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 20, 2015

Guru's College Report: Drexel Tops Charleston While La Salle Edges URI

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA --
On a light schedule Thursday night involving just two of the Guru’s 10-team local D-1 PhilahoopsW group, La Salle edged Rhode Island 47-45 in Atlantic 10 action here in town at the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena while Drexel on the road finished a sweep of Charleston with a 63-52 win in the Colonial Athletic Association in a game in South Carolina.

Rhode Island (15-10, 7-6 Atlantic 10) has made some progress this season rising above the level of a traditional Atlantic 10 doormat under first-year coach Daynia La-Force, who was previously with Northeastern in Boston in the CAA.

One reason has been another newcomer to the program – freshman Charise Wilson whose 16.5 points per game average is second in NCAA Division I behind the sensational Kelsey Mitchell of Ohio State.

But on this particular night the defense of La Salle (13-13, 4-9) managed to limit Wilson to 12 points and hold off the Rams by a field goal to get back to .500 overall.

That may only last until the next game considering the Explorers will be a decided underdog Sunday when they travel to second-place Dayton, whose only losses have been to front-runner George Washington.

Rhode Island’s Samantha Tabakman also scored in double figures, collecting 10 points.

On the La Salle side in the closely-fought battle, after being held scoreless in the first half, Amy Griffin scored 11 of the Explorers’ final 12 points and finished with the same scoring total herself.

Michaya Owens had a game-high 14 points.

Rhode Island, which had beaten Saint Joseph’s for the first time in a decade and Fordham in the Rams’ two previous outings, came surging to the last minute trying to close a nine-point deficit but La Salle stopped them short forcing two missed shots and a turnover.

Meanwhile, Drexel joined Villanova in town clinching an overall winning record to become WNIT-eligible for an at-large slot though the Dragons may use the easier route after going on the road to defeat Charleston.

The win enabled the Dragons (16-9, 10-4) to stay just ahead of Hofstra in second place in the CAA and if they continue to hold that slot until the conference tournament they actually clinch a spot as an automatic qualifier to the WNIT unless they land in the NCAA as the conference tourney champion.

But to do that would probably mean beating nationally-ranked James Madison, which continued to be perfect in CAA competition Thursday night.

Penn, which is running second in the Ivy League behind No. 16 and powerful Princeton (23-0), the nation’s only unbeaten Division I team, could also get to the WNIT via automatic qualifier, though the Quakers would still have a strong shot at an at-large bid.

Temple is also in the WNIT mix and could also land in that tournament through different scenarios.

Back to Drexel, which has won all road games to date except the visit to JMU, Jackie Schluth tied a career-high with 18 points while Alexis Smith in a starters role scored 15. Schluth also had a game-high nine rebounds and dealt four assists against Charleston (4-21, 2-12).

The Dragons also improved their foul shooting percentage, which was already tops in Division I, and now stands at .792 percent.

Next up is a visit to longtime local rival Delaware at 2 p.m. in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark as the Dragons go for a sweep in the season series, which would be the first time since the 2009-10 season, when Blue Hens sensation Elena Delle Donne, now in the WNBA, was a freshman.

Friday night, as mentioned in the previous college roundup post, is also a light night on the schedule with just three games, but all are critical.

Two involve the local Ivy duo of Penn and Princeton, which holds a two-game lead on the Quakers in the league chase whose winner is determined in regular season play unless there is a deadlock at the finish.

Nevertheless, while it would be nice to get closer to Princeton and then get a shot at the Tigers in the final game of the season next month at home at the Palestra here in town, as mentioned, second place still has value.

And to stay on that track Penn begins the weekend at home Friday night at 6 p.m. in the Palestra hosting Harvard while Princeton will be hosting Dartmouth in a 6 p.m. start because the game is being picked up on the American Sports Network.

Princeton will stay with its usual Saturday night 6 p.m. start when Harvard switches off while Penn will take on Dartmouth at 7 p.m. The Quakers and Tigers got the weekend two-night marathons in the league started successfully last month in visits to this weekend’s guests so the Southern duo in the league are going for a sweep as the back half of the Ivy schedule gets under way.

The other game on Friday has Villanova visiting St. John’s looking for a sweep on the Red Storm after shooting the lights out at home in the Pavilion when the two teams met in their Big East war several weeks ago.

The Guru will be tweeting Friday night from Princeton and then Penn Saturday on his weekend sharing gesture. He'll also be at Saturday's other local D-1 game when Richmond visits Saint Joseph’s.

Villanova is holding third and with help can get to second and maybe No. 1 before the Big East tourney next month returns to the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Ill. At the Allstate Arena, which is the home of the WNBA Chicago Sky.

The Wildcats will stay on the road Sunday to visit Seton Hall, which is holding second, and try to get a split in that series this season.

That’s it for now. Hopefully, you read a Division III post from Rob Knox just above this but if you came here directly from the Guru’s posted tweet link, just scroll above though if it is now between 12:45 a.m. and 1:45 come back a little later since the Guru is about to edit Rob, which usually goes quickly.

-- Mel

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- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

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