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.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Guru Report: Louin Stars Again as Villanova Tops Saint Joseph's With Closing Surge

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru416

PHILADELPHIA – Villanova and Saint Joseph’s have been going wire-to-wire without much separation in their Women’s Big Five matchups for almost a decade and it was nearly the same late Saturday afternoon at the Hawks’ Hagan Arena.

The two seemed headed for another dramatic finish when Chelsea Woods got the Hawks within a point at 51-50 with 4 minutes, 27 seconds left in the game.

However, Villanova’s Alex Louin and freshman Kelly Jekot made that Hawks play the last hurrah for Saint Joseph’s in this one when Louin got inside for a field goal and then assisted Jekot’s three-pointer on the visitors’ next two possessions to launch an 11-4 run on the way to a 62-54 victory.

“A very evenly fought game, I told you before the game it was going to be like that,” veteran Villanova women’s coach Harry Perretta said. “You have two teams that were struggling but we just made enough shots down the stretch – Alex Louin – we were getting her the ball as much as we could.”

It's been like this, however, for nine straight times and while the first of those had a 66-57 outcome, on Dec. 4, 2008, in this arena, that game extended to three overtimes.

Louin, the Mount Saint Joseph’s graduate out of Doylestown, had 26 points for Villanova (3-4, 2-0 Big Five) and provided fourth quarter heroics for the second straight game after hitting six straight points in the Wildcats’ Big Five win at home Wednesday over La Salle.

“We were looking at mismatches and tried to capitalize,” Louin said. “I got a couple of easy looks and I got some momentum off of those.”

Louin also blocked three shots, dealt five assists and grabbed six rebounds.

Megan Quinn added 15 points and eight rebounds for the defending Big Five champion, while Villanova also got seven points and a pair of blocks from Jekot and Adrianna Hahn scored eight points.

The Wildcats connected on the perimeter with seven 3-pointers compared to two treys from the Hawks (2-5, 1-2), who join La Salle with two losses each in the local City Series round robin and likely out of contention.

 With the games among the local quintet now that are completed, Temple (2-0) and Villanova (2-0) are the last two unbeaten in the Big Five and meet Saturday at Villanova with the winner clinching at least a share of the title.

Penn (0-1), which hosts La Salle Wednesday, is the other of the Big Five women still capable of finishing with at least a share of the hardware by beating Temple (Jan. 25) and Villanova (Jan. 18) next month at The Palestra, provided the Quakers beat the Explorers on Wednesday.

It was an obvious tough loss for Saint Joseph’s, which got 17 points and 12 rebounds from Chelsea Woods, who was the star player in the offseason in the Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Certified Women’s Summer Basketball League played in Hatboro, Pa.

Adashia Franklyn, who also played in the league and is the daughter of former Temple star Marilyn Stephens, got 14 points.

“I thought it was a great game, the scoring went back and forth, a couple plays here, a couple plays there, you know at the end Villanova made a couple of more plays than we did,” said Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin.

The game had 12 ties and 14 lead changes but Saint Joseph’s was dominated 38-24 on the backboards, including 12-6 on the offensive end, and outscored in the paint 36-24,while also outmatched 13-7 off turnovers in transition.

Villanova trails in the series between the two 27-16 but in recent times the Wildcats have now won 111 Big Five games against 37 losses -- best in the city -- while the Hawks have won 108. It's on the third time in the last 12 that the visiting team emerged the winner in the Wildcats/Hawks series..

“Boxing out,” Griffin said as the where the Hawks go from this point to right the ship, referencing the rebounding statistics.

“We depend on our athleticism way too much,” she said. “To be out-rebounded by as many as we have, that’s effort and that’s positioning and that’s discipline.”

Griffin figured at least the Hawks gained more experience in another closely fought contest.

“We haven’t won these close games this year, I believe that we will, so I think it’s positive we’ve been in these situations. They took advantage of our size inside because they shoot the ball so well we were unable to help as much as normally would.”

Griffin praised Louin: “She played, very, very well. Her line is terrific. She was a problem for us, her size, she defended well, she got key blocks, she was obviously was the difference maker in this game.”

The Hawks coach discussed Woods playing all but one of the 40 minutes across the four quarters.

“She’s obviously playing too many minutes but we couldn’t take her off the court because she is the most productive player that we have,” Griffin said. “With this type of game it is a game of possessions and we probably played her way too many minutes and I think she got tired at the end and gave up a few offensive boards and with hindsight maybe we should have taken her out a little earlier.

“But needless to say she had a double double, she didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (8-18) but she kept a lot of possessions alive for us as well.”

Villanova next hosts Lehigh Monday night prior to the Saturday Temple game while Saint Joseph’s visits Western Michigan Friday night before coming home again a week from Tuesday to host NJIT.

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Penn Routs Wagner

The Quakers may be back on track, now having two solid wins against teams they were heavy favorites to beat.

Following Wednesday’s big win at Lafayette, Penn (3-3) evened its record Saturday afternoon romping over host Wagner 63-39 on Staten Island, N.Y.

Michelle Nwokedi and Sydney Stipanovich double doubled their way in the inside with Nowkedi collecting 17 points and 10 rebounds while Stipanovich had 10 each.

“I think our defense was really the spark today,” Stipanovich said in postgame quotes on the Penn website. “We really were aggressive and got a lot of loose balls. We won those 50/50 balls coach always talks about.

“That really generated our offense. We moved the ball really well and got good open shots. Everyone got touches and I think that was the main difference today that got us going.”

Wagner (1-6) was limited to six players and Penn got 10 three-balls, double the five connected by the Seahawks.

Now its on to hosting La Salle Wednesday. Should Penn win and then go on to beat Temple and Villanova the Quakers would gain a tie for the second time in three seasons.

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Drexel Stops Cornell

It was a struggle but when time expired the Dragons had their first road win of the season, beating the Big Red of the Ivy League 63-53 in Ithaca, N.Y., Saturday afternoon at Newman Arena.

Drexel (4-2) is now 7-0 against Cornell (5-3) dating to the Dragons’ first-ever Division I game in 1982, the year the NCAA began sponsoring women’s championships.

Foul shooting in the final minute enabled the winners to make it to the break for finals, which conclude on Dec. 13, a week from Tuesday, when the Dragons host Niagara.

Drexel’s Jessica Pellechio scored 17 points, while Sarah Curran scored 16 points and Meghan Creighton scored 14 points.

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Penn State and Rutgers Gain Narrow Wins Over Marshall and Bucknell

It took until the final seconds until a basket was the difference in Penn State’s 82-80 victory over Marshall in the Lady Lions’ Bryce Jordan Center while Rutgers, also home, cut short a Bucknell rally to emerge with a 57-53 victory over Bucknell, which had already beaten Saint Joseph’s and Drexel.

In the game at Penn State (6-2) where the team has yet to lose after four game, Teniya Page tied a career high with 31 points in the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

There were 13 lead changes. Sierra Moore produced 19 points to give her 501 in her collegiate career. Lindsey Spann with 15 points and Kaliyah Mitchell with 10 made it four Lady Lions scoring in double figures.

Marshall (5-2), which was forced into 17 turnovers, also had a player reach a career high in Taylor Porter’s 24 points.

Penn State next visits Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., on Wednesday.

Rutgers (2-6), meanwhile, got its second win in this season of woe and it came after the rout by Duke Thursday night, though Bucknell (5-3) nearly rallied all the way after falling behind early in the game trailing by 20 at halftime at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.

Kandiss Barber set a career high for Rutgers, scoring 17 points, while Shrita Parker had 11 points and nine rebounds, just short of a double double. Parker also hit a pair of foul shots

Claire DeBoer scored scored 17 points for Bucknell.

Rutgers next hosts Colonial Athletic Association favorite James Madison Monday night.

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National and Other Notes

Providence beat Bryant 62-51 at home to go 7-0 on the season under new coach Jim Crowley, formerly the longtime mentor of Saint Bonaventure. It’s the best start since a similar 7-0 launch to a season in 1990-91.

Lafayette fell at Saint John’s 64-46 as the host Red Storm moved above .500 at 4-3 with the win at home at Carneseca Arena. The Leopards (1-8) were held to 15 points in the first half and have now been winless since an opening triumph at La Salle. They visit Princeton on Wednesday.

No. 6 Mississippi State stayed unbeaten at 8-0 the hard way rallying from a 17-point deficit at the half to defeat Iowa State 85-81 in Ames, Iowa, in overtime on the road. The Cyclones (5-1) dropped their first game of the season.

And that’s the way it was as the Guru heads up to Mohegan in Uncasville, Conn., for Sunday’s Hall of Fame/Jimmy V game between No. 14 Texas and No. 2 Connecticut.