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.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Guru Report: Villanova Handles Temple to Stay in Big Five Hunt

By Mel Greenberg

VILLANOVA, Pa. –
For the first time this season Villanova was the way coach Harry Perretta would expect his Wildcats to be in looking ahead to the looming months of competition.

With key player healthy again after being out significance portions since opening day, the veteran coach was able to go top shelf with his starting lineup and ran away from Temple early before a late Owls rally to claim a 64-59 victory Monday afternoon in a Big Five game at The Pavilion.

A crowd of 1,319 was mostly youngsters attending as part of Villanova’s annual education day, which had the opening tip at 11:30 a.m.

“For the first time, we were bigger than them,” Perretta said of the Wildcats’ 13 blocked shot including the seven – one short of a school record – blocked shots by Kavunaa Edwards, who also had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

“I’m just happy we won,” Perretta said. Besides the predominantly non-conference results that now has Villanova at 4-7 overall and Temple at 4-8, the Wildcats are 2-1 in the Big Five with Penn, which is unbeaten at 2-0 in City Series action, still to play.

“The women’s Big 5 is really fun,” Perretta noted. “I’m mean Villanova (the men), they just dominate, but in the women’s Big 5 you don’t know what the heck is going to happen. It’s crazy.

“We look good with our starters back. It makes me feel better because we play better because we can play our style because we have experienced players.”

Temple also has the Quakers remaining but in falling to 1-2 after the Villanova game, the Owls are out of the race.

A Villanova win over the Quakers on Jan. 21 at Penn’s Palestra could mean minimally a piece of the Big 5 title or potentially an outright title depending on the result of the defending City Series champion Saint Joseph’s against La Salle, which will also count in the Atlantic 10.

Caroline Coyer had 14 points while Lauren Burford scored 11 for Villanova, which quickly shook of Saturday’s rout by Sacred Heart here in which the Wildcats gave up 10 of the Pioneers’ 13 three-pointers in the first half after allowing only 20 in the previous nine games.

“We needed this,” Edwards said. “Yesterday at practice we ran for 40 minutes and we don’t want to do that the rest of the year. “One game at a time right now.”

Temple was beset with another slow star, shooting 17 percent in the first half when Villanova was ahead by as many as 15 points before the 29-16 lead at the half.

It got to 17 midway through the second half and that differential appeared again with 7 minutes, 21 seconds left in the game before the Owls launched a fierce rally and even scored 11 points in the final 44 seconds to make the outcome seem competitive.
The one bright light for Temple coach Tonya Cardoza came in the second half with the play of three freshmen.

“I’m happy with the way that last unit was out there and the fight that they had,” Cardoza said of Tanaya Atkinson, who was named Big 5 player of the week earlier in the day, Alliya Butts and Khadijah Berger.

“The way we were pressing – we were really exhausted – Villanova could have easily blown us out. We couldn’t make point blank layups. I just felt in the second half we played like we were suppose to play.

“Freshmen can’t usually play against Villanova,” whose history opposing the Wildcats goes back to the days she was a longtime assistant to Geno Auriemma at Connecticut and in the old Big East days Perretta’s group would bedevil the Huskies.

“They’re the most difficult team to defend. The fact that our guys fought and got that experience is good for future.”

Atkinson had 22 points, Butts scored 12, and Erica Coville had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Temple after the Holiday break opens play in The American Conference, visiting Memphis on Dec. 28 and the returning to host SMU opn Dec. 30.

Villanova next will host North Carolina State, also on Dec. 30, and then begin the rest of the Big East schedule, hosting favorite and defending champion DePaul on Jan. 2.

The Wildcats have won four straight and six of the last seven games in the series with Temple.

All-time Perretta’s teams are 105-37, where they have won 14 of their last 16 in City Series competition.

In Monday’s game, Villanova had 17 assists on the Wildcats’ 21 field goals, illustrating Cardoza explaining the difficulty of when Villanova gets a lead they can pass the ball around and slow the game down.

Princeton Stays Perfect While Saint Joseph’s and Penn State Fall

Since the Guru didn’t file for Monday morning off the three of his 10 PhilahoopsW teams that were in action Sunday, here is the catch-up beginning with the Ivy power to the north.

Princeton continued with the second best start ever for an Ivy men’s or women’s team at 13-0 – the Penn men were once 28-0 – by beating state rival Monmouth 84-53 on the road nearby in central New Jersey at the Multipurpose Activity Center in West Long Branch.

Six different Tigers scored in double figures as Annie Tarakchian, named Ivy women’s co-player of the week on Monday, had 12 points and tied a career-high with 14 rebounds, Blake Dietrick scored 12 and dealt eight assists, Michelle Miller scored 14 points, freshman Leslie Robinson, a niece of the president and first lady and daughter of former Oregon State coach Craig Robinson, had 11 points, as did Amanda Berntsen, and Vanessa Smith scored 10.

The host Hawks fell to 5-5.

On Monday Princeton came within a few points of making a second-ever appearance for themselves or any Ivy team in the Associated Press women’s poll.

After the break Princeton will meet Hartford in Fordham’s tournament on Dec. 29 in New York City.

Penn State Edged in Overtime by USF

The Lady Lions played one of their better games of what has become a season of struggle, going against a quality opponent, but in the end suffered a tough 90-87 loss in overtime to USF at home in the Bryce Jordan Center, the first extended game at the arena in five seasons.

After 16 ties and lead changes, USF (9-3) of The American Conference got two foul shots from Alisia Jenkins with 41 seconds left.

Sophomore Lindsey Spann had a career-high 28 points for the Lady Lions (3-8) while Candice Agee had 21 points and 17 rebounds, and Sierra Moore also had a double double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

USF All-America candidate Courtni Williams had 34 points while Jenkins had 23 points and 21 rebounds.

Penn State now goes to the holiday break to return Sunday on the road to Big Ten competition the rest of the way, opening at Iowa and then next Tuesday traveling to Michigan.

Notre Dame Beats Back Saint Joseph’s Challenge

After falling behind by 22 points at the half, Saint Joseph’s launched a 15-3 run to move within 10 points of the then-No. 5 Irish before eventually falling 64-50.

The Hawks (3-7) share their alma mater with the Irish’s coach Muffett McGraw, who is both a Big Five and Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer.
Freshman Brianna Turner of Notre Dame (11-1), who had been sidelined with an injured shoulder, had a game-high 19 points and Jewell Loyd scored 16 points.

The Hawks’ Natasha Cloud also scored 16 points while Sarah Fitzpatrick had 13 points and freshman Adashia Franklyn had seven rebounds.

It’s the third meeting between the two Catholic Universities with McGraw being a 1977 graduate.

Adding to the St. Joseph’s/McGraw karma, the Irish win is with the lowest points since a 57-51 win over Ohio State and then-coach Jim Foster on Nov. 9, 2012.

Foster first coached the Hawks in College and hired McGraw as an assistant after Geno Auriemma left the staff.

That game was the last time Notre Dame failed to make a three-point shot until Sunday’s game in Purcell Pavilion.

St. Joseph’s is now off until hosting the Hawk Classic and playing Quinnipiac in the first round at 2 p.m. Sunday in Hagan Arena. Florida Gulf Coast and Cal State Northridge will meet in the other game at 4 p.m.

That is everything though if you are reading this early Monday evening moire posts are coming including Mike Siroky’s SEC notebook, which will get edited next.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

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