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, January 22, 2017

Guru Overniter: Temple Rally Over Memphis Extends Win Streak to 11

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – Donnaizha Fountain and Ruth Sherrill exploded for a combination of all the points in a 16-0 outburst in the third period that carried Temple to a 66-51 victory over Memphis in an American Athletic Association at McGonigle Hall.

The run came after the Owls (15-3, 6-0 AAC) had fallen one more point behind the six points they trailed Memphis (8-11, 1-5) at the half 33-27 to a Tigers team they had to go into overtime to beat in the conference opener on New Year’s Day.

Once ahead Temple kept it going to an advantage by as much as 22 points late in the fourth period and the current win streak stayed alive to reach what is now 11 straight.

Next up the Owls step out of the conference briefly on Wednesday night, traveling to the Palestra to meet Penn, when a win would earn a 4-0 sweep of the Big Five and avenge a series of losses to the Quakers in the last several seasons.

Should Penn win and snap Temple’s ongoing run then the Owls would have to share the local crown at 3-1 with Villanova, even though they handily beat the Wildcats when they met on the Main Line at the Pavilion last month.

It’s longer a secret that Sherrill has been a key reason for Temple’s transformation from a team that struggled last month with upset losses at Harvard and Hampton to one that is now being forecasted to return to the NCAA tournament after several absences in recent seasons.

“She keeps making some of those step back jumpers that she made today, they’re a whole different team,” said veteran Memphis coach Melissa McFerrin.

Sherrill finished with 13 points and five rebounds, shooting 6-for-9 from the field and blocking four of the five Temple rejections the Owls delivered to the Tigers.

Fountain had 19 points while Feyonda Fitzgerald was held to a 1-for-4 shooting night but along with just five points also delivered nine assists. Alliya Butts was also in double figures with 12 points while Tanaya Atkinson scored seven and grabbed eight rebounds.

"We're to a point now where (Fitzgerald) doesn’t have to score points as long as she’s getting assists,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said.

B. Wilder-Cochran had 11 points and 11 rebounds for Memphis.

“I thought we came out in the first half lackadaisical,” said Cardoza, whose team at the moment have a half-game lead on UConn in the American, courtesy of a conference schedule that doesn’t have the Huskies taking the floor until Sunday afternoon hosting Tulane for likely NCAA extended-record win No. 93 in the current streak that would know Temple and UConn once again at the top.

“We allowed (Memphis) to gain a lot of confidence and making a lot of shots. I just felt we were a step slow and not really focused on the defensive side. Against their zone we were struggling to find open areas,” Cardoza continued.

“I felt in the second half, we changed up how we defended them and caused them some problems and we were able to get out in transition and really drive. I felt the way we started the second half defending them, we just gained a lot of confidence and started making shots and usually that’s what happens with us when we are allowed to get out in transition.

“Usually it builds a lot of confidence. It’s a good win for us to be down and come back. That’s a tremendous credit to these guys to changing their approach after the half.”

Though Temple is getting a couple of votes in the weekly polls, Cardoza isn’t campaigning for a ranking, preferring to focus on the longer goals.

"We're not worried about where we are, we're just worried about making sure we're good every single night, getting better and putting ourselves in position to get to our ultimate goal.”

As for Sherrill’s play, the Temple coach continued to praise her performances.

“(Sherrill’s) mind set is completely different and that’s why she’s in the starting lineup,” Cardoza said of the coincidence of her play and the streak occurring at the same time.

“I said this the last couple of weeks, during the Hampton game I saw something in Ruth I hadn’t seen and I really felt that after that game she was distraught about her losing and her approach since then has been, `This is my team,’ and she has taken ownership, she’s invested in 110 percent. She’s taken the focus off making mistakes, not scoring, and just doing what her team needs her to do and I think she’s thrived in this role.”

As for Wednesday night’s looming confrontation with the Quakers, Cardoza observed, “It’s happy that we put ourselves in this position. Now we just have to go out and take care of business.”

After the Penn game, Temple hosts nationally-ranked South Florida next Sunday back in conference play and then there’s the first part of the UConn home-and-home on Feb. 1 when the Huskies will visit in the Liacouras Center.

I’s the first time in several seasons Temple will play UConn in the larger arena after sellouts and near-sellouts in the 2,000-seat McGonigle Hall.

Saint Joseph’s Falls in Overtime at Dayton

The Hawks had their four-game win streak, all in Atlantic 10 play, stopped in a tough loss to Dayton 64-59 in another conference game, this one in the Midwest at UD Arena.

Saint Joseph’s (7-12, 4-3 A-10) might have pulled this one out at the finish but Chelsea Woods was 1-for-2 on foul shooting, though the second shot after missing the first did keep the Hawks alive 50-50 with five seconds left in regulation and extended the game into the extra period.

The Flyers (12-7, 6-1), tied with George Washington atop the conference, did try a game-winner before regulation ended but the Hawks’ Adaisha Franklyn blocked a shot to send the game into overtime.

Just under two minutes were left in the overtime and the Hawks were ahead 57-55 when Dayton then exploded on an 8-0 run to take command.

Woods had 14 points and 11 rebounds while Franklyn also scored 14 points while Alyssa Monaghan and Sarah Veilleux each scored 11 points.

Four Dayton players scored in double figures led by Jenna Burdette collecting 18.

The Hawks did show depth in this game, outscoring the Flyers, 25-2 in points off the bench.

Saint Joseph’s next travels to Rhode Island for a morning game Wednesday at 11 in Kingston.

La Salle Wins at Davidson

The Explorers made it two straight road wins in the conference, beating Davidson 65-58 in North Carolina in the Atlantic 10 with another strong Amy Griffin performance with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

The win improved La Salle to 11-8 and 4-3 in the A-10 while Davidson dropped to 3-16 and 1-6.

In the last minute she helped deliver La Salle’s win, going 4-for-4 from the line and breaking free for a layup with 14 seconds left in regulation.

La Salle’s Jasmine Alston had game highs of 12 rebounds and eight assists and scored 11 points. She also had a pair of 3-pointers in the final 3.09 of the third quarter when the Explorers rallied from a six-point deficit to a five-point advantage.

The Explorers come home to play against Wednesday in a conference game in the afternoon at 12 p.m. hosting Massachusetts at Tom Gola Arena.

Elsewhere in the A-10 add George Washington to the list of teams this weekend with deep deficits in the second half to rally to victories.

The Colonials trailed Massachusetts by 15 with a minute left in the third quarter on the road at Amherst, Mass., but tossed a fourth-quarter shutout, holding the Minutewomen scoreless over the final 10 minutes while going on to a 60-54 win in double overtime.

“I am very pleased with how poised they stayed and how determined they were to figure out a way to win,” said GW first-year coach Jen Rizzotti, the former UConn star who previously coached Hartford. “It says a lot about the personality of this team and how willing they are to fight for each other.

"We didn't make a lot of shots, but we dug in defensively and got 30 offensive rebounds. So the effort was there and for me that is what is most important.”

Lexi Martin, a former Lehigh star allowed to play right away after transferring to GW (13-6, 6-1 A-10), had 25 points and 10 rebounds. The offensive rebound effort helped a lopsided 58-35 rebounding advantage over Massachusetts (9-12, 3-5).

The Minutewomen were 0-for-16 in the fourth quarter and both overtimes at the Mullins Center.

Hannah Schaible had seven of her nine points in the second extended period and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds overall.

GW attempted a program-record 44 treys but connected on just nine.

Lehigh Gets First Patriot Win Edging Lafayette

In the battle of nearby Patriot League rivals who were both looking for their first conference win, Lehigh edged Lafayette 56-53 on the road at the Kirby Sports Center in Easton, Pa.,

The Mountain Hawks (6-13, 1-7 Patriot), who had lost 10 straight overall for worst run in 22 seasons, got game-highs 17 points and nine rebounds from Gena Grundhoffer while Camryn Buhr, Hannah Hedstrom, and Bernadette Devaney each scored 11 points.

Lafayette, now at 8-8 in the Patriot, is 1-19 overall, having won at La Salle opening night and losing 19 straight since then. The Mountain Hawks next travel to Boston U. Saturday.

The Leopards still had a chance, trailing 54-53 with 16 seconds left before Devaney extended the Lehigh advantage to 56-53 on two foul shots.

Lafayette missed a shot on the ensuing possession, but Lehigh missed a pair of foul shots next with a chance to lock it up. However the Leopards’ desperation shot was off the mark at the finish.

Sammy Stipa was the only Leopard in double figures, scoring 13 points in the 90th game in the long-running series between the two.

Lafayette is now off until Saturday when it travels to Loyola of Maryland in Baltimore at 2 p.m.

Rider Falls at Quinnipiac

The Broncs’ bid to move into a first-place tie in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference with the host Bobcats went for naught in a 79-53 defeat at the TD Bank Sports Center in Hamden, Conn.

The win gives Quinnipiac (16-4, 9-1) a sweep of the two games with Rider (13-6, 7-3).

Robin Perkins scored in double figures for the fifth game in a row, collecting 15 points as the Broncs’ unbeaten road streak in the conference was halted at six.

“We need to make sure we learn a really hard lesson from this,” Rider coach Lynn Milligan said. “We need to be able to bounce back. This game was about us not being ourselves. We weren’t getting the looks we wanted and we missed some shots today we normally make.

“We need to make sure we are ready to go moving forward.”

Kamila Hoskova, with 12 points, was the only other Rider player to score in double figures.

Jen Fay has 21 points for Quinnipiac.

Rider next hosts Manhattan Thursday in Alumni Gym at 7 p.m. in a MAAC game after having beaten the Jaspers earlier at Draddy Gymnasium.

National Notes: DePaul Stopped by Marquette in the Big East

The front-running Blue Demons, ranked 19th in the AP women’s poll, fell at home in Chicago with the two highest scoring Big East teams living up to their statistical reputations and the Golden Eagles coming out on top 102-101 in overtime.

DePaul had won 10 straight.

Brooke Schulte had a career-high 35 points for DePaul (16-5, 8-1), while teammate Jacqui Grant also had a career-high 27 points and career-high 17 rebounds.

Danielle King scored 27 for Marquette (16-4, 7-2), which with a loss would have dropped into a third-place tie with Villanova, though owning the breaker pending the outcome of the second game to be played with the Wildcats.

The Golden Eagles trailed by 10 in the fourth period before making a run to close the gap and Marquette’s Allazia Blockton, who had 24 points, scored as time expired to force the overtime.

Schulte fouled out in the overtime.

In a tight game in the Big-12 No. 2 Baylor edged No. 24 West Virginia 79-73 at home in Waco, Texas.

Cincinnati, holding down third place and having its best season under Jamelle Elliott, a good friend of Temple’s Cardoza who spent a long stint at UConn on Geno Auremma’s staff, beat East Carolina 74-64 at home in the AAC.

Looking Ahead

In action Sunday involving ranked teams, in the Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 6 Notre Dame is at North Carolina while No. 17 Virginia Tech is hosting No. 7 Florida State, and No. 15 Duke is visiting Boston College, while No. 21 North Carolina State is hosting Clemson, and No. 14 Miami is at Syracuse.

In the American as mentioned Top-ranked Connecticut hosts Tulane on campus at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, while in a non-conference tilt, No. 23 South Florida of the AAC hosts No. 9 Louisville of the AAC.

In the Big 12 No. 20 Oklahoma is hosting Oklahoma State in Nrman.

In the Big 10 and also one of the Guru’s local representatives in Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights travel to College Park to meet No. 3 Maryland at the Xfinity Center. Also in the conference, No. 16 Ohio State hosts Illinois at the Value City Arena in Columbus.

In the Pac-12, No. 13 UCLA hosts USC in Westwood, Caif., at Pauley Pavilion while No. 10 Stanford hosts No. 18 Arizona State in Maples Pavilion, No. 11 Oregon State hosts Colorado, and No. 8 Washington is at Washington State.

In the Southeastern Conference, No. 25 Texas A&M hosts LSU. In other SEC matchups of note, Tennessee hosts Vanderbilt.

In the CAA and in Guru local world, Drexel, where we will be at, hosts Hofstra while Delaware hosts Charleston. In the Big East, Villanova, off its big rally over Butler, visits Xavier in Cincinnati.

And that’s the report.



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