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.
By Mel Greenberg
NEWARK, Del. -- On a night of rarity in which six teams in the Associated Press women's poll lost to unranked teams, No. 12 Delaware avoided becoming an additional victim of the carnage across America by holding off a second-half rally for a 76-63 victory over visiting Old Dominion in a Colonial Athletic Association game at home at the Bob Carpenter Center.
In beating the longtime CAA power behind Elena Delle Donne's 27 points and 15 rebounds, the Blue Hens (21-1, 12-0 CAA) maintained their three-game lead over James Madison (18-5, 9-3), the two-time defending conference champion who dodged a season-sweep from Drexel (11-11, 7-5) by beating the Dragons 56-51 in overtime at the Daskalakis Athletic Center in Philadelphia.
The loss temporarily halted Drexel coach Denise Dillon's bid to tie former coach Lil Haas for most Division I coaching victories (144) at the school.
Her next chance is Sunday's rode game to William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va. JMU, which got 22 points from Tarik Hislop, won for the seventh time in eight games since losing to Drexel at home on Jan. 12.
Hollie Mershon had 17 points for the Dragons, who lost a chance to move up and are tied for fifth with Virginia Commonwealth (14-9, 7-5), which beat visiting Hofstra 76-60 and dropped the Pride to 18-7 overall and 8-4 in the CAA.
Hofstra is tied for third with UNCW (15-8, 8-4), which gained a 72-69 win at Georgia State. Andrea Barbour had 26 points and Courtney Hurt had 20 points and 15 rebounds for the host Rams in Richmond, Va., while Hofstra's Shante Evans had 13 points.
Down here, another near-sellout carowd of 4,111 in the 5,000-seat arena saw Delaware build a 23-point lead and then let it reduce to eight before stopping any further incursion by the Lady Monarchs (8-16, 5-7). Lauren Carra added 18 points for Delaware, and Danielle Parker scored 13.
Tia Lewis scored 15 points for ODU, while Myeisha Hall scored 14 and Jackie Cook scored 11.
Thus Delaware coach Tina Martin and her squad head to Atlanta Sunday for a game against Georgia State that with a triumph would result in her 300th victory.
If achieved, because of Thursday night's setbacks elsewhere across the nation, by the time Monday arrives Delaware could possibly move up several spots in the poll and be ranked ahead of current No. 11 Tennessee, who was upset by in-state rival Vanderbilt 93-79 in a Southeastern Conference game at the host Commodores' Memorial Gym in Nashville.
Tennessee was one of the four original final choices of Delle Donne, the nation's leading scorer (28.1) who selected powerful Connecticut out of the group that also included Villanova before deciding to forego the scholarship from the Huskies and enroll at Delaware not far from her home in Wilmington where she had been the 2008 National High School player of the year out of Ursuline Academy.
Furthermore, a win over the Panthers Sunday would most definitely earn the Blue Hens the top spot in the College Insider Mid-Major poll in the wake of upset losses Thursday by No. 9 Wisconsin-Green Bay, the current top Mid-Major team, and No. 19 Gonzaga, which lost a West Coast Conference game 70-49 at BYU, which had been in the poll for two weeks until Sunday's vote.
Wisconsin-Green Bay (20-1, 10-1), which lost a Horizon League game at home to Detroit 70-58, had been one of two remaining unbeaten teams in Division I along with top-ranked Baylor.
Other victims of upsets included No. 10 Ohio State losing at the buzzer at Illinois 66-65 in a Big Ten contest that cost the Buckeyes a chance to move to first in the conference. No. 13 Nebraska, which had been tied for first in the Big Ten with idle Purdue, lost a home to Michigan 63-52.
No. 18 Penn State benefitted from the chaos on the Big Ten by getting closer to the top, where it had been predicted to finish, after routing Wisconsin 69-54.
No. 24 South Carolina, which got back into the poll for the second time this season following a first-ever win at Tennessee last Thursday couldn't stand prosperity and fell 68-47 in an SEC game in Arkansas.
Maybe two-time defending Ivy champion Princeton, which ia at Dartmouth and Harvard this weekend, can produce a sweep and move close to a first-ever ranking in the AP women's poll for an Ivy school.
Delaware's game was the first meeting since ousting ODU in the quarterfinals of the CAA tournament in March as a seventh-seed beating a two.
Since then the Lady Monarchs have undergone a coaching change with longtime mentor Wendy Larry shown the door and her former assistant Karen Barefoot brought over from Elon, where she had been the head coach.
The Lady Monarchs had been more competitive in recent games, though Thursday's setback matched ODU's all-time season total of conference losses which originally occurred in their first CAA go-round in 1991-92.
However, they upset East Carolina in the title game and went on to win 16 more straight before Drexel stopped the run in the 2009 CAA semifinals. "We're getting tougher," Barefoot said.
"We wanted to rebound the ball better the second half and we did."
As for trying to contain Delle Donne, Barefoot said, "She's amazing. To me she could play in the NBA if she wanted to. She's unbelievable. She can do it all with tremendous skills.
"One thing that impresses me about her is she competes so hard. Every possession. We tried to make it difficult for her and I thimk we did a great job doing that but again she takes over when she needs to and makes big plays when she needs to.
"But one thing about us is we're never going to give up. We're going to compete until the end." Martin was a little miffed that her team eased up after building the big lead.
"I think we started out the first 28 minutes of the game and played Delaware basketball. We broke their pressure and got a couple of easy layups. Anytime you relax and ease up and lose your focus and that's exactly what happened.
"I told this team at this point in the year we have got to be able to close the door. I said that many, many times and they've responded to those remarks.
"Give Old Dominion credit. They kept coming at us, coming at us."
Delle Donne was feeling much better than Sunday in the win over VCU when she was suffering from some of the effects of the medication she's been taking since last year's bout with Lyme disease that caused her to miss 12 games and cost her the national scoring title she seems likely to get this season.
"No game is ever over. They were throwing different defenses at us. It's a good little wake-up call," Delle Donne said of the way the game went.
Vanderbilt hasn't beaten Tennessee often in the Melaine Balcomb era though shde landed a job back in the day with the Commodores on the strength of her Xavier team upsetting Tennessee in a Sweet 16 game in the NCAA tournament.
Life was sweet again Thursday night for the Lady Commodores (19-5, 7-4 SEC) who are unranked in the AP Poll but are No. 25 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.
Tiffany Clarke had 25 points for Vandy and Christina Foggie had 22 as Balcomb won for the second time in 23 games against Tennessee since taking the Vanderbilt job.
At the same time life also continued to be cruel this season to the Lady Vols (17-7, 8-3) , whose legendary coach Pat Summitt is battling early onset dimentia, Alzheimer's type and her assistants have been adding to their responsibilities in handling the team.
When the season began Tennessee was projected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament but with a second loss in three games holding on to a potential No. 3 seed may be a challenge. Meighan Simmons had 20 points and Glory Johnson had 19 for the Lady Vols.
As the season comes down the stretch, the questions in the media room are getting more difficult for the Tennessee delegation, especially after a loss.
Thursday night, Tennessee associate head coach Holly Warlick was asked if this might have been Summitt's laste game at Vanderbilt.
"I don't think so," Warlick responded. "I mean Pat is coaching, she's still coaching and she's going to continue to coach. So I hope it is not the last time and I have not heard if it is or it isn't. "She's still the head coach of this basketball team."
Meanwhile a week after No. 24 South Carolina had its major moment in a series with Tennessee, the Gamecocks (18-6, 7-4 SEC) were routed at Arkansas 68-47 as the Razorbacks (18-5, 7-4) won their seventh straight conference game with the win at home in Fayetteville.
C'eira Ricketts had 16points and seven rebounds for Arkansas. "I thought they wanted the game more than we did and I never thought I would say that in coaching the South Carolina women's basketball team," Dawn Staley said.
Elsewhere in the SEC, Florida beat visiting Auburn, 70-56, LSU topped visiting Mississippi State, 53-49, and Alabama beat host Mississippi 52-47.
Penn State On A Roll
Whether No. 18 Penn State can catch the Big Ten frontrunners and claim the conference title predicted by the coaches and media in the conference polls remains to be seen but the Lady Lions (19-5, 9-3) are on a roll after a 69-54 win over visiting Wisconsin in the Bryce Jordan Center at home made them eight of nine times in the win column.
Maggie Lucas of Germantown Academy and Narberth, Pa., outside Philadelphia, had 16 pointss for PSU and Alex Bentley and Ariel Edwards each scored 14 points.
Anya Covington had 20 points for the Badgers (8-16, 4-8).
Meanwhile Alexis Burke's layup with two seconds remaining gave Illinois a 66-65 upset of No. 10 Ohio State (21-3, 8-3), which had a career-high 18 points from Ashley Adams while Tayler Hill had 20 points.
Adrienne Godbold had 16 points as one of four players scoring in double figures for the Illini. Michigan (18-7, 7-5), a 63-52 Big Ten winner at No. 13 Nebraska (19-4, 8-3) got 23 points from Lindsey Moore to lead the upset of the Cornhuskers,who struggled from the field.
Major Mid-Major Meltdown
Just when it seems that there's no way No. 9 Wisconsin-Green Bay and No. 23 Gonzaga could lose in their respective conferences both were upset victims the same night.
Detroit (13-11, 9-3 Horizon League) got 24 points from Shareta Brown and 23 from Senee Shearer to beat the Phoenix (20-1, 10-1), whose Julie Wojta scored 16 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
In the West Coast Conference, Kim Parker had 16 points and host BYU (22-4, 120-2) gtrabbed a 70-40 win over No. 19 Gonzaga (21-4, 10-2), which got 12 points from Kayla Standish in Provo, Utah.
The Atantic Coast Conferencde held firm among its ranked teams with No. 5 Duke (20-3, 11-0 ACC) beating host Boston College 71-62 as Chelsea Gray got eight of the last 10 points against the Eagles (5-19, 0-11) in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Gray finished with 19 points and freshman Elizabeth Williams had 19 points and 10 rebounds.
No. 8 Maryland had an easy 91-61 win at Clemson as Lynetta Kizer scored 18 points for the Terrapins (21-3, 8-3) and Nikki Dixon had 17 points for the Tigers.
In the Pac-12, No. 4 Stanford got 21 points and 12 rebounds from Chiney Oguwmike to fuel a 69-52 win at home for the Cardinal (21-1, 12-0) over Southern Cal (12-11, 6-6) to move closer to a 12th straight conference crown.
Conference-USA frontrunner UTEP (21-2, 10-0) got 19 points and 10 rebounds from Kayla Thornton in a 64-56 win over Marshall.
See you at the next sunrise.