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 29, 2017

Guru's Overniter: La Salle, Rider and Harvard Win With Photo Finish Shots

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – Across the board among the Guru’s local teams that played Saturday and even in some cases among those that weren’t it seems photo finish outcomes here at La Salle’s Tom Gola Arena, just up north at Rider, and on the road with Villanova were the common denominator as games were decided within the last minute of regulation or even deeper to the final seconds.

It was also true in the Ivy League at Harvard and even Saturday night at the Saint Joseph’s-La Salle men’s game the Guru attended at Hagan Arena where the host Hawks nipped the Explorers 73-72 on a shot by Lamarr Kimble with 15.8 seconds to go before they affected Jordan Price’s to help it roll off the rim as time expired.

That game only counted in the Atlantic 10 standings with the Big Five implication to come next month when the second matchup in the league goes to La Salle.

Starting our coverage on the overnight with the La Salle game here, one is beginning to wonder if Explorers coach Jeff Williams is asking for a heart monitor to be nearby as he guides his team through narrow escapes.

It was just Wednesday here that La Salle erased an 18-point deficit to Massachusetts and won in the final moments. And there have been similar situations earlier, notably the Penn game in The Palestra where the Explorers twice overcome seven-point deficits late in regulation and then again in overtime with a buzzer-beating three-ball to upset the Quakers.

On Saturday in an Atlantic 10 game with visiting George Mason the Explorers held nine-point leads several times in the first two periods before going to the break ahead 29-23.

In the third period the differential got to double digits at 11 before the Patriots sliced four points off of that. Then in the final period, the Explorers were in firm control up 12 with 6:18 left in regulation before George Mason began to climb back into contention.

Then when Tiffany Padgett hit a foul shot for the Patriots with 1:39 the game was deadlocked at 55-55 at the end of a 16-4 Patriots’ run and it was time for the Explorers’ Amy Griffin to come to the rescue – twice.

Two foul shots with 30 seconds left gave the home team a 57-55 lead but eight seconds later on the ensuing possession Kara Wright tied it again at 57-57 for GMU.

Out of the timeout huddle La Salle whipped it around down low until Jasmine Alston found Griffin, who hit a turnaround shot with scant time left and the Explorers broke into a celebration except – it was enough time for the Patriots to heave a shot that seemed headed for local disaster until it landed off the mark and the Explorers survived again, this time 59-57.

“It’s crazy, it’s crazy,” Williams said afterward. “And then the last shot, they almost made it from half court and we’re celebrating. We had no idea that ball was even in play but we’ll take it.”

The Explorers (13-8, 6-3 Atlantic 10), picked for 12th by the league coaches in the preseason poll, are tied for fourth, a half-game behind George Washington, which hosts Duquesne Sunday, and a half-game ahead of Saint Joseph’s, which also plays Sunday and will host Saint Bonaventure at 3 p.m. on ASN and the A-10 networks.

That overall record, as they say in football, is getting close for La Salle to become Bowl eligible, meaning getting looks from the WNIT and WBI postseason tourneys.

“That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Williams, who is becoming a strong conference coach of the year candidate if La Salle keeps staying its winning ways alive. Certainly the hot seat people thought he was on after last season has become a lot cooler.

“Every game is a grind, every team is tough. We’re going (Wednesday) to play a Rhode Island team (4-12, 0-9) that’s struggling but has given everybody a battle But we need all of them to be eligible so we’re going to keep grinding.”

Griffin had 17 points, which is three off her season average, shooting 6-for-21, but she also grabbed nine rebounds.

“She was off today and struggling the last two games shooting the ball, but I trust her when the game’s on the line, so there was no question, who we were going to.”

Adreana Miller had 10 points and Alston scored seven, grabbed 12 rebounds, and dealt nine assists.

Wright had a game-high 25 points for George Mason (11-12, 4-6) while Padgett scored 12.

Two notables about the Patriots, Redshirt 6-6 senior Bridget O’Donnell, a transfer from UMBC, is a niece of Hall of Fame great Anne Donovan and her mother Patrice played at Michigan while Mary, another aunt, played at Penn State.

An assistant to Patriots coach Nyla Milleson is Tajama Ngongba (Abraham), a former star and 1997 graduate of George Washington, who was recently named as the Colonials’ Atlantic 10 legend.

Peters’ Trey Carries Rider Past Saint Peters

Having beaten the Peacocks relatively easily just nine days ago on the road in Jersey City, N.J., it seemed the comforts of home in Alumni Gymnasium Saturday afternoon in Lawrenceville, N.J.,  on, coincidentally, alumni day, shouldn’t be much of a problem for the Broncs to complete a sweep and hold on to second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

So much for perception.

While the game was close most of the way, after playing from behind Rider seemed to have a handle with a seven-point lead at the end of the third period.

But the Broncs couldn’t get more traction and the advantage slowly dwindled with disaster arriving face up when Janelle Mullen hit two foul shots with 1.8 seconds left for a 46-44 Saint Peter’s lead.

Not to worry.

After a 30-second timeout, Taylor Wentzel got the ball to the team’s star Robin Perkins, who squared up and  launched a three-pointer from the wing as time expired for a 47-46 Rider victory.

Perkins finished with 17 points, of which 16 came in the second half, in the game, which had eight ties and 10 lead changes, and she was the only player in double figures for Rider (15-6, 9-3 MAAC), which is now knocking at the door of a WNIT postseason berth.

“After we gave up he lead early in the fourth quarter, I had the gut feeling this game would come down to the final possession,” Rider coach Lynn Milligan said. “1.8 is a long time.

“We reminded Robin that she had time to square up and take a bounce. I think that helped get her in rhythm. I don’t think that was a chuck or lucky shot. That’s a shot that Robin shoots a ton of times a week in practice.

“When she’s in rhythm, she’s very confident. I’ll take a Robin Perkins rhythm shot any day.”

Julia Duggan had nine points and 10 rebounds, while Kamila Hoskova also grabbed 10 rebounds for the Broncs.

Talah Hughes had 12 points while Zoe Pero scored 10 for Saint Peter’s (3-17, 2-9), which is coached by former Rutgers great Pat Coyle, who also coached the WNBA New York Liberty. One of her assistants is Phyllis Mangina, a former Seton Hall coach.

Sammy Lochner, the daughter of Delaware assistant and former La Salle coach Tom Lochner, had four points in 38 minutes.

  Rider next heads to Monmouth for the first of two in their in-state series in the conference Thursday night at 7 p.m.

Villanova Falls Short at Georgetown

With the Wildcats’ ability to shoot the 3-ball anything close on the scoreboard in the final minute means there are in contention.

But that died Saturday at Georgetown’s McDonough Arena when Dorothy Adomako drove for two with 18 seconds left in regulation to give the Hoyas a 54-49 victory and a split in their season series in the Big East with Villanova.

The loss also ended a five-game win streak for the Wildcats (11-10, 6-4 Big East).

Dionna White had 21 points for Georgetown (13-7, 5-5) and Faith Woodard scored 12 while Cynthia Petke had 11 rebounds.

“We wanted to attack today and open up the floor,” Hoyas coach Natasha Adair said. “We noticed from the last game to this game, that it was there so we worked on it and adjusted some plays to really open it up.

“Our players locked in today, defensively. We want to hold opponents under their average, that’s when we have success. The first time we played, they had 71 points, today they had 49 and it was 100 percent team defense.”

Alex Louin, who turned 21, had 11 points and Jannah Tucker scored 10. Adrianna Hahn was held to six points.

Villanova next hosts second-place Creighton Friday night.

Ivy Report: Harvard Stops Columbia at the Finish

So much for the idea that Columbia would arrive at Harvard too exhausted from Friday’s four-overtime win, longest Ivy women’s game ever, to compete with the front-running Crimson.

Coach Megan Griffith’s Lions nearly pulled another shocker but were thwarted by Madeline Raster’s pull up jumper with 4.9 seconds left for a 70-68 win at Lavietes Pavilion in Boston, Mass.

“I wanted Murph to get the ball at the top with eight seconds left, and she went hard at the defender, stopped on the dime and elevated the shot,” Harvard coach Kathy Delaney-Smth said. “That was the call and we executed the play.”

The win was the 16th straight overall for Harvard (16-1, 4-0 Ivy), matching the longest in the program’s history (2003) as the Crimson took a half-game lead on Penn, which is idle in the league this weekend but hosts Harvard Friday night and then Princeton will do likewise on Saturday.

In the race for two of the fourth berths in the new Ivy postseason tournament that will be held on selection weekend at Penn’s Palestra in March. Dartmouth’s upset of Cornell, strengthened the position for the Quakers and Crimson, who may be the most prominent battlers for the top two Ivy tournament seeds.

Next weekend will determine how the race flows for a while.

In Saturday’s game Columbia (11-6, 1-3 Ivy) had fallen behind by 12 points in the second half before beginning a rally.

Camille Zimmerman had 22 for Columbia and executed a baseline out of bounds play that got Columbia into a tie with less than 30 seconds before Raster saved Harvard.

“For me, this game shows huge growth,” said Griffith, a native of King of Prussa, Pa., in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. “Our girls were completely gassed after the game last night but they showed that didn’t matter.

“I’m in love with this team,” said Griffith, a prevous assistant at Princeton. “They’ve completely bought in and showed me that now they believe in themselves and they are not who they were before. They’re ready to move forward.”

Zimmerman had a chance to come and win it but her contested shot from under the basket didn’t drop, which would have had the Lions back in another overtime affair.

Tori Oliver had 16 points and 14 rebounds for Columbia while Devon Roeper scored 15, and Paulina Koerner scored 13.

Jeanine Boehm and Katie Benzan each scored 20 points for Harvard while Raster scored 18.

Columbia goes to Yale and Brown on successive nights next Friday and Saturday.

Harvard is 60-3 in the series and three of the last four games have been decided by three points or less.

Meanwhile, though having been the loser in the marathon game with Columbia Friday night, Dartmouth fared a bit better the next time out, beating Cornell 84-74 in Hanover, N.H. at the Big Green’s Leede Arena.

The loss meant the Big Red (11-6, 2-2) got swept and is now in traffic jam two games off the pace in the loss column in terms of getting the top or second best seed in the Ivy tourney.

The Big Green (6-11, 1-3) avoided falling further behind.

Fanni Szabo had 23 points for Dartmouth while Andi Norman scored 14, and Olivia Smith had 12.

Megan LeDuc had 19 points for Cornell while Kerri Moran scored 17, Nia Marshall scored 15, and Samantha Widmann scored 12.

 Former Big Green coach Chris Wielgus was honored at halftime and the lounge by the basketball offices was named for her. She won 12 Ivy titles in two stints at Dartmouth.

“Today has been an awesome day for our program and our team,” Dartmouth coach Belle Koclanes said. “Having coach Wielgus here and all of our alumni was inspirational for me and my team.

“Our team can truly understand our program they are a part of instead of us just telling them about it. For them to feel and see all of that today was remarkable.”

Ivy Standings (thru Saturday)

Harvard 16-1, 4-0
Penn 9-6,3-0
Brown 11-6, 2-2
Cornell 11-6, 2-2
Princeton 7-9, 1-2
Columbia 11-6, 1-3
Yale 10-7, 1-3
Dartmouth 6-11, 1-3

And that’s the wrap



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