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.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Guru's College Report: ACC Youngsters Lead Maryland And Duke To Wins

By Mel Greenberg

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Two young stars of the Atlantic Coast Conference delivered impressive performances Friday night in helping their teams to a pair of victories.

Down here at No. 5 Maryland’s Comcast, sophomore Alyssa Thomas, the 2011 ACC rookie of the year as well as reigning conference player of the week, led a Terrapins comeback from a 20-point deficit in the second half to clip Georgia Tech 77-74 and stay unbeaten overall at 15-0 and 2-0 in the conference.

Thomas had 18 of her 24 points over the final 18 minutes, including a three-point play with 17 seconds left that completed the rally and sends the Terrapins into Sunday’s visit to No. 23 North Carolina (12-2, 2-0) in Chapel Hill.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Williams of No. 7 Duke, who may very well succeed Thomas with this season’s freshman honor, scored 18 points, grabbed 16 rebounds and set an ACC record with 12 blocked shots as the Blue Devils topped host Wake Forest 76-58 in a conference game in Winston-Salem, N.C.

The 6-foot-3 Williams was considered the nation’s top post prospect.

“We see this every day in practice, the things she can do,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said after the Blue Devils improved to 11-2 overall and also stayed unbeaten in the league.

A career high by Lakevia Boykin of Wake Forest (10-4, 0-1) went for naught in the face of Williams’ defense.

“I’ve never seen a game where my team had 16 shots blocked, and (Williams) had 12 of them,” Wake Forest coach Mike Petersen said. “She drove our field-goal percentage down all by herself. It’s hard to play around her.

“We allowed her to stay between us and the rim, and she made some great plays.”

While Petersen was incredulous over the play of an opposing player, Maryland coach Brenda Frese back here was shaking her head over her own team’s dramatics before a noisy crowd of 3,864.

“Are you kidding me? Did you see what we saw,” Frese said. “To have the heart and determination and grit to be able to come back like they did is what makes this team so special.

“When we were down 20, this team could have folded.”

The rally was poignant in terms of the theme of the night off the court being Leukemia Awareness Night, which was co-sponsored by the Terrapins, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Foundation and the Team Tyler Foundation.

Tyler Thomas, the three-year-old son of Frese, was diagnosed with leukemia in September 2010.

On the court, the game was a test for both squads who had yet to face a stronger diet of competition except for a few games.

Sasha Goodlett had 20 points and 10 rebounds for Georgia Tech (11-4, 1-1), which eliminated the Terrapins in the ACC tournament the last time the Yellow Jackets and Terrapins faced each other.

Tyaunna Marshall from nearby Upper Marlboro drew her own local following and scored 16 points for Georgia Tech.

Metra Walthour also scored in double figures for the visitors with 14 points.

Besides Thomas’ work, Laurin Mincy had another strong outing with 17 points and center Alicia DeVaughn had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Asked about the meltdown after Georgia Tech seemed to have the Terrapins under control, Yellow Jackets coach MaChelle Joseph, a former Purdue star, said, “The difference was Alyssa Thomas. We didn’t have an answer for her.”

Joseph lauded her own players, saying: I feel like we came out here with a good game plan. We got on our toes and we attacked early and we were able to control the boards in the first half and stop transition baskets, the two things that Maryland does. We were able to take those away in the first half.”

Georgia Tech will play another heavyweight out of the ACC Monday night, hosting No. 12 Miami, the preseason favorite.

-- Mel

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