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.
By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru
PHILADELPHIA – The three PhilahoopsW local teams of the Guru in action Tuesday night each shook things off to post victories all at home.
Drexel didn’t wipe off the all the dust accumulated during a 10-game layoff for finals but the Dragons were able to be smartly operative in all other parts of their game to emerge down the stretch from a tough challenge from Niagara to gain a 69-57 non-conference victory at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.
Saint Joseph’s looked ahead and not back at last weekend’s narrow loss at Central Michigan in overtime to pounce on NJIT 75-36 at Hagan Arena.
And up north Rutgers gained a key in-state rival win in the kind of game the Scarlet Knights’ have had difficulty, beating Seton Hall 53-45 at the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.
Rutgers is now 3-9 on the season and claimed its 900th program win while Seton Hall fell to 6-4 and in the Garden State triad competition, Princeton was 2-0 walloping both schools, Rutgers split and Seton Hall was 0-2. The way Rider (7-2) is playing right now, maybe the Broncs should be invited to the fray considering they opened the season winning at Princeton.
Actually, Rider will be at Seton Hall on Sunday at noon.
Meanwhile, in the Drexel game, Meghan Creighton had a career-high 24 points, one more than her previous best effort in last month’s upset of Syracuse, with 21 of the total occurring in the second half. She was extremely effective from the outside connecting on 6-of-8 three-pointers.
Freshman Bailey Greenberg had 11 points and 12 rebounds for her first double double for the Dragons (5-2) while also dealing three assists, grabbing a pair of steals and blocking a shot. It was a career-tying night for Kelsi Lidge, who had 12 points and eight rebounds to tie two best marks, and Sarah Curran scored 14 points.
Victoria Rampado was a tough challenge from the Purple Eagles (4-6), scoring 24 points, but Drexel’s board work, especially with its 18-7 effort on the offensive glass, helped hold everyone else in check.
“It wasn’t pretty, but I felt we found a way on the defensive end to give ourselves a chance,” said Drexel coach Denise Dillon. “The number that stands out to me is the 18 offensive rebounds. We did not shoot the ball well today (32.3 percent) but we got enough opportunities out there and hit our free throws (16-for-20) to get a solid win against a team that plays extremely hard.”
Though the visitors outscored Drexel 21-14 in the paint, Drexel dominated in second chance efforts with an 18-7 advantage.
Greenberg, the daughter of La Salle men’s great Chip Greenberg, and niece of another Explorers star in Kelly Greenberg, is starting to reach a comfort level with the move up to collegiate ball.
“Every day I get more comfortable and I get more of an opportunity to drive,” she said.
Lidge said of her game, “If I’m open I’m going to shoot the ball and I’ve been working a lot on my shot and I was open for the first one and made it and open again so I took it again.”
The game was a homecoming for Jada Pierce, who is a West Chester graduate who coached at Division II Cheyney and was an aide at Saint Joseph’s before taking the job with the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference member last season.
Niagara’s Maggie McIntyre, who had three points in 22 minutes, is a graduate of Gloucester Catholic in South Jersey.
Drexel next hosts Saint Joseph’s Sunday at 2 p.m. on a doubleheader that finishes with the men playing Kean University.
The Hawks (3-6) rode a career-high 19 points from sophomore Sarah Veilleux of Hebron, Conn., to rule the Highlanders (3-6) while Chelsea Woods grabbed 12 rebounds and Adashia Franklyn collected 10 points.
Saint Joseph’s made sure this one wasn’t going to the wire, opening on a 15-0 run and not squandering an advantage. Veilleux was also 5-for-9 in 3-point attempts and 5-for-11 overall from the field.
NJIT got 11 points from Alana Dudley but overall was held to 26.3 percent from the field.
“SV set the tone offensively and we did some good things offensively and held a team that had been averaging 53 points to 36,” Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said.
“I felt overall everybody contributed and it was a great game going into finals and we’ve had some tough games leading up to this one so it was nice to be operating on both ends of the floor tonight.”
In Rutgers’ win, Khadaizha Sanders had a near triple-double scoring highs with 17 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Aliyah Jeune added a career best with 18 points while Seton Hall’s JaQuan Jackson took game honors with 21 points.
The Scarlet Knights had to withstand a 19-4 first-half run that enabled the Pirates to carry a 29-18 lead to the break.
But Rutgers came out for the second stanza and countered with a 15-3 run to get back into contention.
Next up is a visit from Temple Saturday but before that, the Owls will host nationally-ranked DePaul at McGonigle Hall Thursday night with a 9 p.m. tip that will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
On Sunday, besides the Saint Joseph’s-Drexel game, Princeton visits Kansas State, American U. visits Penn State, while in two national games of note, Stanford visits Tennessee while UCLA visits South Carolina.