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.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Guru's National Roundup: Upsets Strike Maryland and Tennessee

(Guru’s note. There are two other nu posts above this. Directly above is the local roundup highlighting Delaware, Drexel, and Penn State games and all associated CAA and Big Ten action. The post above that is a discussion with UNCW coach and former WNBA great Cynthia Cooper-Dyke about Delaware’s Elena Delle Done. Material in game action in this post drawn on team and wire reports.)

By Mel Greenberg

The women’s basketball season was hit a by a few tremors Thursday night in results bound to scramble the next ranking in the Associated Press women’s poll as well as create more suspense in races involving many major conference standings.

No. 5 Maryland’s loss at No. 13 Miami left just top-ranked Baylor and No. 14 Wis.-Green Bay as the remaining two unbeaten teams in Division I.

No. 6 Tennessee departed with a long win streak in the Southeastern Conference, losing at No. 9 Kentucky, while in another SEC game, the return of both coach Dawn Staley and South Carolina to the poll at No. 24 may be short-lived following a loss at LSU.

There were impressive individual performances in the Big 10, which are covered in the local roundup post, which also has Delaware, Hofstra and Drexel gaining key Colonial Athletic Association wins.

North Carolina had stayed in the poll and even moved up a few spots despite the loss at home to Maryland on Sunday but the Tar Heels could be bumped out quickly after an ACC loss to unranked Clemson.

Gonzaga out in the West held serve in the West Coast Conference following the Zags’ return to the poll for the first time this season, while in the PAC-12 newcomers Colorado and Utah were roughed up by longtime members California and Stanford.

As they say on ESPN, let’s go to the tape and we’ll start in the Atlantic Coast Conference:

After winning two rounds of survivor over the weekend in rallying from 20 points in the second half at home to beat Georgia Tech and then barely getting into overtime to win at North Carolina, No. 5 Maryland was felled by a group of Hurricanes, specifically No. 13 Miami 75-63 in Coral Gables, Fla., to fall from the unbeaten column as well as take a key hit from an ACC power favored to win the automatic bid in March.

Riquana Williams, who was one of the stars in a nonconference rally in overtime against visiting Rutgers, came up big again, scoring 34 points for the Hurricanes (16-1, 3-1 ACC) as the Terrapins (16-1, 3-1) experienced their first scoring draught of the season.

They had been leading the nation in scoring at 84.4 points per game.

“They really got after it,” said Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas, the star of the two previous wins and reigning ACC player of the week. “We knew they were physical and like to put their hands on you and make it tough on you. At times it was hard to get to the basket.”

Thomas was hounded into eight turnovers though she scored 18 points.

It was Miami’s first-ever win over a Top Five team.

Maryland coach Brenda Frese praised Williams’ performance which helped keep the Hurricanes’ home win streak extended to 34 games.

“We really had no answer. She was unstoppable. She was definitely in a zone.”

In another ACC game involving a ranked team, unranked Clemson took down No. 22 North Carolina 52-47 putting the Tar Heels in danger of losing two straight when they face No. 3 Connecticut on the road Monday night in a nonconference matchup.

The loss at home in Chapel Hill denied veteran coach Sylvia Hatchell her 600th win.

Quinyotta Pettaway had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Tigers (5-10, 1-3 ACC) in the startling upset while Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Chay Shagog each scored 11 points for North Carolina 12-4, 2-2).

Idle Duke took over first place in the ACC and could move up two spots in the poll from seventh if the Blue Devils beat unranked Florida State Friday night.

Elsewhere in the ACC, Virginia (14-4, 2-2) gained the 800th win in the program’s storied history beating Virginia Tech 52-39 at home in Charlottesville as Ariana Moorer scored her 1000th point.

The Hokies fell to 6-11overall and 2-2 in the conference.

The home team won in two other ACC games with Georgia Tech topping Wake Forest 71-67 and North Carolina State beating Boston College 80-57.

SEC Becomes Wide Open

A’dia Mathies, who won the first-ever United States Basketball Writers Association national women’s player of the week last month, scored with 4.2 seconds left and finished with a career-high 34 points for No. 9 Kentucky (15-2, 4-0 SEC) in a 61-60 win at home before a sellout crowd in Lexington over Tennessee (12-4, 3-1) that stopped a 36-game win streak in the conference by the Lady Vols.

Glory Johnson had 17 points for Tennessee.

In three other games involving SEC teams in the AP poll No. 19 Georgia at home in Athens beat Florida 61-55; unranked LSU in Baton Rouge clipped visiting No. 24 South Carolina 58-48, and in Nashville, Tenn., No. 25 Vanderbilt beat Auburn 66-58.

Anne Marie Armstrong and Khaalidah Miller each scored 19 points for Georgia (14-3, 3-1 SEC) which nearly blew a 15-point lead to Florida (11-6, 1-3).

LSU (13-3, 4-0), which fell out of the poll early in the season, got 14 points from LaSondra Barrett against the Gamecocks (`14-3, 3-1), who got 13 points from Aleighsa Welch off the bench.

South Carolina had not been ranked since the final poll of the 2002-03 season while Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley had previously guided Temple to a national ranking in the middle of the last decade.

Christina Foggie tied a career-high with 27 points for Vanderbilt (14-2, 2-1) in its win over Auburn (9-8, 1-3), which got 14 points from Tyrese Tanner.

In two other SEC games, host Mississippi beat Arkansas, 60-54, and visiting Mississippi State beat Alabama 66-61.

Phoenix Still Risen

In the Midwest, No. 14 Wisconsin-Green Bay on the road easily handled Wright State 68-50 in Fairborn, Ohio, in a Horizon League contest to stay perfect at 14-0 overall and 4-0 in the league.

Julie Wojta had 22 points for the Phoenix and a career-high 17 rebounds against the Raiders (11-6, 4-1), who were forced into 31 turnovers.

Wis.-Green Bay has been ranked ahead of Delaware 1-2 in the mid-major poll.

Stanford Sister Act Stops Utah

The Bay-Area sister schools of California and Stanford are making their first visits this week to Pac-12 newcomers Utah, formerly with the Mountain West, and Colorado, formerly with the Big 12.

The sister of act of Nnemkadi and Chiney Oguwmike took care of business for No. 4 Stanford (14-1, 5-0 Pac-12) in a 62-43 victory over Utah (8-7, 1-3) as Nnemkadi scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, while Chiney had 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Iwalani Rodrigues had 16 points for Utah.

Meanwhile California won in Boulder over Colorado 68-55 as the Bears went on a 17-0 run in the final seven minutes after previously trailing the Buffs (13-2, 2-2) by 12 points with 12 left in the game.

Layshia Clarendon had 18 points for Cal (12-5, 3-2), who will complete the inaugural visits to the newcomers on Sunday going to Utah while Stanford drops by Colorado.

Chucky Jeffery scored 21 points for Colorado.

In two other Pac-12 games, Oregon got 17 points from freshman Lexi Petersen and also used 10 three-pointers to down visiting Arizona 87-73 in Eugene to move to 10-7 overall and 2-3 in the conference. Erin Butler had career highs of 23 points and seven three-pointers for the Wildcats (12-4, 1-3).

Oregon State did its part for a sweep of the northwest teams over the desert partners beating Arizona State 56-51 at home in Corvallis as Sage Indendi had 11 points for the Beavers (11-5, 2-3), who rallied from a nine-point, second-half deficit.

The Beavers ended a 18-game losing streak to the Sun Devils (10-5, 1-3), who got 11 points each from Jada Blackwell and Kali Bennett.

Zig Unnecessary For Zags

No. 23 Gonzaga (15-2, 4-0) at home in Spokane, Wash., extended its West Coast Conference string of victories to 34 straight by beating San Francisco 87-52 as Kayla Standish scored 20 points.

Rheina Ale had 16 points for the Dons (3-15, 1-4), who have lost 12 straight to the Zags.

-- Mel

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