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.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Guru Report: La Salle Rallies and Saint Joseph's Falls Short While Villanova Keeps Streaking

By Mel Greenberg

On the way to becoming George Mason's first victim in the Patriot's new conference, La Salle rallied down the stretch in the Explorers' Tom Gola Arena Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak with a 66-60 triumph the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Meanwhile, Saint Joseph's had a rally die at St. Bonaventure and the Hawks' 73-67 loss dropped the defending conference tournament champions into a sixth-place tie with La Salle.

One other of the 10-team PhilahoopsW group that comprises the Guru's local Division I coverage played and Villanova grabbed a 72-66 win at Providence.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic 10 there were two major results with George Washington upsetting front-running Duquesne 80-68 on the road in Pittsburgh while defending regular season champion Dayton turned aside a challenge from Virginia Commonwealth to win 73-69 at home in Ohio.

The two results puts Duquesne (16-7, 8-2 Atlantic 10) and Dayton (14-5, 7-1) in a virtual tie for first with Saint Bonaventure (18-7, 7-2) just a small step back in third after making the Hawks (17-6, 6-4) the Bonnie's sixth straight victim.

George Washington (16-7, 7-3) is tied for fourth with Fordham (18-5, 7-3), which won in St. Louis 56-45 to stop a two-game win streak by the Billikens (8-14, 3-6), which came last week at the expense of Saint Joseph's at home and La Salle in the Midwest.

This year for the first time in a very long while all Atlantic 10 teams will play in the conference tournament being held next month in Richmond, Va., at The Coliseum, but there will ve a play-in game.

At the moment, George Mason (6-17, 0-10), which is a new arrival from the Colonial Athletic Aaaociation, and Massachusetts (3-20, 0-9), which lost 73-64 in a morning game at Rhode Island (7-16, 2-8) are heading in that direction.

As for the result here, La Salle finally gained a fragile handle on the game in the closing minutes.

The Explorers got offensive thrust from Micahya Owens, the freshman from Willingboro High in South Jersey, who had a game-high 20 points while center Leeza Burdgess, a transfer from Pittsburgh who did not play last year because of an injury, scored 19 points as did Alicia Cropper, a red-shirt junior transfer from Providence.

Jasmine Alston, a freshman from New York, grabbed 10 rebounds for La Salle as did Siobhan Beslow, a red-shirt sophomore.

Janaa Pickard, a graduate of Central who had homecoming visits when the Patriots played Drexel in the CAA, had a team-high 15 points while Taylor Brown had 14 points and Sandra Ngoie scored 10.

La Salle coach Jeff Williams could breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the win keeps hopes alive for a high finish in the conference standings next month.

A big key was shooting 52 percent in the second half while George Wason shot just 27.6 perent after a hot opening half in which the Patriots shot 51.9 percent from the field.

"We hadn't been playing well," Williams said. "But it's good to get a win. We played a little better in the second half. We dropped two we think we shouldn't have. We came out and didn't play a great first half.

"I challenged Burdgess at halftime and she stepped it up big in the second half and I think that was the difference," Williams explained.

"Alicia Cropper has been playing pretty well as of late and we've been trying to get her a little help. Micahya Owens has been streaky but she stepped up this game and made big plays in the second half. We were going to her and she made big plays.

"We were pretty fortunate to have three kids score, normally we only have one and that's been our problem. Defensively, we've been solid most of the year."

As for the race, Williams said, "We have to focus on that we're still in the mix with a lot of basketball to be played. We'll take one game at a time.

"Rhode Island Saturday night (8:30 p.m. after the men's game) is big for us. It's gridlock so we can position ourselves in this conference and try to finish in the top three or four. It's in our hands."

La Salle, which beat George Mason 65-50 last month in Fairfax, Va., heads to its second game with Saint Joseph's next Wednesday.

In the Hawks' game at St. Bonaventure, they trailed 55-42 with eight minutes left to play when they launched a 14-3 run to get within a basket at 58-56 on Ciara Andrews' layup with 4:9 left on the clock.

Saint Joseph's had a chance to tie on its next possession but couldn't score and then the Bonnies scored five straight and were able to wrap up the win at the foul line.

Natasha Cloud had 22 points for Saint Joseph's for a career-high that went to waste. Sarah Fairbanks also scored in double figures for the Hawks with 16 points.

Chelsea Bowker had 20 points for the Bonnies, while three other players reached double digits for the home team: Nyla Reuter had 15 points, Hannah Little scored 13 while grabbing 18 rebounds, and Katie Healy scored 11 points.

The Hawks are now off until Wednesday's visit to Hagan Arena from La Salle.

Villanova On a New Streak

The Wildcats couldn't make any headway in the Big East with all three teams above them in the standings gaining wins, but nevertheless Villanova (17-5, 7-4 Big East) won its fourth straight in beating the Friars (6-16, 1-10) to at least stay in the discussion for an NCAA at-large bid if coach Harry Perretta's group is unable to pull off the tournament title in the reconfigured conference next month in suburban Chicago.

Lauren Burford had 19 points for the Wildcats, courtesy of a hot 6-for-10 from the field, of which five of the shots made were also three-pointers.

Emily Leer had 13 points and Taylor Holeman had 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Devon Kane scored 12 points and dealt six assiste.

The Wildcats, who are now 9-2 on the road, next head to a Sunday date at Seton Hall looking for a split after completing a sweep at Providence.

Looking Ahead and Behind

On Thursday night, No. 9 Penn State will host Iowa at 6 p.m. looking to increase the Lady Lions' lead in the Big 10 race to 1.5 games over idle Michigan State, which re-entered the Associated Press women's poll this week.

Drexel and Delaware are idle in CAA action but will play on the road Friday night when Drexel visits CAA newcomer Charleston while Delaware viaits N.C. Wilmington.

The Guru at this hour, if he gets to sleep and up fast enougn, is planning to head down to Maryland where the Terps will host Pittsburgh.

Because the Guru had to scurry down from Rutgers Tuesday night to avoid any problems from the latest weather system he did not file the two locals on the schedule who were in American Athletic Conference competition.

The Scarlet Knights (17-5, 8-3 AAC) dodged an upset for the second straight season from the Bearcats (9-13, 2-9) who made a crucial turnover in the final minute as Rutgers emerged with a 58-53 win at home in the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center.

Rookie Tyler Scaife had a game-high 18 points while Kahleah Copper, coming off the bench for the first time this season, had 14 points, and Betnijah Laney scored 0 points.

Cincinnati's Jasmine Whitfield had a team-high 16 points.

Rutgers next heads to SMU on Saturday.

Temple, which has one of the toughest schedules in the nation, got a break and a split from its Texas road trip by winning at

last-place Houaton 79-46 ub the 10-team conference to get back to .500 at 11-11, snapping a four-game losing streak.

The Owls are actually in decent shape in that they moved into tie with SMU for fifth at 5-6 ahead of Memphis (11-17, 4-7) as of Wednesday night when the Tigers lost to South Florida.

Temple next hosts Memphis Sunday while SMU will be hosting Rutgers on Saturday.

In Temple's win, Erica Covile had a career-high 18 points while Shi-Heria Shipp had 15 points and 12 rebounds, Tyonna Williams scored 14 points, Rateska Brown had 11, and Feyonda Fitzgerald scored 10 against the Cougars (4-18, 0-11, the former Conference USA member still looking for its first American win.

Small Colleges: Philadelphia University and Haverford Still on Top

Nahjah Roberts, a Central graduate, had a career-high 29 points to spur Philadelphia University to a school-record 12th-straight win the Division II Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC), where they are unbeaten after a 82-73 win over Wilmington at home in the Gallagher Center.

Roberts was 18-for-19 at the line for the Rams (14-5, 12-0 CACC) as they nailed down a playoff spot in the conference.

Wilmington fell to 6-15, 3-11).

The University of the Sciences home game in the CACC with Chestnut Hill College was postponed because of the weather and the game along with the men's teams from the two schools will be part of a doubleheader Thursday night at the Bobby Morgan arena.

Meanwhile over at Division III Haverford College, senior Nina Voith ia now the Ford's all-time scorer after collecting 10 points in a 49-44 win at home over Muhlenberg to stay atop the Centennial Conference standings at 17-2 overall and 11-2 in the conference.

Voith needed three points to eclipse the 1,291 points that were the previous record set by Katie Crowley in 2006.

Voit now has 1,299 points and her father Dick Voith holds the men's record which was set his senior yeaer in 1977 and he is still the only men's player to break 2,000 points.

Elizabeth Lynch led Haverford scoring 19 points while Rachel Baskin had 10 rebounds, the final of which enabled the Ford to lock up the win.

Leanna Tallamy, the Centennial player of the week, had 15 points and 15 rebounds for the Mules (12-8, 9-5), who were held more than 20 pointa below their 65.2 scoring average.

Haverford will stay at home for three more games, beginning Saturday when MxDaniel College visits Gooding Arena.

And that's the report.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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