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.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Guru's College Report: Delaware, Rutgers and Penn State Swept Away

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Forget the weather.

They might have been indoors but no matter what the temperature indicated in all three arenas, it was a cold night Thursday for the Guru’s PhilahoopsW 10 schools that saw action or lots of inaction on their own part.

The Penn State 88-70 loss to Ohio State at home in the Bryce Jordan Center was no surprising upset for the Big 10 cellar dwellers who are suffering one of their all-time worst seasons in program history.

And No. 20 Rutgers’ 80-60 Big Ten loss at No. 25 Northwestern in Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill., may be an upset by poll rankings but as hot as the Wildcats have been it was more a missed opportunity that barring a run to the championship probably cost the Scarlet Knights any shot at being one of 16 opening round hosts in the NCAA tournament.

But the Frozen epic of the night belonged to Delaware’s defense as the Blue Hens tossed away a 12-point halftime lead and fell to UNCW 71-68 in overtime in Wilmington, N.C. in a Colonial Athletic Association defeat.

Not long ago Elena Delle Donne was the league scoring machine for Delaware (13-14, 8-8 CAA) but Thursday night the Blue Hens got a taste of what it used to be like for the opposition when they unleashed their all-American, especially when she was at her best.

Playing the role for UNCW (12-15, 8) was Brie Mobley, who exploded for 46 points, the most ever yielded to an opponent by Delaware and topping the previous high of 43 scored by Maine scoring sensation Cindy Bodgett on Feb. 8, 1998.

The Seahawks outscored the Blue Hens 40-28 after trailing 34-22 at the break and barring some run in next month’s CAA tournament at the Showplace Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., Delaware’s virtually out of the running for an at-large slot in the WNIT.

One must be at least .500 or better and considering league leader James Madison is visiting Sunday the odds of getting there are long, though no one thought Hofstra was going to be the Dukes last Sunday down in Virginia.

“It’s frustrating,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said afterwards. “We scored plenty of points, our defense was just indescribable in the second half.”

Joy Caracciolo had a career-high 26 points for the Blue Hens while Hannah Jardine had 16 points and 10 rebounds and Erika Brown scored 10.

Ryan Flowers; 16 rebounds for UNCW were the most individual output by an opponent all season.

Meanwhile, Drexel, which has a slim lead over Hofstra in the CAA for second, can at least clinch a 2-3 finish by beating Elon Friday night in a home game at 7 p.m. in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

That would mean the Dragons would be on a conference tournament bracket path that would dodge JMU until the conference title game if they make it to that step. But ahead of that, finishing second lands the guaranteed automatic qualifier slot to the WNIT considering Drexel will not likely be on the table for examination by the NCAA tournament committee.

Big 10: Rutgers Ruined at Northwestern While Ohio State Tops Penn State

Once upon a time Northwestern coach Joe McKeown developed his previous George Washington squad into a national power that at times could beat out Rutgers for supremacy when the Scarlet Knights played in the Atlantic 10.

That was during the Theresa Grentz era back in the day.

This time around McKeown’s No. 25 Wildcats, who are playing there best since his arrival in 2008, faced the current era Rutgers edition that is guided by Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer.

When the smoke cleared, Northwestern (22-6, 12-5 Big Ten) had harnessed Rutgers’ recent uptick in scoring prowess and moved into a third-place tie with Ohio State (20-9, 12-5), which handled Penn State (6-22, 3-14) on the road.

One more date before next week’s conference tournament remains but Northwestern’s seed is likely to drop a notch considering newcomer No. 5 Maryland, unbeaten in the Big 10, visits Sunday. However, the Buckeyes must deal with Nebraska, which has won five straight over them.

Rutgers (20-8, 11-6), the other conference newcomers, fell to a tie for fifth and finishes Sunday by hosting Indiana in what is likely to be the last game played in the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center by Betnijah Laney and the rest of the Scarlet Knights seniors.

For now, it might be better for Rutgers to be sixth before heading next week to Hoffman Estates in suburban Chicago because that would keep Stringer’s bunch away from Maryland until the title game if both teams advance that far.

A year ago when spending a transition year out of the old Big East in The American Athletic Conference, Rutgers managed to lose to South Florida near the end of the season and then was forced to meet UConn in the semifinals, costing the Knights their last potential chance to get to the NCAA tournament as an at-large team.
Getting there isn’t the problem this time but the recent slump has probably put Rutgers out of a shot at home games in the opening round as previously mentioned unless a whole bunch of things happen to alter that outlook.

In the game at Northwestern, which has won eight straight for the second time this season, Laney recorded her 17th double double on the year with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Kahleah Copper scored 20.

Ashley Deary scored 19 points for the Wildcats while Nia Coffey had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Maggie Lyon scored 17, reserve Lauren Douglass scored 13 points and Alex Cohen scored 10.

Most damaging to the visitors was the outset of the second half when Northwestern launched a 14-3 run, keeping them from a field goal for a little over five minutes. The 20-point differential was the largest suffered this season..

Rutgers was also without Rachel Hollivay, who suffered a left groin strain in Sunday’s game with Michigan State.

The other Rutgers seniors being honored Sunday prior to the 2 p.m. tip are Christa Evans, Syessence Davis, and Alexis Burke.

Northwestern has beaten four ranked teams this season.

“More than anything else, I loved how we closed the game,” McKeown said. “Tonight, it felt like we found another gear and just kept making plays.

"I'm just excited we're playing well at the end of the year. To me, that’s the biggest thing.”

Meanwhile, three players getting doubles went for naught for Penn State in the loss to Ohio State.

Candice Agee had 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Sierra Moore had 13 of her team-high 18 points in the second half. Senior Tori Waldner had 10 points.

For a change, freshman sensation Kelsey Mitchell was not the Buckeyes’ leading scorer, though she was still lethal. Ameryst Alston had a game-high 23 points, Mitchell scored 18, Shayla Cooper had 16, Cait Craft scored 12, and Alexa Hart scored 10.

In Ohio State’s third straight win, Mitchell connected on a trio of 3-pointers to set a season record in the program with 107. Caity Matter’s 106 was the previous record set in 2002-03.

Mitchell, with 708 points on the season, is the first Division I player to reach 700 points.

And that’s the report for now. The Guru will be tweeting from No.; 14 Princeton Friday night but tracking second-place Penn in the Ivy race as the Quakers host Brown and the Tigers play Yale. The radar will also be on Drexel’s game with Elon at home 7 p.m. and Villanova’s Big East game with Providence, with an 8:30 p.m. start at the Pavilion for TV purposes.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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