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 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

PHILADELPHIA –
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

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