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.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Guru Report: Baron Helps Penn Nail Another Ivy Frontrunner

Guru's note: Team reports were used to compile this blog

By Mel Greenberg

The Penn Baron lit up Newman Arena at Cornell Friday night in Ithaca, N.Y., and when she was done the Quakers had disposed of another team in front of them holding early first place status in the top-heavy Ivy League women's basketball race.

The trademark defense of this particular season didn't show up until the second half but senior Alyssa Baron's 28-point peformance along with nine rebounds on the front end of a two-night trip to the Empire State resulted in a 67-57 win and a leapfrog upwards one spot.

Thirteen of Baron's points were part of a 17-0 run the second half as Penn grabbed control of the outcome.

Meanwhile, four-time defending Ivy champion Princeton kept pace with Penn by beating Columbia 70-41 in New York City and the two southernmost teams in the league moved into third place a half-game behind Harvard and Yale, who each won to set up a first-place showdown Saturday night at Yale in New Haven, Conn.

Harvard (14-5, 4-1) beat Brown 91-71 in Providence, R.I., while Yale (10-9, 4-1) handled Dartmouth 86-52 on the first of a two-night homestand for the Bulldogs.

On the overnight Penn (13-5, 3- 1 Ivy) and Princeton (12-6, 3-1), who are each a half-game up on Cornell (11-8, 3-2), passed each other traveling like buses moving in opposite directions in the darkness of the New York Thruway as they exchanged visiting sites for Saturday to complete the weekend road trip.

If either or both road warriors get wins Saturday they will move up to second place as a consequence of the result of the Yale-Harvard showdown.

Yale, by the way, visits Penn next Friday night and then moves to Princeton Saturday.

Besides the two PhilhoopsW Ivy teams in the Guru's local Division I coverage group that saw action Friday night, the two who are in the Colonial Athletic Association were on the road and came away with mixed results.

Delaware used a strong second half to beat UNCW 70-50 in Wilmington, N.C., while Drexel started with terrible shooting woes and could not rally enough down the stretch resulting in a 71-65 loss on their first visit to the College of Charleston, a new member of the conference, in South Carolina.

In the Penn game another win produced another record as this edition in year five of the Mike McLaughlin coaching era became the first-ever Quakers women's basketball team to have separate five-game win streaks in the same season.

Rookie sensation Sydney Stipanovich had 14 points and only blocked four shots this time but that was enough to move into second place on the all-time Penn career list at 65 -- and remember she has three more years plus a lot of games still to play between now and April.

The Quakers overcame Cornell's 42-31 rebounding advantage by forcing 21 turnovers to just 11 miscues of their own.

Incidentally, since the game at Columbia is easily accessible by train and subway to the upper West Side off Broadway, the Penn traveling party requests that fans of the Quakers wear pink Saturday night to Levien Gymnasium because it is Columbia's Play4Kay game.

The event has special meaning for new Lions coach Stephanie Glance because she was a longtime assistant at North Carolina State to the late Hall of Famer Kay Yow, who lost a long battle to breast cancer and for whom the initiative was originally launched by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association.

While Penn was taking care of business upstate Friday night, Princeton stayed on the road to recovery from the Tigers' upset loss at home to Harvard a week ago before Penn then wiped out the Crimson in The Palestra the next night.

Sophomore Alex Wheatley, a graduate of Council Rock South in Lower Bucks County, shot 8-for-10 from the field and finished with a career-high 18 points against Columbia (4-15, 1-4) while Blake Dietrick scored 15 points and Michelle Miller scored 14.

Miwa Tachibana scored 12 points for the Lions to be the only Lions player to hit double figures.

Delaware Erupts Again While Drexel Self-Destructs

The Blue Hens may not be the super nationally-ranked power that got to the Sweet 16 last season for the first time ever but they are still their traditional selves over all their years in finding ways to fight to the end.

Coach Tina Martin's squad once again came through with a powerful second half, outscoring UNCW by 21 to move into second place behind James Madison, which is doing a nice imitation in the CAA of Delaware the past two seasons.

The Duchesses, in the only other CAA game overall Friday night, romped over Northeastern 85-57 to improve to 18-4 overall and stay unbeaten in the conference at 8-0, which is three games up in the loss column on Delaware.

JMU's Kirby Burkholder, the preseason player of the year, had 30 points while Precious Hall had a career-high 26 points.

In the Delaware game, two career highs were reached by sophomores Courtni Green (18 points) and Joy Caracciolo (17 points) for the Blue Hens (14-6, 6-3), who moved into second place a half-game ahead of Drexel (10-11, 5-3).

"The coaches encouraged me that if my shot isn't falling, that I need to go to the basket more," Green said.

Kelsey Buchanan, who had been blasting the scoreboard, was a little less noisy this week but still reached double figures with 11 points while Erika Brown scored 10.

Canadian freshman Hannah Jardine had a career-high 10 rebounds for Delaware which was also a game-high.

"In the first half, we got caught up a little bit with our offense and missed some easy baskets," Martin said. "The youngsters really held their heads and I had to calm them down and reassure them that their shots would eventually fall.

"This team really goes as the offense goes and we play better defense when we make shots, which we did in the second half. Overall, we were more patient in the second half and the offense flowed."

UNCW (3-20, 2-7) got a team-high 16 points from Brie Mobley.

The Blue Hens are off until Charleston makes its first visit to the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark on Thursday.

Drexel, meanwhile, opened up against Charleston shooting virtually nothing but blanks for a 2-20 start from the field and trailed 33-18 at the half.

The Dragons did some narrowing the rest of the way but Charleston (12-10, 5-4) had enough of a lead to move closer to Drexel in the standings.

Drexel's Rachel Pearson was two short of her career high in scoring 21 points while Meghan Creighton scored 11 points and Fiona Flanagan scored 10 points.

The only salvation out of two straight disappointing losses -- Drexel lost Sunday at home to Hofstra at the finish -- is that coach Denise Dillon's squad still has control of its fate to finish second or at least the top four to get a bye, though second or third avoids JMU until the title game at the tournament, which again will be held next month at the Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., near Washington.

The Dragons will stay on the road this weekend and travel to UNCW on Sunday.

Looking Ahead

Besides the Ivy games mentioned for Saturday, two other PhilahoopsW teams will see action with Rutgers in third place traveling to SMU in Dallas in an American Conference game.

La Salle, with a shot to finish the highest in a long time in the Atlantic 10, will host Rhode Island at 8:30 p.m. as the second part of a doubleheader at home with the Explorers men's team in Tom Gola Arena.

On Sunday, Villanova will try to get revenge and take a shot at moving up the Big East standings when the fourth-place Wildcats visit Seton Hall at Walsh Gym in South Orange, N.J.

Second-place DePaul and third-place Creighton, new member with no Big East past, will meet on Sunday.

Temple will host Memphis in the Liacouras Center at 1:30 p.m. as the Owls try to take fifth place in The American Conference in a game that will be nationally televised on ESPNU.

Penn State will try to shake off its upset loss at home to unranked Iowa Thursday night when the Lady Lions travel to Ohio State seeking to stay atop the Big Ten chase of which they are the defending regular season champions.

Nationally, but with local interest also, No. 1 Connecticut hosts No. 4 Louisville in a game between the only two unbeatens in American Conference play.

UConn is unbeaten overall and the meeting with the Cardinals is the first since beating them for the NCAA title in April. The Huskies will still have to visit Kentucky to complete the home-and-home series but this is the last appearance conference-wise by Louisville on Connecticut's home turf.

Coach Jeff Walz's squad heads to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season replacing Maryland, which is headed to the Big Ten.

Both UConn coach Geno Auriemma and Walz said they will likely continue to play each other in a nonconference setting.

While we're taking national stuff, No. 3 Stanford held off host Washington State in the Pac-12 Friday in a game on the road in Pullman in which Stanford senior Chiney Ogwumike, the sister of former Cardinal star Nneka now with the WNBA Los Angeles Sparks, tied a career-high with 36 points, connecting with 15 field goals and grabbing 17 rebounds in the 77-69 victory.

The younger Ogwumike, like her sister was, has a chance to be the overall No. 1 in the WNBA player draft in April.

Chindey is also in the national player of the year hunt, which has no consensus top candidate for the first time in a long while.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, though the Guru is headed to New York for the Penn-Culumbia game, he'll be tracking whether Philadelphia U. sets a school conference win-streak record as the unbeaten Rams hold first place in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference.

Likewise, Haverford is looking to stay in firt place in the Division III Centennial Conference in what has been a signature season for the Fords.

And that is the report.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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