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.

Friday, December 06, 2013

Guru's Local Report: No Brooklyn Bummer This Time For Penn

(Guru’s note: OK Here's the link to photos from the Penn game covered below that were shot by new Team Guru photographer Laurie Dougherty, who has also been shooting for the brother Philahoops site. The Guru has also tweeted the link at his handle @womhoopsguru and it does work there. Here's the link http://www.flickr.com/x/t/0091009/photos/63627397@N02/sets/72157638422845226/ )

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA – Having been upset last month with a first-ever loss to Saint Francis, N.Y., in the season opener, which was at home, Penn seemed in danger of suffering another first-ever shocker Thursday night to a nonconference foe from the same neighborhood when Long Island University of Brooklyn jumped to a 19-9 lead with 8 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first half at The Palestra.

However, this time the Quakers were not about to ruin a three-game week that started Monday when they won their Big Five opener, beating La Salle at the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena for the first time ever.

After shaving four points off the Blackbirds’ advantage by halftime, Penn slowly began to take control with an 11-0 run and although the visitors would come back twice more to a deadlock, the Quakers’ freshman reserve Sydney Stipanovich hit a layup that resulted in a permanent advantage the rest of the way enabling the Quakers to secure a 70=59 win that got them to .500 at 2-2 for the first time this season.

Next up is a visit to Bucknell of the Northeast Conference in Lewisburg, Pa., near Harrisburg on Saturday.

“They just outplayed us in the beginning,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said of the still winless Blackbirds (0-7). “They changed defenses up, which we expected. We didn’t react to it particularly well. We had some open court turnovers.

“But in the second half, we were more in attack mode, got to the foul line, and I felt we played much better in transition and defensively in the second half.”

The 21-point turnaround was not so much the work of a hot shooting night from the field, where the Quakers were just 38.8 percent, but at the foul line where Penn was 30-for-38 while LIU was 10-for-14.

Quakers’ scoring leader Alyssa Baron, who on Monday night became the fourth Penn women’s star to reach 1,400 career points, was 8-for-9 from the line on the way to a team-high 15 points, while Kara Bonenberger and Stipanovich, who was a McDonald’s High School All-American nominee in St. Louis,  each scored 13 points.

Bonenberger had a near double double with eight rebounds and Stipanovich grabbed seven off the boards.

Cleandra Roberts had a game-high 18 points for LIU, which also got 12 points from Fanny Cavallo and 10 from Kelly Robinson.

Penn started the season with large gaps in the schedule being off two weeks between the opener before taking a competitive loss at home to Notre Dame, which has since jumped a spot to number four in The Associated Press women’s poll.

The Quakers then were off another nine days prior to Monday’s win at La Salle, which started a squeeze of three games in six days.

“When know what we are facing and it’s going to be tough at Bucknell,” McLaughlin said. “One game at a time, as the saying goes, but this was the middle one, then a light practice tomorrow and hopefully we’ll be prepped and ready to go to Bucknell.”

Penn returns home here Wednesday to host Army and then is off another 10 days before Drexel visits on Dec. 21 in the annual battle of West Philadelphia with the Dragons’ campus just a few blocks away up 33rd Street.

Then it will be on to a New Year’s Day visit to that also will be a local homecoming for Baron when Penn visits Atlantic Coast Conference power Miami.

Bonenberger, who played in the Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Women’s Summer League, with her older sister Alyssa, a guard at Division II Kutztown, said there was no panic at halftime in spite of the Quakers’ struggles in the first 20 minutes.

“This team is just more of a one-on-one type style of play, going to the basket, and we just tried to keep our legs through it, but the second half, I thought after ‘Coach talked to us at halftime, told us to play one-one-one defense, the second half we came out and played our game and came out with a win,” Bonenberger explained.

“He came in and told us to rebound, keep fighting, keep fighting, there’s just 20 minutes left. Just show what team we are and that’s what we did.”

Bonenberger said the crunched schedule this week is not really all that tough in terms of Penn’s makeup.

“It’s great just being able to play,” Bonenberger said. “We have so many players who can come off the bench so everyone gets plenty of rest if they need to do so.”

La Salle Rides Burdgess’ Career Mark

After suffering a mediocre performance against Penn on Monday, La Salle recovered its shooting ability to connect on a red hot 57.1 percent from the field in a 73-59 nonconference win at William & Mary of the Colonial Athletic Association in Williamsburg, Va.

The Explorers were the only other school in action Thursday night among the 10-team PhilahoopsW group in the Guru’s local Division I coverage area.

La Salle’s Leeza Burdgess set a career mark with 20 points, topping the 16 she scored three seasons ago in December in a game at Valparaiso when she played for Pittsburgh.

 She shot 10-for-14 from the field for the Explorers (3-4), who neared getting to .500 on the season.

Michaya Owens scored 19 points while Siobhan Beslow also reached a career high with 11 points, benefitting from a 7-for-8 shooting night from the line.

Jasmine Alston, who got a start to replace the injured Khristin Lee, tied a season and career mark with nine points.

Jazzmen Boone had 24 points for William & Mary (12-6).

La Salle is now off 10 days until Villanova visits in a Big Five title on December 15.

Hawks’ Cloud’s Big Night

Saint Joseph’s has come up with the exact back-to-back assist performance of junior Natasha Cloud, who dealt 13 each in Sunday’s win at Quinnipiac in Connecticut and Wednesday’s Big Five win at Temple.

Big Five Hall of Famer Angela Zampella dealt a two-game total of 28 in the Hawk Classic of late December, 1999, dishing 16 against Air Force and then 12 against Loyola of Maryland, where current Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin was in charge prior to returning to her alma mater to guide the Hawks the two seasons later.
Zampella also has the next best at 27 with 17 against Atlantic 10 rival St. Bonaventure and 16 against Dayton in January, 2001.

Cloud then follows in third with 26 assists off the two recent performances.

Looking Ahead

Penn’s nearby Ivy sister Princeton is the only PhilahoopsW team in action on Friday night when the Tigers, the four-time defending Ivy champs and preseason favorite, visit Navy in Annapolis, Md., in a game the Guru plans to cover.

Two seasons ago Princeton fell on the road to the Midshipmen, the one loss in which the Tigers were favored before getting revenge last year with a lopsided win at Jadwin Gym.

Navy is a two-time defending champion of the Patriot League.

On Saturday, the highlight is Saint Joseph’s visit to Villanova where the Wildcats are off to an overall 7-0 start, best ever since 1979-80, while the Hawks are 7-1.

It will be the first Big Five game of the season for Villanova, the defending City Series champion and the winner will join Penn as the only two locals unbeaten in Big Five play.

The Quakers don’t resume their City Series slate until January when the remaining three opponents will come in quick succession.
The Penn game at Bucknell Saturday is the only other one on the slate from the PhilahoopsW slate.

On Sunday, No. 10 Penn State and Drexel will both be in the nation’s capital near each other for nonconference action with the Lady Lions visiting Georgetown while the Dragons will be at American University looking to snap a three-game losing streak. The games are the only two on the PhilahoopsW slate as we go through a light period due to players taking finals at the various schools.
Hofstra of the CAA visits Saint Joseph’s on Tuesday in the only game scheduled and one the Guru will probably be late since he will be up at Secaucus, N.J, near New York in late afternoon for the broadcast of the WNBA draft lottery that will determine the top four pecking order for the Connecticut Sun, New York Liberty, Tulsa Shock, and San Antonio Silver Stars.

Next Wednesday, besides the Army-Penn game, Princeton will be at Binghamton and Penn State will visit South Dakota State.

Rutgers returns to action Thursday in the only game for PhilahoopsW teams with a nonconference visit from nearby Wagner, on a night the Scarlet Knights will feature an autograph session from former star Essence Carson, who missed most of the WNBA season with New York after suffering a knee injury.

No one plays Friday the 13th, though the timing of that date has nothing to do with any superstitions of bad luck but for now the look ahead has revealed enough.

Now, since the current report is light in terms of the roundup, here is the latest update to the Guru’s running Baskets and Boards highlighting season individual performance nights of players in the PhilahoopsW group scoring 20 or more points or grabbing 10 or more rebounds.
Baskets and Boards

(Thru 12/05/13)

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
26 pts.: Blake Dietrick, Princeton, L. @ Oregon, 12/1

25 pts.: Maggie Lucas, Penn State, W., vs. Illinois State in Bahamas, 11/30

24 pts.: Emily Leer, Villanova, W-OT, @ Lehigh, 11/14
24 pts.: Feyonda Fitzgerald, Temple, L, vs. Michigan State, 11/26

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
23 pts.: Alyssa Baron, Penn, W, @ La Salle, 12/2

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
21 pts.: Natasha Thames, Temple, W, vs. Oakland, 11/30
21 pts.: Natasha Cloud, Saint Joseph’s, W, @ Temple, 12/4

20 pts.: Blake Dietrick, Princeton, L, @ Rutgers, 11/10
20 pts.: Sarah Fairbanks, Saint Joseph’s, W, vs. Liberty, 11/23
20 pts.: Ilze Gotfrida, Saint Joseph’s, W, @ Quinnipiac, 12/1
20 pts.: Leeza Burdgess, La Salle, W, @ William & Mary, 12/5

 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
11 rebs.: Talia East, Penn State, W, vs. Illinois State, at Bahamas, 11/30
11 rebs.: Alex Harris, Penn State, W, vs. Illinois State, at Bahamas, 11/30
11 rebs.: Betnijah Laney, Rutgers, W, @ Davidson, 12/4

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 10 rebs.: Courtni Green, Delaware, W, @ Rider, 11/24
10 rebs.: Khristin Lee, La Salle, L, @ Fairfield, 11/25
10 rebs.: Taylor Holeman, Villanova, W, vs. Montana State at FIU Trny, 11/29
10 rebs.: Erica Coville, Temple, W, vs. Oakland, 11/30
10 rebs.: Akeema Richards, Delaware, W, vs. Howard at UCF Tournament, 12/1

  -- Mel


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