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.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Gur's College Report: Streaking 'Nova Stopped at Butler

Guru’s note: Report compiled from team reports everywhere but from Rutgers where the Guru was Thursday night

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Villanova’s six-game win streak came at an end in a Big East road game at Butler Friday night in Indianapolis, a tough loss concluding two nights of action in which except for the Colonial Athletic Association duo of Drexel and Delaware, all the other Division I schools in the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group suffered setbacks.

The Wildcats (9-8, 4-2 Big East) were the only team to play Friday night so that is where we begin this report to play catch-up while Temple will be the only team on the floor Saturday, hosting UCF at 2 p.m. in an American Conference game in McGonigle Hall as the Owls attempt to plug a two-game losing streak in the past weeks that came at the hands of UConn and USF, the 1-2 picks in The American in the preseason coaches poll.

The Guru will be at Temple Saturday and down Delaware Sunday, the only D-1 area home game. The other games will be mentioned in the roundup in which we are about to begin.

Villanova coach Harry Perretta was saying recently of the logjam atop the Big East that parity is not necessarily a good thing when it came to the likelihood of getting at-large bids to the NCAA tournament.

That comment was made looking at the two-weekend demolition derby in which Big East favorite DePaul was at St. John’s – the Demons won in overtime Friday morning – and Seton Hall this weekend while the two New York metro area teams would be coming to Villanova next Friday night and Sunday.

However, in between Villanova needed to stay on its winning track with a road sweep at Butler and on Sunday at Xavier in Cincinnati.

Sweep, however, has been reduced to minimally split unless it becomes a reverse sweep after Butler gained a 72-58 victory. The former Atlantic 10 member two years ago improved to 9-9 and 9-2 with the win.

Basically, the loss has reduced Villanova’s margin of error to nil in terms of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament if the Wildcats don’t win the conference tournament in March, which returns to the Chicago suburban community of Rosemont, Ill., near O’Hare Airport at the Allstate Arena, home of the WNBA runners-up Sky.

Emily Leer continued her fine play since returning from nagging back problems, scoring 14 points, while Caroline Coyer scored 11, and the Wildcats also connected on 12 three-pointers in what had been a close game until the stretch drive arrived.

In the end, Villanova suffered at the hands of two Butler scoring thumpers in Lorwyn Goodwin, who had 25 points and nine rebounds while Ijeoma Uchendu had 21 points and 12 rebounds.

It was Butler’s first win over the Wildcats in a short three-game series lifetime between the two schools.

Incidentally, Villanova has now made 67 treys in the Wildcats’ last six games.

And prior to next weekend’s huge conference showdown, there is this Wednesday night 5:30 p.m. visit to the Palestra where either host Penn will win the Big 5 outright with a 4-0 sweep in the Big Five or Villanova will gain a two-team tie. It could begin three if defending champion Saint Joseph’s next month beats La Salle at home in Hagan Arena in the one of two games with the Explorers that also counts as part of the City Series besides the Atlantic 10 standings.

Drexel and Delaware Sweep CAA Foes

In one of the few bright spots of the week Thursday night, Drexel on the road edged William & Mary 49-46 in Williamsburg, Va., while Delaware ended Hofstra’s perfect Colonial Athletic Association record with a 64-53 win at home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

The Dragons (10-6, 4-1 CAA) get to stay in Virginia with a huge opportunity Sunday when they visit conference unbeaten and preseason favorite James Madison. As mentioned, Delaware will be hosting William & Mary.

In Drexel’s win, senior Jamila Thompson, tne native of London, England, continued her recent blossoming with an all-over-the-court performance of six points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists, seven steals and five blocking five shots, which hadn’t happened by the Dragons player in terms of the blocks since Brooke Cornish did likewise in 2009.

Rachel Pearson scored 19 points for Drexel.

Jazmen Boone had a dubious double double for William & Mary (6-10, 0-5) with 15 points and 10 turnovers.

Meanwhile, while the Delaware triangle consisting of Wilmington, Glascow, and Newark has been known to be a disruptive force to auto traffic at rush hour, it’s also a place where Hofstra vanishes on every visit to the Blue Hens.

The Delaware win was the 30th over the Pride (11-5, 4-1) in 31 meetings in Newark and this one could bring an enjoyable night to coach Tina Martin after a string of recent struggles by the Blue Hens (7-9, 2-3).

“Hofstra is such an explosive team, they like to play quickly, but we got our tempo and I thought our kids did a really nice job,” she said afterwards.

“We kept them off the glass, and then we got on the offensive boards. This was probably one of the better games for us.

“ Everybody really chipped in at the end of the game. I thought there was a lot of growth from our kids and now we just have to build on it and keep moving along.”

Courtni Green and Erika Brown each scored 18 points for Delaware, while Hannah Jardine had 10 points, 12 rebounds and became the sixth Delaware player in program history to connect with 100 three-pointers.

Kelly Loftus had 14 points for Hofstra while Ashunae Durant, who is the reigning national freshman of the week by the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), grabbed nine rebounds..

Road Woes for Saint Joseph’s and La Salle in A-10 Action

If one only looked at the La Salle stat sheet in the Explorers’ narrow 71-68 loss to Massachusetts (8-8, 2-2 A-10) in Amherst, it might have seem like a good night.

Jasmine Alston in making the first start in a long while had 10 points and 11 rebounds for La Salle (10-7, 1-3) while Siobhan Beslow had a career-high 16 points, Micahya Owens scored 18, and Alicia Cropper scored 16.

But UMass dominated the boards as Kim Pierre-Louis, a recent USBWA national player of the week, scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds while Rashida Timbilla grabbed 17 rebounds.

On Sunday the Explorers will travel to Rhode Island for a 2 p.m. contest.

Saint Joseph’s struggles continued with a visit to Fordham in the Bronz where the Hawks fell 57-47 to the Rams (12-5, 4-0 A-10) in the Bronx in what was a CBS Sports nationally televised game.

Coach Cindy Griffin’s squad (5-11, 1-3) is on the network again Sunday at 4 p.m. when Saint Joseph’s visits Duquesne in Pittsburgh.

Against Fordham, Ciara Andrews and Kathleen Fitzpatrick each scored 12 points while Sarah Fairbanks, in her first return in several weeks because of a broken hand, scored 10 points. Natasha Cloud had seven points and eight rebounds.

Tiffany Ruffin scored 16 points for Fordham.

Big Ten: Penn State Falls Again; Rutgers Wastes Rally Hosting Maryland

The way it has gotten this season for Penn State, if the Lady Lions’ next defeat will be described as a heartbreaker it may be seen as a sign of progress.

Unfortunately, the Lady Lions (3-14, 0-6 Big Ten) already suffered a bunch of those at the outset of the season to mid-major teams with coach Coquese Washington saying her squad was a work in progress after the graduation of the talented Maggie Lucas, who became one of the WNBA top rookies last summer playing for the Indiana Fever.

On Thursday Penn State had to travel to No. 17 Nebraska and the visit resulted in a 73-45 blowout loss to the Cornhuskers (13-3, 3-2) in Lincoln.

Candice Agee had 13 points and eight rebounds for Penn State while Kaliyah Mitchell grabbed a career high 12 rebounds and another career mark was set by Keke Sevillian, who had nine points.

Penn State next travels to Ohio Staste on Sunday.

Meanwhile, No. 24 Rutgers had a chance to make a conference statement late Thursday night when No. 8 Maryland, the conference preseason favorite, visited the RAC as the third nationally-ranked team dropped in on the Scarlet Knights this season.

In each case, though all differently, Rutgers came away empty and this time it was by erasing an 18-point lead from early in the game three minutes in the second half, only to fall 71-59.

For Maryland’s Laurin Mincy, the game was a homecoming to her area and she celebrated with 24 points for the Terrapins (14-2, -0 Big Ten).

Kahleah Copper had 16 points for Rutgers (12-5, 4-2), who along with Maryland are conference newcomers this season with the Terrapins coming from the Atlantic Coast Conference while Rutgers spent one sesason in The American after the breakup of the old Big East.

Rachel Hollivay had 14 points as a substitute while Betnijah, who is the reigning USBWA national player of the week, was hampered by foul trouble but scored 12 points.

Earlier this season, Rutgers suffered a tough double overtime loss to North Carolina and later fell to Tennessee of the Southeastern Conference.
Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer expressed frustration in that her players are no longer lost in the woods but are not executing in a way they know what they must do.

So Maryland’s perfect march to date is not unlike Notre Dame’s arrival in the ACC last season from the old Big East as the Irish not only zipped through their new rivals but stayed unbeaten all the way to the NCAA title game, falling to UConn.

Terrapins coach Brenda Frese was asked the difference in the two leagues that are loaded with ranked teams as the old Big East used to have.

“The depth of our conference this season – there’s no comparison,” Frese said. “When you talk about ten teams whose RPIs are in the top 50, there’s no easy win, there’s no night you think you can just show up and be able to get a win.

“I’ve loved it. It’s been intense. Every game has been a battle. You can’t take anyone for granted.”

Rutgers next travels to Wisconsin on Sunday before taking a week off and then hosting nationally-ranked Minnesota.

And now we are all caught up.

-- Mel








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