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.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Guru Report:: Saint Joseph's Shines on Cloud's Game-Winner While Delaware Downs Drexel

By Mel Greenberg

PHILADELPHIA –
Two halves of beat-the-buzzer by Ciara Andrews at the break and Natasha Cloud at the finish carried Saint Joseph’s over Duquesne 61-59 Tuesday night in a later start on Hawk Hill at Hagan Arena for the purposes of a national telecast as part of the Atlantic 10 package.

The win for the moment snapped a fifth-place tie and sent the Hawks (20-6, 9-4 Atlantic 10) into a third-place tie with George Washington (18-8, 9-4) and Fordham (20-6, 9-4) and a half-game behind second place St. Bonaventure (20-7, 9-3).

However, next up is a trip to first-place Dayton Sunday in Ohio. The Flyers (18-5, 11-1) are here at the moment in a Wednesday visit to La Salle (12-13, 7-6) and their previous visit to the city didn’t go so well late last month with Saint Joseph’s gaining a 75-63 upset in what has been Dayton’s only league loss to date.

Duquesne (16-10, 8-5) fell to sole possession of sixth off a four-game losing streak before which the Dukes held a brief lead at the top.

Earlier in the evening just outside center city downtown, Delaware nipped Drexel 55-50 in the closing minutes at the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center to gain a split in the series between the long-time rivals that dates back to the America East and has continued in the Colonial Athletic Association.

The win gives the Blue Hens (17-6, 9-3 CAA) a two-game lead over the Dragons (12-13, 7-5) in second place.

We’ll get to more about the local war in a bit but second things first, which means discussing the Atlantic 10 game.

Early in the contest the Dukes took a five-point lead but after Saint Joseph’s went ahead on Kelsey Berger’s layup with 7 minutes, 23 seconds left in the first half and while the Hawks never trailed again the affair had enough drama to keep the TV audience in check.

Ciara Andrews, a sophomore guard from Cheltenham High who had a game and career-high 21 points, scored on a funky layup just before time expired for a 30-24 lead at the half.

“`Coach’ told me the main focus (from other teams) would be ‘Tosh and Erin (Shields) so that when other teams come to them, she said, `There’s not going to be a third one that can guard you so start being aggressive and I came out aggressive and once you get rolling, you feel good and that’s what happened.” today.”

The advantage got to eight several times during the second stanza but after Saint Joseph’s got to the last of those at 53-45 with 7:15 left in the game, Duquesne stirred to go on a 14-6 run and knot the score 59-59 after Raegan Moore hit a pair of foul shots with 17 seconds left. She previously connected from the charity stripe twice with 59 seconds left to personally erase a four-point Hawks lead in the final minute as Moore finished with a team-high 19 points.

So on a night when Shields, the Atlantic 10 player of the week, and Cloud were held to seven points each, the two still stood tall at the finish as Shields slipped a pass inside to Cloud, who scored the game-winner with 3.19 seconds left in regulation.

“What a great game for national TV with two teams going at it at 9 o’clock on a Tuesday night,” Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said of the hard-fought contest.

“Very happy we came out on top because Duquesne is a very good team,” she continued. “We were in control most of the game but they certainly went on a run at the end of the game and our kids held on and certainly had to make plays at the end.

“This time of year, it’s about making plays and pushing forward and we did that today.”

Ashley Robinson had another big post game scoring 13 points and has been relief in that the Hawks have not had to rely on mega numbers every night from Shields and Cloud, who described the winning play.

“We were in a good position, even though it was tied,” Cloud said. ‘Coach’ made a good timeout call and a good end-of-the-game play call on my strong hand and we just executed down the stretch. That’s what wins us games - how we execute and how we execute our offensive sets.”

Over the next two weeks the top of the league will be banging into each other to set up the final standings and seeds for next month’s tournament in Richmond, Va.

“I think the league set it up that way, not just for us, and as they say, it’s going to be a photo finish.”

After Dayton, Saint Joseph’s goes to lowly Massachusetts but returns here on Senior Day March 2 at 2 p.m. to host Fordham, the team the Hawks also beat in a photo finish a year ago in the title game of the A-10 tournament in Brooklyn, N.Y., at the Barclays Arena to return to the NCAAs for the first time since 2000.

Though Cloud’s overall scoring was limited, the Cardinal O’Hara graduate still dealt nine assists and grabbed seven rebounds.

The Hawks also overcame a 38-25 rebounding disadvantage and 17-11 deficit on second-chance points by doubling Duquesne’s production in the paint, 36-18, which was fueled by a 20-7 score off turnovers – 16 by Duquesne – and 10-0 on fast breaks.

Duquesne got good board work from Wumi Agunbiade’s 18 points and 12 rebounds while Orsi Szecsi grabbed 10 rebounds.

“It’s disappointing because we’ve lost four games in a row, which is really not characteristic of our program,” said new coach Dan Burt, who was promoted last April after former Penn State all-American Suzie McConnell-Serio left the renaissance she created in her native city to move a few miles away to attempt to do the same for Pittsburgh, which left the old Big East for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“It’s tough because we lost some really close games where we played pretty well but in some areas we’re deficient,” Burt said. “Tonight, we challenged the kids to rebound and we did but you can’t make that many turnovers.

“The postseason starts now for us and we don’t have any margin of error and we’re going to have to play well.”

Delaware Thrives Off Drexel Drought at the Finish

At one instance Drexel blasting from beyond the arc for an eventual 11 three-pointers and controlling Kelsey Buchanan, the new go-to star following the graduation of Elena Delle Donne, an all-time collegian, seemed to have the Dragons on the way to a sweep of the season series and a great shot at finishing second in the final standings.

Next month’s tournament again returns to the Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., near Annapolis, College Park, and Washington, D.C.

The No. 2 seed now seems likely to go Delaware’s way, without regard to Thursday’s visit in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark from front-runner James Madison, which is unbeaten in the CAA.

That’s a role Delaware held the last two seasons of perfection in the conference before having to lose not only the future WNBA rookie of the year, but six other talented seniors as well.

On the other side from Tuesday night’s game, one can recall Drexel tossing out narrow losses to the Blue Hens a year ago by storming to take the postseason WNIT.

But one cannot recall so many cold spells in the Dragons’ offense and without pattern when they strike. Sunday’s competitive portion of the game against JMU here was eclipsed by a rough start at the outset.

This time the end game was to Drexel coach Denise Dillon’s dismay and Martin’s delight.

Though Buchanan was somewhat held in check with eight points in part due to foul trouble – she still grabbed seven rebounds, Courtni Green had 18 points for the visitors fueled off four three-pointers on the way to tying a career-high in total points.

Joy Caracciolo, a redshirt sophomore, added 10 points and the Blue Hens destroyed Drexel inside 22-2 besides winning the depth category with a 12-2 advantage off the bench.

“I thought that was a key,” Martin said.

Tory Thierolf had a Drexel and career-high 16 points and was 4-for-5 on attempted treys but 1 for 8 on everything else while Meghan Creighton’s 4-for-9 was the same for overall attempts from the field and three-pointers.

Creighton, a sophomore, now has 103 treys, just the ninth Dragon to surpass 100. Thierolf did hit a pair of treys to keep Drexel afloat at the close before sinking altogether.

The Dragons were a perfect 5-for-5 on the line but were still outmatched by Delaware’s 9-for-16 on what was obviously not a good shooting night for shooting free throws.

In the last 3 minutes, 30 seconds of play Drexel connected on just one field goal as Delaware, which has won six straight games, rallied after being down 10 points in the first half, though the Blue Hens hit the break with a one-point lead.

Drexel’s situation long-range is a bit precarious in that while, among the team’s last four opponents, Northeastern, UNCW and Towson, have all been victims of the Dragons and the loss to Hofstra was at the finish here, nothing is guaranteed.

Finishing fourth means a potential semifinal match with James Madison rather meeting the Duchesses in the final. And finishing below .500 overall will kill postseason eligibility in the WNIT.

Meanwhile, maybe some serious thinking needs to be done by the CAA coaches in making their colleague Martin coach of the year if the job she’s done to date keeps up, considering the youth of the roster.

“I don’t know how we won the game, but we came through in the end”, she said after the victory. “We hung in there when we needed to and our kids didn’t hang their heads when I was yelling at them.

“I’m happy to leave here with a win because Drexel is always a tough team, especially on their home court.”

The Return of Delle Donne

Delaware and local women’s basketball fans in general haven’t seen the last of Delle Donne in uniform at the Bob Carpenter Center.

The WNBA rookie of the year will be back with her Chicago Sky teammates, which finished first in the East on the regular season for their first playoff appearance, on Tuesday, May 13, at 7 p.m. to play the Washington Mystics in a preseason game.

The games was officially announced early Tuesday afternoon by Chicago and Washington with Delaware relaying the Sky announcement to its following.

Given the history of Delle Donne’s career in her native state, the game in the 5,000-seat arena is likely to be a quick sellout.

The Mystics in their announcement of the game stated a fan bus will be available to travel north from the nation’s capital. Washington said tickets from them would go on sale March 3, though the Sky announcement the sale would begin March 13.

Besides online and phone sales, they can also be purchased in person at the Delaware ticket office. The release is up at the Delaware athletics website.

If anybody had any doubt on Delle Donne’s financial magnetism, the Sky announced 11 partners primarily out of the state of Delaware for the game, including DuPont, which has an endorsement deal with the native of Wilmington; the local Courtyard hotel, Grotto Pizza, and Delaware Bay and Authority, to name a few of them.

There might be some enhancements surrounding the game to be determined.

Small Colleges: Philadelphia U Stays Perfect with Escape at USP

Well, maybe the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference might have some suspense after all.

The Rams topped the University of the Sciences of Philadelphia with a narrow 80-77 win in overtime to end the Devils’ five-game win streak in a game played at USP’s Bobby Morgan Arena in Southwest Philadelphia.

The victory keeps the Southern Division leaders perfect in the CACC with an 18-5 overall record and 16-0 in the conference and clinches at least a share of the division crown, owned many years in the past by Holy Family.

The Devils are now 17-7 and 12-5.

Mary Newell had 18 points and 15 rebounds for Phila. U., which also got 15 points from Samantha Morris, 13 points from Najah Jacobs, and 11 points from Monica Schacker.

Brianne Traub had 20 points and eight rebounds for USP, while Kaitlyn Schmid scored 13 points and dealt seven assists. Camille McPherson added 13 points and Megan Wolf scored 12.

The score stayed tied 68-68 in the final 1:10 of regulation to send the game into overtime.

The Rams launched 5-0 run after the Devils took a one-point lead in the extended session to make it 79-75, which was enough to stay perfect in the conference.

Haverford Stays in Hunt The Fords host Ursinus Wednesday night at 6 on the Main Line and Saturday’s win at Gettysburg set records for overall triumphs at 19-3 and in the Centennial Conference at 13-3.

The regular season ends Saturday at Swarthmore.

That’s the report for now and the Guru will be tweeting from La Salle @womhoopsguru Wednesday night, which is the only game out of the 10-team PhilahoopsW crowd on the schedule.

Thursday Delaware hosts James Madison, as mentioned, while No. 9 Penn State will host Northwestern.

-- Mel














- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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