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.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Guru's College Report: Drexel and Delaware Gain CAA Wins

(Guru's note: Some information and quotes from beyond Drexel game site drawn from team and wire reports.)

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA -- Drexel played defense and Delaware’s Elena Delle Donne continued to be a one-woman offensive machine in games played Sunday by the two area teams in the Colonial Athletic Association.

The Dragons were paced by Kamile Nacickaite with 19 points, including a perfect 4-for-4 on three point attempts, and Hollie Mershon’s 14 points in a 66-38 win over visiting Towson here at the Daskalakis Athletic Center that stopped a four-game losing streak.

Meanwhile down in Fairfax, Va., Delle Donne finished quite a week topping Thursday night’s home performance at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del., when she scored 37 points to easily surpass the all-time career scoring record for the Blue Hens.

On Sunday Delle Donne, the nation’s leading scorer, poured 40 points and grabbed 15 rebounds as No. 21 Delaware avenged two losses to George Mason last season with a 66-54 win at the Patriot Center.

Back here Drexel used spurts to build a 30-21 halftime lead and then Mershon hit a trey that launched a 15-4 run to put the Dragons (6-7, 2-1 CAA) well in control and the differential would grow to as many as 29 points over the Tigers (10-4, 1-2) near the end of the game.

The Dragons held Towson to 24.4 percent shooting from the field though the Tigers were 13-30 from the line while Drexel was a paltry 5-for-9.

They also owned the boards 40-31 and inside the paint doubled Towson scoring 24-12 and also doubled points off turnovers 14-7.

More important as to what Drexel is trying to accomplish the Dragons’ bench outscored the Tigers reserves 19-6 with Ayanna Lee had 5 points and eight rebounds and Fiona Flanagan had six points.

Still, Drexel’s history with Towson in the series kept the Dragons concerned until the game was secure at the finish.

“I never think the game is over, especially with Towson, who we’ve had trouble with their press,” Drexel coach Denise Dillon said. “We’ll say the reason our press break is better is because of Towson over the years losing leads and losing games to them.

“It’s a big win for us just to try to get ourselves on track,” Dillon said. “I think we executed the game plan on both ends and everyone contributed.”

Dillon felt she got better productivity out of Nacickaite, a native of Lithuania, by providing more rest.

“What did she play, 23 minutes? Dillon said.

“I said it beforehand talking to these guys. We made that mistake a few years ago with Gabby (Gabriela Marginean, the all-time scorer in Philadelphia area women’s collegiate basketball), just by trying to keep playing her,” Dillon continued.

“You want to keep (Nacickaite) fresh. And you have to have the confidence, I feel Flanagan’s a player you can put in there – Ayana Lee, you see what she’s doing now. You have to be comfortable with taking (Naickaite) out for a couple of minutes, giving her a breather, getting her back in there fresh and focused,” Dillon said.

“We talked about the bench points being important. Fiona, she’s being told how much it is important for her to take shots. Not just those shots when she’s open. She has to get herself open – continue to move.

“I hope today was one of those days when you can realize how much fun it can be when you’re involved in everything.”

Towson’s three previous losses were to second-ranked Connecticut, fifth-ranked Maryland, and Delaware.

“(Towson coach) Joe Matthews was talking about a few of those games won were at the buzzer. But at the end no one notices that. They’re wins. Instead of focusing whether it was a buzzer beater or not, which is different than a year ago in games they were losing by a short margin.”

Drexel heads to defending CAA champion James Madison, Thursday night, in Harrisonburg,Va.

“We’ll see, we seem to have a tough one on Thursday nights,” Dillon said. “Defensively, they’re better than they have been in the past. They’ve been a championship team but they could score so many points they didn’t have to play great defense. But they’re really playing great defense and getting collective scoring.”

Delaware’s triumph at George Mason (7-7, 1-2) kept the Blue Hens (12-1, 3-0) unbeaten in the CAA, which they are favored to win.

Junior Danielle Parker had 10 points and a season-high 14 rebounds for Delaware, who allowed just one Patriots player to get double figures – Taleia Morton who scored 30.

Delle Donne, the nation’s leading scorer (29.5) whose average will climb even more when Monday’s NCAA stats are released, has hit that total seven times this season and now has over 1,700 points for her career as Delaware's all-time scorer.

The Blue Hens dominated the boards 49-19 but had trouble handling the basketball with 21 turnovers, above their 13.3 average, which was 13th in thew nation.

“Today was a tough road win," Delaware head coach Tina Martin said. "A lot of times teams use different tactics to try to pull off upsets and the bottom line is our team has to stand up to that.

“Their tactic was to wear us down and hang all over us, and we missed some shots we’d normally make. Our players really hung tough and allowed a lot to go on,” Martin added.

“We did what we needed to do to get a win. Everybody chipped in and did their job on the boards. Today at times was a struggle, but we will get better.”

Delaware is home Thursday night and hosts North Carolina-Wilmington, which is coached by former WNBA All-Star Cynthia Cooper-Dyke.

In another game of note, Hofstra (11-3, 3-0) stayed unbeaten with Delaware in the CAA, beating William & Mary 100-97 in Williamsburg, Va., as Henderson High graduate Shante Evans of West Chester, Pa., scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Evans’ two foul shots with 43 seconds left gave the Pride the lead over the Tribe (8-6, 1-2) and Candace Bond’s shot with seven seconds left for Hofstra became the game’s final points.

It’s the first time in Hofstra’s Division I history the Pride have hit triple digits in a contest, though they previously hit the same number Jan. 24, 1981 in a 100-51 win over Cortland State.

The double double was thw sixth straight for Evans.

Hofstra last reached the triple-digit plateau on January 24, 1981 in a 100-51 victory over Cortland State.

William & Mary’s Taysha Pye scored a game-high 32 points.

Hofstra next hosts Georgia State Thursday night.

Ranking For Staley?

South Carolina could be heading for its first ranking since the final poll of the 2002-03 season and coach Dawn Staley, who has been in charge of the Southeastern Conference team for four seasons, could join a limited group of coaches with two different ranked teams when the latest AP Poll is released early Monday.

Staley, the former WNBA All-Star and three-time Olympic gold medalist, guided Temple to a national ranking in the middle of the last decade.

The Gamecocks’ breakthrough would follow last week’s upset of No. 24 Vanderbilt and a 49-44 victory at Florida in Gainesville Sunday that made them 14-2 overall and 3-0 in the SEC.

They also have a previous win over No. 25 North Carolina, which is in danger of falling out after losing to visiting No. 5 Maryland Sunday in overtime in Chapel Hill.

No. 23 Texas also was upset by an unranked team this week, losing to Oklahoma State in the buding Big 12 race.

Hampton Out At DePaul

Philadelphia’s Keisha Hampton, a senior, has suffered a knee injury that will sideline her the rest of the season at No. 20 DePaul (14-3, 2-1 Big East), which lost at unranked Providence in a Big East game Saturday.

She had exploratory right knee surgery Thursday and had played in just one game since Dec. 13th.

Hampton had averaged 16.6 points a game and her career mark is 1,574 points.

"Keisha Hampton has been one of the greatest players in DePaul history," DePaul coach Doug Bruno said. "Her presence and her ability to take over a game will definitely be missed. Losing any player to an injury is one of the only things that stinks about coaching."

DePaul is also missing freshmen Alexa Gallagher (right knee) and Chanise Jenkins (left ankle) while Taylor Pikes, last season's Big East sixth man of the year, still hasn’t returned since suffering a knee injury in the NCAA second-round game with Penn State in March.

In other Big East news, St. John’s (10-6, 2-1) upset No. 14 Louisville 72-64 at home Sunday helped by a return to health of several players.

Eugeneia McPherson scored 16 points and Nadirah McKenith had 15, while Shenneika Smith scored 11.

Senior Da'Shena Stevens missed the first 10 games of the season because of knee surgery and McKenith recently missed three games after suffering a right knee injury in the loss to top-ranked Baylor in the Maggie Dixon Classic last month in Madison Square Garden.

"We talked about when we got them back, it's a new year — new season," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "We know we're in a little bit of a hole, but hopefully we can impress the NCAA committee and win basketball games."

Freshman Bria Smith, who starred at nearby Christ the King, had 17 for the Cardinals (13-3, 2-1) while Becky Burke had 19 points.

-- Mel

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