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 06, 2015

Guru's College Report: Rutgers Edges Nebraska to Make Stringer Best in Big Ten Wins

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

No. 21 Rutgers held off No. 19 Nebraska in a battle of nationally-ranked Big 10 programs Thursday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center for a slim 46-43 victory with the outcome leading to an exchange of spots in the standings and Rutgers Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer becoming the all-time winningest coach in the conference.

Ironically, she broke a tie Thursday night that existed for a few days with her colleague of yesteryear in former Penn State coach Rene Portland whom Stringer caught Sunday here when the Scarlet Knights (17-5, 8-3 Big Ten) completed a season sweep of the Lady Lions now run by Portland’s successor Coquese Washington.

Stringer’s total that includes her longtime stint in her previous job at Iowa (169) as well as the Scarlet Knights’ small collection of victories (8) to date in their first year in the conference brings her to 177.

“I didn’t know about it before but it brings back the acknowledgement and memory that I’m fortunate because I’ve had so many outstanding (assistant) coaches as well outstanding players and I’ve been fortunate to have an administration that has been supportive,” Stringer said.

“Tonight was a surprise, too. I was worried about just how were we going to get through this game,” she said.

Once the victory was secured with the final points coming on a shot from Nebraska’s Brandi Jeffery originally ruled a three-pointer by one official at the buzzer, Rutgers officials ran a retrospective of Stringer’s career on the big video/scoreboard over center court.

The win not only moved Rutgers up a spot to third in the Big Ten while the Cornhuskers (17-5, 7-4) fell to fourth, it put the Scarlet Knights in position to move ahead of Nebraska in the Associated Press poll on Monday if they win at Michigan, Sunday, while the Cornhuskers have another toughie the same day playing at No. 5 Maryland, the other conference newcomer, who was picked to win the Big Ten in the conference coaches and media separate preseason votes revealed last October.

Maryland held up its part of the forecast again Thursday night with a 77-62 win at Penn State, one of two other Guru’s PhilahoopsW teams that played, to stay unbeaten inBig Ten play after moving over from the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Rutgers spent one season a year ago in the American Athletic Conference following the breakup of the old Big East, which Rutgers joined, moving out of the Atlantic 10, the year Stringer arrived here for the 1995-96 season.

Finishing with a sweep of its two games this week would come at a good time for Rutgers because earlier Thursday the NCAA announced a first that will occur next Wednesday when the tournament committee will name the four top seeds in order if they were assembling the bracket now and then will list the next 16 seeds in alphabetical order.

This is a marketing move, primarily, to give schools an idea whether they will be in contention for first-and-second round hosting honors that will go to the top 16 seeds unless any of those seeds’ arenas are unavailable.

Two situations already exist where likely top 16 seeds Louisville and Arizona State can’t host.

Of course whatever is announced Wednesday night could change a lot by the time the actual draw and pairings are announced on Selection Monday, March 16.

Meanwhile, as for the game here that set up all these dynamics Rutgers saw a 12-point lead whither to just a basket twice in the second half, the second at 26-24 with 16 minutes, 12 seconds left in the defensive struggle.

Aided by Rutgers rookie star Tyler Scaife, who had been held in check, the Scarlet Knights got just enough leeway to pull out the victory.

“I said the team that would get to 40 first would win,” Nebraska coach Connie Yori said.

The Huskers were at a disadvantage at the outset with their all-American candidate point guard Rachel Theriot sidelined for the first time in her career due to an ankle injury suffered in practice last week.

She is on the trip but her condition is day-to-day so it is not known if she will be able to play at Maryland.

Betnijah Laney led Rutgers, putting up her 15th double double of the season with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Scaife finished with 12 points.

Emily Cady had 13 points and 14 rebounds for Nebraska while Tear’a Laudermille scored 16 to match Rutgers’ Laney for game honors and Hailie Sample pulled down 11 rebounds.

This was Rutgers third win in seven tries against teams holding a national ranking in either poll at the time.

The Scarlet Knights also blocked ten shots.

Penn State Handled by Maryland

Meanwhile, as for the details at State College in the Penn State loss mentioned in opening item above, the Lady Lions (5-18, 2-10) took an early on the Terrapins (20-2, 11-0) before Maryland closed out the first half with a 31-7 run in the last 10 minutes to take control.

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 21 points for the visitors while Lexie Brown dealt 10 assists.

Freshman Lindsay Spann, ironically from Maryland’s backyard in Laurel, had another stellar game for Penn State, scoring 18 points, while sophomore Sierra Moore added 15 points and Candice Agee scored 10 points.

Penn State next heads to Purdue on Sunday before returning to the Bryce Jordan Center next Wednesday night to host Michigan State at 7 p.m.

Delaware Win Streak Reaches Three

In the only other PhilahoopsW squad in action, Delaware won its third in a row beating a team the Blue Hens have dominated in Northeastern against whom they are now 27-1 in their last 28 games in the Colonial Athletic Association.

To get this one which offered a 70-61 final score, however, the Blue Hens (11-11, 6-5 CAA) had to rally from a 13-point deficit in the first half at home at the Bob Carpenter Center.

The winners nailed nine free throws in the final 1:08 to claim the win.

Joy Caracciolo had a career-high 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the Huskies (4-17, 1-10).

Freshman Makeda Nicholas also had a career night in her short time to date with the Blue Hens, scoring 17 points while she also blocked four shots.

Erika Brown scored 16 points, continuing her hot tear, while Courtni Green scored 12 points.

Amencie Mercier scored 15 points for Northeastern.

“We played very flat in the first,” said Delaware coach Tina Martin, who has been looking for some stability to date in her team’s performance. “Towards the middle of the second half, we buckled down.

“We executed offensively, got people to the foul line and put up some good looks. We are finally over .500 in the conference and now it’s going to continue to be a dog fight to the end.”

Delaware will remain in Newark Sunday to host UNCW.

Looking Ahead

The price was right – the Guru won’t say how but no, not totally free – so rather than backtrack from home, he is headquartered in a nice place in Princeton to be able to attend the 18th-ranked Tigers’ first home game in a month Friday night at Jadwin Gym in the Ivy League.

Princeton, one of two unbeatens left in the nation in Division I – the other is top-ranked South Carolina which beat Georgia Thursday night in an SEC game – will host Columbia while Penn, the defending Ivy champs trying to stay on the Tigers’ heels, will host Cornell before the two visitors switch locations Saturday night when the Guru will be at The Palestra for Penn.

Drexel, all alone in second in the CAA, will host William & Mary Friday night at the Daskalakis Athletic Center and then return Sunday to host conference frontrunner James Madison, which is unbeaten in the CAA and already holds a win over Drexel from back home.

We’ll fill in the rest of the skinny for Saturday in the next roundup off Friday’s action.

That’s it for now.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad


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