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, November 16, 2014

Guru's College Roundup: Drexel Wins Opener While Penn State Upset by Albany

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA --
After unbuckling her virtual seat belt from a bumpy ride, Drexel coach Denise Dillon proclaimed: “One down 28 to go” following the Dragons’ season-opening 62-53 win over visiting Cornell Sunday afternoon in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

In control with a 36-23 lead at the half, the Drexel offense slowed to a crawl and Cornell (0-2) narrowed the gap to four points before the Dragons got consecutive baskets from red-shirt senior Jamila Thompson on a fastbreak and freshman Megan Marecic to secure the triumph.

For Dillon fans, the victory also meant five to go before she reaches her 200th in what is now 12 seasons here in West Philadelphia for the former Villanova star.

“It just shows we’re going to have to concentrate on what we always do – our defense,” said Dillon. “Of course Sarah Curran leaving with a hip pointer didn’t help.”

The sophomore forward from Archbishop Carroll had all 12 points in the first half but suffered the injury at the outset of the second half.

Cornell, whose coach Dayna Smith is in her 13th season since moving from the Penn staff, was coming into the game off a tough season and home opening 48-46 loss to Hartford on Friday night.

The Big Red are now 0-6 lifetime against Drexel and the first of as many as possibly four opponents this season from the Ivy League.

Next up is the ongoing series with Ivy power Princeton on the road Wednesday. The Tigers (2-0), who are also part of the Guru’s PhilahoopsW group, got off to a terrific start this weekend, winning at Pittsburgh in the Steel City Friday morning and then remaining in town to romp over host Duquesne 79-62 Sunday afternoon.

Later this season, the traditional neighborhood battle with defending Ivy champion Penn is here Dec. 20 and then the possibility of a game against Brown exists depending what the host Bears do against Sacred Heart and what Drexel does against St. Bonaventure in the opener of Brown’s tournament Dec. 6 in Rhode Island.

In the game here, Drexel’s Curran had the team high with 12 points while Thompson scored a career-high 11 points to go with her four rebounds and a block and a steal, while Meghan Creighton scored 11, and Marecic had nine in her rookie debut, including seven down the stretch. Veterans Rachel Pearson and Jackie Schluth had 7 and 6 points, respectively.

Nia Marshall had a game-high 13 points for Cornell, while Megan LeDuc scored 12 and Christine Kline scored 10 points.

Incidentally, another person with a UConn background is now in the local mix though this individual wasn't snared by Temple coach Tonya Cardoza the way she has had others gravitate to join her with the Owls.

Drexel's Dillon now has someone with eight NCAA championship rings.

Dr. Thomas Trojian is the new head of sports medicine at Drexel after being the team doctor for Geno Auriemma's troops, among other UConn squads the past 19 years.

So considering that Rachel Nurse of the Canadian National Team is one of Auriemma's prized freshmen this season who heads to Monday's late night West Coast game at Stanford, one could say that Auriemma at the moment is up one Nurse and down one doctorf.

Meanwhile, two other squads besides Princeton in the 10-team PhiahoopsW group played with the shocker being Penn State losing at home in the final seconds to Albany 54-53 in the preseason WNIT.

Delaware bounced back from Friday night’s road loss at Lafayette to win the Blue Hens’ home opener in the Bob Carpenter Center over perennial Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference power Marist 70-60.

Also, in the lone result from the local group on Saturday night, Villanova, picked third in the Big East, fell short in the three-team UTC Tip-Off Classic to USF 57-56 in Tennessee.

The Bulls, who are the hospitality hosts for this season’s NCAA Women’s Final Four in Tampa, Fla., were picked second behind two-time defending NCAA champion Connecticut in The American Conference.

With everyone mentioned, let’s go to the written tape:

Albany 54, Penn State 53 -- The Lady Lions and defending regular season Big 10 champions may be out of the rankings in a rebuilding season, but nether the less to lose to the Great Danes at home in the Bryce Jordan Center in the second round of the preseason WNIT to fall t0 1-1 is a surprise, all respect to the reigning America East champions.

The loss sends PSU into the consolation final Saturday at home 7 p.m. against the loser of the game between Western Kentucky and Colorado so scratch the previous scheduled affair in the winner’s bracket for Thursday night.

There were 10 ties and 11 lead changes in the closely fought contest, the last deadlock coming off a trey from Jenny DeGraaf with 1:28 left in regulation for PSU before Sarah Royals hit one of two foul shot opportunities with 8.4 left.

A chance to steal the game back expired as Penn State’s last shot bounced off the rim.

DeGraaf had a career-high 12 points for the day, all coming off four three-pointers.

Lady Lion freshman Lindsey Spann had a team-high 14 points and is the first newcomer to lead the squad in back-to-back games since recently graduated all-American Maggie Lucas of Narberth did so in the 2010-11 season.

Albany’s Shereesha Richards was unstoppable with 27 points and 14 rebounds, while Imani Tate and Tiana-Jo Carter each grabbed 15 and 10 rebounds, respectively.

Penn State senior Tori Waldner’s four blocked shots could not help stem the opposition.

The home team ripped off a 7-0 lead to open the game before Albany whittled that off and back into contention.
Afterwards, Penn State coach Coquese Washington said of her squad, “We just don’t have the upper class leadership,” alluding to the departed graduates who had much of the game-on-the-line responsibility in the past.”

She said “the competitor in us” makes the loss tough but “as coaches we understand” the learning experiences we will get in these kind of situations.

Princeton 79, Duquesne 62 -- The Tigers completed a sweep of the Steel City in Pittsburgh, following Friday’s win at Pitt with a lop-sided triumph Sunday to ruin Duquesne’s season opener, though April Robinson had 19 points.

Michelle Miller had 20 points for the pre-season Ivy co-favorites, who were tied in the media poll by defending league champion Penn. Amanda Berntsen tied a career-high at Princeton with 14 points.

Annie Tarakchian set a career-high for the second straigdht game with six assists.

The Tigers next host Drexel, earlier than the two have played the ongoing nonconference series in recent seasons around New Year’s Eve.

Delaware 70, Marist 60 – The Blue Hens evened their season record at 1-1 and grabbed their home opener with an impressive win over the perennial MAAC champion Red Foxes at the Bob Carpenter Center, though the triumph was tempered by an undetermined left leg injury to junior Alecia Bell, who was taken off the court on a stretcher late in the first half.

Bell will be out indefinitely, the university said in a statement.

Delaware led 23-16 when Bell was injured and went on to a 37-24 halftime lead and held control the rest of the way.

Courtni Green sealed the win with a three-pointer with 15 seconds left in the game.

Sophomore Erika Brown had 21 points for the Blue Hens while Green scored 13, freshman Chastity Taylor scored 12 points, and senior Joy Caracciolo scored eight points in addition to grabbing 13 rebounds.

The Red Foxes’ Madeline Blais had a game-high 26 points while Sydney Coffey scored 11 in the Marist season-opening loss.

“Our first thoughts are with Alecia Bell and her family,” veteran Delaware coach Tina Martin said at the outset of her postgame remarks. “ She is one of our captains, so everyone respects her and I think it was hard for them to see her in so much pain. I just told them to keep their composure and that Alecia needs for us to win for her.

“This was a bounce back day for us,” Martin of her players shaking off Friday’s opening setback at Lafayette. “The kids played really well and I thought they followed the defensive game plan, which I’ve been harping on.

“We did a great job of keeping Marist in front of us, which is really important. We needed this win. This is a very young team we’ve got here and I was happy to see individuals step up and play much better.”
Brown noted, “We have to keep reminding ourselves that we can actually play defense and get stops because we can definitely score.”

Alluding to Bell’s departure, Brown said, “It was a terrible injury to witness and I knew we had to win for her.”

USF 57, Villanova 56 -- In the Wildcats’ second and final outing Saturday night in the season-opening three-team UTC Tipoff Classic in Chattanooga, Tenn., they missed several opportunities in the closing seconds against the Bulls (1-0) and fell to their former rivals of the old Big East who are picked second behind Connecticut in The American.

Villanova is picked third in the new Big East, which is in its second season of existence.

The Wildcats have two challenges with injuries and schedule to overcome – senior Emily Leer is out with back problems and won’t return until January, if then. Samantha Wilkes, still rehabbing from a knee injury, won’t be back until next month, at best.

Villanova is also playing its first eight games away from the Pavilion, where they won’t debut for the season until hosting La Salle in a Big 5 tilt.

Next up is a single-game trip to Cal State-Fullerton Friday and then a three-game appearance over Thanksgiving Weekend in the Gulf Coast Classic, opening with Arizona State, then meeting either Georgia Tech or Wisconsin-Green Bay and if they go through the winners bracket – OK, it could happen mathematically the other way, yeah sure – it’s a potential date with their former Big East tormentor UConn.

Then there’s the Big East opener at Providence on Dec. 3 and a key Big Five visit in their City Series opener at Saint Joseph’s, Dec. 7.

In Saturday’s game, Courtney Williams had a game-high 21 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who had a 49-36 domination on the backboards while Alisia Jenkins had 11 points and 13 rebounds.

Caroline Coyer scored 15 points for Villanova while freshman Alex Louin had 11 points and Lauren Burford scored 10.

USF then lived on the edge again Sunday escaping UTC 59-57 yo go 2-0.

Nationally Noteworthy

More NCAA Generations -- No. 2 South Carolina’s home win over Southern Cal on Saturday night, a rare USC vs. USC matchup, had two coaches who were olympic teammates in the host Gamecock’s Dawn Staley and Southern Cal’s Cynthia Cooper Dyke, and also WNBA rival players with Cooper playing for the former Houston Comets and Staley on the former Charlotte Sting.

30 More Decades Minimally to Catch Mom -- Tyler Summitt had his first coaching victory this weekend as Louisiana Tech topped Stephen F. Austin, a matchup years ago that would have been a Top 10 attraction.

Summitt is the son of Tennessee Coach Emeritus Pat Summitt, who gained over 900 wins before her long career in Knoxville was cut short battling early onset Alzheimer’s type.

Richmond Wins Again -- The Spiders completed an emotion-filled weekend at home with a 2-0 sweep by beating Georgetown 65-57 Sunday after ousting Providence Friday night, which also made them 2-0 over Big East schools.

Genevieve Okoro of Gibbsboro, N.J. (Eastern Regional High) and Janelle Hubbard each had 17 points Sunday for Richmond against the Hoyas.

This is the first time the school has had to take the floor since the tragic balloon accident last May claimed the lives of longtime associate head coach and former Spiders star Ginny Doyle of Philadelphia and operations director Natalie Lewis, a former star swimmer at Richmond.

JMU Poll-Bound? -- There was no letdown Sunday as Colonial Athletic Conference favorite James Madison routed St. Bonaventure 76-43 at home in the JMU Convocation Center following Friday’s opening upset of nationally-ranked UCLA at home in Harrisonburg, Va.

Precious Hall had 19 points over the Bonnies (1-1).

With the Bruins of UCLA also losing at nationally-ranked North Carolina, though not an upset loss, and No. 22 Dayton getting swept out west by Washington State and nationally-regarded Gonzaga 75-65 Sunday, it appears two vacancies are available.

And The Winners Are … Monday night at halftime of the Baylor-Kentucky game on the ESPN Networks four lucky cities (and four unlucky newspapers, which may have to provide host coverage) will be named as the Women’s Final Four hosts for the championship semifinals and fouls from 2017-2020.

Seven are in contention: Dallas, Houston, Nashville (which hosted last spring), Tampa (which is hosting this year, Columbus, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh, the only northeast city in the group.

Dallas, Houston, Columbus and Pittsburgh have never hosted, though there had been regionals in some of them.

On Thursday nine cities bidding for regionals will be named though how many is undetermined because the committee is considering multiple years for some, which could be as many as all three in the cycle.

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

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