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.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Guru Report: La Salle Upset of VCU Completes Philly Four-Game Sweep

By Mel Greenberg

La Salle brought an exciting finish to another sweep on the daily card for PhilahoopsW teams Wednesday night by outscoring Virginia Commonwealth down the stretch for a narrow 63-58 upset victory in Atlantic 10 action at Tom Gola Arena.

"It's another great day for Philly," La Salle coach Jeff Williams said of the four victories claimed by area Division I locals in the Guru's coverage group.

Earlier in the night and morning Villanova continued its road dominance in the Big East, beating Butler 70-48 in famed Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Penn completed most of its nonconference slate in record fashion in Baltimore, posting a program eighth-straight win prior to Ivy League competition with a lopsided 85-51 win over Morgan State of the Mideastern Athletic Conference.

In the annual morning kids game on Hawk Hill, Saint Joseph's bounced back from Sunday's home loss to George Washington and routed injury-depleted Rhode Island 72-35 at Hagan Arena.

The Guru was at both the Saint Joseph's and La Salle games prior to heading up to Penn State in the wee pre-dawn hours Thursday for the funeral of Mary Jo Haverbeck, the retired longtime assistant sports information director responsible for the department's women's sports news.

A three-part tribute completed over night Tuesday to Wednesday is posted above this roundup and since then more tributes have arrived which will be included with coverage from the funeral in State College.

Meanwhile here at La Salle (8-7, 3-0), tied with George Washington for first at 3-0 (defending regular season champion Dayton just got started at 1-0), Alicia Cropper, who formerly played with Providence, collected a career-high 23 points while Liza Burdgess, a transfer from Pittsburgh, posted her fourth double double in five games with 12 points and a ame-high 13 rebounds.

The Explorers have won five of six games with the one setback suffered right near the end of regulation time.

In terms of Virginia Commonwealth (14-2, 2-1), which had been on fire but maybe untested, defense was the magic factor for La Salle which held Robyn Parks, the leading A-10 scorer at 23 points, to just 15 while she also grabbed 12 rebounds.

The Rams, who host Saint Joseph's Sunday (5 p.m., CBSSN-TV) in Richmond in the next game for each team, never led by more than six points in the first half and were up by just a field goal 32-30 going into the break.

La Salle took over in the final stanza and built nine-point leads several times only to see the Rams come back to get within a point before going ahead 57-56 on a layup by Ryen Henry with 1:12 left in regulation.

But Cropper's jumper got the Explorers back in front with 43 seconds and when Parks missed a shot on the ensuing possession Burdgess got the rebound and Jasmine Alston got to the foul line to make both free throws for a 60-57 lead with 19 seconds left.

With six seconds left, Cropper committed a foul on a three-point launch by VCU's Isis Thorpe, who had a nice delegation here from her hometown of Reading.

However after making the first, she missed the next two and Cropper then went to the line, maing the first but missing the second . However, La Salle kept control and Khristen Lee connected for two from the line for the game's final points.

Given VCU's play to date, the matchup was a major test for the Explorers, who had beem playing their best ball but whether they were coming around was questionable on the opposition they faced.

"This was big, no doubt," Williams said afterwards. "We're starting to play together a little better. There were spots we didn't share the ball, we didn't play team defense and that kind of hurt us.

"I think we're starting to come together. Seven out of our top eight kids are new kids, they didn't play last year. So it's taken some time. We're still a work in progress but we're getting better, we're starting to believe we can win and have success. We feel like we can keep this thing going."

La Salle next hosts Massachusetts Saturday at 1 p.m.

Meanwhile Saint Joseph's (12-3, 2-1 A-10) took control early over Rhode Island (5-11, 0-3) and owned the paint with a 30-14 advantage inside.

Ciara Andrews, who started in place of Natasha Cloud, who was rested wth a minor injury, scored 13 points, while Erin Shields and Sarah Fairbanks each scored 12 for the Hawks. Gotfrida Ilze had nine points and 10 rebounds. Ashley Robinson had eight points off the bench.

"I liked the way we played," Hawks coach Cindy Griffin said. "We established ourselves early."

No one scored in double figures for the Rams.

"This happens every year when we're ready to turn the corner," Rhode Island coach Cathy Ingelese said of the injuries. "Yesterday, at shootaround, I had a kid come up with a concusssion."

Quakers Feeling Their Oats

Penn (8-2) was spinning records again with its win over Morgan State (2-12) to gain the best 10-game start in program history and longest string of nonconference victories. at eight.

Now comes the challenge begins the next two weeks with four-time defending champion Princeton coming to The Palestra at 3 p.m. Saturday to help launch the Iby schedule and then going on the road locally to visit the remaining Big Five trio of Villanova next Wednesday, Saint Joseph's on Friday, and then at Temple on Jan. 22.

The Quakers are 1-0 in the City Series, having beaten La Salle on the road, while Saint Joseph's is 2-0 with wins over Villanova and Temple.

In Wednesday's game, the triumph was the largest since Mike McLaughlin left local Division II powerhouse Holy Family in Northeast Philadelphia to guide the Quakers, who won just two games his first season at 33rd and Locust Sts.

But it's been getting better year by year and the shooting percentage of 52.7 (29-of-55) the Quakers launched from the field Wednesday night was the best ever in the McLaughlin era now in its fifth season.

Sydney Stipanovich, the Ivy rookie of the week, blocked six shots for the second straight game, setting a two-game record for the span and third all-0time in terms of individual performance. She also had 13 points and

Senior Alyssa Baron had 14 points and nine rebounds while Katy Allen, the Ivy co-player of the week, also scored14 points.

The Quakers are 4-0 on the road for the first time since 1990-91 and owned the boards with a 51-29 rebounding advantage.

Coaching Milestones

Villanova coach Harry Perretta had his 650th win courtesy of the Wildcats topping host Butler in the Big East, one of the three teams of the group of 10 not previously in the former Big East configuration having jumped from the Atlantic 10 with Xavier while Creighton came over from the Missouri Valley Conference.

Perretta is now 650-406 in his entire 36-seaqson career, all spent on the Main Line.

Kendall Burton had 17 points and connected on five treys out of 13 attempts for the Wildcats (12-2, 3-1 Big East), who moved into a first-place tie after Creighton fell from the unbeaten conference ranks, losing at St. John's, in Queens.

Devon Kane scored 11 points and Taylor Holeman scored 10.

The Wildcats trailed at halftime 30-28 before going on a 42-18 surge the rest of the way.

Haley Howard had 17 points for Butler (7-8, 2-2).

Villanova hosts longtime rival Seton Hall from the old Big East world at 4 p.m., Saturday at The Pavilion and televised by Fox Sports.

Meanwhile, in terms of milestones, Philadelphia University's Tom Shirley gained his 500th triumph as the Rams beat Wilmington 94-63 in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference game in Newark, Del.

Also the school's athletic director, Shirley is in his 33rd season overall and 25th with the Rams (8-3, 6-0 CACC), who got a career high 19 points from Mary Newell against the opposition (4-9, 1-5).

Shirley's overall record is 649-306 while at Phila. U he is 500-233.

That's the news.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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