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 09, 2014

Guru Report: Baron Blasts Broadway To Lead Penn Over Columbia

By Mel Greenberg

The further up Broadway one travels away from the theater district towards the Bronx, the fabled bright lights become much dimmer.

The Penn women's basketball team, however, continued to shine up here Saturday night in an off-Broadway production in which the Quakers ran their current win streak to six with a 70-63 Ivy League victory over host Columbia in the Lions' Levien Gym.

OK, so it wasn't the showstopper of a week ago when Penn (14-5, 4-1 Ivy League) decimated Harvard at home in The Palestra.

But unlike a few years ago, Penn showed it could cope with drama, which had its moments as the Quakers completed a weekend road sweep in the Empire State following Friday's win at Cornell up at Ithaca.

"Unless, you are part of it, people on the outside have no idea what it is like to go through the league schedule -- the back-to-backs, getting into your hotel from the first night at 2 in the morning," Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said.

"But we held on and got the win, so everything is good."

McLaughin, in his fifth year at Penn and only three wins from matching last season's overall won-loss record that was achieved by advancing in the Women's Basketball Invitational, won't get sympathy from his Ivy colleagues.

That's the price of having such stars as Alyssa Baron, who is likely to add another citation to her Ivy League player of the week honors achieved the past four seasons.

As the logjam atop the league got reduced from five to three on the weekend, Baron kept the Quakers among the frontrunners with 25 points to follow-up Friday's 28-point performance at Cornell.

Harvard (15-5, 5-1) remained on top by a half-game and knocking host Yale (10-10, 4-2) to fourth place by escaping in the Crimson's showdown with the Bulldogs with a slim 58-57 victory at the John J. Lee Ampitheatre in New Haven, Conn.

Yale had an eight-point lead at the half and when Harvard turned the ball over in the final seconds, the Bulldogs still had a shot per se but could not get a good one off against the Crimson defense.

When Harvard beat Brown, Friday night, incidentally, the triumph became the 600th in the Crimson's history.

Princeton, meanwhile, had an easy time at Cornell with a 71-56 win at Newman Arena to keep up with Penn a half-game off the pace in a second-place tie.

Blake Dietrick scored 19 points for the Tigers (13-6, 4-1), who along with Penn, Rutgers and La Salle, made Saturday night a 4-0 sweep for those that played from the 10-team PhilahoopsW group that comprise the Guru's local coverage in Division I.

Rutgers pulled off one of the all-time rallies in the program's history coming back from a nine-point deficit with 3 minutes left to play to catch SMU at the buzzer 65-64 on Rachel Hollivay's putback in an American Athletic Conference game played ay Moody Coliseum in Dallas, Texas.

La Salle on a late start as the back end of a doubleheader with the men held off Rhode Island 50-42 in an Atlantic 10 game played at home in Tom Gola Arena back in Philadelphia.

Back here, there is some deceiving at the final result, though Penn came close to losing the advantage down the stretch.

Columbia's last basket came at the end of regulation and while Penn's 24 free throws made was a major factor in the win, the Quakers also missed 14 others of the 38 attempted.

Kara Bonenberger added 16 points to the Quaker total to go with nine rebounds while rookie Sydney Stipanovich had four more blocks.

Baron, with 1,653 career points, continues to climb the record books, moving into 16th place in Ivy career scoring history and just three points away at Penn into catching Big Five Hall of Famer Kirsten Brendel Dineen at third place.

Big Five Hall of Famer Jewel Clark is second at 1,743 while Diana Caramanico, another Big Five Hall of Famer, is not catchable as the all-time scoring and rebounding leader for the Quakers.

Meanwhile, on Columbia's side here, Courtney Bradford had 24 points for the Lions (4-16, 1-5), whose record is deceiving considering they also challenged Princeton here on Friday night.

Columbia is under new coach Stephanie Glance and her former boss the late Hall of Famer Kay Yow would be proud of the work she is doing here.

Glance was Yow's assistant for a long stint at North Carolina State and held the program together during the final stages of Yow's courageous but lost battle against breast cancer.

Saturday's game here was Columbia's Play4Kay night as part of the nationwide initiative to fight the disease and Columbia players, like those holding similar nights elsewhere, wore pink uniforms.

The crowd was quite lively providing some nice ambience to the event.

Penn's Pink Zone night will be Saturday at The Palestrs when the Quakers host Brown after hosting Yale Friday night. Princeton also hosts the New England visitors in reverse order while Harvard will be hosting Columbia and Cornell.

In Princeton's win, behind Dietrick, Michelle Miller had her first double double with 11 points and 11 rebounds while sophomore Taylor Williams scored 12 against the Big Red.

Barring upsets, the current standings alignment at the top is likely to hold after next weekend's games which completes the first half of the home-and-home chase for first and automatic bid in the NCAA tournament.

The Ivies are the only one of the now-32 conferences that don't have a league tournament. The conference total increased over the summer as a result of the schism that created The American and what is now a reconfigured Big East.

Rutgers Escapes Again

Too bad the Los Angeles major league baseball team, courtesy of the previous Brooklyn locale not far from here, already owns the nickname because Rutgers did a great job of dodging losses at the finish this week.

After holding off Cincinnati 58-53 on Tuesday night, the Scarlet Knights (18-5,9-3 American) nearly stumbled Saturday afternoon on the first of a Texas two-step road trip that started at SMU and then moves on to lowly Houston Tuesday night.

After trailing by nine with 3:25 left in regulation, the Scarlet Knights were still down eight points at 59-51 with 1.50 left.

Kahleah Copper, who had a team high 20 points, got Rutgers a little closer before fouling out and in the last minute a pair of treys from Betnijah Laney and Briyonna Canty put the Scarlet Knights up 63-62 before Keena Mays hit two foul shots for the Mustangs (14-9, 5-7) to go ahead by a point with five seconds left.

Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer substituted Hollivay, who had 14 points and 10 rebounds, back in for the final play.

Rookie sensation Tyler Scaife, who finished with 10 points for Rutgers, missed a layup but Hollivay got the ball and put it in for the final score, which stood after officials did a video review to see if the shot was launched in time.

Laney had eight poinrs and nine rebounds and if SMU wants to point some fingers for the loss, then head to the nearest mirror because SMU was 12-for-21 from the free throw line.

All of this worked out well for Temple (11-11, 5-6 American), which finds itself in fifth place ahead of SMU and Memphis (11-12, 4-7), which visits the Owls Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. in the Liacouras Center -- not McGonigle Hall -- with the game to be televised on ESPNU.

At the top of the league the battle of the last two conference unbeatens will finally occur when nationally-ranked No. 4 Louisville (23-1, 11-0) travels to Top-ranked and defending NCAA champion Connecticut at Gampel Pavilion Sunday on campus in Storrs, Conn.

It's the first meeting of the two since UConn beat the Cardinals for the NCAA title in April. The two schools expect to continue their relationship next season when Louisville will have left for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Temple next travels to Louisville.

La Salle Stops Rhode Island

An unsually late start because of the men in the front end of a doubleheader was no problem for La Salle (12-11, 7-4 Atlantic 10), which got 18 points from Micahya Owens, who hit three 3-pointers in the Atlantic 10 contest.

Alicia Cropper had 13 points and 10 rebounds as the Explorers moved into a tie with George Washington (16-8, 7-4) for fifth after the Colonials lost to Fordham 67-58 to enable the Rams (19-5, 8-3) to tie for third with Duquesne (16-8, 8-3).

Dayton (15-8, 8-1), the preseason favorite and defending regular aeason champion, took over first off its 87-77 win over Duquesne.

Saint Bonaventure (19-6, 8-2), which beat Massachusetts 88-66, moved into second place a half-game behind the Flyers and a half-game ahead of Fordham and Duquesne.

Saint Joseph's (17-6, 6-4), the defending Atlantic 10 tournament champion which was idle this weekend, next hosts LaSalle Wednesday, which is also the Explorers' next game.

The Hawks are a half-game behind La Salle and George Washington.

Small Colleges

Philadelphia University continues to roll as the Rams (15-5, 13-0 CACC)now have a school record 13 straight wins in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference following Saturday's 81-78 win over Post.

Monica Schacker had 19 point for the Rams while Bria Young had a career-high 18 points.

Coach Tom Shirley's D-2 team next heads for Chestnut Hill College Tuesday night.

Haverford, meanwhile, fell at home to McDaniel in overtime in a D-3 Centennial Conference.

That's the report. The Guru will be tweeting from Temple with another roundup to come.


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