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, December 18, 2016

Guru's Report: Drexel Newbie's Scoring Spree Sinks Saint Joseph's

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – Strategy, talent and a solid defense did much to keep the Drexel women’s basketball team even up with Saint Joseph’s through the first half Sunday afternoon in their annual non-conference,  non-Big Five city matchup Sunday afternoon at the Dragon’s Daskalakis Athletic Center.

But with offense lacking from coach Denise Dillon’s solid core, the question was whether the combination could take Drexel far enough?

Well, why not go to the freshman foreign kid who had been performing excellently in recent practices waiting for her moment?

And so It was with 5 minutes, 33 seconds left in the third quarter and the visitors from Hawk Hill leading 32-27 Dillon decided to call Ana Ferariu’s number and then over 13 minutes of the second half, the Romanian responded in a huge way scoring all 18 of her points to lead Drexel to 60-49 victory.

“We knew it would be a battle against Saint Joe’s as it always is,” Dillon said. “We were aware of the looks we could get, but the players out there were struggling with them. We threw (Ferariu) into the fire there, and she took full advantage.

“She was aware of the looks we were getting and took full advantage to the rim. Couldn’t be happier.”

In the five previous games Drexel (6-2) played prior to Sunday, Ferariu rode the bench for four of them and debuted in the Dragon’s second game of the season here beating Delaware State and connecting on her only attempt which was a 3-point shot.

In five minutes of a competitive loss at Vanderbilt, she scored her only points on an And-One play and then in the loss at Bucknell, hit her only field goal attept and went 1-2 from the line for another three points.

“Absolutely, that’s all it was – it was a gut feeling,” Dillon said of her decision. “Defensively, I felt we were doing what we needed to – and that’s our bread and butter. Just on the defensive end fighting the battle and figuring out a way.

“Offensively, we needed to get some points on the board and Sarah (Curran) was struggling, and Jess (Pellechio) wasn’t even getting looks and they were doing a nice job of pressuring Meghan (Creighton). Tess (Teresa Kracikova) was doing a nice job of getting to the rim, but not finishing consistently and Bailey (Greenberg) as well,” Dillon continued..

“So Ana again, we know what her skill set is on the offensive end and just continuing to understand what we do, the system, the style and finding a way, but it definitely worked.”
As for Ferariu speaking of her breakout performance, she said, “I’m very happy and thankful for everybody that I had an opportunity to go in. I think this was a big team win.

Ferariu shot 5-for-6 from the field, including 1-1 attempting a 3-ball, and was 7-for-8 from the line.

The key statistic off of Drexel’s defense was forcing the Hawks (3-7) into 20 turnovers resulting in a 24-8 advantage for the Dragons scoring in transition.

“That was a big one,” Dillon said. “Looking at them having 20 turnovers just shows the defensive intensity we had. I thought they were starting to advantage a little bit on the pick and roll game as well. I don’t think we were doing a very good job of hedging. We were telling our players to hedge on ball screens.

“I thought Kelsi Lidge was doing a nice job and Tess but not everybody. They started taking advantage of that. So we went to our double team, our pressure, and that forced some crucial turnovers,” Dillon explained.

“But just as Ana said, our defense definitely dictated, it got the energy up and then offensively took advantage.

“I  knew their game was going to be inside the three-point line with (Adashia) Franklyn and (Chelsea) Woods pounding it inside, I thought we made those adjustments in the second half, limiting their touch and giving them som ball pressure and they didn’t get the ball inside to them as easily as they did in the second half,” Dillon said.

She said of only eight assists, that was because of the array of isolated plays and getting inside to the rim.

The Hawks outscored the Dragons 19-12 in the first quarter and then Drexel owned the next three periods, 11-5, 15-14, and in the decisive fourth 22-11 for a 48-30 advantage as the Dragons closed off the easy looks. We just fought a little harder those last three quarters.

Lidge was the only other Drexel player who scored in double figures, collecting 10 points.

Drexel heads to Lafayette Wednesday afternoon and then after the Christmas break will go to Miami next week to meet two Atlantic 10 teams in former Colonial Athletic Conference rival George Mason and Massachusetts.

Needless to say, the outcome was a disappointment to Hawks coach Cindy Griffin after her team had played well in its last outing routing NJIT at home and then holding Drexel’s known stars in check.

Curran had just six points, likewise Greenberg, Creighton scored five, and Pellechio had three.
“If you beat me once, shame on me. If you beat me twice, shame on you, do you know what I mean?” Griffin said.

"I just think it was unacceptable the way we didn’t adjust (to the substitution),” she continued. “We talked about the adjustment and switching and we just didn’t do it. The kid had 18 points in 13 minutes. At some point in time basketball IQ had to turn into something and it was disappointing because I thought we did a really good job on their leading scorers – terrific, terrific.”

And of course from the Hawks side, the turnovers were excruciating.

“You find a scorer, you’re trying to score, you limit your possessions, in this type of game it’s a possession game and when you’re giving the ball away 20 times you’re really not putting yourself in a successful situation.”

Alyssa Monaghan had 10 points for Saint Joseph’s, Woods scored 10 but had seven of the turnovers, and Franklyn scored 10, while Sarah Veilleux grabbed 10 rebounds.

Saint Joseph’s hosts Hofstra at 5 p.m. on Thursday and then after the break hosts James Madison a week from Wednesday at 7 p.m. Both schools, like Drexel, are in the CAA and JMU is the favorite.

Then it’s on to the Atlantic 10 race, leading with a visit to Richmond, New Year’s Eve.


Princeton Falls at Kansas State in the Second Half

Kansas State surged in the second half 38-18 to roll over Princeton 60-42 at home in Manhattan in the matchup of the Wildcats (10-1) of the Big 12, whose only loss was also at home a week ago to top-ranked Connecticut,  and the Tigers (4-6) of the Ivy League.

Princeton sophomore Gabrielle Rush had a career-high 12 points while Jackie Reyneke set career marks with eight rebounds and two steals.

Kindred Wesemann was the top Wildcat scorer with 15 points. Kansas State also made 29 trips to the free throw line while Princeton was limited to 13.

The Tigers will be back home in Jadwin Gym Wednesday night hosting Wagner in non-conference play.


Penn State Holds off American
Sophomore Teniya Page scored 30 points while the Lady Lions got 29 points out of the reserves to edge American 70-65 in a non-conference game at home in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Page, who was 15-for-17 from the line, and the legendary scoring machine Kelly Mazzante are the only two Lady Lions to have three 30-point games before their second season ended.

The Page foul shooting performance is second in program history for an individual game.

Penn State (9-2) is now on a six-game win streak, longest in three seasons, and have won all six games in Happy Valley, including one over Tennessee when the Lady Vols were still ranked.

Freshman transfer De’Janae Boykin made her debut at the Big 10 school and scored 10 points in American of the Patriot League

Kaitlyn Lewis had 16 points for American (3-7).

The Lady Lions next host Iona on Tuesday night.


Rider Streak Stopped at Seton Hall

Poised to perhaps lay claim to a piece of the top of a group of four Division I New Jersey schools in Princeton, Seton Hall, and Rutgers who have played at least two of each other this season, Rider saw its’ four game win streak snapped when Seton Hall broke from a 75-75 tie and exploded on a 12-3 run to over the final two minutes to delight the home crowd in Walsh Gym in South Orange with an 89-81 win.

The Broncs (7-3) surprised Princeton in Jadwin Gym the opening night of the season and have enjoyed their best run at this stage of the season.

Seton Hall blew a lead after the half at Rutgers Wednesday night in the Pirates’ last action and lost by a wide margin earlier at Princeton.

Rider trailed by 11 at the half but took off on a 22-9 outburst in the third period to go  ahead of the Pirates 62-60.

But the Broncs were ultimately hobbled by 27 foul penalties and 19 turnovers. The Pirates were 32-for-41 from the line.

“I was proud of the way we came out st the half to eventually tie it up late in the fourth,” said Rider coach Lynn Milligan. “We put ourselves in a position late in the ballgame, but we just did not get it done.”

JaQuan Jackson and Kaela Hillaire each scored 19 points for the Pirates (7-4), who next head into the Big East portion of their schedule.

Kamila Hoskova scored 14 points for Rider and newcomer Stella Johnson scored 13, while Roin Perkins scored 12.

Milligan said the squad off its 7-2 start was self-deceived into thinking its defense had been solid, but noted, “Specifically in the last three games, we weren’t. If we don’t look down on defense and do a better job, giving up 51 like we did today leads to an uphill battle.”

Seton Hall has won all 10 games in the series between the two schools.

Rider returns home for the first time in a while Wednesday night hosting Saint Francis, N.Y. in a non-conference tilt in Alumni Gymnasium.


Nationally Noted: Tennessee and South Carolina Win High-Power Matchups

At one time it would not have been considered an upset. But Tennessee, having fallen out of the rankings, rallied from an early 15-point deficit took down No. 10 Stanford 59-51 to snap a string of all four losses having occurred on Sundays, including two to No. 3 Baylor and also nationally-ranked Texas.

In a battle of two Top 10 squads No. 6 South Carolina at home beat No. 9 UCLA 66-57.

In the Tennessee game, the Lady Vols (6-4) forced 18 turnovers by the Cardinal (8-2), who next visit George Washington on Wednesday night in the Smith Center in Washington.

Jordan Reynolds had a season-high 18 points for the home team while Diamond DeShields took game honors with 15 points. Tennessee teammate Mercedes Russell had 11 points and 13 rebounds.

The Stanford point total was a season-low.

“To come out and play a Top 10 team the way we did, that’s just awesome,” said Tennessee coach Holly Warlick.

The Cardinal had a six-game win streak snapped.

"We got them down and we didn't keep them down," Hall of Fame Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said.

Erica McCall and Karlie Samuelson each scored 13 points for the visitors.

Meanwhile, in Columbia, S.C., Alaina Coates and A’ja Wilson combined for 26 points after the half for the host Gamecocks (9-1), whose only loss is to Duke.

The Bruins (8-2) are the third top 10 team South Carolina has beaten this season.

Coates had a game-high total of 20 points and also grabbed 14 rebounds for the Gamecocks whose explosive 24-5 run across the halves game them firm control. Wilson also had a double double with 11 of her 13 rebounds coming after the half while she collected 13 points.

Allisha Gray contributed contributed 11 points to the attack while Bianca Cuevas-Moore scored 10 points.

And that's the wrap.



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