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 26, 2012

Guru's College Report: Temple Tops La Salle For 13th Straight

(Guru’s note: There is another post above this with coverage of the Ivy title clinching by Princeton and the narrow loss by Penn to Harvard)

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA -- Temple dominated host La Salle 71-44 Saturday afternoon at the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena to finish with the best two-year record in the Atlantic 10 regular season but having only a runnerup spot each time.

A year ago Temple (20-8, 13-1) met then-powerful Xavier in the season finale falling short of the regular season crown while this time around the Owls’ lone conference loss was to No. 19 St. Bonaventure, which is having a landmark season and finished unbeaten for the first time ever in conference play at 27-2 and 14-0 in the A-10.

The Bonnies, who won at Rhode Island 58-32, Saturday afternoon, were picked sixth in the preseason poll by the A-10 coaches, who made Temple and Dayton (20-6, 12-2) co-favorites.

The three teams will have byes in next weekend’s conference tournament at St. Joseph’s, which begins at Hagan Arena Friday, while Richmond (22-6, 9-4), which will host Charlotte (15-12, 7-6) Sunday, already clinched the fourth seed and final opening round bye.

Temple won its 13th straight after losing at home to St. Bonaventure and the win against La Salle (13-16, 8-7) gave the Owls (3-1) second place outright in the Big Five behind Villanova (4-0), which completed a sweep last month.

Kristen McCarthy had 12 points for Temple and Victoria Macaulay scored 10 but with the game well under control – the Owls led 31-18 at the half – substitutes saw increased playing time, which enabled Tyonna Williams to score 14 points, while Rateska Brown scored 12.

The win also brought Temple closer to being considered a lock for an at-large NCAA bid and ninth straight NCAA appearance if the Owls don’t get through the front door with the conference title and automatic bid.

“Jeff (Williams) has done a great job with his team and they’re not ever going to quick and now in the first half they knocked down a couple of shots and it was totally a different game,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said.

“So we had to make sure we started the second half the way we started the first. I thought Tyonna stepped up and played huge minutes for us when we had to make adjustments when BJ (Williams) got into foul trouble – Rateska the same thing,” Cardoza added.

“Both of those guys are playing with a lot of confidence and obviously want to be on the floor. They’re growing and getting better every day.

“We’ll take a couple of days off and then it’s back to work – one game at a time but we obviously want to get that first one.”

Temple, which has beaten La Salle 14 srraight times, sizzled from the field, shooting 50.9 percent and outrebounded La Salle 44-31.

Jordan Mosely had 12 points in a reserve role while Michea Bryant scored 10 points.

Nadia Duncan and Michele McCaughrun were honored as outgoing seniors at La Salle, which is likely to get the eighth seed in the field.

Williams, in his second season, was disappointed in his team’s play.

“I think we just didn’t show up,” the former Pittsburgh associate head coach said. “Temple’s been playing well and they’re a very good team, very good guards and a very good inside kid.

“We didn’t compete and made it easy for them so we have to get better if we want to advance in the tournament. We’re going to have to play better. We shot 26.3 percent in our building which is unacceptable,” Williams continued.

“The scorers didn’t help us any. The kids we look for – Brittany Wilson, Alexis Scott – they didn’t show up so it was a trickle down effect. We’re going to have to get in the gym.”

St. Joseph’s (18-9, 8-5) finishes up Sunday hosting George Washington (11-16, 4-9) and is locked into the fifth seed no matter what happens against the Colonials, who are in a three-way, possibly four-way battle for the ninth seed with Saint Louis (10-18, 4-9), and Xavier (7-19, 4-9), which is hosting Massachusetts (8-20, 3-10).

If the Minutewomen beat the Musketeers, Masachusetts becomes involved.

On the other hand if Massachusetts loses, then Fordham (11-17, 2-11), with a win Sunday over visiting Saint Louis, would become the 12th seed and Massachusetts would be eliminated from the 12-team field because of a head-to-head loss to Fordham.

The bottom two teams in the 14-team conference do not qualify for the tournament with Rhode Island already eliminated.

In Saturday action, St. Bonaventure became the seventh team in A-10 history go unbeaten in conference play in the regular season.

In the 58-32 win over URI (1-28 0-14), the opposition points are the fewest the Bonnies have allowed since becoming a Division I member in 1986-87.

Megan Van Tatenhove had 17 points for St. Bonaventure, while CeCe Dixon scored 10 points. The Bonnies are the smallest school (enrollment 2,000) to go unbeaten in the Atlantic 10.

Others who have made the perfect run are George Washington, Xavier, Temple, and former member West Virginia, which is leaving the Big East for the Big 12 and may be replaced in the Big East by Temple.

Xavier and George Washington have two perfect runs through the A-10.

St. Bonaventure was also a perfect 13-0 overall on the road.

URI, which will be one of four regional finals round of 16 in the NCAA tournament next month, ends at 1-28 the worst overall since Fordham set an NCAA mark going no-win at 0-29.

In Saturday’s other game, Dayton locked up the third seed with a 74-69 overtime win over host Duquesne (19-10, 7-7), which most await Sunday’s results to determine the Dukes’ A-10 seed.

Justine Raterman had a season-high 32 points fzor the Flyers, who set a record for school wins in the conference. Elle Queen added 10 point for Dayton.

Alex Gensler had 12 points for Duquesne which got a career-high 16 from Carly Vendemia. Jocelyn Floyd scored 15 and and Wumi Agunbiade scored 11.

Villanova Falls to St. John’s

The Wildcats suffered another loss in the Big East, falling to the 20th-ranked Red Storm 69-49 at Queens, N.Y.

Da’Shena Stevens had 21 points for St. John’s (20-8, 12-3 Big East) while Lindsay Kimmel had 11 points and Emily Leer scored 10 for Villanova (15-13, 5-10), which finishes the regular season at home Monday night hosting Syracuse.

Meanwhile, No. 24 Rutgers had an easy 68-47 win over host Providence (13-15, 5-10) in Rhode Island in another Big East game.

Khadijah Rushdan had a season-high 21 points for the Scarlet Knights (20-8, 9-6) who have won three straight since a perilous five-game slide.

Rutgers finishes up Monday night hosting Marquette.

Looking ahead

It will be another sellout crowd Sunday afternoon when No. 9 Delaware tries to stay perfect in the Colonial Athletic Association hosting Northeastern with one more game left on the schedule on Wednesday night.

Drexel, trying to hold the fourth and final bye, will visit Towson before finishing up at home Wednesday hosting Virginia Commonwealth.

No. 11 Penn State can win the Big Ten title outright at home by beating visiting Minnesota.

That’s it for the moment.

-- Mel


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