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.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Guru's College Report: Villanova Completes Sweep of Xavier

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

VILLANOVA, Pa. –
Beating Xavier 64-48 Sunday afternoon at home in the Pavilion for a season sweep in the Big East series between the two was the equivalent of becoming bowl eligible for Villanova coach Harry Perretta.

“I just wanted to get to 16 wins, now we have a winning season,” the veteran mentor said afterwards.

Clinching a regular season finish of .500 or better allows a team not involved with the NCAA tournament to be taken as an at-large pick by the WNIT folks.

Of course, the Wildcats (16-10, 10-4 Big East) cannot be totally discounted from getting to the bubble neighborhood and maybe more in terms of the NCAA field based on the instability of the two teams ahead in the standings blocking Villanova’s move to the front.

Two days after a dramatic win at DePaul in the closing seconds in Chicago flipped Seton Hall into first place, the Pirates fell at Marquette 73-70 Sunday afternoon while the Demons still at home handled St. John’s 82-55 to quickly return back to the top of the standings.

That left Villanova a game behind the two leaders in the loss column with a big road trip just ahead to St. John’s Friday night and Seton Hall Sunday afternoon.

A second-place finish would allow Villanova to get to the WNIT as the automatic qualifier if the Wildcats don’t win the Big East tournament next month in suburban Chicago in Rosemont, Ill., though If both DePaul and Seton Hall get to the Big Dance, third place would still do the trick in terms of the WNIT.

However, considering Perretta’s group has now beaten everyone in the conference except Seton Hall (a narrow 59-56 loss here) and at Providence (51-49), whom they will face at least one more time, it is not totally impossible to discount the Wildcats out of emerging with the Big East trophy when the smoke finally clears.

The Wildcats also are now two games in front of St. John’s and Butler and Creighton in the loss column in terms of not dropping back in the standings.

In Sunday’s win, the Coyer twins spurred a balanced attack over Xavier (15-11, 7-8) as Caroline scored 14 points and Katherine scored 13.

“The big thing is we got some help from more of our younger players, who we didn’t Friday night (in the win over Butler), which I got on them for,” Perretta said.

“Jordan Dillard (11 points) gave us a lift today and it allowed us to use more of our bench and give people a rest. The flu has been running through our team and Caroline just got out of the infirmary this morning.”

She went for medical help after Friday’s win over Butler.

Lauren Burford also scored in double figures for Villanova with 11 points while the only Xavier player to reach double digits was Aliyah Zantt, who got 13 points off the bench.

Taylor Holeman, who was also suffering, returned to the lineup and scored six points.

Kavunaa Edwards did not play again because of a nagging injury but Perretta is hopeful of getting the post player back in action this weekend.

Villanova has won 13 of 16 games since becoming fully healthy, for the most part, after missing Emily Leer and Samantha Wilkes in the first eight games due to injuries and Katrherine Coyer also was out part of that span after suffering a leg injury early in the season.

In that span Villanova went 2-6 with all losses occurring by single digits. The Wildcats since have gone 14-4.

CAA: Drexel Holds 2nd While Delaware Streak Snapped at JMU

Drexel, also hopeful of a WNIT bid to return to the postseason affair the Dragons won two seasons ago, shook off the rust from a week off and grabbed a 56-52 win at Towson in Maryland in the Colonial Athletic Association while Delaware’s five-game win streak was slammed shut on the road 94-64 in Harrisonburg, Va., by James Madison, which is unbeaten in the conference.

In the Drexel game, Alexis Smith tied a career high with 19 points, fueled by her five 3-pointers, while Rachel Pearson scored 15 points for the Dragons (15-9, 9-4 CAA).

The win enabled coach Denise Dillon’s group to stay a half-game in front of Hofstra, which edged CAA newcomer Elon 55-53 on the road in North Carolina on Angje White’s layup in the last five seconds followed by a steal from Kyrstal Luciano to make the Pride 16-9 overall and 9-5 in the conference. Elon dropped to 14-10 and 7-6.

Drexel can clinch a winning season at the start of a three-game road trip Thursday night when the Dragons head to Charleston in South Carolina looking for a sweep in the series.

Delaware (13-12, 8-6), meanwhile, fell quickly behind 18-0 to JMU before rallying back to within six of Dukes (22-2, 13-0) and then falling further behind by 23 points near the end of the half.

The carnage grew to as much as 38 points in the differential between the two.
Dukes coach passed Sheila Moorman to become the all-time wins leader in the program with 303.

Precious Hall had 23 points for the home team while the Blue Hens got 15 each from Hannah Jardine and Courtni Green, 14 from Erika Brown, and 13 from Joy Caracciolo.

JMU also got a double double out of Lauren Okafor, who had 18 points and 11 rebounds.

“I knew coming in with this type of crowd it would be a handful for our players,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said. “It’s unfortunate because we’ve had great games here that have been absolute battles. This set of players is not ready for that, they don’t have the right mindset coming into an atmosphere like this.”

Brown tried to temper the loss saying the season is not over. “Today we went back to the team we were in the beginning of the year and not the team we’ve been recently.”

Redshirt sophomore Jodi Salyer missed the game with symptoms of a concussion.

Delaware will be off a week before Drexel visits Sunday in the second of their long-running local rivalry which saw the Dragons take the first encounter last mointh.

The Blue Hens face a challenge to get another WNIT opportunity this season because they need three wins to get to .500 and besides Drexel, they finish up with a return visit from James Madison while they will travel to UNCW in between on Feb. 26.

Season of Woe I: Saint Joseph’s Overwhelmed by Dayton

This is the season that is trying Saint Joseph’s souls and off the recent struggles Sunday was not a good time to visit Dayton in an Atlantic 10 game in Ohio.

The Flyers (19-5, 10-2), who were picked first in the conference coaches’ preseason poll but have suffered both A-10 losses to front-running George Washington, jumped to a 20-point lead before the Hawks (8-16, 4-8) narrowed the differential at the half.

But that was as close as it would get.

Sarah Fairbanks had 22 points for the visitors while Natasha Cloud scored 21 and Ciara Andrews was also in double figures with 13 points.

.Andrea Hoover had a team-high 17 points for Dayton and her 222nd three-pointer became a career-best in the Flyers’ program.

No. 21 George Washington stayed a game in front of Dayton beating St. Bonaventure 70-48 at home in the nation’s capital at the Charles E. Smith Center.

The Hawks, who were picked third in the preseason, return home this week hosting George Mason Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Hagan Arena and then hosting Richmond on Saturday.

Season of Woe II: Penn State Falls to Minnesota

Despite having four players score in double figures, Penn State was eclipsed by Minnesota, 85-77, in a Big Ten game at home in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Sierra Moore scored 17 points for the Lady Lions (6-20, 3-12 Big Ten) while Tor Waldner had a career-high 16 points.

The Golden Gophers (20-6, 9-5), who have managed to stay somewhat successful after losing Rachel Banham earlier in the season to an injury, overcame Penn State with a 12-4 edge in three-point shooting and foul shots, 17-5.

Kaliyah Mitchell scored 11 points for the Lady Lions while Candice Agee scored 10.

Minnesota’s Shae Kelly had a game-high 23 points while Shayne Mullaney scored 18, Carlie Wagner scored 17, and Mikayla Bailey scored 11.

Penn State somewhat continued Amanda Zhui B., who has been on national watch lists. She was held to eight points but did grab 12 rebounds.

The Lady Lions are now off a week before traveling to league newcomer Maryland in College Park next Monday to play the Terrapins, who are unbeaten in the conference.

Looking Ahead

The other five Division I locals of the Guru’s PhilahoopsW group were off after seeing action Saturday.

The Ivy duo of No. 16 and unbeaten Princeton (23-0) and Penn don’t play uintit this weekend with Harvard visiting Penn Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Palestra while Dartmouth visits Princeton at 7 p.m. in Jadwin Gym. The two traveling squads then switch sites Saturday, though the start that night for Princeton is 6 p.m.

La Salle hosts Rhode Island Wednesday in an Atlantic 10 game 7 p.m. in the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena.

On Tuesday, Temple hosts Tulane in a key American Athletic Conference game for both teams at 7 p.m. in McGonigle Hall while No. 18 Rutgers will host Illinois at 7 p.m. in a Big Ten game in the Louis a. Brown Athletic Center.

And that’s the report until Monday.

-- Mel

- Posted using BlogPress from the Guru's iPad

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