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, January 28, 2017

Guru's Overniter: Drexel Falls Short at JMU while Columbia Wins at Dartmouth in 4 Overtimes

Guru’s note:  Information for this post all from email and web and wire reports. Was not at anything live on Friday.

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

The momentary pecking order in the Colonial Athletic Association got set on the front end of the weekend Friday night when Drexel fell on the road at preseason favorite James Madison while front-running Elon beat host Northeastern in Boston.

In another CAA game involving the only other Division I team in the Guru’s overall local mix, Delaware continued on the upside, winning at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

The national part of this again on a Friday night features the Pac-12/Associated Press dodge cars lineup of ranked teams which along with some other action follows our immediate primary business matters on the calendar.

Drexel arrived in Harrisonburg, Va., locked in a second-place tie with the host Dukes one game behind Elon. When the Dragons left several hours later following a 54-47 setback they had dropped into a third place tie wth Delaware, whom they have yet to meet this season, and also lost the chance to gain their best-ever mark with 19 games dispensed on the schedule.

A poor shooting first half at just under 18 percent on 5-for-28 attempts from the field  could be assessed as the primary cause of the demise of Drexel (14-5, 5-3 CAA), which trailed 24-14.

But while the JMU Convocation Center is one of the tougher stops in general, let alone in CAA action, occasionally teams find a way as Towson did just last Sunday to complete an unforeseen season sweep and the Dragons did in 2009 to win their only CAA crown and advance to the NCAA tournament.

Incidentally, JMU will host the conference tourney in March, followed by Drexel hosting in 2018 and Delaware in 2019 as the event leaves the neutral Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., where it had been held since 2011.

All of this is to say, Drexel, because of the Dragons’ ability to play defense in the face of sputtering engines, did not go easy, rallying to have the ball in the last minute and have a chance to go ahead but couldn’t get the shot that was needed and the Dukes (13-6, 6-2) prevailed.

Sarah Curran had the top numbers for the Dragons, though they were not as high as they’ve been on other nights, as she scored 12 points and had seven rebounds. Freshman Bailey Greenberg was the only other visitor in double figures, scoring 10 points with a pair of steals.

Ball-handling was a dilemma on both squads, JMU turned it over 21 times while Drexel did two fewer at 19.

The Dukes seemed on the way to get things done before the finish, leading 31-22 with 6 minutes, 17 seconds left in the third period, but that’s when Drexel heard the wake-up call, answering with a 7-0 run to trail by just two points 31-29 with 3:32 left in the period.

During the run the Dragons had kept the Dukes off the scoreboard for nearly three minutes, but that wasn’t going to last and sure enough JMU got a new pulse to go ahead nine points in the final period.

But the Dragons got another life and sliced that advantage to three, twice, the second at 45-42.

However, Precious Hall, who had a game-high 17 points for JMU, was able to answer the 10-2 Drexel run with a triple and a four-point lead.

Then a brief two-team drought set in for more than a minute until Drexel’s Meghan Creighton was able to feed Curran to deliver a triplet to get within a point and then get a chance to go up when Hall was assessed a charge.

But Aubree Brown and Kelsi Lidge failed to connect on the next possession with successive shots and while the Dukes were perfect at the line with six straight free throws to get the victory.

JMU freshman Kamiah Smalls, a graduate of Neumann-Goretti in Philadelphia, had another fine performance, with 11 points and 10 rebounds for her third career double double.

The Dukes next head across the state Sunday to Williamsburg and William and Mary.

Drexel is back home Sunday hosting Northeastern at 2 p.m. in the DAC but it’s alumni weekend and the annual youngtimers game consisting of Drexel stars of the past will commence at 10:45 a.m.

Meanwhile, while Drexel and JMU were mixing it up Elon, which briefly fell into a tie for first last weekend, having lost at home to the Dukes on Friday night, was able to beat Northeastern  76-65 at the Cabot Center/Solomon Court in Boston.

The Phoenix (15-5, 7-1 CAA) tried to take a short cut going long distance for the win but missed all eight 3-point attempts in the first half and the first one from beyond the arc in the third quarter before the motor turned over enabling Elon to then connect on six of its next seven to put distance away from the Huskies (7-13, 3-5).

Say Burnett led the Phoenix, scoring 17 points off hitting 6-for-8 from the field. She also had seven points and seven rebounds. Jennifer Rhodes had 12 points.

Northeastern, which heads to Drexel Sunday, got 17 points from  Claudia Ortiz, who hit all eight of her free throws. Elon heads to Hofstra Sunday.

While the fight at the top of the CAA was occurring, Delaware continued its drive to be in top shape down the stretch by winning at William & Mary 68-54 on the road in the Tribe’s Kaplan Arena and moving into a third-place tie with Drexel while Towson lost at UNCW.

Four players scored in double figures for the Blue Hens (11-8, 5-3 CAA), led by Erika Brown with 18 points, while freshman Abby Gonzalez was matching her season high with 16 fueled by 5-of-7 from the field and also dealing five assists. Nicole Enabosi had her sixth straight double double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Makeda Nicholas had 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists while tying a career high with four blocked shots.

Enabosi, by the way, is third in Blue Hens history with her string of double doubles but she can tie the mark of seven shared by Christina Ribble (2000-01) and Lori Howard (1979-80) when Delaware travels to Towson on Sunday.

In Friday’s game, the host Tribe (13-5, 3-4) opened with a 4-0 burst and then Delaware countered with a 14-0 run and held control the rest of the way.

Marlena Tremba had 16 points for William & Mary.

“This was a total team effort and a great team win away from home,” veteran Delaware coach Tina Martin exclaimed afterwards. “I thought we really kept our heads up and executed when we had need to.

“We shared the ball well, hustled and got the big rebounds when we needed them.”

   The National Report: Big East Showdown; Columbia 4 Overtimes: The Wild Pac-12

Let us start the national side of things in the Big East where a first-place showdown between No. 21 DePaul and host Creighton finished with the traveling Blue Demons back on top courtesy of a narrow 60-56 win in the Blue Jays’ Sokol Arena in Omaha, Nebraska.

Brooke Schulte had 14 points and 10 rebounds for DePaul (17-5, 9-1 Big East), which suffered a narrow loss at home last week to Marquette, while Amarah Coleman had 13 points, and Jacqui Grant had 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Though Creighton (14-6, 8-2)  led by eight at the half, the game was anybody’s to win in the fourth and final period.

Tied 53-53, the Blue Demons’ Tanita Allen stole the ball and fed Lauren Prochaska, who threw down a three-ball for a 56-53 lead with 1:33 left in regulation.

Then Allen blocked a shot and Schulte scored inside for a 58-53 DePaul lead with 33 seconds left.

Creighton got within a bucket off a triplet but the Demons’ Kelly Campbell hit two foul shots to make it 60-56 with 13.7 seconds left for the final score.

Audrey Faber had 14 points for the Blue Jays, who host third-place Marquette Sunday.

The Golden Eagles will be arriving off a 66-64 upset loss at Providence Friday night in Alumni Hall, which is also Sunday’s stop for DePaul on the Big East trail.

The Friars (10-11, 2-8)  had two powerful performances in the win over Marquette with Jovana Yoyo Nogic of Portugal scoring 27 points, including hitting 7-of-11 three-balls, for a career high and Sarah Beal scoring 25 while Aliyah Miller had 11 rebounds.

Nogic scored the game-winner inside as regulation time expired.

Allazia Blockton had 17 points for Marquette (16-5, 7-3), while McKayla Yentz had 12 points, and Danielle King scored 11. The Golden Eagles are a half-game in front of Villanova in third place.

In two other Big East games, Saint John’s at home beat Butler 62-55 while Seton Hall at home beat Xavier 71-62.

Villanova (11-9, 6-3), riding a five-game win streak, visits Georgetown (12-7, 4-5) Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Hoyas McDonough Arena.

Ivy Road to the Palestra

The full league slate on weekends doesn’t resume for another seven days, but those that played – Penn and Princeton were idle – made for quite an interesting Friday.

In the showdown between two of the remaining league teams in the Ivy race – Penn is 3-0 – Harvard edged Cornell 62-59 at home in Lavietes Pavilion in Boston to tie the Quakers at the top of the pile.

Harvard visits Penn and Princeton next Friday and Saturday.

Sydney Skinner had a career-high 23 points for the Crimson (15-1, 3-0), while Taylor Rooks had 13 points and six rebounds. Jeannie Boehm had 13 rebounds and a key stop at the finish in the game that had 12 ties and 10 lead changes.

Harvard, which hosts Columbia Saturday night, has won 15 straight, including a buzzer-beater at La Salle in Philadelphia and at home against Temple, which is one shy of the 16-win run Harvard program record.

“I thought we dug in and played defense at the end like we should, which is what we’ve done every step of the way,” said veteran Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smith.

“For Sydney to come off the bench with four fouls and do what she did – that’s our team,” Delaney-Smith said. “That’s what we do.”

The game is the fifth is the past six in the series between the two to be decided by six or fewer points.

Nicholle Alston had 14 points and six rebounds for Cornell (11-5, 2-1), which heads to Dartmouth Saturday night. Megan LeDuc had 12 points and dealt six assists, while Kerri Moran scored 11, and Nia Marshall had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Megan Griffith, a native of suburban Philadelphia and recent Princeton assistant, got her first win as an Ivy head coach and it was a thriller with Columbia going into four overtimes to beat host Dartmouth 91-88 in Hanover, N.H.

The game at Leede Arena was the longest in Ivy history.

"We came together and won this as a team, which I'm really proud of," Griffith said. There were some big performances, but everybody did a little bit to get us where we needed to be at the end. I’m so proud of this team.”

Camille Zimmerman had a career-night for the winning Lions (11-5, 1-2 Ivy), scoring 27 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. Devon Roeper was 9-for-9 from the field for 18 points and had a career-high 11 rebounds.

The Big Green's Fanni Szabo had 31 points, three short of her career high. Isalys Quinones had a career-high 23 points and completed the double double with 11 rebounds.

To get the game extended Dartmouth (5-11, 0-3) had to rally from a 10-point deficit to tie it up with a minute remaining.

In the fourth overtime Columbia scored the first four points and never yielded but Dartmouth still had a chance to force a fifth except the long shot from half-court from Kate Letkewicz, who had 13 points, rimmed out as time expired.

“I’m just so proud of my team’s effort,” said Dartmouth coach Belle Koclanes. “We didn’t have the best first half, but that led to a great second half onward. You have to give credit to  Columbia and their players and their coaching staff in their first year. We’ve always battled with Columbia and it was fun to coach in.”

The game went into the first overtime when Olivia Smith took a Columbia turnover and put up a shot that missed with 2.2 seconds left in regulation.

Szabo’s layup in the final minute of the first overtime, which began with a pair of triplets from the Lions, forced the second.

“Fanni played remarkable and that’s how seniors play,” Koclanes said.

Sazabo’s shot with just over a minute left in the second tied it and forced the third when neither team scored after her play.

Dartmouth was up three 83-80 with 9.3 seconds left in the third overtime and then Columbia’s Emily Surloff nailed a trey at the buzzer with 0.6 seconds remaining  to force the fourth extended period.

Columbia foul shooting in the fourth finally gave the Lions enough of a lead to end the marathon, whose four five-minute extended periods became the equivalent of a regulation half.

The triumph snapped an 11-game Ivy losing streak by the Lions.

"I had a big heart-to-heart with the team after the Cornell loss (last Saturday),” Griffith said. “I think they realize me and the coaching staff are here for them – nobody is going anywhere. This is a huge step and I’m so proud of them.”

And in the other Ivy action of the night Yale won its league home opener in New Haven, Conn., beating traveling partner Brown 73-51 to avenge last week’s 7-673 loss in Providence, R.I., and avoid falling in trouble this early in the race to the new league tournament at The Palestra in Philadelphia in March after the regular standings decided.

Yale (10-7, 1-3 Ivy) hadn’t been home since Dec. 7 over a stretch of six games.

The Bulldogs bolted from the outset to a 21-5 start and ended up winning by 22 points.

Jen Berkowitz and Tara Simpson each had 15 points for Yale while Megan Gorman had a career-high 15 rebounds in 26 minutes of playing time.

Erika Steeves had 15 points for Brown (11-6, 2-2), which missed a chance to get a firmer hold in the upper group of the standings.

The top four finishers in the league standings will play at The Palestra the final weekend before Selection Monday in Saturday semifinals alongside the men’s with a doubleheader Sunday to determine who goes to the NCAA tournaments.

The standings right now look like this:

Harvard 15-1 3-0
Penn 9-6 3-0
Cornell 11-5 2-1
Brown 11-6 2-2
Columbia 11-5 1-2
Princeton 7-9 1-2
Yale 10-7 1-3
Dartmouth 5-11 0-3

At the moment, Harvard and Penn are in great shape and then it becomes wide open for the next two slots. Cornell could gain a little strength for now beating Dartmouth Saturday night, which is preferred to not getting it with a loss that drops them into what is a four-team scrum for the other two spots. Yale and Dartmouth are not out of it but need to disrupt those teams above to avoid falling back.

Collision of Ranked Teams Continues in the Pac-12

And finally from the East goes on the overnight we go to the Far West where, like Thursday night’s Atlantic Coast action, the Pac-12 featured a bunch of ranked teams going at each other.

Two hooked up Friday in No. 13 UCLA at home beating No. 16 Arizona State 89-80 in Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles

All-America candidate Jordin Canada had 26 points for the winning Bruins (16-4, 7-2 Pac-12), while Monique Billings added 16 points and 10 rebounds.

It's the fifth straight win for UCLA after getting swept recently at Washington and Washington State in the Northwest. The Bruins have also won 24 straight at home, a streak which began last season, and 16 straight against league rivals.

Sophie Brunner had 16 points for Arizona State (14-6, 5-4), while Robbi Ryan had 13 points, and Quinn Dornstauder had 10.

All the other ranked teams playing unranked opponents in the conference also won.

No. 7 Washington, expecting a huge crowd in Seattle for Sunday’s showdown with No. 10 Stanford, rolled over California 90-67 at home in Alaska Airlines Arena.

Huskies coach Mike Neighbors seems to be growing added threats on trees. With the Golden Bears (15-6, 3-6 Pac-12) focusing Kelsey Plum, the nation’s leading scorer, and Chantel Osahor, the nation’s leading rebounder, out popped Natalie Romeo, a transfer from Nebraska, with 32 points, of which most almost all came courtesy of 10 three-pointers. That tied a career-high she set with the Cornhusers in a Big Ten game against Penn State.

Plum didn’t get her usually 30 plus, but still collected 24 to move by one past former Minnesota star Rachel Banham to sixth on the all-time NCAA list.

“When you can do what would be considered a relatively decent job on their two stars, and the third scorer goes 10 for 19 from 3, you’re in trouble,” said California coach Lindsay Gottlieb.

Plum’s total now is 3,094, with former Missouri State star Jackie Stiles at the top of the NCAA list with 3,393 points.

Lynette Woodard, who played at Kansas at the end of the AIAW era, finishing her career in 1981 prior to the NCAA adopting women’s athletics, had 3,649 points with the Jayhawks while Carol Blazejowski compiled 3,199 points with Montclair State and averaged 31.7 points a game.

On Friday against Cal, Plum, who is averaging 31 points per game, was 8-for-16 from the field, including 4-of-9 being three-balls.

"If she was chasing records, she'd be shooting way more in a game like this," Neighbors said. "She was trying to get Natalie involved, trying to get Heather (Corral) back in the groove, she’s throwing it to Chantel. … she’s doing what we need to win, not only tonight, but in the future.”

Osahor had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Washington (20-2, 8-1).

Kristine Anigwe had 23 points for California.

Elsewhere, in advance of Sunday’s visit, No. 10 Stanford stopped at Washington State in Pullman and left with a 76-54 win to stay tied for first atop the conference.

Hall of Fame Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer, now within two victories of joining the late Pat Summitt at Tennessee as the only two women with 1,000 wins in the NCAA, was not totally pleased with her team’s performance.

“It did get a little sloppy,” she said. “We turned the ball over too much.”

Three men's coaches, by the way, also have 1,000 wins or better.

Karlie Samuelson had 16 points and seven rebounds for Stanford. Her younger sister Katie Lou is one of the array of stars on No. 1 Connecticut. She also had 4 triplets off nine attempts and her 43.9 percent career average shooting from beyond the arc is third in the nation.

Stanford had a lead as big as 32 points but also committed 23 turnovers.

“At one point, we had three or four freshmen out there together a nd it looked like it,” VanDerveer said. “I think it’s good to get experience, and we’re resting people, we’re keeping them out of harm’s way – it was a kind of physical game.”

Pinelopi Pavlopoulou and Alexys Swedlund each had 13 points for Washington State (8-12, 3-6), which is down three starters to injuries..

Stanford is 61-0 against the Cougars dating back to 1983.

And in the other game in the conference involving a ranked team, No. 11 Oregon State, part of a three-way tie for first in the PAC-12 with Washington and Stanford, beat its traveling partner Oregon on the road in Matt Knight Arena in Eugene in a low-scoring 43-40 affair that made it 12 straight wins over the Ducks.

“This was a big defensive battle,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. “This game had a ton of intensity to it, and it definitely had a rivalry feel. I’m really proud of our team for defending the way they did, and then for executing the plays that we needed to finish out. Really proud of the effort tonight.”

The Ducks had a chance to tie on their final possession but the Beavers defense got the job done forcing a turnover.

Sydney Wiese had 12 points for Oregon State (19-2, 8-1), including 4-of-6 three pointers to help the score. Sabrina Ionescu had 14 points for Oregon (14-7, 4-5), while Maite Cazorla scored 12 and Ruthie Hebard grabbed 11 rebounds.

And in the one Pac-12 game not involving ranked teams, Southern Cal beat Arizona 58-53 in the Galen Center in Los Angeles as new members Ivana Jakubcova (11 points, 12 rebounds), Ja’Tavia Tapley (15 points), and Minyon Moore (12 points), each scored in double digits for the Trojans (11-9, 2-7 Pac-12), who snapped a seven-game losing streak.

Malena Washington had 13 points, while LaBrittney Jones and Dejza James each scored 10 for Arizona (11-9, 2-7).

Looking Ahead

On Saturday, besides the Villanova game in Washington at Georgetown already mentioned, La Salle will be hosting George Mason at noon in an Atlantic 10 contest at Tom Gola Arena, and Rider goes for another Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference sweep hosting Saint Peter’s at 2 p.m. at Alumni Gymnasium in Lawrenceville.

Lafayette is at Loyola of Maryland in Baltimore for a Patriot League game while Lehigh is at Boston U.

In the other Ivy games on the weekend as mentioned on Saturday night Columbia, off its four-overtime win at Dartmouth, is at Harvard, while the Big Green from that marathon, will host Cornell.

On Sunday, locally there is a lot going on beginning at noon with Temple hosting No. 23 South Florida in a key American Athletic Conference game at noon in McGonigle Hall. Drexel hosts Northeastern at 2 p.m. and Delaware is at Towson in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Rutgers is hosting Northwestern in the Big Ten also honoring the past 1982 AIAW and 1989 Atlantic 10 Scarlet Knights champions teams while also in the conference Penn State hosts Illinois.

Saint Joseph’s hosts St. Bonaventure at 3 p.m. in the Atlantic 10, and Penn hosts Division III Stevens Tech at 5 p.m.

Nationally, No. 15 Ohio State hosts Nebraska at noon in the Big 10, while Iowa is at No. 3 Maryland at 3 p.m., also in the Big 10, No. 21 DePaul is at Providence at 1 p.m. in the Big East, while at the same time Wake Forest is at No. 14 Duke, Boston College is at No. 17 Miami in the ACC, which also Virginia at No. 8 Notre Dame at noon, No. 9 Louisville at Pittsburgh at 2 p.m., Syracuse at No. 19 Virginia, same time, and No. 18 North Carolina State is at North Carolina at 3 p.m.

In the Big 12, No. 22 West Virginia is at No. 12 Texas at 4 p.m. and No. 20 Oklahoma is at No. 2 Baylor at 6:30 p.m.,  while in the Southeastern Conference, Texas A&M is at No. 4 Mississippi State, 4 p.m.

And to repeat the Pac-12 schedule from the section above this, Arizona is at No. 12 UCLA at 5 p.m., No. 16 Arizona State is at USC at 6 p.m., and No. 10 Stanford is at No. 7 Washington at 8 p.m.

And that's the wrap up.



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