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 09, 2014

Guru's Report: Temple Completes Sweep of Memphis to Move to 5th in The American

( Guru's note: Information for everything beyond the Temple game was compiled from team and wire reports. )

By Mel Greenberg

Temple made it two straight wins and a season sweep of Memphis Sunday afternoon with a 64-51 triumph here that enabled the Owls (12-11, 6-6) to hang on to fifth place in the American Athletic Conference.

The teams met in the larger Liacouras Center rather than McGonigle Hall for the nationally-televised contest on ESPNU.

It was a game that could definitely be penciled in as a "must have" to earn a bye in next month's conference tournament at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., as well as a possible berth in the WNIT if a return to the NCAAs is not attainable.

"Just looking at the standings and what transpired (Saturday) I felt it was really important to get this win," Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said.

"And with this being the second time around (on the league's home-and-home slates), for every team that we play now, we just wanted to make sure we took advantage of every opportunity.

"When you play a team the second time around, it's always harder because there are adjustments that need to be made and I felt like we did a good job of containment," she continued.

"We knew the last time we played them, they got a lot of dribble drive opportunities and (Ariel) Hearns killed us and even though she ended up with 22 points today, a lot of that came when the game was decided.

"So we did a really good job defensively of not giving them the things that they wanted and keeping the ball out of her hands."

Memphis fell to 11-13 overall and 4-8 in the conference, two games behind the Owls.

At the top of the conference in the only other game played Sunday, the battle of the two unbeatens within American competition went the way as expected as top-ranked and overall unbeaten Connecticut whipped No 4 Louisville 81-64 at home in Gampel Pavilion on the Huskies' campus in Storrs.

Sophomore Breanna Stewart had 24 points and 10 rebounds for the Hukies (25-0, 12-0 American) as she bedeviled the Cardinals (23-2, 11-1) the same way as she did in April when the two teams met in the NCAA title game when she scored 22 points and became only the second freshman to be named Most Outstanding Player of the Women's Final Four.

"She scores them when you exactly need them," Hall of Fame UConn coach Geno Auriemma said of the Syracuse native. "Every one of her points seems to mean something. She hits three-run homers when we're down two and that's what separates her from everybody else."

Louisville coach Jeff Walz praised Stewart, saying, "She's a special player. I told our players there's no question she's the best player in the country in my opinion. When you have breakdowns, she makes you pay for them."

Louisville, which Temple plays in Kentucky on Wednesday night, had won 16-straight, including the New Year's Day meeting here in the first part of the conference schedule.

"That was a long time ago," Cardoza said of the 77-68 loss to Louisville, which got 18 points from Asia Taylor in Sunday's loss at UConn.

"Our main focus right now is making sure we play better defense," Cardoza said. "... That's been our focus, making sure we're not goiving up easy points and focusing for 40 minutes on the defensive end.

"We've played every single team (in the conference). We know what they do. We've been in every single game, so why can't we win those games?" Cardoza said. "If we're focused on the defensive end we can hang with every one.

"To be honest I jusr remember not being able to take care of the basketball against (Louisville's) pressure. Once we did, I remember us coming back but we ran out of time. But no matter who you play, if you're not taking care of the basketball, you're giving up second chance opportunities and it's tough to beat any team.

"They're a tough team and they're playing at home and we just have to be ready for it," Cardoza said. "I know we will be. We played at UConn in front of however many people so this is not going to be something new to us. We've already been in that situation. No we just have to be ready to go in there and try to win a baaketball game."

Rateska Brown had 17 points for Temple and connected on 5-of-8 three-point attempts while freshman Feyonda Fitzgerald had 11 points and Natasha Thames had 10 points and eight rebounds.

Shi-Heria Shipp grabbed 13 rebounds for the Owls while teammate Erica Covile, who didn't see much action her freshman season, grabbed 10.

Meanwhile, three other schools from the Guru's 10-team PhilahoopsW group of Division I local programs played Sunday and Drexel, Villanova and Penn State all won on the road to also impact their positions in their respective conference races.

Dragons Roar Over Seahawks

Drexel bounced back from Friday's loss at College of Charleston to down UNCW 57-43 in Wilmington, N.C., and move into a second place tie with idle Delaware (14-6, 6-3) in the Colonial Athletic Association three games behind James Madison (19-4, 9-0), which thumped Towson 82-40 at home in Harrisonburg, Va.

In snapping a two-game losing streak, Sarah Curran had a team-high 14 points and nine rebounds for the Dragons (11-11, 6-3).

Meghan Creighton and Fiona Flanagan each scored 11 points while Flanagan also grabbed seven rebounds and dealt five assists against UNCW (3-21, 2-8), which got 14 points and nine rebounds from Kelva Atkinson.

A 13-2 run at the end of the first half enabled Drexel to increase control of the game the Dragons had throughout.

Dexel next heads to Towson in Maryland outside Baltimore for a Thursday game that will tip at 7 p.m. at the Tigers' new arena while Delaware will tip at 7 p.m. at home several hours later against Charleston in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

Villanova Pays Back Seton Hall and Keeps Streaking

The Wildcats continue to be quite the road warriors and won their fifth straight overall, beating the Pirates 62-57 at Walsh Gym in South Orange, N.J., to avenge last month's home loss to Seton Hall in the reconfigured Big East.

As a result Villanova (18-5, 8-4 Big East) moved into a tie for third with Creighton (14-10, 8-4), which was routed by DePaul 80-66 in Chicago as the Blue Demons (19-5, 10-2) won their eighth straight and avenged an earlier road loss to the Blue Jays in Omaha, Nebraska.

Jasmine Penny had 21 points for DePaul, which trails 1st place St. John's(18-5, 11-1) by a game and is ahead of the Wildcats and Creighton by a game.

Villanova, which next hosts Butler Wednesday night, dropped Seton Hall to 13-9 overall and 4-7 in the Big East.

In the first half, the Wildcats broke a 14-14 tie and went on a 16-0 tear to take a 30-14 lead at the half.

The lead got to 20 early in the second half before the Pirates started to rally, but not enough to overcome coach Harry Perretta's squad.

Overall, the Wildcats are 10-2 on the road to lead the conference and had four players score in double figures again for the fourth straight game.

Lauren Burford and Caroline Coyer each scored 15 points while Devon Kane and Taylor Holeman each scored 11 points.

Lucas Powers Penn State Over Ohio State

The ninth-ranked Lady Lions got 23 points from Narberth's Maggie Lucas on the way to a lopsided 74-54 win at Ohio State (14-13, 4-7 Big Ten) in Columbus, Ohio, to open a one-game lead in the conference race over idle Michigan State.

It is the 60th time in her four-year career that Lucas has scored 20 or more points for Penn State (18-5, 9-2), the defending regular season champions.

Lucas is now fifth on the Big Ten career scoring list. Her total of 2,322 points moved her past such notables of the past as Ohio State's Jessica Davenport, Northwestern's Anucha Brown, the current head of women's basketball at the NCAA; and Wisconsin's Jolene Anderson.

The Lady Lions' Kelly Mazzante, who recently retired from the sport after a career in the WNBA and overseas, is the all-time scoring leader.

Penn State, with the triumph, became the 12th program to win at least 875 games.

It's the first time in a decade that the Lady Lions have won back-to-back games in Columbus.

Talia East of Philadelphia had 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks for the visitors while Wilmongton's Dara Taylor had 12 points, four rebounds and six assists.

Penn State next heads to Indiana Thursday before coming home for Sunday's Pink Zone game against Wisconsin.

Nationally Noted

Two top five teams fell Sunday and while Louisville was the underdog at UConn, the shocker came from the West where unranked Washington ambushed No. 3 Stanford 87-82 in Seattle in a Pac-12 game that may or may not impact the Cardinal's shot at a No. 1 seed.

The Northwest Huskies as opposed to the ones always talked about got their first win over Hall of Fame coach Tara Vanderveer since a 77-72 triumph on Dec. 22, 2005 snapping a 14-game losing streak in the series.

It's the first conference road loss for Stanford (22-2, 11-1 Pac-12) in five seasons since a setback at Bay Area rival California and only Stanford's second conference loss overall in the same span.

Kelsey Plum topped five players for the Huskies (13-10, 6-6), whose first-year coach Mike Neighbors now becomes a factor in the WBCA's Maggie Dixon Division I rookie coach of the year award.

Neighbors was promoted when Kevin McGuff left after last season for the vacant Ohio State job following the Buckeyes' decision to let Women's Basketball Hall of Famer Jim Foster go.

He subsequently was hired at Tennessee-Chattanooga.

In Sunday's Penn State game, McGuff was on opposite sites from Lady Lions coach Coquese Washington. The two were once on the same Notre Dame staff under Muffet McGraw.

Chiney Ogwumike, the younger sister of former Stanford star Nneka, had 23 points and 14 rebounds for the Cardinal, which also got career marks of 16 points and 22 rebounds from Mikaela Ruef.

Washington connected on nine treys and shot 46.9 percent from the field.

"We did not shoot the ball well, and I can live with that, but we did not defend them worth a lick," VanDerveer said after Stanford's 21-game conference win streak went down the drain.

Stanford's only other loss this season was near the outset losing at Connecticut.

Meanwhile, Dawn Staley's No. 6 South Carolina squad is heading for a top five ranking and perhaps soon to become part of the speculation for No. 1 seeds after beating Arkansas 67-49 at home in Columbia as the Gamecocks (22-2, 10-1) stayed in first place in the Southeastern Conference.

No. 2 Notre Dame (23-0, 10-0), the only other unbeaten team in the country, took an easy 101-64 win over Syracuse (17-7, 6-5) in an Atlantic Coast Conference game at home in South Bend, Ind., as Jewell Loyd scored 23 points while Kayla McBride and Machaela Mabrey each scored 18 points.

The Irish shot 50.7 percent for the game.

And that's the report until Monday.

-- Mel

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