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.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Guru Report: La Salle, Rider, Princeton, Drexel Romp to Wins

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J./PHILADELPHIA – Rider reached a program rarity in early season wins, La Salle continued to also stay on the winning side, while Princeton and Drexel were just as smashing Wednesday as each made short work of the opponents they played on the shortest day of the year.

The double dateline signifies two stops the Guru made in the afternoon and evening for live game coverage since he is stuffing the entire report into this post instead of separating coverage of some of the teams.

Meanwhile, things did not go well for Delaware at home, being edged by Hartford, 67-66, in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, while Villanova fell to No. 17 Duke, 68-50, in Cameron Indoor Arena in Durham, N.C.

Wednesday afternoon La Salle hosted Delaware State in a non-conference affair in the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena and grabbed a 78-38 victory, their seventh in their last eight games.

Amy Griffin, the leading scorer in the Atlantic 10 last season, hasn’t missed a step and scored 22 points in this one while Adreana Miller had 17 points and Shalina Miller scored 12 for La Salle (7-4).

Mikah Aldridge had 14 points for Delaware State (1-9), the only player in double figures.

“It was a tough one today in terms of executing and focusing, we had 25 turnovers and we gave them 19 offensive rebounds, we just got through it today,” said La Salle coach Jeff Williams. “I wasn’t pleased with our performance at all. I think we’re a much better team than we showed today.

“But it’s a W so we’ll take it.”

Delaware State had 21 miscues, so that was a combination of 46 in the game while the two teams also combined for 32 personal fouls, 18 by the visitors and 14 by the home team causing quite much erratic play in the flow.

The second quarter when La Salle outscored the Lady Hornets, 17-4, and fourth quarter when the Explorers piled on with a 24-7 wipeout were telling although they owned the other two quarters as well with advantages of 18-10 in the first and 19-17 in the third.

The battle of the boards on the overall side went to the Explorers 52-37. They were also excellent at. The line where they shot 15-for-16 when Delaware State shot a much less 5-for-6.

The margin of victory was the largest in seven seasons under Williams.

After the holiday break, La Salle hosts Mo.-Kansas City next Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Then it’s off to the Atlantic 10 portion of the schedule, beginning New Year’s Day at VCU.


New Blood Keeps Rider on Winning Course

It took Rider 29 seasons to replicate an 8-3 start the last time they did it from the first one in 1982-83 to the first one under Lynn Milligan in 2011-12. This time the opening portion of the schedule has been much less in just five years.

The Broncs, finally home here in Alumni Gymnasium, also known as the zoo, for the first time since a Dec. 17 victory over La Salle, achieved the mark Wednesday night, defeating St. Francis Brooklyn 77-60 to close the non-conference portion of the schedule.

Freshman Stella Johnson of Morris Catholic and Denville, N.J., was the scoring star in this one, collecting 24 points, best for both teams, powered by a 9-for-11 shooting mark from the field, while also grabbing five steals on the offensive end, dealing four assists and posting a game-high nine rebounds. She also connected on her only 3-ball attempt.

Additionally Julia Duggan scored in double figures with 15 points while Kamila Hoskova scored 14.

Maria Palarino scored 20 points for the Brookynites (2-9), while Jade Johnson provided 14 points off the bench.

It was a good recovery for Rider after the last one got away in the last two minutes when the Broncs fell to Seton Hall 89-81 at the Pirates’ Walsh Gym in South Orange, N.J.

As has been the situation in most of the wins, that began on opening night with the upset up the road from here at Princeton, Rider got off to an overwhelming start, which was 21-3 in this one before the Terriers responded in the next period with a 22-18 advantge.

But the main talk of the night was of the addition to Johnson as an instant contributor in the early part of her collegiate career.

“A solid game, but not one of our better performances as a team,” Milligan said. “But when you have Stella making plays out there and giving you that little bit of a cushion with her steals and anticipation, really what she does best, everyone gets locked in on the steals stats, but it’s really the finish.

“And it seemed like she got a steal when we needed it every time.”

Talking of stepping right in to the cause, Johnson said, “I think my teammates keep up the intensity during warmups, they always hype us up saying we can do this and everything, and ‘Coach. Our coaches hype us up, too.”

Milligan said of Johnson’s upside, “Even when she starts to be more aggressive, she passes up a lot of stuff. She’s obviously a very unselfish player as well. But she does pass up a lot of looks. So when she gets more comfortable on the offensive recognizing where she’s going to get her shots, I think you’re going to see even more things from her.”

Rider had 13 thefts overall, leading to a dominating 22-4 advantage in points off turnovers, and 14-7 on fast break points.

“It’s been huge,” Milligan said of the steals all season, “because we’ve been able to get into passing lanes and score more consistently, scoring over 70 most of the year and I think you can directly correlate that to the cnsistency of the steals and the transition baskets because of that.”

The winning has also brought something new, Milligan noted.

“We had a great first quarter and then the second quarter left a little to be desired and that’s something we’ve done a couple times this year and I think, I don’t know if it sounds cliché or not, but we’re learning how to play with leads.

“That’s something I’m not sure our older kids are used to and when you’re up 21-3 I always tell the kids you gotta kill the fly with an axe. And we’re not doing that yet. We’ve got to see an opening and take it and we sometimes we take that little bit of a breadth.”

The Broncs have already played two games on the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) schedule, winning the Western swing over Canisius and Niagara for the first sweep of the region in 20 years and took the MAAC opener for the first time in 14 seasons.

 That sets up a key MAAC clash when the break ends and powerful Quinnipiac visits Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. followed by Iona on Jan. 2.

“We’ve been battle tested, we’ve been road tested,” Milligan said. “I think we’ve had a lot of things thrown at us, with our travel schedule and I think we’ve played a lot of different teams, Big East, NEC, Patriot, Colonial, I think we’ve had a lot of different styles of basketball to prepare us and that’s what we try to do in our non-conference schedule, give us as many different looks as possible.

“I think we’ve passed most of the tests that we threw at the kids. The rest we’ll have over the break is warranted and then we’ll have those three days of preparation for Quinnipiac that will tell us a lot.”

Though new, Johnson is looking forward to the contest that is an early one for first place.

“That pumps me up like when we played Princeton that was a huge game because we were the underdog, we just use it to our advantage and coming into Quinnipiac we’re going to be the under dog.”


Drexel Streak Continues

The Dragons are starting to poke their heads into national notoriety the way a few of former men’s coach Bruiser Flint’s teams did several years ago.

There’s been upsets of Penn State and nationally-ranked Syracuse. This week Drexel is second in the ESPN mid-major rankings. And freshman Ana Ferariu is the reigning national freshman of the week selected by the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA). She’s also the reigning CAA player of the week.

On Wednesday afternoon an early 17-0 run sent Drexel on the way to an 81-39 victory over Lafayette at the Leonpards’ Kirby Sports Center in Easton, Pa.

Jessica Pellechio scored a team-high 14 points, while freshman Bailey Greenberg scored 13, Sarah Curran had 13, and Ferariu scored 10, while reserve Megan Marecic tied a career high with nine points and scored five rebounds.

Everyone who dressed for the game got into the scoring act for the Dragons (7-2), who also forced 24 turnovers and grabbed 14 steals while committing only 12 miscues.

Lafayette (1-11) has lost 11 straight since winning the season opener at La Salle.

Drexel coach Denise Dillon was able to rest her starters in this one, allowing the reserves to play significant minutes and score 20 of the Dragons’ second half points.

The squad now goes on break and then next week on Tuesday and Wednesday wraps up non-conference play in  Florida International’s tourney in Miami that is formatted with two pre-determined opponents in George Mason, a former CAA rival now in the Atlantic 10, on Tuesday, and Massachusetts on Wednesday before moving on to conference competition the rest of the way.

Ironically, Hofstra of the CAA visits Saint Joseph’s Tuesday afternoon and CAA favorite James Madison visits Hawk Hill next week.


Princeton Powers Way to Records Beating Wagner

The Tigers’ 107-44 win over Wagner at home in Jadwin Gym Wednesday night mined three program records, beginning with their final total, eclipsing the 104 scored against Portland State on Dec. 19, 2014.

Princeton (5-6), also broke a record for points in a quarter, collecting 34, and a half with 60, which the Tigers took into the break. This is the second season for quarters play in women’s basketball.

Reaching the century mark on the scoreboard made Courtney Banghart’s bunch the 27th Division I team in the NCAA to do so.

The win over Wagner (1-10) made Princeton’s record 5-2 since struggling at the start of the season at 0-4 before powering past Rutgers, also at home.

Freshman Bella Alarie had 20 points to top four other teammates scoring in double figures – she also grabbed nine rebounds, while Jordan Muhammad set personal marks with 13 points, five assists and four steals.

Tia Weledji had 19 points and Taylor Brown scored 15.

It’s the second largest win in coach Courtney Banghart’s career with the 63-point differential and the Tigers shot 56.4 from the field.

The next stop after the break to wrap up conference play is a visit to Georgia Tech in Atlanta next Thursday and the following week Princeton hosts Penn in the Ivy opener at Jadwin Gym on Jan. 7 in the afternoon featuring the projected top two Ivy squads.


Delaware Turnovers Lead to Loss to Hartford

The Blue Hens got the wrong idea in the season of giving heading to the Christmas break having suffered a 67-66 loss to Hartford by committing a season-high 21 turnovers in their final non-conference play, which took place at home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

The miscues marred an excellent shooting night of a season-tops 50 percent from the field off 25-for-50 attempts. Delaware (6-5) was also 10-for-11 shooting free throws.

Hartford benefitted from the turnovers, scoring 19 points, and got a crucial three-point play with 14 seconds left when the Blue Hens committed an offensive foul.

The previous game, a loss to Army, also saw bad ball handling by the home team.

Nicole Enabosi had 14 points, eight rebounds, and four steals, while Delaware also got 12 points each from Erika Brown and Sade Chatman. Hannah Jardine had 11 points and six rebounds for the Hens.

Deanna Mayza on the way to 14 points, reached her 1000th for. Hartford (8-4), while the Hawks also got 12 points and 13 rebounds from Janelle Harrison.

“We’re going to keep working and getting better as a team because we need to improve,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said.

“We got pushed around a lot on the offensive boards. It’s a physical game and you have to be able to push back. Hartford won that battle tonight and in the end they won the game by one point.”

Hartford, which competed annually against Delaware when the Blue Hens were in the America East, when both were in the conference, snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series.

The game was the only one in a 21-day span for Delaware, which next heads to CAA play, caused by finals and the holiday break,


Duke Handles Villanova

The stars of 17th-ranked Duke led the way to a 68-50 win over the visiting Wildcats (4-6) in a non-conference game in Cameron Indoor Arena in Durham, N.C.

Lexi Brown, the transfer from Maryland, and Rebecca Greenwell each scored 18 points, while Greenwall also grabbed nine rebounds as the Blue Devils ran their record to 11-1.

A 13-0 run in the first quarter enabled Duke to go on to a 19-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The home team took a 34-22 lead at the half by shutting out Villanova the final four minutes of the second quarter.

Adrianna Hahn had 18 points for the Wildcats having shot 6-for-13 attempts from beyond the arc. Alex Louin added 11 points while Villanova was held to 31 percent from the field.

“We came in here with the philosophy of getting up a lot of threes, and obviously we did that,” Villanova veteran coach Harry Perretta said. “The only way we knew we had a chance to beat them was to hit 15 or more three’s. We knew we could not go into the post because they were too big and strong.
“We did a decent job not a good enough job to win the ball game.”

Perretta referred to his youthful roster, which represented only the second time the two teams met.

“This is a very young team and mentally they are very fragile. There are a lot of freshmen on this team and they made a lot of mistakes. An older team tonight might have made 18 threes but the team tonight only made 10.

“Every kid we put into the game is a freshman and we cannot get a lot of help off our bench right now. I was very happy with (the team effort tonight. They give me good effort just about all the time. They are a good group of kids, but they are just not ready yet to play against a good team. We need some help coming across the bench and the freshmen coming off the bench are just not helping us right now.”

Having completed non-conference play, Villanova heads to the Big East schedule opening at home at noon next Wednesday hosting Marquette. On Friday, DePaul, which visited Temple last week and lost, returns to the area meeting the Wildcats.

The Blue Demons consequently off the Temple loss fell from the field.

Next Thursday Duke host Kentucky and at halftime the Blue Devils will retire the number of Elizabeth Brown, who is one of the younger stars of the WNBA.


Nationally Noted: Connecticut Downs Nebraska Running Streak to 86

The Huskies hi the road after beating Ohio State Monday night and topped the Cornhuskers 84-41 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Neb.

On the season, UConn is now 11-0 with a major road stop after the break looking next Thursday night at No. 4 Maryland in College Park.

The Terrapins won 77-57 in Pittsburgh Wednesday night at Duquesne.

Connecticut’s Katie Lou Samuelson had 23 points for the visitors while Napheesa Collier had 14 points and 15 rebounds. Kia Nurse had 20 points and Gabby Williams had 10 points and nine rebounds.

Hannah Whitish, a freshman, had nine points for Nebraska (4-8).

Meanwhile, No. 6 South Carolina won at Savannah State 70-30 as A’ja Wilson scored 18 points to improve the Gamecocks to 10-1.





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