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.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Guru's College Report: Ross Shot Sends Penn to Palestra Win Over Richmond

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA --
Graduated Alyssa Baron may no longer be around for game-breaking shots at the finish from Penn’s lineup but others have come along to keep the tradition alive.

Just over a week ago after Renee Busch knocked down a game-winner over Temple to set up next Wednesday’s historic showdown with Villanova to go after a local Big Five sweep, freshman Anna Ross delivered another dagger nailing a three-pointer with 26 seconds left in regulation to give Penn a dramatic come-from-behind 49-47 non-conference victory over Richmond Wednesday night at The Palestra.

The lead changed hands nine times overall and five times in the final 3 minutes, 41 seconds and after Ross’ trey, Penn fans had to collectively hold their breath as Richmond missed a potential game-tying shot on short jumpers inside three times as the final seconds in regulation elapsed.

It’s the first-victory in a lifetime seven-game series for the Quakers (8-5) over the Spiders (9-7) of the Atlantic 10, who last visited Penn in 1994 and also last played the Quakers at home the following year. Richmond led by as many as 11 points early in the first half and held a 25-17 advantage at the break.

The triumph was a nice recovery from Saturday’s Ivy-opening wipeout at 19th-ranked Princeton, which is 17-0 and on the front end of a three-week layoff for exams.

Penn coach Mike McLaughlin, now in his sixth season, has posted three successive non-conference runs of eight or more wins which equal the entire seasons total of a similar bottom line in Quakers history prior to his arrival from where he made Division II Holy Family in Northeast Philadelphia into a national power.

“We had a set we ran and were trying to go high-low from Kara Bonenberger to Sydney (Stipanovich),” McLaughlin said of the winning play in the final minute. “And they collapsed in. What’s impressive, I told Anna afterwards is, `It’s great that you made it, but you felt comfortable enough to take the shot.’

“It’s a huge shot for anyone, let alone a freshman for under 20 seconds. This is the toughest part of our schedule playing Big Five games and others in January before the rest of the Ivy schedule kicks in,” he said.

“It was good to play. It gives us a chance to get ready for the first Ivy weekend and going against Villanova.”

Ross, a native of Syracuse, described her play.

“In those situations, you have to make a big play and if you’re open, you have to make a shot, even if it’s a tough one,” she said.

As to why she chose Penn for her collegiate career, Ross said, “The coaches. And what this program means and it’s history.”

It’s a history that has had few flashes of brilliance compared to consistency of others in the Ivy League but the Quakers are now part of what seems to be a renaissance in the Ancient Eight, which was highlighted earlier in the day with the league’s annual midseason teleconference with the coaches of each school.

The Ivies used to be found near the bottom of the 30 or so conferences over the years in RPI strength usually causing a predication of a bottom seed in the NCAA tournament for whoever became the league champion.

But going into Wednesday night, the four teams that don’t have winning records are just one reversal short of each being at .500 overall.

Harvard’s Kathy Delaney-Smith, the dean of the Ivy coaches, noted that the league has always been fun to coach in “the years we won it and even the years we didn’t.”

As for performers at the Palestra, Stipanovich, who has been bothered by back problems all season, bounced back from being locked down at Princeton by posting a double double with 19 points and grabbing 13 rebounds while blocking six shots for Penn.

Kathleen Roche and Bonenberger, who got all her points in the second half, each scored eight for the Quakers and Ross had seven.

Richmond’s Red-shirt senior Genevieve Okoro, a graduate of Eastern Reginal High in South Jersey, had 12 points and 11 rebounds. A former Philadelphia Belles player in AAU competition, she was coached by Rose Katz, who is in her first year at Division III Arcadia.

Richmond returns to the city Feb. 21 to play at Saint Joseph’s as part of the Atlantic 10 schedule.

This was the Spiders’ first trip here since last May for the celebration of life service for their Associate head coach Ginny Doyle, the former Archbishop Ryan great and Richmond prolific foul shooter, who died in a balloon accident on May 9 along with operations director Natalie Lewis, in Virginia near Richmond.

The Doyle family, who McLaughlin knew very well from his days in Northeast Philadelphia, were presented by the Penn team before the game with a donation to the scholarship fund in Doyle’s name – there is also one equally being planned to honor Lewis – and flowers were given to Doyle’s mother.

When McLaughlin got the Penn job, Doyle was offered a spot on the staff but he said previously to Wednesday night’s game that she was too in love with her alma mater to make a switch.

Saint Joseph’s also plans to have a brief ceremony in Doyle’s memory and other schools in the A-10 such as Fordham and George Washington have held pre-game tributes.

Temple Trounced at No. 2 Connecticut

The Owls became the latest American Conference victim to get mauled by the Huskies, falling 92-58 on the road at UConn’s Gampel Pavilion on campus,, where the home team hadn’t played in a month.

Part of the schedule, however, took the Huskies elsewhere in the state to the larger XL Center in nearby Hartford, where they share most of their home games alongside the ones on campus in Storrs. They also played a game at Bridgeport, about an hour or so away to the Southeast along the coast, and at the Mohegan Sun at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville to the Northeast.

Temple (7-11, 3-2 AAC), which will be visited at McGonigle Hall by UConn on Feb. 1, the same day as the NFL Super Bowl, did manage to have four players score in double figures, though opposing coach Geno Auriemma may have applied the mercy switch since Owls coach Tonya Cardoza was one of his assistants for 14 seasons and her assistant Wllnett Crocket, who played at UConn.

Each received a warm ovation from the crowd, which is more than the Christians got in ancient Rome before being fed to the Lions.

Feyonda Fitzgerald had 12 of her 16 points in the second half while Erica Coyle had 13 points and 10 rebounds, freshman Alliya Butts had 14 and Tyonna Williams scored 10.

Additionally, the game provided a state homecoming visit for Temple freshman Tanaya Atkinson, who is from nearby New Haven.

Morgan Tuck had 24 points for the two-time defending NCAA champions while Breanna Stewart, the reigning national player of the year, had 19 while Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who recently replaced all-time great Diana Taurasi as the best Connecticut three-point shooter. Had 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Temple, which has seven of its players being sophomore or freshman and also trailed 55-25 at the half, was out-rebounded 58-32,

The Owls won their first three AAC games before dropping the next at home Sunday to USF, which was picked second behind UConn in the preseason conference coaches’ poll.

Temple was outscored in the paint 36-0 before Coville finally broke the shutout.
“We were forced to shoot a lot of 3s because those are the only shots we thought we were going to get that were open,” Cardoza said, being quoted in The Associated Press report of the game.

The Owls return home Saturday to play UCF at 2 p.m. in McGonigle Hall.

Looking Ahead

In a national showdown Thursday night at 9 p.m. the two Big Ten newcomers meet the first time this season when Maryland travels to Rutgers where the Guru will be on the scene tweeting and covering.

Years ago both teams were part of the frontrunners of Region IB of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics For Women (AIAW), the governing and sponsorship group of women’s collegiate sports before the NCAA took over in 1981-82.

Ironically, that being the final year of AIAW, Rutgers made it to the AIAW Final Four and won the championship at the Palestra while Maryland was part of the first-ever NCAA Final Four, which was held in Norfolk, Va.

In another Big Ten game – both will air on the Big Ten broadcast platform, struggling Penn State will be at Nebraska.

In A-10 action, Saint Joseph’s travels to Fordham while La Salle will be at Massachusetts.

And in the Colonial Athletic Association, Delaware hosts Hofstra, while on Friday night, Drexel will be at William & Mary.

Also on Friday night, Villanova will be at Butler.

The Temple game is the only action in the Guru’s Division I local PhilahoopsW group on Saturday.

On Sunday, in the Big Ten, Penn State is at Ohio State while Rutgers is at Wisconsin.

In the CAA, Drexel is at league-favorite James Madison while Delaware will host William & Mary.

In the Big East, Villanova will be at Xavier while in the Atlantic 10, Saint Joseph’s will be at Duquesne and La Salle will be at Rhode Island.

Historic NCAA Convention

Just an alert that the NCAA Convention begins Friday night near the nation’s capital at the Gaylord Hotel at Washington Harbor – the same place CAA teams stay when playing their conference tournament at Upper Marlboro, Md., at Showplace Arena.

This is the convention that will determine the next governing structure, which, if passes, gives the Power 5 – Big 10, ACC, Pac-12, Big 12, and SEC autonomy to set their own rules in many areas.

Stay tuned. The Guru may take a quick trip down there Friday to check on things but in the interim he will be back with Thursday’s activity by sunrise Friday.

-- Mel








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