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 16, 2012

Guru's College Report: Temple Holds Off Dayton In A-10 Showdown

(Guru's Note: Quotes beyond Drexel game site and calls to the locals are drawn on team and wire reports.)

By Mel Greenberg

Temple shook off a tough loss and moved forward with a major win. Drexel made it three straight outings of offense and defense. Penn State delivered a major dose of revenge. Princeton and Delaware stayed perfect in their respective leagues with Delaware, ranked 20th in the Associated Press women’s poll showing one half of Delle Donne is sometimes nifty as two.

And elsewhere around the country there were other things to note.

Things began to get bleak quickly for Temple following a home loss to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday.

Ahead Sunday afternoon in another key showdown in the Atlantic 10 the Owls were slotted to play at Dayton on national TV in a game between the two conference co-favorites.

Temple had gone through a roller-coaster non-conference schedule before pulling a last-second win at surprising Richmond a week ago Saturday only to be handled by the Bonnies in the Liacouras Center.

While the Owls were being placed into a dismal situation, Dayton had dominated St. Joseph’s on the road.

But Temple was able to come out Sunday against the Flyers with a hot start that put the Owls in position to withstand a Dayton rally in the second half and emerge with a 61-57 victory as Shey Peddy scored 21 points and Victoria Macauley grabbed 11 rebounds.

The result enabled Temple (8-8, 2-1 A-10) to even its record and stay in the hunt for at least a bye for the conference tournament at St. Joseph’s in March.

“That was a great effort but we have to maintain our focus and intensity,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said afterwards as the team headed to the airport for the flight back to Philadelphia.

The Owls are seeing nothing but the best of the conference until they reach the back end of the schedule.

Next up Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the Liacouras Center in the opener of a doubleheader with the men’s team is a visit from Duquesne before taking a brief conference break on Saturday to host Penn in a Big Five game.

Patrice Lalor had 15 points for Dayton (10-5, 2-1), which was prevented from joining surprising La Salle and St. Bonaventure at the top of the league standings.

Other statistical performers for Temple were Brittany Lewis with 13 points, Kristen McCarthy with 11 and while BJ Williams dealt eight assists and Peddy also grabbed eight rebounds.

Temple, which led by 10 points at the half, was reduced to a mere 58-57 advantage with 26 seconds remaining when Lalor hit a jumper.

Then Peddy was fouled and hit both free throws to at least be in position with 16 seconds left to go into overtime. But Williams forced a Dayton turnover and then went to the line where McCarthy hit one of two free throw attempts and Dayton was deprived of a shot in the Flyers’ final possession.’

Drexel 1-2 Punch Carries Dragons Over Georgia State

Following a stirring first-ever regular season win at James Madison, the biggest concern for Drexel coach Denise Dillon on Sunday was whether the Dragons would still be dancing off the victory and not be able to deal with the next matters at hand in Georgia State.

The answer came quickly at the Dasklalakis Athletic Center in West Philadelphia as Drexel took an early lead and was never threatened the rest of the day as the Dragons stayed tied for third with Virginia Commonwealth one game behind Delaware and Hofstra, who have yet to lose in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

Kamile Nacicakaite had 17 points of her 20 points in the first half and Hollie Mershon followed up her career-high total at James Madison with 16 points and nine rebounds in what became an easy 65-38 win over the Panthers.

Drexel (8-7, 4-1 CAA) dominated the boards 42-30 and built on a 30-15 halftime lead by going on an 11-1 run at the outset of the second half stay in the comfort zone all the way to the finish.

No one scored in double figures for Georgia State (6-10, 0-5), which is still winless in the CAA after five games.

The Panthers were held to 25.5 percent from the field and Kendra Long had a team high eight points.

Drexel, which shot 48.9 percent from the field, next hosts Northeastern Thursday before heading to Delaware Sunday for a major showdown in the long-running rivalry both in the conference and dating back to when both belonged to the America East before the 2001-02 season.

“That’s definitely what we were concerned about – it was a good win on the road against JMU and then coming in against a team that you’re not really aware of what they are going to do, defensively,” Dillon said.

“They do a lot of matchup zones. They do a lot of trappings so you’re not sure what you are in store for. We wanted to keep the team on track with what has been working offensively,” Dillon added.

“A couple of times we wanted to make things happen instead of just allowing the offense to create shots for us, but that will tend to happen.

“We’re now playing team defense and they’re focusing so much on that end that offense is becoming easier for them. (Reserve) Fiona Flanagan is now comfortable taking shots. There’s no panic involved. She doesn’t feel like she has to make something happen but she’s looking to shoot the ball and that’s a great thing for us.”

Flanagan had seven points off the bench in 21 minutes. And Jackie Schluth scored five points.

“How about that. Schulth comes in and scores five points in six minutes. That girl can score points, she just needs to keep working on defense. Taylor Wootten is focusing so much on defense that offense is becoming easier for her.”

Meanwhile it was high drama for Delaware up at Northeastern where before the game it was learned that Ellena Delle Donne, the nation’s leading scorer (29.8 points per game), had some kind of undisclosed injury on her left foot, would not start, and it was unlikely she would play against the Huskies in Boston.

But with five minutes left in the half, Delle Donne, who missed 12 games last season due to Lyme disease, entered the tightly contested game which ended at the break with the Blue Hens in front 31-28.

The junior all-American forward-guard then spurred Delaware to a solid lead and 70-54 victory as she finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds . The Blue Hens are now 14-1 overall and 5-0 in the CAA heading to a return match with Towson, this time at the Tigers’ arena in Maryland, Thursday.

Delle Donne was perfect at the line 9-9 but also dished five assists to be part of a season-high 20 assists, one more than Delaware’s previous game – a win at home over UNCW.

Danielle Parker had 13 points and 10 rebounds while Lauren Carra had 12 points from four three-pointers. Jocelyn Bailey scored 10 points as the fourth Delaware player scoring in double figures.

It was the Blue Hens’ 20th straight win over Northeastern (3-13, 1-4), which got 14 points and nine rebounds from Deanna Kerkhof.

“We didn’t start out very well without our regular starters and it threw everyone off a little bit,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said after getting her 292nd career win – all with the Blue Hens. “In the first half, we didn’t share the ball as well as we have and some people played really tight.

“Overall in the second half we got much more comfortable with the flow of the game than we were in the first half. We were very up and down but we came out with a victory.”

Hofstra kept pace in the CAA with Delaware by gaining a first-ever win at Old Dominion in Norfolk, Va., at the Ted Constant Convocation Center, beating the former conference power 81-68 as Shante Evans of Henderson High and West Chester in suburban Philadelphia posted her eighth straight double double with 22 points and 10 rebounds.

The Pride (13-3, 5-0 CAA) had lost all nine previous meetings at ODU and the 13-3 record ties the best start ever for Hofstra, which also occurred in 2006-07.

Marie Malone had a career-high 20 point and nine rebounds for the Pride, a scoring total matched by teammate Nicole Capurso.

Hofstra coach Krista Kilburn-Stevesky, a former star at North Carolina State whose six-year head coaching caeer has all been with the Pride, gained her 99th win.

Tia Lewis had 27 points for ODU (5-12, 2-3). Hofstra next hosts James Madison Thursday. The Duchesses (12-4, 3-2), the two-time defending CAA champions, took over fifth place with a home win over Towson (11-5, 2-3), which fell into a three-way tie for sixth with ODU and UNCW.

Virginia Commonwealth kept pace with Drexel by blunting a rally by William & Mary 83-80 on the road in Williamsburg, Va., as Courtney Hurt had 28 points and 15 rebounds for the Rams (11-5, 4-1).

The host Tribe fell to 8-8 overall and 1-4 in the CAA.

Princeton Routs Columbia

The two-time defending Ivy League champion Tigers made it 3-0 in league competition this season with a lop-sided 94-35 win at home over Columbia (2-13, 0-1 Ivy) in Jadwin Gym.

Princeton (13-4, 3-0), which will now be off almost three weeks for final exams, is now 30-1 the last three seasons in the Ivies. They next host Brown and Yale in back-to-back contests Feb. 3 nd

The Tigers roared to a 58-13halftime lead. Niveen Rasheed finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, Lauren Edwards had 19 points, Laura Johnson scored 12, and Devona Allgood had 10 points.

Melissa Shafer had 10 points for Columbia.

We talked a lot about our transition push and how we wanted to start the game strong … We took it to them right from the start and sustained that effort over 40 minutes,” Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said.

“This is an important time for (the team) academically,” Banghart said. “We asked them for the first three games to let us do our thing, and they did that, now we are going to let them do their thing academically … Our goals are still in place and that means we still have to keep getting better,” she added about keeping the team fresh through the final exam period.

Penn State Eyes Return To The Rankings

Having been bounced out of the AP poll a week ago for the first time this season, the Lady Lions attempted a quick return with a revenge-tinted 93-73 win on the road over No. 15 Nebraska in Big Ten contest in Lincoln.

To get this one, Penn State had to rally from an early 11-point deficit.

Several teams at the bottom of the current poll suffered losses to make re-entry possible while A-10 frontrunner St. Bonaventure is looking to gain more support as well.

Penn State (13-4, 3-2 Big Ten) lost at home several weeks ago to the conference newcomer who moved from the Big 12

“Since we played Nebraska the first time, we found a way to get (her players) to understand how important it is to play with patience, poise and composure,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington said. “As our team learns and grows, we’ll be able to hopefully do this, by this I mean, go on the road into a tough environment and execute down the stretch of games.”

Maggie Lucas, the graduate of Germantown Academy from Narberth, Pa., in suburban Philadelphia, had 24 points, while Alex Bentley scored 23 for the Lady Lions, who were the preseason conference favorites.

Nebraska (15-2, 4-1) suffered its first conference loss and yielded 90 points for the first time since 2008.

“Penn State, I thought, was hitting all cylinders in the second half,” Cornhuskers coach Connie Yori said. “We lost the game because of our defensive end. We could not slow them down.”

Penn State heads to Illinois Thursday and then returns home to the Bryce Jordan Center against Iowa on Sunday.

Elsewhere in the Big Ten, Brittany Rayburn, who tied an NCAA record with 12 three-pointers last time out, scored 14 points and made a key block at the finish as Purdue edged Iowa 57-55 at home in West Lafayette, Ind.

“All I know is I felt the ball, and the buzzer went off,” Rayburn said.

The No. 17 Boilermakers (15-3, 5-0) are alone in first place in the conference as the last unbeaten team in Big Ten competition.

Jaime Printy had 15 for Iowa (10-8, 2-3).

No. 11 Ohio State took Michigan State down from unbeaten play in the conference beating the Spartans on the road 64-56 in East Lansing as Samantha Prahalis scored 15 points for the Buckeyes (17-1, 4-1), who pulled the opposition (12-6, 4-1) into a three-way second-place tie with Nebraska.

National Highlights

In the Southeastern Conference, No. 6 Tennessee bounced back from its last second loss at No. 9 Kentucky by beating in-state rival No. 25 Vanderbilt 87-64 at home in Knoxville.

Shekinna Stricklen scored 20 points for the Lady Vols (13-4, 4-1 SEC) and suffered a knee injury, which later was said to mostly likely be a strain but further evaluation will be made Monday.

Glory Johnson had 16 points and 13 rebounds for Tennessee.

Christina Foggie tied her career-high with 27 points for Vanderbilt (14-3, 2-2).

Kentucky turned aside No. 24 South Carolina 66-58 on the road in Columbia as Kelya Snowden scored 15 points for the first-place Wildcats (16-2, 5-0).

The Gamecocks (14-4, 3-2) returned to the AP Poll a week ago for the first time since 2003 but the stay for Dawn Staley’s squad may be short after a road loss at LSU and Sunday’s setback to Kentucky.

Iesia Walker had 14 points for South Carolina, which was hounded into 28 turnovers as Kentucky is off to its best start ever in the SEC.

“Turnovers killed us,” Staley said.

South Carolina missed a chance to beat a Top 10 team for the first time since January 2002, one year before making the NCAA tournament for the last time since then.

“Keep turning the page,” Staley said about shaking off this past week’s two setbacks to land a spot in the 64-team field. South Carolina was also 12-for-25 on the line.

Meanwhile, No. 19 Georgia’s Anne Marie Armstrong had 22 point for the Bulldogs in a 68-51 road win at Mississippi State in Starkville.

Khaadlidah had 17 points for Georgia (15-3, 4-1) while Porsha Porter had 12 points for Mississippi State (11-6, 1-3).

In the Big East, No. 18 Georgetown stayed part of a five-team logjam for fifth place with an easy 69-42 win over Syracuse at home in the nation’s capital as Sugar Rodgers poured 23 points for the Hoyas (14-4, 3-2).

Isasia Hemingway had 14 for the Orange (12-7, 1-4).

Marquette’s 63-55 road win at St. John’s put both teams in that fifth-place crawl.

Katherine Plouffe had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the visiting Golden Eagles (12-6, 3-2), while Shenneika Smith had 13 points for the Red Storm (11-7, 3-2).

Idle Louisville (14-4, 3-2), which lost in overtime at Rutgers Saturday, and idle West Virginia (12-5, 3-2) are the other two teams in the five-game tie.

In the Big 12, top-ranked Baylor used Brittney Griner’s 32 points to down host Texas 77-59 in Austin. The Bears (17-0, 4-0 Big 12) and Wis.-Green Bay (15-0) and are the only remaining unbeaten teams in Division I.

Griner connected on 12 of her first 14 shots against the Longhorns (11-5, 1-3), who were without Cokie Reid who suffered a strained leg muscle in practice Saturday. Chassidy Fussell scored 20 points for Texas.

Over in the Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 7 Duke, which might jump into the top five in the AP Poll, had an easy time at Virginia Tech beating the Hokies 61-34 in Blacksburg.

It was the 16th straight win in the series by the Blue Devils (14-2, 5-0 ACC), who got 20 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots from freshman Elizabeth Williams.

The Hokies (6-12, 2-3) because of injuries have just six scholarship players.

No. 13 Miami edged Florida State 60-57 on the road in Tallahassee following the Hurricanes’ home upset of No. 5 Maryland as Stefanie Yderstrom nailed a three-pointer with 17 seconds remaining in regulation.

Miami (15-3, 4-1), which had not win at Florida State in 25 years, got 24 points from Shenise Johnson, including her 2,000th career total.

Natasha Howard scored 22 for Florida State (10-9, 2-3).

In the Pac-12, California won its first game at Utah 63-56. The Utes joined the conference this year from the Mountain West.

Looking Ahead

Maryland (16-1, 3-1) will try to bounce back from its loss at Miami when the Terrapins host longtime rival Virginia (14-4, 2-2) Monday night.

The Guru may be on the scene and will tweet the game if so.

Meanwhile North Carolina (12-4), which could be out of the poll by game time, will be at No. 3 Connecticut (14-2) at the Huskies’ campus Gampel Pavillion in Storrs as Tar Heels coach Sylvia Hatchell again goes for her 600th victory in the nonconference game.

North Carolina was upset last week at home by Clemson.

In a battle of two unbeaten America East teams in conference play Boston U. (11-6, 4-0) will visit Albany (11-7, 5-0).

-- Mel

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