Guru's College Report: Saint Joe's Snaps Skid While Penn Routs NJIT
PHILADELPHIA -- Saint Joseph’s made a little headway Saturday afternoon to avoid rock bottom in the Atlantic 10 with a 66-48 conference win against St. Bonaventure at home in Hagan Arena that also provided coach Cindy Griffin with her 300th career triumph including previous time spent at Loyola of Maryland.
The victory for the Hawks (6-12, 2-4 Atlantic 10) also snapped a four-game losing streak and dropped the Bonnies (11-9, 1-6) into a three-way tie in the league’s basement with newcomer Davidson (5-15, 1-6) and La Salle (10-10, 1-6), which lost its sixth straight earlier in the day when the Explorers lost their sixth-straight 67-48 at home in Tom Gola Arena to George Washington.
That win by the Colonials (18-2, 7-0), their 16th straight tying third-longest in GW history, left them all alone atop the A-10 by the time the afternoon ended for everyone due to the 54-50 upset loss by Fordham (14-6, 6-1) at St. Louis (11-11, 3-3), where Saint Joseph’s heads Wednesday for its next game.
Dayton (14-4, 5-1), the pre-season favorite who has already fell in a tight-battle at home once this year to the Colonials, defeated VCU 75-56, among teams teams in the penthouse district of the conference. The Flyers have a return game at GW on February 8.
The GW start matches the best 20-game run spanning back to the season-opener in Colonials history, though third-year coach Jonathan Tsipis is staying low-key even as he keeps his squad on a path that is close to making them into a lock for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament no matter what happens in March at the conference playoffs in Richmond.
“It’s still a long way to go with nine games left,” Tsipis said. “We still have to go to Saint Louis and they are obvious better based on what we saw on film from this week as we prepared for La Salle, which a year ago played their most complete game of the season against us.”
A 21-8 run early in the first half propelled GW to its latest win. Jonquel Jones got her seventh straight double double with 12 points and 16 rebounds, while Kelli Prange had 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks off the bench.
Micahya Owens had 12 points for La Salle and Alicia Cropper scored 11. The Explorers next head to VCU Saturday night while GW also has the week off before traveling to nearby George Mason in Fairfax, Va.
Tsipis complimented Griffin on her achievement and also noted Richmond coach Michael Shafer becoming the all-time wins leader in the program with the Spiders (11-7, 3-2) gaining a 66-44 win at Massachusetts (8-11, 2-4).
Richmond has been playing its season in the wake of last May’s tragic balloon accident nearby in Virginia that took the lives of former longtime associate head coach Ginny Doyle, the former Archbishop Ryan star in Northeast Philadelphia, who also was a prolific foul shooter for the Spiders prior to her coaching career at her alma mater.
Operations director Natalie Lewis, a star swimmer at Richmond, also died in the accident on May 9.
Meanwhile, in ending its losing streak, Saint Joseph’s, picked third in the preseason but having struggled with numerous injuries, had 10 players see action, including Ashley Robinson in her first home game in a while with nine points and nine rebounds.
Ciara Andrews had 17 points as the only Hawk scoring in double figures but that was enough because of the defense holding the Bonnies to 31.9 percent from the field. Freshman Adashia Franklyn, the daughter of former Temple great Marilyn Stephens, grabbed 10 rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench. Natasha Cloud had six points and seven rebounds.
Katie Healy had 15 points for the visitors and Imani Outlaw scored 10 points.
“It was important for us to get off to a good start, I think we did that, we shot the ball very well in the second half. We’ve been trying to find our way as far as moving the ball and getting the shots we want,” Griffin said of the win over the Bonnies.
“We did a nice job defensively. We held them under their average. When you’re scoring and playing defense, the results are going to be in your favor and I think we did that today.”
As for her milestone, Griffin, who first took over a program in Dec., 1998 before returning to her alma mater in the spring of 2001, noted, “I’m proud of the players that have coached for me and the assistant coaches that have helped us achieve this goal.”
She is now 252-178 on Hawk Hill as part of her overall 300-211 record.
“Really, it is more important in getting a win in the league, because we have been struggling. That is more important than any milestone right now. But is certainly something I’ll look on when I’m old and retired some day but right now it is about enjoying this for the next couple of hours and then getting ready for our next game.”
By the RPI measurement, Saint Joseph’s schedule has been in the top 10 for toughest in the nation, which may not be worth anything in terms of an at-large bid unless perhaps the Hawks run the table clear up to the league title game.
But if they get back on track, the Hawks still can do enough to climb steps in the packed conference standings, get over .500 and perhaps still land a bid to the WNIT.
“Today was a good start to turning the corner,” Griffin said. “We got a lot of production from our bench today. CC. did a great job coming off the bench, A-Rob did a great job guarding their best player, rebounding the ball.
“We’re still trying to find our way. We’ve had some injuries, work through those kinds of things, and you really want to be playing your best basketball at the end of January into February so we need to build from this and take two steps forward and see where we end up,” Griffin added.
“The tournament at the end of the year – it’s anybody’s. We just have to position ourselves to get a good seed. We just have to stay the course and concentrate on the things we need to stay focus with.”
Penn Finishes Non-Conference Slate With Win at NJIT
The defending Ivy champs finished their out of league schedule by bouncing back from Wednesday’s Big Five loss to Villanova by traveling up to Newark, N.J., and rolling over NJIT, the nation’s only Division I Independent, with a 59-29 triumph.
The game was the only other on Saturday among the Guru’s 10-team PhilahoopsW group, though the Guru will do a little catching up from games played Thursday and Friday night after this item on the Quakers.
The Penn bench got 36 of the 59 points for the Quakers 9-6), whose all-time non-conference mark is exceeded only by the 10 achieved in last season’s landmark accomplishments.
Prior to Mike McLaughlin’s arrival, Penn had achieved nine wins beyond the Ivy just once and now have done so back-to-back with this one containing a program-record three City Series wins to tie for the Big Five title for the first time since the local round-robin for women were launched in 1980.
It was a breakout afternoon for newcomer Michelle Nwokedi, who had 14 points, seven rebounds, a career-high five blocks, three assists and two steals in 22 minutes of action.
Ronni Grandison had 10 points for NJIT (8-14).
Penn now gets the rest of the week to prepare to launch the remainder of the conference schedule in the same situation as a year ago heading out 0-1 after losing to Princeton at The Palestra though at that time the furtherest New England tandem of Dartmouth and Harvard traveled South.
The Crimson from Cambridge, Mass., upset the Tigers, who were coming off the same three-week layoff from exams they are now concluding. The next night Penn beat Harvard and the playing field was leveled and after each team was tripped up once thereafter it came to the Penn-Princeton showdown in Jadwin the Quakers won.
This time, Princeton is more powerful and holding a consecutive streak of national rankings in both coaches and media polls and the Tigers are one of only two remaining unbeaten schools along with Dawn Staley’s South Carolina squad that is heading for a showdown at UConn one week from Monday night.
Penn will go to Dartmouth first on Friday and hit Harvard on the way back while Princeton will make the trip vice versa.
Villanova Upset of Big East Leader Seton Hall Falls Short
It may not be the power Big East that existed until a few years ago but it looks a lot like the vintage Big East of the early era when rivalries included many schools whose fan bases hit the road with their teams.
And so it was that the revitalized Seton Hall group both on and off the court travelled to Villanova Friday night – the only game on the Guru’s PhilahoopsW slate – and went home happy with a 59-56 victory and still in sole possession of first place.
“They were great,” said Tony Bozzella of his fans and cheerleaders. “We couldn’t have won this without them.”
It was also helpful to jump to a lead of as many as 13 points in the first half at the Pavilion in the first of two meetings this season prior to the Big East tournament in suburban Chicago at the Allstate Arena, home of the WNBA Chicago Sky, in Rosemont.
Daisha Simmons, who eventually won eligibility to play this season after her transfer from Alabama, gave the Pirates (18-2, 7-1) a five-point lead with 3 minutes, 4 seconds left in regulation.
But after Taylor Holeman made a shot for the Wildcats (11-9, 5-3) on the next possession, neither team scored the rest of the way.
Caroline Coyer missed a potential game-tying three-pointer as regulation time elapsed.
“That was a fun game, I thought,” veteran Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. “I just felt bad for our kids – they missed so many shots (22-for-69, 11-for-42 on 3s) they normally make.”
The letdown came after Villanova shot its way into a minimal Big Five tie with Penn, cruising over the Quakers Wednesday night at The Palestra. Saint Joseph’s can make it a three-way affair beating La Salle at home on February 4.
“One reason for our record (besides the early slew of injuries) is because we’re not consistent on offense. One day we put 70 on the board and the next day with the same shots we put 46 on the board. I guess someone took the air out of the ball.
“The difference now is the bottom teams are must better – in the old league you couldn’t beat the top. Now you can’t beat the bottom either on a night. It’s fun for the fans but it’s not fun for the coaches,” Perretta laughed.
“As much as I want to win, but if we beat each other, no one can get an at-large to the NCAA tournament,” Perretta saluted Bozzella’s revival.
More and more though Seton Hall is moving toward that capability and Bozzella belongs on somebody’s list of consideration for coach of the year nationally.
“It’s a very competitive league,” Bozzella said. “Do we have contenders for the national title? No. But we have very good teams. We beat Saint Joseph’s when they were healthy. We won at Penn State.”
Daisha Simmons finished with a game-high 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Pirates while Ka-Deidre Simmons had 15 points, Tabatha Richardson-Smith scored 11, and Janee Johnson grabbed 12 rebounds.
Emily Leer, who had an off-night at Penn, came back with 15 points on Friday while Caroline Coyer scored 11, and Kavunaa Edwards and Taylor Holeman each scored 10.
Seton Hall moves on to Georgetown Sunday while Villanova hosts another team at the top when St. John’s (15-4, 6-2) visits in the first of the home-and-home series between the two. The noon start is due to a men’s game later at night.
Three-teams, Including preseason favorite DePaul trail Seton Hall by a game while Villanova is in fifth place, 1.5 now behind the Pirates and one game behind the other three,.
Drexel and Delaware Win While Penn State Ends 8-Game Skid
Drexel played a noon game Thursday and avenged the loss to Hofstra earlier this month in Philadelphia by beating the Pride 63-56 in Hempstead, N.Y., to move into a second-place tie with Hofstra two games behind James Madison, the defending champion which is unbeaten in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Elon lost to miss making it a three-way tied in the runnerup slot.
Delaware bounced back from Sunday’s squandered effort against visiting William & Mary to beat the College of Charleston, 80-49, at home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark (Del.) setting up the first local CAA collision of the season Sunday afternoon when the longtime rivals meet at Drexel’s Daskalakis Athletic Center.
In the Drexel win at Hofstra Alexis Smith off the bench had 16 points while England’s Jamila Thompson continued to bloom, scoring 15 points while Sarah Curran scored 14 and Rachel Pearson scored 10 for the Dragons (11-7, 5-2 CAA)
Elo Edeferioka scored 15 and grabbed 12 rebounds for Hofstra (12-6, 5-2), while Kelly Loftus scored 13 points, and Ashunae Durant had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
In the Delaware game, five Blue Hens (8-10, 3-4 CAA) scored in double figures for the first time in five seasons.
Erika Brown continued her attack on the offensive nets with 19 points while Hannah Jardine and Courtni Green each scored 13 points, Joy Caracciolo scored 12, and Makeda Nicholas had 10 points against Charleston (4-14, 2-5).
“Tonight was a very good night for everyone,” said Delaware coach Tina Martin. “I want to build on this now; I don’t want this roller coaster that this season has been to continue.
“I want us to stabilize ourselves and play more consistently. This group has been very different, and for me, that’s been a challenge. Today they stepped up and showed what they can do.”
Up at State College, Penn State won its first Big 10 game of the season, beating Indiana 79-75.and snapping an eight-game losing streak that included a 90-87 home loss in overtime to USF and the first seven conference games.
Five players scored in double figures for the Lady Lions (4-15, 1-7 Big 10) for the first time this season while Alexis Gassion had 18 points for the Hoosiers (12-6, 2-5), built on 16-for-18 attempts at the foul line.
Kaliyah Mitchell led with 20 points, tying a career-high, and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Sierre Moore had 15 points, eight rebounds, and tied a career high with seven assists while Payton Whited scored 12, Candice Agee scored 13, and Lindsay Spann, who missed the loss at Ohio State due to illness, returned to score 11 points.
Though Penn State had held a 13-point lead, it evaporated down to two before pulling away from a 75-73 lead as Mitchell, Moore and Tori Waldner combined for four more points from the foul line on free throws.
The Lady Lions dealt 20 assists and tied a season low with 12 turnovers.
Next up Sunday afternoon is a visit at 2 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center from Joe McKeown’s Northwestern squad (14-4, 4-3), which is coming off a narrow win over Illinois.
All of Sunday’s games have been mentioned above except No. 23 Minnesota’s visit to No. 25 Rutgers, which had the week off and resumes play at the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center at 5:15 p.m. with few teams owning rankings remaining on the schedule.
Since this report deep, the other PhilahoopsW teams of the Guru in action Sunday besides the the Big Ten Penn State game hosting Northwestern is the CAA Delaware-Drexel clash against each other and the Big East game of St. John’s visiting Villanova at noon.
No one plays Monday night, Temple, the only team in action Tuesday and after a week off visits UCF in an American Athletic Conference game.
Penn State goes to Purdue in Big 10 action Wednesday while the other game involves the already mentioned Saint Joseph’s visit to Saint Louis.
Rutgers is at Purdue Thursday while Towson visits Delaware and we will stop the report for now and look at the weekend later.
With a light home schedule on the front end of the week, the Guru invites his local D-2 and D-3 to notify if they have home games or drivable road games through Wednesday.
We’ll be back with Sunday’s wrap in the next 24 hours.
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