not inconceivable that Penn could finish second in the league and that would lead to a bid to the Postseason WNIT.

St. Joseph’s Wins A Close One Again

The Hawks survived a visit to two-time defending Atlantic-10 champion Xavier in Cincinnati 70-67 as Michelle Baker scored 15 points, Erin Shields had 13 points and Samira Van Grinsven scored 12.

The win kept St. Joseph’s (13-5, 3-1 A-10) in a two-way tie with Temple for third, a half-game behind Charlotte and 1.5 games behind St. Bonaventure, whom the Hawks visit Wednesday night in a key game in the conference.

Xavier (3-14, 0-4) got 19 points from Jessica Patchko.
In another A-10 game Saturday involving a local team, La Salle lost its second straight – a tough one at Richmond, 74-70, despite Jada Payne’s 24 points, a second-straight career best.

La Salle fell to 9-11 overall and 3-2 in the conference while the Spiders improved to 15-4 overall and 3-2 in the A-10.

Rutgers Recovers

After an upset loss at St. John’s earlier in the week, No. 7 Rutgers beat host South Florida 72-66 as senior April Sykes had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Khadijah Rushdan, also a senior, scored 16 against the Bulls in a Big East game in Tampa. Monique Oliver had 14 points.

The Scarlet Knights (16-3, 5-1) will host No. 21 DePaul Tuesday night. Blue Demons coach Doug Bruno was just announced as an assistant to UConn’s Geno Auriemma along with WNBA Atlantia Dream coach Marynell Meadors and former WNBA Los Angeles Sparks coach Jennifer Gillom for the summer Olympics in London.

The same staff guided the Americans to a gold medal in 2010 at the world championships.
South Florida fell to 11-9 overall and 3-3 in the Big East.

That’s the news for now until the next sunrise.

-- Mel

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Guru's College Report: Delaware Sells Out Sunday's CAA Showdown With Drexel

By Mel Greenberg

For those of you not following the Guru on twitter here is the Delaware release about Sunday's sellout and first place CAA showdown with Drexel.

NEWARK, Del. -- The University of Delaware announced Friday that the Blue Hen women's basketball matchup with Colonial Athletic Association rival Drexel set this Sunday, Jan. 22, at the Bob Carpenter Center, is a sellout.

The Blue Hens (15-1, 6-0 CAA), who are currently ranked No. 16 nationally in both the Associated Press and USA Today/ESPN Coaches polls and riding a five-game win streak, will take on Drexel (9-7, 5-1 CAA) in a battle for first place in the league standings. The Dragons have won four straight entering the game.

The game, set to begin at 3:30 p.m., will mark the first sellout for the UD women at the 5,000-seat Bob Carpenter Center in a game that does not include a doubleheader with the Blue Hen men. The previous high attendance for a UD women's game at the BCC was 4,772 vs. Old Dominion on Feb. 11, 2005.

The game will be broadcast live on 1290 AM The Ticket as well as on UD student station WVUD 91.3 FM. In addition, the game will be televised live locally and regionally on The Comcast Network as well as on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Live stats and live video are also available on the UD athletics website at www.bluehens.com/teams/womens-basketball.

UD athletics also has announced that due to the increased attendance for basketball games this season, doors to the arena will now open 90 minutes prior to game time for all men's and women's games for the remainder of the season. This will also include the ticket windows for both sales as well as for Will Call.

The change will begin on Jan. 21 when the Delaware men host Georgia State at 2 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center. Please continue to plan to arrive early to avoid lines and traffic.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Guru's College Report: Delaware and Drexel Win Big Heading To Sunday CAA Showdown

(Guru's note: Material and quotes from beyond Drexel game site drawn on team and wire reports)

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA – There was very little for Drexel coach Denise Dillon to find fault with her Dragons in a 66-39 win Thursday night over Northeastern at home at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

At the same time to the south on a night that Elena Delle Donne was a bit off the mark No. 16 Delaware used balance to end Towson’s 7-0 home streak with a lopsided 65-46 victory and a season sweep of the Tigers.

Thus the stage was set for the first of two meetings between these neighboring rivals Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. when Drexel travels to Delaware at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark with a chance to knot things even tighter in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Drexel (9-7, 5-1 CAA) won its fourth straight and continued its recent combo of tough defense and balanced offense to handle the Huskies (3-14, 1-5) as Tyler Hale and Kamile Nacickaite each scored 14 points while Hollie Mershon, the reigning CAA co-player of the week, scored 13 and Taylor Wootton scored 12.

In yet another wild night in the CAA, Delaware (15-1, 6-0), the preseason favorite, finally broke free in the standings to takeover first place alone and unbeaten in conference play while Drexel’s second-place dynamics was altered.

The Dragons became tied with Hofstra (13-4, 5-1), which lost at home 81-63 to two-time defending CAA champion James Madison (13-4, 4-2).

Virginia Commonwealth (11-6, 4-2) was nipped 57-56 at North Carolina-Wilmington (10-7, 3-3) to fall into a third place tie with James Madison.

Alisha Andrews scored the game-winner for UNCW with 18 seconds remaining in regulation.

After Delaware plays Drexel Sunday, the Blue Hens will host Hofstra next Thursday night while Drexel will travel to VCU. Hofstra will host Northeastern on Sunday.

“It’s early in the year,” Dillon said. “You don’t get too worked up on positioning right now – especially with the stretch we have coming up, so I just told our players, `Sunday’s game is a game you’d love to steal but we have nothing to lose and everything to gain.’

“We’re trying to take care of the games we have a chance of winning and we’re doing exactly that.”

While Drexel was able to hold Northeastern’s Jewell Tunstell to five points – seven below her average, the Huskies broke free for several three-pointers early in the game but the Dragons tightened things up after Jamie Conroy nailed a trey for a 16-15 lead with 7 minutes, 39 seconds left in the first half.

“I was upset early with the threes we were giving up, but we made the adjustment defensively and our players responded,” Dillon said.

“Once we took them out of that game with threes, it made it hard and Taylor Wootton did a phenomenal job on Tunstell. We’re talking about how important post defense is and she single handedly took her out of the game.”

Northeastern’s Conroy and Deanna Kerkhof each scored 12 points for the Huskies fueled by their three-pointers in the first half.

Meanwhile, down at Towson, Delle Donne, the nation’s leading scorer with a 29.3 average, was held to 15 points by the Tigers (11-6, 2-4) and the Blue Hens still won with ease.

Delle Donne missed most of the first half of Sunday’s win at Northeastern but still scored 22 points playing with what has been diagnosed as a calf injury.

It was the first time in 19 games that Delle Donne did not score 20 or more points dating back to last season.

Delaware’s Lauren Carra had a season-high 15 points and in the first half the Blue Hens found the open person consistently in getting 13 assists on 13 baskets and a 39-18 lead at the half.

Akeema Richards added 11 points and Danielle Parker scored nine.

“We shared the ball and our defense set the tone,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said. “I knew this had to be about defense and rebounding. We got some really good looks, and the defense led everything from there.

“Elena is wrestling with an injury, which really showed the strength of the team tonight. It’s nice to see the team step up because I know they are capable of doing that. They proved it tonight. It’s a win-win all around.”

Lucas Leads Penn State Again

Germantown Academy graduate Maggie Lucas of Narberth, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia, had 19 points as No. 22 Penn State picked up its third straight win and first since returning to the AP Poll after a week’s absence by beating host Illinois, 71-65, in a Big Ten game in Champaign.

Alex Bentley, the preseason conference player of the year, scored 15 points for the Lady Lions (14-4, 4-2 Big Ten) against the Illini (6-13, 0-6).

Penn State’s Nikki Greene had 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.

It was the 80th win for Lady Lions head coach Coquese Washington, whose team will host Iowa Sunday. Lucas crossed the 900-point milestone and now has 917 career points.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, No. 13 Purdue got a season-high 20 points from fifth-year senior Antionette Howard as the Boilermakers topped in-state rival Indiana 82-60 to hold first-place at 16-3 overall and 6-0 in the conference.

She also had eight rebounds and four steals.

Indiana fell to 5-14 overall and remained winless in the conference at 0-6.

In a game between two ranked teams in the conference No. 10 Ohio State stopped No. 20 Nebraska 82-68 as Tayler Hill scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Samantha Prahalis scored 19 points and dealt nine assists for the Buckeyes (18-1, 5-1 Big Ten) at home in Columbus, Ohio.

Prahalis is the only senior on the Ohio State roster.

Emily Cady scored a career-high 24 points for the Cornhuskers (15-3, 4-2), new to the conference this season moving over from the Big 12.

Ohio State, which was tied with Nebraska and Michigan State for second place and now is all alone a game behind Purdue, while Penn State moved into a three-way tie for third.

Michigan State was upset by Minnesota 71-65, Michigan beat Northwestern 58-48, and Iowa beat Wisconsin 69-57.

Maryland and Miami Hold Ground

After Virginia narrowly lost at No. 9 Maryland Monday night Virginia coach Joanne Boyle, who is in her first year with the Cavaliers after a successful career in the Bay Area at California, said they were tired of moral victories and it was time to get a win.

But all Virginia had to show after a tough battle at home Thursday night was another tough loss, this time to No. 11 Miami, 56-53, at home in the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.

Shenise Johnson, expected to go high in the WNBA draft next spring, had 20 points, including a pair of foul shots with 18.2 second left in regulation for the Hurricanes (16-3, 5-1 ACC), who stayed within a game of first-place and No. 5 Duke, which was idle, in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Ariana Moorer had 18 points for Virginia (14-6, 2-4).

Elsewhere in the ACC, No. 8 Maryland stayed with Miami by defeating Wake Forest 86-58 at home at the Comcast Center in College Park as Tianna Hawkins set a school record with 24 rebounds for the Terrapins (18-1, 5-1)

With the outcome under control after a tie score at the half, Hawkins was on the bench when Frese learned of the potential record and re-inserted her star rebounder back into the game.

“I asked the team if we should let her come back in and they unanimously said yes,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “That record has been in the record books for a very long time. It’s special for us to be able to break records.”

Angie Scott set the previous mark in February 1977 against Towson State and then 10 months later Debbie Jones matched it against Howard.

"It felt good. My teammates were pushing me to get that last rebound and the crowd was pushing me," said Hawkins, who scored 18 points and fueled a second-half surge by Maryland.

Hawkins finished with 18 points, Alyssa Thomas scored 16 and had 11 rebounds, while Lynetta Kizer, Laurin Mincy and Brene Moseley each scored 11 points.

"Obviously you look pretty good when you have rebounding machines like we have here," said Frese, who sat between Hawkins and Thomas for the postgame news conference.

Chelsea Douglas of Wake Forest (11-7, 1-4) had 15 points.

“I’m very disappointed the ACC voted down my proposal to play 20-minute games,” jested Demon Deacons coach Mike Peterson. “That would have made this evening very more enjoyable.”

Meanwhile No. 24 North Carolina recovered from its nonconference 86-35 thrashing at No. 3 Connecticut Monday night, the worst-ever defeat in the program’s history, to beat Virginia Tech 56-37 as Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell, who is 872-308 overall, hit a UNC milestone with her 600th win at the ACC school.

Former Virginia coach Debbie Ryan and the late North Carolina State coach Kay Yow also got 600 victories at the same ACC school.

The win by the Tar Heels (13-5, 3-2) was the fourth try to get Hatchell to 600.

Virginia Tech (6-13, 2-4) is down to six scholarship players but trailed at the half just by four points at 25-21.

In other ACC results, North Carolina State beat Clemson, 62-46.

Mentee Caldwell Loses To Mentor Summitt

No. 9 Tennessee topped LSU 65-56 at home in Knoxville in game in which Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt in the Southeastern Conference game was on the sidelines against her former player and assistant Nikki Caldwell, who is in her first year with the Tigers (13-5, 4-2 SEC).

She previously coached at UCLA.

Meighan Simmons and Cierra Burdick, seeing more action than usual because of injuries at Tennessee (14-4, 5-1 SEC), had 19 points and 15 points, respectively.

Leading scorer Shekinna Stricklen departed with a streak of 121 starts at Tennessee because of a right knee sprain suffered Sunday against Vanderbilt while Taber Spani hasn’t played since Dec. 26 because of a bone bruise in her left knee.

The Lady Vols are headed to No. 2 Notre Dame Monday night in a nonconference meeting that will be the first between the two since last season’s NCAA tournament in which the Irish upset Tennessee in the elite eight and advanced to the title game in Indianapolis before losing to Texas A&M.

LSU’s Courtney Jones had 16 points in a game in which the Tigers lost two players with injuries.

Two minutes into the game starting Tigers point guard Jeanne Kenny went to the bench with what appears to be a concussion and later Destini Hughes went down three seconds before halftime with a serious knee injury.

“Obviously, it was a knock-down drag out type fight, but it was a very competitive fight,” Caldwell observed. “You saw two teams playing every possession like it was their last.”

In another SEC game that featured two ranked teams, No. 6 Kentucky (17-2, 6-0 SEC) outlasted No. 15 Georgia 69-64 on the road in Athens as former UConn player Samarie Walker had 18 points.

Georgia fell to 15-4 overall and 4-2 in the conference.

No. 5 Vanderbilt was upset 69-47 at unranked Arkansas (13-5, 2-4) as Sarah Watkins scored a season-high 21 points for the Razorbacks, who hadn’t beaten the Commodores (14-4, 2-3) since 2006.

Mentee Elliott Loses To Mentor Auriemma

Besides the matchup of familiarity on the coaching sidelines in the game at Tennessee, a Big East matchup in Storrs, Conn., had Geno Auriemma, coach of No. 3 UConn, going against his former star player and assistant Jamelle Elliott, who is running Cincinnati.

Like most games this season, it was another Huskies rout, this one 80-37 as Tiffany Hayes led the way for UConn (16-2, 5-1 Big East) with 17 points and the Huskies’ NCAA home win streak record was extend to 96 straight.

Cincinnati fell to 9-9 overall and 0-5 in the Big East.

“It only gets easier from here, I hope,” Elliott said after Cincinnati lost to three Top 10 teams in their last four losses.

The Bearcats will be at Villanova Tuesday night.

-- Mel