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 15, 2014

Guru Report: Penn Paces Four-Team PhilahoopsW Valentine's Sweep

(Guru note: Information for this blog on games beyond Penn was compiled from team reports.)

By Mel Greenberg

There was much love from the four PhilahoopsW teams in the Guru’s local Division I coverage group that played Valentine’s day and night games Friday and each came away with notable victories.

Penn fended off Yale 62-50 here at The Palestra while Princeton within an hour away to the north easily handled Brown 81-70 at home in Jadwin Gym to stay a half-game in second behind Harvard which had little trouble at home with Columbia up in Cambridge, Mass., as the rugged Ivy race for an NCAA tournament automatic bid moved to within one day of the halfway point.

Meanwhile, to the South, a one-day delay by the Eastern snowstorm was not a problem for Drexel, which won 60-43 at Towson at the Tigers’ new SECU Arena in suburban Baltimore, while Delaware stayed home and got some revenge on College of Charleston with an easy 85-71 victory in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark to stay locked in a second-place tie in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Career-marks and records abounded all over the place.

Here in West Philadelphia, Penn (15-5, 5-1 Ivy League) had to keep fighting off surges by the Bulldogs (10-11, 4-3) before clinching the Quakers’ first back-to-back overall winning seasons since 2003-05 and also snapping a four-game home losing streak to Yale. Overall, they have won seven straight.

“We’ll count them all up when we’re done,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said. “Right now nothing changes. Tomorrow we’ll go over the plans for Brown in the morning and after tomorrow night’s game (7 p.m.) we’ll start looking at the next one.

Senior Alyssa Baron had to cope with foul trouble but when the outcome was settled she had 14 points to become Penn’s all-time third leading scorer while freshman Sydney Stipanovich set the school’s single season blocks record after getting eight of them. Once again she neared a triple double with 15 points and nine rebounds to go with the rejections.

“It’s great,” Stipanovich said of the record. “But I don’t try to focus on that. I just try to affect the shots in the paint and I’m more excited about the win.”

Her 77 blocks to date puts to bed a 20-year possession of the previous record of 72 set in 1993-94 by Katarina Paoulsen. Before Stipanovich’s arrival from St. Louis, the best block total in a game on Penn was seven and the freshman has now had eight on three different occasions.

Junior Kara Bonenberger shook off last weekend’s struggles to get a game-high 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds though the equivalent of the bullpen stopper of the night was Renee Busch who came off the bench to knock down a pair of treys for her six points at a time things were getting dicey.

“My shots were going in, mentally I was there,” Bonenberger said. “I didn’t overthink everything. That’s what happened last week. “

Sarah Halejian was the only Yale player in double figures with 11 points and though the Bulldogs kept possessions alive with 25 offensive rebounds, Penn was able to somewhat limit the damage from extended possessions.

“I think we did a good job of contesting all their shots,” McLaughlin said.” We did a good job of guarding the perimeter. I thought Renee’s threes opened the game up. I thought Kara and Stephanie inside out defensively and offensively was the difference.”

Yale coach Chris Gobrecht observed, “I don’t know if they have more weapons than us but they play very hard and when you face a team like that you have to put the big girl pants on, as I like to see, which we didn’t, but Penn had something to do with that.”

The Bulldogs go off to Princeton Saturday while the game here with Brown at 7 p.m. in the Quakers’ annual Pink Zone game to bring attention to breast cancer awareness. Fans will get free pink T-shirts, pom-poms, and mustaches besides strawberry milk courtesy of the Mid-Atlantic Dairy Association.

Dietrick Spurs Princeton Win

Blake Dietrick’s career-night of 27 points kept the Tigers (14-6, 5-1 Ivy) involved in the logjam at the top of the league race of which they are four-time defending champions and were the preseason favorite to win again.

Alex Wheatley scored 16 points against the Bears (8-13, 2-5) while Kristen Helmstetter had 13 points but Dietrick was unstoppable in shooting 10-for-12 from the field, 4-for-4 on three-point attempts, and 3-for-3 from the line.

It was Princeton’s 14 straight over Brown.

Meanwhile Harvard continued to take advantage of its extra game ahead of Penn and Princeton to stay on top with a 99-64 win over Columbia at home in Lavietes Pavilion that was the best scoring production for the Crimson (16-5, 6-1) since 1997 as Christine Clark scored 21 points and AnnMarie Healy had 17 points and10 rebounds.

Harvard, already at the halfway total, will host Cornell Saturday night.

Drexel Drops Towson

The Dragons’ contribution to career night came in the daytime Friday with senior Abby Redick, whose brother JJ is a former Duke star now in the NBA. She scored 19 points for Drexel (12-11, 7-3 CAA), which has a two-game lead in second along with Delaware but three games behind James Madison, which is a perfect 10-0 in conference play.

Fiona Flanagan had 13 points, five rebounds and six assists against Towson (11-13, 5-6), while Rachel Pearson had 14 points.

The Dragons’ 9-0 run at the finish got them safely to the victory column though early they squandered all but a point of a 10-point lead before righting the ship down the stretch.

Drexel will host JMU Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on the Comcast Network so the tie with Delaware is in jeopardy though the two go head-to-head Tuesday night in town here up the street at the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center. A win means a sweep of the Blue Hens and tiebreaker potentially for the second seed in next month’s tournament though the two could end up meeting in the semifinals either way.

Delaware Handles Charleston

Kelsey Buchanan had a career-high 33 points that matched Penn State’s Maggie Lucas of Narberth for the best performance this season by a player at one of the Guru’s PhilahoopsW schools as Delaware (15-6, 7-3 CAA) kept pace with Drexel for second place in the CAA with an easy win over Charleston (12-12, 5-6 CAA).

“I really wanted to eclipse 30 points and it really helped boost team morale because everyone was rooting for me to keep scoring,” Buchanan said afterwards. “This was a great team win because since we lost to them last month, we knew we were capable of beating them and we wanted this one badly.”

This game in the afternoon at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark produced a much different flow against the conference newcomer than the previous meeting in South Carolina when the Blue Hens came back from a deep halftime deficit only to lose just before regulation time expired.

Buchanan also had 12 rebounds as did Canadian freshman Hannah Jardine, which was her career high.

Joy Caracciolo, a redshirt sophomore, had 14 points for the home team and sophomore Courtni Green scored 13.

Alyssa Frye had 23 points for theCougars.

“This is a big win for us,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said, “because we’re such a young group and so many things have been thrown our way this year. For our young kids to be focused and ready to go today after a snow day, I thought said a lot about their mental preparation for this game. They’re a fun group to coach right now; we just have to keep it going.”

Delaware hosts Towson on Sunday at 2 p.m. before heading to Tuesday’s meeting with Drexel.

Looking Ahead

It’s a busy Saturday with seven PhilahoopsW teams out of the 10 in action. The Ivy duo have already been addressed in terms of the Penn and Princeton home games

Villanova, with a narrow lead in third place, goes to No. 1 St. John’s in the Big East for a noon game that will be televised on CBSSN. The Wildcats, on a six-game win streak, need an upset to avoid being ascribed bubble status in terms of at-large teams to the NCAA field and also to show what kind of threat they might be in the conference tournament in suburban Chicago next month.

Saint Joseph’s will be at new member George Mason while La Salle travels to Fordham in the Atlantic 10 and both Philly teams need wins to have a shot at as top four spot and a pair of byes for next month’s tournament in Richmond.

Meanwhile, the American Athletic Conference duo will be at home with Temple, in its annual Pink Zone game, playing Cincinnati at 1 p.m. in the Liacouras Center, not McGonigle Hall, against Cincinnati.

The Owls will be trying to hold on to fifth place.

Rutgers, in strong position in third, will be hosting UCF at 2 p.m.

And that’s the report for now as the Guru gets a few hours sleep before a long day tweeting from Temple and Penn.

- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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