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 23, 2014

Guru Report: Princeton Edges Harvard While Penn Shocked at Dartmouth

(Guru note: Information beyond the Harvard-Princeton game was compiled from team websites and reports. )

By Mel Greenberg

A new pecking order in the red hot Ivy League women's basketball race has taken hold but there's nothing new about the frontrunner following the two days of super clashes here in New England.

Princeton drove from a 61-61 tie here with 3 minutes, 5 seconds left in regulation to down Harvard 69-64 Saturday night in the Crimson's Lavietes Pavilion to avenge last month's loss at Jadwin that had the Tigers trying to get back on top for the past three weeks.

But thanks to Princeton coach Courtney Banghart's alma mater, Dartmouth, the Tigers (17-6, 8-1 Ivy) are all alone in a place they have finished with the Ivy League crown for the past four straight seasons.

After Penn upset Harvard here Friday night to take a piece of first place with Princeton by knocking Harvard off the perch, the Quakers were unable to follow up, losing to the lowly Big Green 53-50 when a thrilling comeback fell short at Leede Arena in Hanover, N.H.

It was the first league victory for Dartmouth (4-20, 1-9) while Penn parted with a nine-game win streak, second longest in program history.

Though the Dartmouth win short-circuited Penn's joy from Friday, Harvard (17-7, 7-3)came out in the worst shape of the trio suffering a two-game losing streak here after entering the weekend one triumph short of matching the 22-game record home win streak set in the late 1990s when future WNBA star Allison Feaster was torching opponents.

Longtime coach Kathy Delaney-Smith is still two wins short to match former Princeton coach Pete Carril for most overall wins (514) by a men's or women's coach in the Ivies.

On paper Penn (17-6, 7-2) still has a shot to get to a title by winning out and then beating Princeton at Jadwin the last game of the season to either claim a title outright or force a playoff if the Tigers maintain their pace being one year removed from the Niveen Rasheed era.

And the Quakers still have some margin of error to at least finish second and get an automatic bid as the Ivy runnerup to the WNIT won by Drexel last season.

By sweeping Harvard, Penn has the tie-break if both the Crimson and Quakers finish in the runnersup spot.

The game here was close throughout the night and when Harvard opened with a 7-2 spurt it seemed possible that for the first time in five seasons Princeton would not be ahead of the pack this late in the race.

Senior Kristen Helmstetter led the way with 17 points and six rebounds while Annie Tarakchian came off the bench to score a career-high 15 points,Taylor Williams scored 11 and Michelle Miller had 10 points and was 6-for-6 from the line.

Christine Clark scored a game-high 23 for Harvard while English Olympian Temi Fagbeni, who ultimately fouled out, had 10 points as did Melissa Mullins.

Other than the bench, which Princeton had a 22-14 advantage off Tarakchian's points, Harvard was the better in all the other category comparisons.

"This was a young team that tried to get the better of a really experienced Harvard team and the young guys -- they outlasted them and made really important plays," Banghart said.

"Who would have thought our star (Blake Dietrick) would go 1-for-13 (and 0-for-7 on three-point attempts) and we'd still win," Banghart continued.

"Christine Clark is one of the most relentless guards in our league and we thought we did a good job forcing tough shots and it was a battle from the start," Banghart said. "This young team is growing up and it's a tough place to win and I'm really happy we did."

Penn and Princeton this weekend return to lower New England, playing at Brown in Providence, R.I., and Yale in New Haven, Conn., the latter of which is no piece of cake.

"That's what we want in the league -- we want to be challenged and we are," Banghart said. "It's a good league this year."

She also alluded to the variety each of the Ancient Eight offer.

"Every weekend is different so our game plans are different," Banghart said. "I'm sure people think we change plans every week in terms of playing offensively, but teams' defenses are different."

Meanwhile earlier in the afternoon Penn put out a tweet quoting coach Mike McLaughlin saying "we came up here to play 80 minutes, not 40," looking ahead to Saturday night's trip to Dartmouth.

Unfortunately, after 40 great ones here Friday night, the next 20 for the Quakers were horrendous as they trailed at the half 26-17, shooting 5-for-23 from the field and 2-for-12 on three-point attempts.

The Quakers had yet to make a field goal after seven minutes elapsed before Meghan McCullough naied a three-pointer.

Penn came to life the rest of the way and led twice by a point in the last minute

Alyssa Baron had 12 points for the Quakers, while rookie Sydney Stipanovich had 11 points, 11 rebounds and blocked five shoots.

But she was in foul trouble as was Kara Bonenberger, who fouled out after scoring five points and grabbing five rebounds.

Lakin Roland and Fanni Szabo each scored 12 points for Dartmouth, whose new coach Belle Koclanes is a former Penn assistant.

Dartmouth outscored Penn, 30-10, inside the paint.

In the last minute, after Stipanovich missed the second foul shot, Katy Allen grabbed a loosely bounced rebound and scored for a 50-49 lead with 32 seconds left in regulation.

Dartmouth got the lead back with 21.7 left on a driving layup and then Penn committed a turnover enabling the Big Green to go up three after they scored.

With 3.2 seconds left, the ball was inbounded to midcourt, then Baron went to the top of the key and let loose an attempted trey to tie but the shot was wide right and Penn's two-year win streak at Dartmouth was over.

Temple Upset Bid Over South Florida Falls Short

A 23-point performance by rookie Feyonda Fitzgerald and a 19-point one from Tyonna Williams were wasted as the Owls lost to South Florida 72-69 in American Athletic Conference action in Temple's Liacouras Center.

"There are no moral victories," said Owls coach Tonya Cardoza, whose group next visits on Wednesday against No. 25-ranked Rutgers, which is in a key matchup at No. 5-ranked Louisville Sunday (ESPNU). "We came in and expected to win and we're disappointed in ourselves."

Natasha Thames hasd 10 points and Shi-Heria Shipp grabbed 10 rebounds for the Owls (12-14, 6-9 American Athletic Conference), who still could finish sixth and get a bye in next month's tournament at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., near New London.

Courtney Williams had 35 points for South Florida (15-11, 10-5), falling two points short of the Liacouras arena scoring record by an opponent of the Temple women.

"I felt we gave her easy looks," Cardoza said. "She shot the ball well. We could have defended her better. We lost the game on the defensive end."

Looking Ahead

The Guru will be tweeting from Villanova, whose 1 p.m. start (FoxSports1-TV) at the Pavilion, Sunday, features visiting Georgetown before DePaul comes Tuesday night as part of the next two Big East games.

In the Colonial Athletic Association, Drexel is at Northeastern (the Guru did not plan to stay in Boston considering the Dragons' situation), while Delaware will be hosting William & Mary attempting to finish ahead of the Dragons in second place.

Saint Joseph's will be looking to stay near the top of the Atlantic 10 race when the Hawks visits frontrunner Dayton (ESPNU-TV) at 1 p.m. looking for a sweep on the regular season.

That's the report until Monday AM.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


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