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.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Guru's College Report: McCarthy and Peddy Highlight A-10 Action in Temple Win

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA – In the last nine years the Temple-St. Joseph’s series has produced close contests most times.

Furthermore in the home-and-home in-season rivalry under the Atlantic 10 structure the two games are often seldom alike.

But except for once since 2004 on a buzzer-beater by St. Joseph’s, when it comes to consistency that would be the name of the winner when the final score is reached.

Temple was that name again Wednesday night, beating the Hawks 75-65 at the Owls’ McGonigle Hall in a game that also counted in the Big Five.

The Owls have now won 13 straight in the series and 19 of 20 against St. Joseph’s.

Coach Tonya Cardoza’s team (19-8, 12-1 A-10) with the win clinched the second seed for next week’s Atlantic 10 tournament at St. Joseph’s Hagan Arena while Saturday’s visit to La Salle at 1 p.m. the only remaining game on the regular season schedule.

“It’s never a game I’m looking forward to,” Cardoza said of playing the Hawks Wednesday night. “There’s going to be emotions on both ends. It’s a physical game. It’s the rivalry. And they’re tough. They never stop playing. Just like down the stretch they’re knocking down threes and stealing the ball. It’s never over until the final horn.

“But they’re a great matchup. You know if you can come out and beat them; you know that you’ve done something good. They’re a very physical team. A smart team that’s never going to back down.”

The Atlantic Ten 12-team field in the 14-team conference was almost set following Wednesday’s games though the exact draw won’t be determined until the conclusion of the weekend action.

No. 19 St. Bonaventure, picked sixth in the preseason coaches poll, rallied to beat visiting Fordham 52-47 to clinch the No. 1 seed though the Bonnies (26-2, 13-0), unbeaten in the conference, could finish in a tie at the top with Temple if the Owls beat La Salle while Rhode Island at home Saturday shocks the Bonnies.

Dayton (19-6, 11-2) clinched the third seed routing two-time defending conference champion Xavier 83-54 while Richmond (22-6, 9-4) clinched the fourth and final bye with a 59-45 win over visiting Duquesne (19-9, 7-6).

Temple, which had been made a co-favorite with Dayton in the preseason A-10 coaches poll, also moved to 2-1 in the Big Five and could finish second outright behind Villanova (4-0) with a win Saturday otherwise the Owls, Hawks and Explorers will all be tied for second at 2-2.

But at this point with the Wildcats having wrapped up the Big Five month ago, the real emphasis Wednesday involved the Atlantic 10 and Temple’s push to extend the Owls’ NCAA tournament string to nine straight appearances.

On the Hawks’ side, besides wanting to end the near-decade long run of futility against the Owls, there was a bid to finish fourth and get the last bye in the A-10 tourney, though a win would still be necessary Sunday when George Washington visits on senior day at St. Joseph’s (18-9, 8-5).

However the loss and Richmond’s win ensured the Spiders finishing fourth and St. Joseph’s fifth in terms of seeds because even if the two finish in a tie for fourth Sunday Richmond owns the tie break on a head-to-head win with St. Joseph’s.

But the Hawks own the fifth seed because even if they lost Sunday and fell to a four-way tie with Duquesne, Charlotte (15-12, 7-6) and La Salle (13-15, 7-6), St. Joseph’s beat all three to take the No. 5 seed.

“I think anytime you can get another game under your belt it can help in certain situations,” St. Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said about playing in the first round of the A-10 tourney.

“We have to worry about Sunday first and then just take it one game at a time. I’d be happy in the four-five slot – I think that would be a good situation for us.”

The other three teams need Sunday’s game to determine the next three spots but none could fall to beyond eighth since they all have a three-game lead over George Washington (11-16, 4-9), which is tied with Xavier (7-19, 4-9), and Saint Louis (10-18, 4-9) for ninth.

Rhode Island (1-27, 0-13) in last place is eliminated while if Fordham (11-17, 2-11) loses to Saint Louis then Fordham is eliminated but if the Rams win and Massachusetts (8-20, 3-10) loses to host Xavier Sunday then Fordham is in the tourney and the Minutewomen are out because of Fordham’s head-to-head win over Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, Temple celebrated its senior night and two of the elder Owls took turns in each half leading the way with Kristen McCarthy, the last of the Dawn Staley recruits, scoring 18 of her 19 points in the first half and Shey Peddy taking over with 24 of her 31 points in the final stanza.

Peddy already had a big week collecting more Big Five and Atlantic 10 player of the week accolades and then topped those honors with the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) national player of the week citation on Tuesday.

Her 31 was her best in two seasons at Temple and matched her career high when she first scored 31 playing for Wright State in 2007 before transferring to the Owls and play for Cardoza who grew up in the same town as Peddy in Roxbury, Mass.

“It’s an honor for a Temple player to be recognized as player of the week,” Cardoza said of Peddy’s honors. “That’s something she can be proud of and look back at but I’m sure she would be more excited about winning this game then any player of the week awards.”

Joelle Connelly, a Hofstra transfer who scored six points, was also honored as a departing player as was BJ Williams who dealt eight assists. Junior Victoria Macaulay also scored in double figures with 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Temple has won 12 straight since losing to St. Bonaventure in early January, the loss being the difference between the Bonnies, picked for six by the conference coaches, finishing with the No. 1 seed and Temple’s No. 2 slot for the A-10 tourney.

“We learned from the loss and haven’t lost since and we hope to keep it that way,” Cardoza said.

Several times Temple threatened to turn the game into a rout but the Hawks kept rallying to deny things getting totally out of hand.

St. Joseph’s senior Michelle Baker had 20 points, senior Katie Kuester scored 16, sophomore Erin Shields scored 11 points, and senior Kelly Cavallo had seven points and 12 rebounds.

“I think their seniors played like seniors do,” Griffin said of Temple. “McCarthy killed us the first half and Peddy killed us the second half.

“And I thought we were playing some pretty good defense but they were making some tough shots. Give them credit. They’re very good. They’re a very solid team and we were penalized for every mistake that we made. You have to give them credit.

“They converted on a lot of opportunities. I thought we were solid and we scored but we couldn’t score when we needed to score.”

Cardoza was asked whether she planned to call her former boss Geno Auriemma at Connecticut and offer advice as to how to coach and win on senior night in light of the Huskies’ upset defeat last Saturday at the hands of St. John’s.

“No,” Cardoza shot back. “I only call him to get advice not to give him any.”

Meanwhile, La Salle went on the road and beat George Washington 69-47 in the nation’s capital courtesy of a 16-0 surge in the first half.

Brittany Wilson scored 23 points and was 7-for-7 from the free throw line for the visiting Explorers. Jada Payne scored 13 points and Jordan Mosley scored 12.

Tiana Myers had 15 points and Tara Booker had 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds for the host Colonials.

In Dayton’s rout, the Flyers got 25 points from Justine Raterman while Xavier’s Jessica Pachko had 15 points for the Musketeers.

St. Bonaventure got 17 points from Jessica Jenkins in the win over Fordham, which got 14 points from Charlotte Stoddart.

Abby Oliver had 15 points for Richmond in the win over Duquesne, which was led by Alex Gensler scoring 17 points.

Saint Louis’ Desirae Ball scored with two seconds left in overtime to give the Billikens their 70-69 win over visiting Charlotte and a place in next week’s conference tournament.

Epiphany Woodson led Charlotte with 32 points.

"This might have been the most fulfilling win we've had since I've been here," SLU head coach Shimmy Gray-Miller said. "Not many people gave us a chance to win this game.

"I've been talking about how much heart and pride this team has, and tonight they showed it in abundance. We didn't give up or give in, although we had many chances to do just that."

Massachusetts’ win over Rhode Island featured Jasmine Watson scoring 15 points as the Minutewomen had four players score in double figures.

The Guru will be back in the next 24 hours after being on the scene at the George Mason-Delaware game but will also be tweeting the Drexel game on @womhoopsguru.

There will also be a little discussion soon about the effect of moving to the Big East, as rumors suggest, in terms of Temple women’s basketball re-visiting the charts the Guru did last fall when the chitchat, erroneous at the time, first reared its head involving the Owls leaving the Atlantic 10.

-- Mel

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