Guru's College Report: Penn Has a Debutante Ball As Freshman Key Rout of New Hampshire
PHILADELPHIA -- Penn offered a debutante party at The Palestra Tuesday night against New Hampshire in what was quite the coming out performance by freshmen Michelle Nwokedi and Beth Brzozowski in a lopsided 74-39 non-conference win over New Hampshire that featured a 58-15 differential from the Quakers’ bench.
After producing four straight rookies of the year in the Big 5 coach Mike McLaughlin may have an in-house fight on his hands between the two in getting the streak extended to five.
The visiting Wildcats (3-0) arrived here for their first-ever meeting with the Quakers unbeaten and made the opening five minutes a closely-fought battle until the newbies got into the action.
Just as she had done last time out at Navy Saturday night, Nwokedi quickly nailed a trey, this time to tie the score, and Brzozowski followed on three field goals from senior Kara Bonenberger to score one herself and Penn (3-1) was on its way to a third-straight triumph after the season-opening loss at No. 4 Tennessee on Nov. 14.
Nwokedi, a top 100 recruit from Missouri City, Texas, had game and career highs of 17 points and 14 rebounds, more than totally collected her three previous games, while Brzozowski, who was part of three New York state high school champions at Hathaway Brown in Highland Heights, Ohio, finished with 14 points, matching the entire total of her first three games.
Sharpshooting from the outside, Nwokedi was 3-for-5 on 3-point attempts and 7-for-14 in overall field goal attempts and Brzozowski was 4-for-5 and 5-for-7 in overall field goal attempts.
For good measure while not lighting up the scoreboard statistically, Anna Ross in another start still showed a steady hand running the offense. Lauren Whitlach got in off the bench and scored a basket in seven minutes of play.
Then there was the veteran, but newly re-made Keiera Ray, slowed or sidelined the last two years by nagging leg injuries, who had her second straight productive night, shooting 4-for-6 from the field for 11 points.
“We weren’t beating them when they were shooting like that,” said New Hampshire coach Maureen Magarity, who comes from a well-known basketball family from here and whose father Bill’s eventual Patriot League champion Army team fell at the hands of the Quakers last season. “They are good.”
The Quakers, who led at the half 42-14, built a differential of 39 points, the largest of the six-year era under McLaughlin and the 35-point differential at the finish is the second largest by just a point less than a win over NJIT last season.
Sydney Stipanovich, the reigning Big 5 co-player of the week with Saint Joseph’s Natasha Cloud, and reigning Ivy co-player of the week with Princeton’s Blake Dietrick, blocked another pair of shots.
Villanova’s Alex Louin was another local winner this week earning the Big East rookie honors.
Penn dominated the boards 58-38 as well as 22-10 on the offensive end.
“I thought we could play as well as we good play with 10 in and 10 out,” McLaughlin said afterwards. “It is a little warm in here and I do want to get them in the flow, refreshed, and I think we did that, and when you defend a lot of good things happen, and we made shots and when you make shots we really felt good about ourselves.
“ We’ve been working with Michelle on the pace of the game and working as hard as she can and she’s really just starting to develop overall. Offensively, she’s getting more comfortable, she’s shooting the ball with confidence, she can shoot and she can really spread the floor and I’m really loving the way she’s developing.
“Keiera is really managing herself well, she sees an opportunity to make an impact on this team, I give her all the credit in the world.”
Said Ray, “It feels really good to get this win. Everything we’re doing at practice is really paying off.”
As for choosing Penn in light of many top national teams chasing here, Nwokedi said, “When I graduate, I want to have a job, I don’t really want to go play in the WNBA (sorry guys), and I thought Penn was the best fit,” Nwokedi said.
“And the coaches and team, I loved my official visit and felt Penn in the Ivy League would be the best fit for me.”
No one scored in double figures for New Hampshire, whose Elizabeth Belanger had a team-high nine points.
Penn is off a week before heading next Tuesday to Easton, Pa., and an improved Lafayette team that beat visiting Rider 66-48, Tuesday night, No. 22 Rutgers stayed unbeaten with an 81-53 win at nearby Wagner, Drexel ended a three-year losing streak to Saint Joseph’s, beating the Hawks at home, 76-63, while La Salle has won two straight, beating Manhattan at home in an afternoon kids special at the Tom Gola Arena, 61-48, while Delaware fell at home to defending Atlantic 10 champion Fordham 49-44 and Penn State fell again at home to a mid-major for the third straight game, losing at the finish to Saint Bonaventure,, 56-54.
To look further at the large slate of the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW games that everyone in action except Temple, Princeton, and Villanova, let’s go to the written tape.
La Salle Evens Things Up -- Michaya Owens had another strong outing, tying a career high with 23 points for the Explorers (2-2), who won their second straight 61-48 after being routed at Penn a week ago, while Ebony Wells had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Shayna Ericksen and Kayla Grimme each had 10 points for the Jaspers (1-3) and Grimme also grabbed 10 rebounds.
“We’re feeling a sense of urgency,” La Salle coach Jeff Williams said. “But we’re still not playing like we need to play. When you get handled by Penn the way we got handled – Penn is a very good team – but I felt we didn’t show up. So I think we still have a lot to clean up.
“We’re still missing Alica Cropper (leg injury), our leader – Michaya Owens had stepped up, Jasmine Alston has played well, and Ebony Wells is doing a good job – she’s getting more comfortable out on the court. But we’re still not defending, the way we need to be defending. We may get Alicia ready to play this weekend.”
La Salle will be in Long Island’s tournament in Brooklyn, playing the host team at 2 p.m. Friday and then meeting Towson Saturday in the pre-determined format for the two-day event.
Drexel Deals Saint Joseph’s -- The Dragons are off to a 3-1 start and got a key win at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center, beating the Hawks 76-63 to hand Saint Joseph’s(1-3) their second straight loss, both on the road.
Sarah Curran had a career-high 25 points for Drexel while Meghan Creighton had her first career double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Dragons, who are off until playing St Bonaventure Bonaventure in the first round of the Brown tournament in Providence, R.I., Dec. 6, led by as many as 18 points at 45-27.
Curran’s total is the most by a Drexel player since former star Hollie Mershon had 28 in the semifinals of the WNIT they eventually won in 2013 in April.
Kathleen Fitzpatrick had 18 points and Ashley Robinson scored 16 for Saint Joseph’s, which next plays Saturday against Saint Francis of N.Y. at noon.
Rutgers Still Pefect -- A pair of 20-point effort spurred the No. 22 Scarlet Knights (4-0) to a win over Wagner (0-3) on Staten Island, N.Y. at the Seahawks’ Spiro Sports Center.
Betnijah Laney had 22 points and 11 rebounds while Kahleah Copper scored 20 points to ruin Wagner’s home opener. Tyler Scaife also scored in double figures, tallying 15 points while tying her career high with seven rebounds and also dealing six assists.
Jasmine Nwajei had 16 points for the Sseahawks, who are still in search for their first victory, while Lyndsay Rowe scored 13 points and Jordyn Peck had 12 points.
Rutgers next hosts Colgate at 2 p.m.. Friday.
Delaware Falls Short to Fordham -- The host Blue Hens (1-3) continue to struggle despite three players scoring in double figures as they lost their second straight 49-44.
Courtni Green missed a game-tying 3-point attempt in the last 10 seconds and the defending A-10 champion Rams got the rebound and went to the foul line to collect the game’s final two points.
Erika Brown had 14 points, Green scored 12 and grabbed eight rebounds while Hannah Jardine scored 10.
Emily Tapio had 18 points for Fordham (3-2).
“We need to continue to get better,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said. “Do I feel encouragement because we took the Atlantic 10 champion down to the wire? Yeah, we played an older team tough, but we want to come up with a W.
“We continue to improve daily, but we need to keep clawing and fighting to win games like this.”
Delaware next goes to Vermont Saturday and visits Temple next Wednesday. Fordham will also visit Temple next month, meeting a former rival member of the Atlantic 10 now in The American on Dec. 7.
Penn State Skid Reached Three -- History was made on both sides as St. Bonaventure edged the Lady Lions (1-3) 56-54 on Nyla Rueter’s layup with 1.4 seconds left in regulation at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa.
It’s the first win ever for the Bonnies (3-2) of the Atlantic 10, over Penn State in 11 attempts, including 5-1 in Happy Valley, giving them their first taste of some prominent success since winning the regular season league title in 2012 and advancing to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.
On the other hand, following two other narrow losses this week at home to Albany and Seton Hall in the Pre-Season WNIT, it’s the first time Penn State, who led most of the way but was outscored 16-5 down the stretch, is 1-3 since the start of the 2006 season.
“We had a couple of empty possessions where we didn’t get any offensive rebounds,” Penn State coach Coquese Washington ticked off causes for squandering a nine-point lead. “And then (the Bonnies) did a good job of attacking the zone.
“We had a couple of breakdowns, defensively. We had a great shot at the end. Candice (Agee) had a pretty shot and didn’t follow. They get the rebound and go down and had a great shot,” she alluded to the final seconds. “Hats off to them. They made a great play at the end.
“We had a chance, didn’t make the play. They had a chance, they made the play. There you have it.”
Depending how one wants to classify Seton Hall in re-configured Big East it would be the first time the Lady Lions lost three straight to mid-majors since the terminology game into play, let alone losing all of them at home.
“You talk about the last couple of games and we’re five points away from being undefeated,” Washington said. “But again, it’s early in the season and we’ve got some they we have to shore up. And we gotta get more consistent play. But getting consistent play out of young kids, that’s a tough thing but they’re really to get back at it.”
Sierra Moore had a game and career-high 15 points for the Lady Lions, while freshman Lindsay Spann had 13 points and a fledgling career-best five assists.
Katie Healy had 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for the Bonnies, while Rueter scored 13 points and Emily Michael had 11 points.
Penn State next heads to Atlanta for Georgia State’s Thanskgiving Tournament, opening against Liberty Friday and then playing either Samford or Georgia State Sunday.
Princeton plays Wake Forest on Thursday night at the Cancun Challenge, Montana on Friday and Charlotte on Saturday.
Villanova opens Friday in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Naples, Fla., against Arizona State.
Temple next plays Harvard Sunday at the Hall of Fame Challenge at the Mohegan Sun at 5 p.m.
All PhilahoopsW teams are idle Wednesday.
That’s it for the moment.
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