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, January 03, 2014

Guru Report: Saint Joseph's and La Salle Off to Winning Start in Atlantic 10

Guru's note: Below this post is a catch-up from games earlier in the week, especialy Penn's stunning upset in Florida of Miami. Above is the weekly Siroky SEC report.

Also, the compilation in the two local reports come via the wires and team reports.

By Mel Greenberg

Saint Joseph's and La Salle both had escapes on the road to get the local Philadelphia duo off to a winning start Thursday night in Atlantic 10 competition that has George Mason, formerly with the Colonial Athletic Association, in the mix as a newcomer but no longer has Butler and Xavier (Big East), Charlotte (Conference USA) or Temple (The American) in the fold.

La Salle came out with the Explorers' third overall win in four games, and it could easily be four straight, by topping Rhode Island 50-44 in overtime in Kingston, while Saint Joseph's fought back from a 12-point deficit to beat host Richmond 85-80 at The Robins Center in Virginia.

The Hawks (11-2, 1-0 A-10) are not done in Richmond, the city, as they will be returning in March to defend last year's conference tournament title that enabled them to snap a 13-year drought from the NCAA tournament.

A year ago, Saint Joseph's was just getting started, taking on a deep run through the conference that was claimed with a perfect A-10 mark in the regular season by Dayton, which the Hawks shot down in the conference semifinal.

This time they have been rolling since the outset in terms of victories, losing only to two nationally-ranked teams on the road at nationally-ranked LSU in the second round of the preseason WNIT and then last month in a tight contest at nationallly-rankd Syracuse.

LSU, incidentally, upset Tennessee in Knoxville, Thursday.

On Thursday, Saint Joseph's blasted the web of the Spiders (6-8, 0-1) in the second half with 22 of the Hawks' overall 26 second-chance points.

However, Richmond still had a shot with a 77-70 lead with under six minutes to go.

But the Hawks kept inching closer and finally closed up a four-point gap with shots frfom Ilze Gotfrida and Sarah Fairbanks to tie the score 79-79 with 1:44 left.,

Saint Joseph's then forced a turnover and Fairbanks scored again off a pass from Natasha Cloud to put the Hawks ahead 81-79 with 1:03 left.

Richmond then hit 1 of 2 foul shots before Erin Shields brought the Hawks to the winner's circle with a pair of free throws.

Though Saint Joseph's struggled from outside, connecting on just 4-of-16 three-point attempts an d 7-of-14 free throws, the Hawks shot 51.4 percent from the field and the 38-30 advantage on the boards was spurred by 17 offensive rebounds.

Fairbanks scored 19 to lead the Hawks, while Cloud had 18 points and dealt nine assists, and Shields scored 16 while Ilze Gotfrida had a double double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Geneieve Okuru matched Fairbanks' game honors with 19 points for Richmond.

Next up is a visit Sunday to Hawk Hill from longtime conference rival George Washington, which will be nationally televised on NBCSN.

Also, the school and team will be taking donations for Cloud and her family, who recently lost their Broomall home in a fire. See Saint Joseph's web site for details.

Meanwhile, on one hand it might be that La Salle is finally coming around though the narrow scores, considering the opponents, makes one wonder whether or not it is an illusion.

In Kingston, the Explorers (6-7, 1-0) let go of an 11-point lead over the Rams (5-9, 0-1) before dominating in the extra period.

Leeza Burdgess, who has been somewhat on a tear in recent games, struck with 15 points while Micahya Owens continued her fine play with 14 points while Khristin Lee came off the bench to score 10 points and Alicia Cropper had a career-high 10 rebounds.

Tayra Melendez matched Burdgess' scoring total, also getting 15 for the Rams.

La Salle next heads to George Mason on Saturday.

Looking Ahead

No one plays Friday, a coincidence of the schedule and weather with the white stuff coming down.

Not mentioned in the report because Rutgers had been idle, the Scarlet Knights open home play in The American hosting Houston Saturday while Princeton pays a nonconference visit to Drexel.

Penn State kicks off Big 10 action Sunday when the Lady Lions travel to Iowa, which got upset Thursday by unbeaten Indiana.

Delaware launches defense of its two-time unbeaten everything in the CAA Sunday when Hofstra visits.

And that catches everything up for the Guru.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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