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, March 02, 2014

Guru Roundup: La Salle Finishes Strong While Temple, Villanova, and Penn State Also Triumph

( Guru Note: Quotes, detail, compiled from team and wire reports. Ivy teams in post above this.)

By Mel Greenberg

La Salle stunned second-place St. Bonaventure 55-49 on senior day at the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena Saturday afternoon to tie Virginia Commonwealth at seventh place in the Atlantic 10.

The win was one of two shockers in the conference with host George Washington upsetting conference frontrunner Dayton 88-79 at the Smith Center in the nation’s capital.

That puts the Colonials (20-9, 11-5 Atlantic 10) in a three-way tie for second with the Bonnies (22-9,11-15) and the winner of Sunday’s conference game at Saint Joseph’s at Hagan Arena when the Hawks host Fordham, the team they edged last season for the conference tournament title when the game was played in Brooklyn’s Barclays Centre in New York.

The seeds for this week’s tournament in Richmond, Va., at the Coliseum, will be known Sunday night, though a Saint Joseph’s athletics department official said the winner would be the three seed and the loser the fifth.

Dayton (21-6, 14-2) had already locked up the top seed the second straight season but the two upsets this late in the season indicates things are wide open in the Atlantic 10.

La Salle (14-14, 9-7) got 17 points from Alicia Cropper to go with eight rebounds, while departing senior Leez Burdgess scored 13 points, and Jasmine Alston had 11 points and eight rebounds.

Katie Healy had a game-high 22 points for the Bonnies.

Burdgess and Jess Koci were honored.

Explorers conference wins in the A-10 are the most since a 12-4 finish in 1996-97 and a .500 finish in league play is La Salle’s best since that same season.

“It was a big win for us today,” coach Jeff Williams said of the Explorers. “We beat a very good Saint Bonaventure team. They’re tough to guard, they’re well-coached, and I though our kids played well.”

Katie Healy had 22 points for the Bonnies.

“We have a solid chance at postseason play and I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing senior year,”Burdgess said.

“We’ve been doing a very good job on the defensive end,” Williams said. “We feel like we competed against everyone very well and had opportunities to win some games and we beat some good teams.”

As for the tournament in Richmond, Williams said, “I feel good about it.”

George Washington has now won 20 games in a season for the first time since advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 2007-08 just before former coach Joe McKeown left for Northwestern.

Villanova Sweeps Xavier after Holding Musketeers Down the Stretch

The Wildcats traveled to Cincinnati looking to complete a sweep of the season over the former Atlantic 10 member but after reaching a 57-50 lead with 3.55 to go on Taylor Holeman’s layup Villanova would not score again but held off the Musketeers at the finish for a 57-55 victory in the Big East contest at the Cintas Center.

Villanova (21-7, 11-6 Big East) can finish no worse than fifth after meeting Marquette to wrap up the regular season on senior night on the Main Line.

Devon Kane had 16 points and matched a career-high with four treys for the Wildcats while Katherine Coyer scored 12 points. Xavier fell to 8-21 overall and 3-14 in the conference.

Kane missed the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity with 5.2 seconds left but the Musketeers missed a three at the finish that would have reversed the outcome.

DePaul captured the No. 1 seed for this week’s tournament in Rosemont outside Chicago, and the regular season title winning at St. John’s 80-65 while Marquette won 73-71 against visiting Creighton.

The tourney will open in DePaul’s McGrath Arena before moving after the first round to the Allstate Arena, the home of the Chicago Sky.

It’s possible Villanova could finish in a three-way tie for second and all the tiebreaking scenarios for seeds are not known to the Guru at this out.

With such people like UConn and Notre Dame gone from the former Big East makeup, the situation at the moment is like autocracy after dictatorship.

Penn State Earns Piece of the Big 10 Title If Not More

The No. 8 Lady Lions recovered from Monday’s wipeout at nationally-ranked Nebraska to celebrate Senior Day at home in the Bryce Jordan Center with a 77-62 triumph over Michigan (17-12, 8-8 Big Ten) as all four seniors scored in double figures.

Ariel Edwards had 21 points, Talia East of Philadelphia scored 16, Narberth’s Maggie Lucas scored 16, and Wilmington’s Dara Taylor scored 11.

It’s the first time that Penn State (22-6, 13-3) has been involved in three straight conference crowns in both the Big Ten or the Lady Lions’ former days in the Big Ten.

Lucas needs one more three-pointer to tie the school and conference career marks set by former All-American Kelly Mazzante, who recently retired from playing professionally.

After Sunday’s games Penn State could win the title outright or finish in a three-way tie with Nebraska and Michigan State but the Lady Lions will be the first or second seed when the tournament opens later this week in Indianapolis.

Temple Stops Skid and Rutgers Thumped at Connecticut

The Owls took a 64-54 win over host UCF to stop a four-game skid in the American Athletic Conference game in Orlando, Fla., to complete a sweep in the series.

No. 24 Rutgers, meanwhile, in the Scarlet Knights’ final regular season game at top-ranked Connecticut before leaving the American and joining the Big Ten this July, had to play without leading scorer Kahleah Copper, who is suffering from turf toe, and fell to the unbeaten Huskies 72-35.

It was also Senior Day in Gampel Pavilion on the campus in Storrs.

Breanna Stewart had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Huskies (30-0, 17-0 AAC) while senior Bria Hartley scored 20 points and senior Stefanie Dolson grabbed 10 rebounds.

Betnijah Laney was the only productive player for Rutgers (21-7, 12-5) with 14 points and nine rebounds as the Scarlet Knights suffered a season low on points and shooting with a 25.8 average from the field.

Temple (13-15, 7-10) got 13 points from Rateska Brown and 12 from Monaye Merritt while Feyonda Fitzgerald scored 10 points. Shi-Heria Shipp and Erica Coville each grabbed seven rebounds against UCF (10-18, 3-14).

Rutgers finishes up Monday hosting South Florida with both teams chasing a third seed, which means avoiding UConn, assuming the Huskies will win at No. 4 Louisville Monday night to avoid a coin flip for the top two seeds.

The American tourney opens at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., Friday, at the same arena thatis home to the WNBA Connecticut Sun.

Rutgers has no seniors in uniforms but will honor its departing managers.

Temple will host last-place Houston in McGonigle Hall.

The Owls cannot finish worse than sixth, which means a bye and meeting either Rutgers or South Florida in the quarterfinals, though they could also finish fifth.

In a related note to Temple, former athletic director Dave O’Brien passed away Saturday. He hired Dawn Staley as a coach in May 2000 challenging her to start a new career.

Looking Ahead

The Saint Joseph’s game has already been spoken to. Sunday in the Colonial Athletic Association, Delaware tries to finish second when the Blue Hens visit Northeastern in their season finale while Drexel will be looking for third when the Dragons visit Hofstra, though they have one more game hosting Towson Wednesday on senior night.

The Guru will be tweeting from Saint Joseph’s.

-- Mel










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