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.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Guru's College Report: Temple and St. Joseph's Dodge Losses In A-10 Play

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA – Temple and St. Joseph’s endured narrow escapes Wednesday night in a pair of Atlantic 10 games in their respective home arenas while La Salle’s six-game win streak came to an end on the road in another conference matchup.

Temple eked out a 67-64 win against Duquesne in a battle of two upper echelon squads in the conference while St. Joseph’s got pushed into overtime by Fordham at the last second of regulation but then regained its footing and dominated the extra period on the way to a 57-46 victory.

The Owls played Duquesne in a late afternoon game at the Liacouras Center on the front end of a doubleheader with the men’s team that hosted La Salle in a Big Five contest.

Temple (9-8, 3-1 Atlantic 10) shook off 23 turnovers and a 25-13 disadvantage on points off turnovers to stay within range of the conference leaders while Duquesne (13-5, 1-2) fell to the crowded middle of the pack.

“The Owls enjoyed their largest lead at 11 points early in the second half and built a seven-point lead with 46 seconds left in the game.

Temple was only narrowly in front 60-57 when Owls’ senior Shey Peddy was fouled and went to the line making both free throws and Temple getting possession because of a technical foul on Duquesne coach Suzie McConnell-Serio, the former Penn State all-American who has quickly built the Dukes into a conference contender.

BJ Williams hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 64-57 but Temple was not quite home as free as it seemed.

Duquesne’s Jocelyn Floyd made one of two foul shots on the next possession with 36 seconds left but Temple’s Monaya Merritt likewise made one of two chances from the line.

When she missed the second the Owls’ Victoria Macaulay got the rebound only to turn the ball over and then committed a foul to send Duquesne’s Ahjah Hall to the line.

Hall made both to cut the deficit to 65-60 and Merritt missed a chance to re-extend the lead when she failed to connect on both free throw opportunities with 26 seconds left.

Orsi Szecsi cut it to three with a layup with 14 seconds to go but missed a chance to slice it further when she didn’t hit the free throw after she had been fouled by Macaulay on the scoring play.

Hall then got a layup making it a one-point game with 10 seconds left at 65-64.

But then Peddy was fouled, hit both foul shots and Alex Gensler missed a long 3-point attempt to end the game.

“We made some unnecessary inexcusable plays allowing them to stop the clock and extend their pressure, fouling, and ones, got them to the point where they had a chance to tie the game,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said.

“Obviously, I’m happy we pulled the game off but I just wish we would have ended the game in a different way.”

Peddy finished with a game-high 22 points and 11 rebounds, while BJ Williams scored 14 points, Kristen McCarthy scored 11, and Macaulay grabbed 11 rebounds.

Floyd scored 18 points for Duquesne, while Wumi Agunbiade had 15 points, and Szecsi had 10.

Following a home loss last week to frontrunner St. Bonaventure, Temple knocked off Dayton – the conference co-favorite with the Owls – on the road Sunday and then outlasted Duquesne.

“It means a lot (to win the last two) because these are two of the tougher teams in the conference, they have been for the last few years. Three of their players have been among the leaders so to beat them and beat Dayton on their home court that says a lot,” Cardoza said.

“Obviously St. Bonaventure is a great team, but we feel like we let one get away, we didn’t play very well. So we made sure we were focused, played very good defense and stopped teams from what they like to do.”

Temple will take its last break from conference play Saturday hosting Penn in a Big Five game next door in McGonigle Hall at 3 p.m.

Villanova won the title with a sweep 4-0 beating the Quakers at home Tuesday night but Temple could still finish second outright with a win Saturday and also with wins over St. Joseph’s and La Salle that are also part of the A-10 schedule.

“I don’t really look forward to that game,” Cardoza said. “Penn is a good team and they play us really tough – they’re physical – since I’ve been here every game is really a close game. I’m still enjoying this one and we’ll prepare for that one in a couple of days.”

St. Joseph's Survives Ram Attack

Meanwhile over on Hawk Hill at Hagan Arena, the site of the conference tournament in March, Fordham (10-9, 1-3) battled host St. Joseph’s (12-5, 2-1) tough and forced the game into overtime when Cody Sims hit a three with one-second left in regulation.

But then Ashley Prim broke the deadlock with a layup with 3:07 left in the extra period.

Becky Peters then missed a shot for Fordham and Michelle Baker extended the lead with 2:09 left.

Abigail Corning missed a three-pointer for the Rams and then Prim nailed a trey to make it 53-46 with 1:28 left.

Arielle Collins then missed a layup and Peters fouled Katie Kuester.

Though she missed both free throws, Samira Van Grinsven grabbed the offensive rebound and Michelle Baker went to the line and hit a pair to get things safe for the Hawks.

Prim and Kuester each hit one-of-two free throws to close out an 11-0 overtime and stay in the conference hunt.

Van Grinsven finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, while Baker and Prim each scored 11, as did Fordham’s Charlotte Stoddart as the only Ram to hit double figures.

St. Joseph’s shot 41.2 percent from the field, but held Fordham to 30.9 percent.

“I thought it was a well-fought game and when it comes down to possessions, it’s just about execution and playing defense and today I thought our defense was terrific,” St. Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said.

“We’re not shooting ball extremely well right now, but we’re finding ways with rebounding, key rebounds and key shots down the stretch – I thought Samira came up big for us, Prim came up big for us, and overall I thought it was a great team effort.”

As for the Fordham’s last-second shot, Griffin said, “It was a little bit of a fluke shot – could we have bene a little bit closer, or course we could have been closer and we should have been closer.

“But our team is a very experienced team and we’ve been in those situations before.”

St. Joseph’s next travels on Saturday to struggling Xavier (3-13, 0-3), the two-time defending conference champion.

“With their tradition, they have a couple of kids on the team who have experienced success. I want our team to be playing each game and learning from each experience,” Griffin said. “It’s very important we take one game at a time and focus that way.

“Our goals are what they are – seeding is going to be very important in this drag out fight that’s going to occur with the Atlantic 10 and we want a good seed and have a good showing in the Atlantic 10 and ultimately our goal is to be in the (NCAA tournament).

Former St. Joseph’s coach Stephanie V. Gaitley, also a former Villanova star, was back on Hawk Hill as the first-year coach at Fordham, following a previously stint at Monmouth.

It was her second trip back to Philadelphia in a week after losing at La Salle last week, but she thought the game against the Hawks was a major improvement for her squad.

“I was really proud of the effort, we had some tough losses at La Salle and (George Washington), where I don’t think we grew as a team,” Gaitley said. “We definitely grew as a team today against a very good St. Joseph’s team.

“You can’t put a price on experience when they’re starting four seniors. We’re young, inexperienced and I’m proud of the effort. Hopefully we can keep that effort when we’re back here in March.”

Down at Charlotte in North Carolina, the 49ers got revenge on La Salle for the Explorers’ win over them last season with a 77-66 victory.

The loss spoiled the state homecoming for Jada Payne who scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Explorers (9-10, 3-1), who suffered their first AS-10 setback.

Alexis Scott had 16 points and Brittany Wilson scored 15 for La Salle.

Charlotte (12-6, 4-0) kept pace at the top of the conference with St. Bonaventure (17-2, 4-0), who beat Richmond (14-4, 2-2) Wednesday night.

Hillary Sigmon, a high school teammate of Payne, had 17 points as did Jennifer Hailey for the 49ers. Epiphany Woodson had 14 points and Amanda Dowe had 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

La Salle next travels to Richmond Saturday.

The National Scene

Elizabeth Williams, considered one of the top prospects last season, had 20 points and 11 rebounds as No. 5 Duke won its ninth straight and beat Atlantic Coast Conference rival Georgia Tech 79-62 for the 34th consecutive time, dating back to a loss to the Yellowjackets on Feb. 27, 1994, in Duluth, Georgia.

Richa Jackson had 17 points for the Blue Devils (15-2, 5-0 ACC) while reigning conference player of the week Sasha Goodlett scored 25 points for Georgia Tech (13-6, 3-3).

Brittney Griner had 21 points and eight blocked shots as top ranked Baylor stayed unbeaten with a Big 12 road win at No. 17 Texas Tech, 69-63, in Lubbock, Texas.

Destiny Williams had 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Bears (18-0, 5-0 Big 12) while Christine Hyde had 15 points for the Lady Raiders (14-3, 2-3).

In another Big 12 contest, No. 14 Texas A&M, the defending national champion beat visiting Missouri 78-52 as Sydney Carter and Adaora Elonu each scored 16 points for the Aggies (12-4, 3-2) to keep the Tigers (10-6, 0-5) winless in conference competition. Missouri’s Christine Flores scored 13 points in the game in College Station, Texas.

In the lone Big East game involving ranked teams, No. 18 Louisville beat visiting Providence 64-48 as Bria Smith scored 12 points for the Cardinals (15-4, 4-2 Big East) and Alicia Cropper, the lone Providence player to score in double figures, had 14 points for the Friars (10-9,l 2-4).

Looking Ahead

Drexel goes after its fourth straight win in Colonial Athletic Association play Thursday night at home when Northeastern visits while co-conference frontrunner Delaware will visit Towson, which lost two weeks ago to the Blue Hens but are 7-0 at home.

Hofstra, also unbeaten in conference play, hosts two-time defending champion James Madison.

Penn State stays on the road in the Big 10 and visits Illinois.

The Guru will be tweeting from the Drexel game at @womhoopsguru.

-- Mel

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