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, November 25, 2016

Princeton Routs Rutgers For First Triumph While Knights Still Winless

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

(The Penn State game is under this one and  updates now exist on the results for Villanova,Saint Joseph's and Delaware from their respect night games.)

PRINCETON, N.J. – Princeton gave out some 700 or so souvenir scarves Friday afternoon inside the doors of Jadwin Gym before the Tigers women’s basketball squad resorted to other ways to smother Rutgers’ offense in a lop-sided 64-34 nonconference victory whose magnitude was totally unexpected.

But stunning news out of these parts has become commonplace considering who the state’s chief executive who resides in a mansion a few blocks from here endorsed for president after his own failed bid to lead the Republican ticket.

Princeton (1-4) broke into the winner’s column for the first time this season after narrowly missing the achievement in  its two previous games so the 0-4 start will end up on the back end of the 10th-year of the Courtney Banghart era tying her worst start when she took over the Tigers.

“That was the motivation for sure, because we know we should have had those games,” said Tia Weledji of her team’s performance.

However, it is not the worst overall start in program history, but the 0-5 season start that Rutgers is now saddled with is both the worst in the 22 years Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer has been aboard and the worst in Scarlet Knights women’s basketball history.

Those are extended marks because at 0-4 prior to game time and 0-3 before that the same situation held.

Rutgers still has a dominating 16-5 record in the series between the two school.

Both squads have had success in recent seasons – the Tigers became the first Ivy school to go unbeaten through the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2015 and last March became the first of the Ancient Eight to earn an at-large bid.

Rutgers won the WNIT in 2014 and had been a regular at the NCAA tournament most of Stringer’s time at the helm of the program.

“I’m upset,” Stringer said afterwards, bemoaning the lack of fighters on a roster that contains six transfers and referring to a previous comment in which she said a winless record was possible.

The crowd included Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame former Virginia coach Debbie Ryan, who was home for the holidays having grown up in Mercer County.

In the dubious spirit of Black Friday, Rutgers gave out 20 turnovers to just 10 for Princeton and the Scarlet Knights shot a dismal 20.4 percent and were out-rebounded 46-39.

The combo of a retooled roster in the wake of four key graduations and a challenging schedule at the outset made Princeton’s start to its schedule not totally surprising.

And Banghart, who is taking a building blocks approach with an eye on the Ivy race in February and March, was pleased when the affair was over at the progress her squad has made since an opening night stunning loss here to nearby Rider two weeks ago.

That setback has since been tempered by the Broncs’ 3-0 start heading to the weekend for the first time in 38 years.

“This team has gotten better, better, better and better every single game,” Banghart said. “It wasn’t like bad, then good, then bad again. It’s just a matter of time before we can put it all together. We’re not there yet but we’re much better than we have been.”

Weledji, a 5-foot-10 junior guard from Kansas, who now moves toward the head of the classes, had 12 points, shooting 4-for-8 from the field for the Tigers.

Bella Alarie, a 6-4 freshman guard/forward from Bethesda, Md., who is showing early promises of one day being mentioned alongside the names of other Tigers greats, had 14 points, shooting 4-for-7 from the field, including 2-of-3 three-pointers.

No one on Rutgers, which completed a four-game road trip mostly in the South, scored in double figures. Desiree Keeling, a 6-2 sophomore center-forward; and Khadaizha Sanders, a 5-7 sophomore guard, each scored seven points.

If you’re a Rutgers fan wanting to wax nostalgic for the days of Scarlet Knights great scorers, head to the RAC on Thursday when Cappie Pondexter, an all-time WNBA and International star following her 2006 graduation, will have her number retired.

Considering the scoring woes and the opponent that night being Duke, though unranked and not necessarily your grandmother’s Blue Devils unit, at least you’ll get the good through the presentation along with the potential nightmare on the court.

Actually, Rutgers comes right back at home Sunday hosting Bryant in a game in which the home team should be favored.

Princeton on Sunday travels to UMBC just outside Baltimore and returns here Wednesday night to host Seton Hall, which also plays Rutgers next month in the triad of competition the three New Jersey schools have set up recently.

Before that Princeton had its struggles getting Rutgers on the schedule.

“We’re on record that Rutgers should be on our schedule every year,” Banghart said. “Not that it means that much to our kids cause only one is on our roster from New Jersey, but it’s really good for the state because there are a lot of good basketball teams in our state.

“Just that fact that you (media members) are here. We have two teams that should be pretty good and play each other.

“Our schedule is pretty challenging. That’s why these kids are here. They want to play good teams.”

Penn State Felled by Georgetown

The Lady Lions’ promising four-game win streak was short circuited by Georgetown 68-54 Friday in the second and final day of the San Jan Shootout in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The event, originally set for Puerto Rico, was moved because of medical concerns over a virus in the tropics.

Penn State (4-2) had opened in Philadelphia with a loss at Drexel before launching its run, highlighted by a triumph over then No. 13 Tennessee at home in the Bryce Jordan Center.

In Friday’s game, the Hoyas (4-2) jumped to an 8-0 lead before Penn State pulled closer and the outcome was undetermined until Georgetown pulled away from a 47-47 tie that existed with 8 minutes, 22 seconds left in the game.

Penn State’s mediocre ball handling proved costly with Georgetown mining 28 points out of 18 Lady Lions miscues.

Peyton Whitted during the game became the 33rd Lay Lion to grab at least 500 rebounds.

Teniya Page for Penn State had a team high 16 points and four assists. Georgetown’s Dionna White had 21 points helped by four 3-pointers.

Dorothy Adomako added 15 points and Faith Woodard had 13 points and nine rebounds.

On Wednesday, PSU travels to Boston College as part of the Big 10/ACC challenge.

Saint Joseph’s, Villanova and Delaware Beaten

Tourney time wasn’t a good time either for the Hawks, Wildcats and Blue Hens Friday following Penn State’s loss to Georgetown in the San Juan Shootout.

In the same tourney, though not in the traditional format, as Penn State, Villanova was edged by VCU 68-66 to fall to 1-4 on the season.

Following nearly a two-minute scoring drought by both teams near the end of the game, the Wildcats pulled close at 64-63 with 51 seconds left in the game and then briefly stopped the Rams of the Atlantic 10 on the next possession before VCU came up with the offensive rebound.

Galaisha Goodhope made it a three-point lead connecting on two free throws following Villanova’s force to foul with 23 seconds left.

Alex Louin then made it a one-point game again with a shot and after the Wildcats committed another necessary foul, VCU’s Keira Robinson went 1-2 from the line to make it 67-65 with 15.2 seconds remaining in regulation.

On the next play, after Villanova missed a potential game-tying shot, Megan Quinn grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled, but she only went 1-2 from the line with 7.8 seconds left to make it 67-66 still in favor of the Rams (4-2).

Robinson was fouled again, went to the line, but only made 1-2 once more. The ‘Cats had no timeouts remaining and so Jannah Tucker went down the court and tossed a desperation three-pointer that failed to connect as time expired.

Quinn finished with a game-high 22 points, shooting 5-for-7 overall from the field, including 3-of-5 three pointers, and was also 5-for-7 from the line while also grabbing eight rebounds.

Adrianna Hahn, Louin and Tucker each scored nine points while Goodhope had 16 points.

Next up on Wednesday night Villanova makes its Big Five season debut hosting La Salle, which has a loss to Temple in City Series play.

Meanwhile Saint Joseph’s that broke out of a season-starting four-game losing streak, winning at Penn in Big Five competition Wednesday night, fell to BYU 71-56 in the opening round of the New Mexico Thanksgiving Tournament in Albuquerque in what was a game of massive runs.

The Cougars had the last word, using a 24-4 run across the two quarters of the second half.

Saint Joseph’s (1-4) had used its own offensive thrust in the third period erasing a 17-point deficit to take a 47-46 lead off a 24-6 run capped by Jaryn Garner with 36 seconds left in the third quarter.

But then the Cougars (2-2) fired back to leave the Hawks way behind in their rear view mirror.

Amanda Fioravanti had 14 points for the Hawks and also grabbed five rebounds, blocked two shots and had an assist and a steal.

Garner had a career high 11 points, a total matched by teammate Chelsea Woods. Kristine Nielsen had a team-high 15 points for BYU, which had four other players also score in double figures.

Saint Joseph’s on Saturday will play for third place against host New Mexico (2-2), which was ended in its game by Tulsa. (2-3) of the American Athletic Association 67-64.

Finally, Delaware suffered its first loss of the season in its fifth game, losing to No. 24 Michigan State 81-64 in the opening round of Cal State Northridge’s tourney.

The Blue Hens (4-1) will meet Detroit on Saturday night for third place after the Titans (2-3) fell to the host team (3-2) that at New Year’s will host Penn in a single game.

The Spartans of the Big Ten used a three-point shooting barrage from Tori Jankoska – she nailed eight of them to account for an alltime 32 points.

Erika Brown had a team-high 15 points for Delaware.

“While you never want to lose, this was a step forward for us tonight because these ladies played their butts off and really competed against a nationally ranked team,” said longtime coach Tina Martin.

“This was a very physical game and our kids did a good job of being relentless under the boards. I saw some real fight in our young ladies and if we can bring that same fight and go after people with no fear, we can do a lo of good things this season. We really need that toughness for the rest of the year.”

After Saturday night, Delaware returns home on Thursday to host Robert Morris and then host Georgetown Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.