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.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Guru' College Report: Rutgers' Five-Game Skid Ends At Villanova

(Guru’s note. There is a post above this with a musings column on the St. John’s win over UConn.)

By Mel Greenberg

VILLANOVA – No. 21 Rutgers parted with a five-game losing streak though it took a while before the Scarlet Knights could subdue Villanova for a 61-52 victory in a Big East Game Saturday at the Wildcats’ Pavilion.

Laura Sweeney continued to pace Villanova (15-12, 5-9 Big East), which is in 10th place in the stretch drive of the conference race, by scoring 19 points. Rachel Roberts added 12.

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer went back to a more experienced starting lineup and it paid off as April Sykes, who had been in a shooting slump, scored 20 points, Erica Wheeler scored 16 points, and Khadijah Rushdan from down the road in Wilmington, Del., scored 13 points for the eighth place Scarlet Knights (18-8, 7-6).

Ultimately, Rutgers’ athleticism paid off – the Scarlet Knights outscored the Wildcats 19-10 in points off turnovers.

“I thought we contained them for a while, but the problem is we can’t contain them off the dribble,” Villanova coach Harry Perretta said afterwards. “We can’t stop them from getting the ball to the hoop and then it breaks down.

“For us to win, I thought we had to make a minimum of 10 3’s to win the game and our goal was to get as many threes up as possible – we got 31 off – but to score 60 we had to make 10.”

Last fall Perretta had visited the Rutgers staff to give them some plays he felt might help win a national title.

“They don’t need to run that stuff against us,” Perretta laughed. “They need to run it against some teams more athletic against us. We’re not one of those teams.”

Stringer, not used to long losing streak, was glad to have her squad back on the winning side.

“They’re tough,” she said about Villanova, whose style bedevils most of the conference. “But it was good to see we were able to play that kind of game today because we’ve been really, really off.

“It was good to begin to see people do what they do. We’ve been struggling. I attempted to make some lineup adjustments at the middle of the year, which was not good. But we’ll go back and make some adjustments.

“This wasn’t a game for big people. Harry does a great job isolating people and getting the hits he wants and I thought our posts were playing very tentative. Because, they were afraid to come out and be driven past.

“So it was a game for the little people. So the only thing we could do is lift the cloud over our heads ourselves. So it was a real team effort.”

Villanova goes to St. John’s Saturday in what will be associate head coach Joe Mullaney’s first appearance against the Red Storm since Kim Barnes Arico recently passed him for all-time wins with St. John’s, which is at 170 following the Red Storm upset of No. 2 Connecticut in Storrs Saturday

Princeton Nears Ivy Title While Penn Earns A Split

The Tigers of Princeton continue to roll along, completing a weekend and season sweep of Columbia and Cornell Saturday while Penn recovered from Friday’s 45-42 loss at Cornell to win at Columbia.

On Friday in Ithaca, N.Y., the big Red took a 13-point lead but Penn fought back losing when senior Jess Knapp’s attempted three at the buzzer failed to connect and send the game into overtime.

Sophomore Alyssa Baron was the only Quaker in double figures, scoring 18 points while freshman Kara Bonenberger grabbed 11 rebounds.

Cornell’s Maka Anyanwa scored 12 points and Allyson DiMagno had Clare Fitzpatrick grabbed 12 rebounds.

On Saturday, an explosive 21-0 run across the break carried Penn to a 61-41 win at Columbia (2-21, 0-9 Ivy) in New York City.

Baron had 25 points for the Quakers (10-13, 3-6) and Bonenberger scored 13.

Princeton, meanwhile, could mathematically clinch the Ivy title this weekend and become the first team in the NCAA tournament, courtesy of the title that comes with winning the regular season. The Ivies do not have a postseason tournament to determine the automatic bid to the Big Dance.

The Tigers opened a three-game lead over Yale, helped by Harvard’s win over Yale Saturday night, and the continuance of an unbeaten season in the league.

On Friday, Princeton topped host Columbia 86-46 as Lauren Edwards scored 13 points, Devona Allgood scored 12, Blake Dietrick scored 11, and Niveen Rasheed scored 10.

On Saturday night the Tigers cruised over host Cornell 75-39 to win their 12th straight and stay unbeaten in the Ivy, where they are the two-time defending champions.(19-4, 9-0), who are now 36-1 in league play the past two seasons.

“I thought tonight we looked really great against the zone, Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said. “We have been really working hard at that.

“Once we generate good looks, our shots start to fall. This is the best I’ve seen us play against the zone and it has been a gradual process. It is at the right time that we are getting better at it, which is great.”

The Tigers shot 52.5 percent from the field while holding the Big Red (10-13, 4-5) to 32 percent.

Rasheed had 16 points in 22 minutes for Princeton, while Allgood had 13 points and nine rebounds.

No one for Cornell scored in double figures and Taylor Flynn had a team-high nine points off the bench.

Penn hosts Dartmouth Friday while Princeton hosts Harvard, both at 7 p.m. before switching Saturday night when Harvard visits the Palestra at 7 p.m. and Dartmouth visits Princeton at 6 p.m.

If Princeton and Penn beat Harvard by Saturday night the Tigers would have a five-game lead over the Crimson with four to play. Furthermore, if Yale loses just one of the two games against Columbia and Cornell, the Bulldogs would be four out and Princeton, with less games left than Yale, could not lose enough to end in a tie with the Bulldogs.

St. Joseph’s Reaches Fourth Beating Host Charlotte

The Hawks put six players in double figures to win at Charlotte 85-73 to temporarily move ahead of Richmond in the Atlantic 10 race, which is down to its last week after Sunday’s games.

Richmond, however, which hosts Fordham Sunday, has a head-to-head tiebreak with St. Joseph’s (18-8, 8-4 A-10) off its home win in Virginia against the Hawks.

St. Joseph’s finishes up at Temple in McGonigle Hall Wednesday night in a game which also will help determine second place in the Big Five behind Villanova, which completed a 4-0 sweep last month. The Hawks then host George Washington Sunday.

Ashley Prim scored 15 points against the 49ers (15-11, 7-5) while Michelle Baker scored 14 points, and Samira Van Grinsven, Erin Shields, Ashley Robinson and Kelly Cavallo each scored 12 points.

St. Joseph’s overcame a 27-point performance by Charlotte’s Jennifer Hailey.

La Salle, meanwhile, fell at Duquesne 82-52 in Pittsburgh as the Dukes (19-8, 7-5) got 11 points from Alex Gensler, who has returned from a leg injury, and 10 from Wumi Agunbiade.

No one scored in double figures for the Explorers (12-15, 6-6).

At the top of the league No. 22 St. Bonaventure at home in Olean, N.Y. routed two-time defending champion Xavier 66-48 as Megan Van Tatenhove scored a season-high 24 points for the Bonnies (25-2, 12-0).

St. Bonaventure is within a game of clinching the number one seed in the conference tournament, which is at St. Joseph’s next month.

Former Immaculata star and St. Joseph’s coach Theresa Grentz will host a clinic the day of the championship game.

St. Bonaventure had lost nine straight to Xavier (7-18, 4-8) dating back to Jan. 25, 2002. The Musketeers got 10 points each from Tyeasha Moss and Sabrina Johnson while Lakeisha Crouch grabbed 14 rebounds.

Host Dayton beat St. Louis 72-54 in the only other game Saturday in the conference as the Flyers (18-6, 10-2) stayed in third place a game behind idle Temple, which had been co-favored with Dayton by the conference coaches to win the regular season.

Andrea Hoover and Patrice Lalor each scored 14 points for the Flyers while Lorreal Jones had 13 points for the Billikens (9-18, 3-9).

On Sunday, Temple (17-8, 10-1) visits Rhode Island (1-25, 0-11) trying to hold second place.

The Owls finish off this week with two local foes hosting St. Joseph’s Wednesday and visiting La Salle Saturday. A sweep gives them second place in the Big Five after winning it outright last season.

In other Sunday games in the conference, Massachusetts hosts George Washington and it could be a wild scramble this week near the bottom to avoid 13th place and elimination from the conference tournament.

Looking Ahead

No. 10 Delaware leading the Colonial Athletic Association with a perfect record visits Drexel at 2 p.m.

The game could potentially be a sellout.

On Monday night No. 12 Penn State hosts No. 9 Ohio State and a Lady Lions win clinches a share of the Big Ten title and No. 1 seed in next month’s conference tournament in Indianapolis.

In key games involving nationally ranked teams Sunday No. 5 Duke visits No. 8 Maryland trying to stay perfect in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

No. 20 Georgia Tech hosts Boston College in another ACC game while No. 6 Miami hosts Florida State hoping to stay right behind Duke, if not tie the Blue Devils for first.

In the Big Ten No. 17 Purdue will look to bounce back off last week’s home loss to Penn State when the Boilermakers visit Michigan State while No. 16 Nebraska will try to stop a two-game losing streak when the Cornhuskers host Wisconsin.

In the Southeastern Conference, No. 13 Tennessee is at Mississiuppi, No. 18 Georgia is at Florida, and No. 25 South Carolina is at Alabama.

The Guru, of course, will be at Drexel.

-- Mel


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