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.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Guru's PhilahoopsW College Report: Villanova's Tough Defense Keeps Wildcats Unbeaten

By Mel Greenberg

VILLANOVA, Pa. – After being the swisher in Villanova’s previous win, senior Devon Kane was the disher Sunday in dealing a career-high eight assists as the Wildcats won their home opener Sunday 60-33 in a nonconference game against Lafayette of the Patriot League.

Kane scored the final 19 points, including a shot to force overtime, Wednesday in the Wildcats’ nonconference win at Sacred Heart in Fairfield, Conn., the second straight overtime win following the recent triumph at Lehigh.

It looked at first like Kane might just keep going when she made the first shot of the game for a 2-0 lead and 21 straight points.

The outcome saw Lafayette (4-1) suffer its first loss while Villanova stayed unbeaten at 5-0.

 That Villanova won-loss record is the best start since a 6-0 burst at the outset of the magical 2002-03 season when the Wildcats went on to upset Connecticut to win the Big East and stop the then-Huskies’ NCAA record win streak at 70 games.

The Wildcats almost pulled another record in this one, moving from a slim 29-28 lead at the half to clamping down the Leopards the rest of the way for a 31-5 advantage that allowed just two points more than the NCAA record of three for fewest points allowed in a half. That happened twice.

“Our defense was lacking in the first half so we picked it up in the second half and we didn’t score very much so it was good,” said Kane, a graduate of Notre Dame Academy near Villanova who also played for the AAU Comets.
Kane has played in the Philadelphia/Suburban Women's NCAA Summer Basketball League as did several Lafayette players in the offseason.

Carolline Coyer had a game-high 12 points for Villanova, while her twin sister Katherine scored 10 as did Lauren Burford and Kavunaa Edwards, who completed her first double double by grabbing 14 rebounds.

Edwards’s rebound total was a career-high and the most by a Wildcats player since Laura Kurz grabbed 15 against Lehigh, where she now is an assistant coach, on Dec. 7, 2008.

Villanova was leading 35-32 when the Wildcats went on and outscored Lafayette 25-1 over the final 15 minutes as the Leopards shot just 2-for-25 in the second half.

“We got outside ourselves,” Lafayette coach Dianne Nolan from Gloucester in South Jersey said. “It’s the first time this year we played so bad.”

Jamie O’Hare had a team-high nine points for the Leopards with Villanova stopping anyone from scoring in double figures.

“They’re very much improved,” Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. “They struggled very much in the second half not making any shots but we had a half like that once in the NCAA tournament against Utah, I think we scored 10 points.

“But I thought they played well. They’re much more experienced. We panicked in the first half and committed a lot of dumb fouls but in the second half we settled down and played a lot smarter.”

A new assistant at Lafayette this season is former ABL/WNBA post player great Yolands Griffith, who will be inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn., in June.

She was a previous assistant to longtime Dartmouth coach Chris Wielgus, who left after last season.

“We had an opening when (former Saint Joseph’s star) Kim Foley went to join (new coach and former Hawks star) Debbie Black at Eastern Illinois,” Nolan said. “Chris and I talked and thought Yolanda would be a good fit here.”

 Meanwhile, only three of the 10-team PhilahoopsW teams in the Guru’s local Division I coverage group played Sunday and all three won with La Salle topping host Manhattan 72-62 in Riverdale, N.Y, while Delaware continued its winning ways in the opening weeks of the post-Elena Delle Donne era by triumphing 65-54 at Rider.

Edwards was one of three players to top the previous season-high of 13 rebounds among players on PhilahoopsW teams.

Delaware (4-1), which had three players grabbed 10 or more rebounds to make the Guru’s season-long Baskets and Boards charts, saw red-shirt sophomore Joy Caracciolo grabbed 19 while Kelsey Buchanan had 15, and Courtni Green grab 10.

Caracciolo’s and Buchanan’s totals were career highs.

Villanova next travels to Florida International’s tournament in Miami, playing Montana State in the first round Friday and then either the host team or Valparaiso on Saturday.

After that, the Wildcats return home to host Saint Joseph’s on Dec. 7, the first of three straight Big Five games, followed by road stops at La Salle and Temple as they attempt to defend last season’s title in the City Series round robin.

Villanova, which earlier this month won in overtime at Lehigh, a Patriot League and nearby rival of Lafayette, can claim the Pennsylvania Turnpike Extension trophy for topping teams from Bethlehem and Easton an hour away to the north.    

Perretta’s Wildcats made the E-Z pass in getting 18 assists to take their toll of Lafayette.

La Salle Takes Manhattan

The Explorers (1-2) won their first game of the year, a nonconference triumph on the road beating the Jaspers 72-62 by mounting a 19-4 run midway through the second half.

La Salle had dropped its first two games, losing to Temple in the season-opener at home after holding a lead in the second half, and then having a rally wasted a week ago at Rutgers, which won on a shot just before time expired in regulation.

Kristin Lee and Alicia Cropper each scored 17 points against Manhattan (1-3),  while Micayha Owens scored 12 points and Siobhan Beslow had a near double double double with nine points and a game-high eight rebounds.

The Jaspers’ Monica Roeder had a game-high 18 points.

La Salle continues its brief two-game back-to-back road trip Monday traveling to nearby Fairfield in lower Connecticut.

The only other PhilahoopsW team in action Monday is Drexel, which will travel to No. 8 Maryland in College Park in a nonconference game the Guru will cover and tweet live, gruesome as it may be for the Dragons.

The host Terrapins, who have only lost to Connecticut in a home game a week ago Friday, could have a new ranking number by game time considering the next Associated Press women’s poll will be released late Monday morning or early afternoon.

Delaware Rides the Broncos

Most of the Blue Hens’ work has already been mentioned above in the Villanova coverage concerning Delaware beating Rider 65-54 in Lawrenceville, N.J. near where the Blue Hens will return next month to meet defending four-time Ivy League champion Princeton.

 The rebounding totals alluded to contributed to a season-high 63 amassed Sunday against 38 by Rider (1-4) of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Caracciolo’s 14 points led to her first double double with the 19 rebounds.

Delaware rallied in this one after trailing 41-36 and then launching a 17-4 run before closing out the win by making six straight foul shots.

MyNeshia McKenzie had 21 points and nine rebounds for Rider.

“We’re young and we’re going to do silly things,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said, alluding to 12 missed foul shots. “When we had to, we made our free throws and when we had to, we executed.

“The bottom line is, we came out with a (11-point) win (she said nine in the actual quote supplied by Delaware) and obviously we did what we needed to do to get the victory,” Martin continued. “So, that’s all good stuff and I’m really happy with that, but we also have so much to improve on … We will get better.”

Buchanan has scored double figures in all five games this season while Delaware has won 11 of the last 12 games in the nonconference series with Rider.

The Blue Hens next head to Central Florida’s Thanksgiving Classic in Orlando but opponents in both games are pre-determined with Delaware meeting SIU Edwardsville on Saturday and then Howard on Sunday while not playing the host school, which this season became part of the American Conference.
The Princeton trip follows two weeks later on Dec. 15.

Baskets and Boards Update
 (Thru 11/24/13)

Baskets (20 or more points)

33 pts.: Maggie Lucas, Penn State, W, vs. St. Francis, Pa., 11/8

29 pts.: Tyonna Williams, Temple, W, vs. Auburn, 11/16

26 pts.: Kahleah Copper, Rutgers, W., @ Northeastern, 11/13

26 pts.: Rachel Hollivay, Rutgers, W., vs. Howard, 11/22

24 pts.: Emily Leer, Villanova, W-OT, @ Lehigh, 11/14

23 pts.: Ariel Edwards, Penn State, W, vs. St. Francis, Pa., 11/8

23 pts.: Maggie Lucas, Penn State, W, vs. Fordham, 11/10

23 pts.: Erin Shields, Saint Joseph’s, L, @ LSU-WNIT-2, 11/10

23 pts.: Kahleah Copper, Rutgers, W, vs. Howard, 11/22

22 pts.: Kelsey Buchanan, Delaware, W, vs. Wake Forest, 11/15

21 pts.: Micahya Owens, La Salle, L, @ Rutgers, 11/17

21 pts.: Sarah Fairbanks, Saint Joseph’s, W, vs. Drexel, 11/20

21 pts.: Devon Kane, Villanova, W-OT, @ Sacred Heart, 11/20

20 pts.: Blake Dietrick, Princeton, L, @ Rutgers, 11/10

20 pts.: Sarah Fairbanks, Saint Joseph’s, W, vs. Liberty, 11/23

 Boards (10 or more rebounds)

 19 rebs.: Joy Caracciolo, Delaware, W, @ Rider, 11/24

15 rebs.: Kelsey Buchanan, Delaware, W, @ Rider, 11/24

14 rebs.: Kavunaa Edwards, Villanova, W, vs. Lafayette, 11/24

13 rebs.: Courtni Green, Delaware, @ Rhode Island, 11/8

13 rebs.: Natasha Thames, Temple, @ La Salle, 11/8

13 rebs.: Betnijah Laney, Rutgers, W, @Northeastern, 11/13

13 rebs.: Fiona Flanagan, Drexel, W, vs. Providence, 11/15

13 rebs.: Rachel Hollivay, Rutgers, W, vs. Howard, 11/22

13 rebs.: Kahleah Copper, Rutgers, W, vs. Howard, 11/22

12 rebs.: Siobhan Beslow, La Salle, L, vs. Temple, 11/8

12 rebs.: Shanice Johnson, Delaware, L, vs. Temple, 11/12

12 rebs.: Betnijah Laney, Rutgers, W, vs. La Salle, 11/17

11 rebs.: Kahleah Copper, Rutgers, W, @ Northeastern, 11/12

11 rebs.: Natasha Cloud, Saint Joseph’s, W, @Wichita State-WNIT Cons, 11/15

11 rebs.: Leeza Burdgess, La Salle, L, @ Rutgers, 11/17

11 rebs.: Annie Tarakchian, Princeton, W, @ Rider, 11/19

11 rebs.; Alex Harris, Penn State, W, vs. Bucknell, 11/20

10 rebs.: Alex Wheatley, Princeton, L, @ Rutgers, 11/10

10 rebs.: Betnijah Laney, Rutgers, W, vs. Princeton, 11/10

10 rebs.: Alex Harris, Penn State, W, vs. Fordham, 11/10

10 rebs.: Kelsey Buchanan, Delaware, L, vs. Temple, 11/12

10 rebs.: Talia East, Penn State, L, vs. Connecticut, 11/17

10 rebs.: Kristen Helmstetter, Princeton, W, @ Rider, 11/19                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              
10 rebs.: Courtni Green, Delaware, W, @ Rider, 11/24




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