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.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Guru's Roundup: La Salle Succumbs to Duquesne Long-Range Finish/Rider Takes Manhattan

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – Duquesne reserve Ann-Kadri Lass struck at the right moment with her only three-point shot here Thursday night, tossing a dagger at La Salle with 34 seconds left in regulation to thwart an Explorers last desperate rally and propel the Dukes to a 76-68 victory in Tom Gola Arena to earn their first Atlantic 10 victory in three tries since beginning conference play.

La Salle (8-6, 1-2), which has now dropped two straight games, both in conference, since the Explorers’ recent surge, trailed by as many as 11 points in the third period before whittling the Dukes’ advantage down the stretch.

It looked promising getting within five at the 3-minute mark before Julijana Vojinovic’s trey blunted the rally but Adreana Miller countered from beyond the arc to keep La Salle hopes alive at 69-64 with 2:26 left in the game.

Two foul shots by Jasmine Alston got it down to three with 1:02 left before Lass delivered the shot that doomed the Explorers and get Duquesne back to .500 at 8-8 and go to 1-2 in the A-10..

There were three other game involving teams in the Guru’s local mix: In one, the renaissance Rider squad tossed a suffocating defense on the road at Manhattan 53-36 in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tilt that kept the Broncs near the stop of the early conference standings.

And in one of the others, though the Guru usually prefers some combinations of alternative words to avoid national redundancy, in this case he allows heartbreaker to be placed on the outcome of the Patriot League affair to the losing Lafayette Leopards, who fell at Army 76-73 in triple overtime.

The Leopards have now lost 14 straight overall since beating La Salle in this building in the season opener for both teams on Nov. 11. Just last week Lafayette was handling Colgate before losing that one.

The other contest also occurred in the Patriot League with Lehigh losing at Loyola of Maryland 62-58.

Nationally, a bunch of ranked squads out of the Atlantic Coast Conference were in action and one came from way back in eighth-ranked Louisville to beat host Virginia 86-81 in overtime at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville.

In other ACC games involving ranked teams, No. 7 Notre Dame cruised over visiting Wake Forest, 92-72; No. 6 Florida State beat host North Carolina 90-77; Host North Carolina State in Raleigh at Reynolds Coliseum almost took down its third straight ranked team but was edged by No. 14 Miami 67-64; No. 13 Duke stayed hot beating Georgia Tech on the road in Atlanta 75-68.

The Southeastern Conference also had some close calls among its ranked schools with No. 24 Kentucky surviving visiting Missouri 64-52 while No. 4 Mississippi State held off host Arkansas 59-51. In another game of note, though once upon a yesteryear Tennessee and Vanderbilt battled in-state as the top two teams in the country, neither was ranked when they met at Memorial Coliseum in Nashville Thursday.

But Tennessee, currently on the second longest absence from the AP Poll  in its fifth straight week, the Lady Vols made a bid to return to grace beating the Commodores 70-57 for their sixth straight triumph. Also in the SEC, former Temple coach Dawn Staley picked up her 200th win as South Carolina’s mentor after the fifth-ranked Gamecocks topped Auburn 73-47 on the road.

Meanwhile back in this building, it was a close contest most of the evening with nine ties and four lead changes. But in the third period, Duquesne broke from a 38-38 deadlock with 6 minutes, 37 seconds left and went on a 9-0 run before La Salle  rallied to within a bucket at 49-47 with 2:03 before the fourth period.

The rest of the way as noted in the opening of this post involved Duquesne holding off several La Salle pursuits.

“That’s what the expectation of our team has been all year and we haven’t done that,” Duquesne coach Dan Burt said of the way things went here for his squad. “I’m really happy with what we did tonight and how we played, limiting our mistakes.

“We had nine first-half turnovers and limited that in the second half. I’m not one who emphasizes valuing the ball a lot, but we were up in the 20s (turnovers) and that’s way too high in our past games,” he said.

“La Salle had won five in a row, they have two 1,000-point scorers and I started two freshmen, two sophomores, and a senior, and my first couple kids off the bench are also kids who have no experience beyond this season also.

“We’re a work in progress and I was happy with the win tonight and how we handled adversity.”

Miller for La Salle had 17 points, one more than the 16 from Amy Griffin, the leading scorer in the A-10 last season, and Alston had 12 points and seven rebounds.

Duquesne connected on nine treys while La Salle registered just four.

Chassindy Omogrosso had a game-high 18 points, shooting 5-for-11 from the field for the Duquesne, which claims eight foreigners, mostly from Eastern Europe, on its roster.

Amadea Szamosi of Hungary had 14 points, connecting two of her 3-point attempts; Julijana Vojinovic of Serbia had 13 points, off 5-for-10 from the field, including 3-of-6 on trey attempts; Lass, of Estonia, also scored 13, and Nina Aho, another Hungarian, scored 11.

Burt foresees a wild conference race the rest of the way with surprises likely to happen at the Atlantic 10 tournament in Richmond.

“It’s going to be an interesting tournament,” said Burt, who took the Dukes to their first NCAA appearance last season as an at-large pick. “We were picked second preseason and I thought that was pretty accurate but then I underestimated how important experience is.

“We’re trying to grow so when we get to the tournament we’re ready to play our best basketball. I think the league, maybe with GW and Saint Louis being a hair better than everyone, really there’s 11 or 12 teams that could beat anybody on any given night.”

Duquesne, which held Griffin to just two points in the second half, has now beaten La Salle nine of 10 times, including the last five in Tom Gola Arena.

Next up for La Salle is a visit from Rhode Island Monday night. The squad recently added as an interim assistant coach, Dan Durkin, a Philadelphian and a former Duquesne head coach who had served years ago on Penn State coach Rene Portland’s staff, was on the early staffs of Temple’s Tonya Cardoza and most recently had been an assistant to former Providence coach Susan Robinson-Fruchtl, a former Penn State star who early this month will be a Top Five honoree at the NCAA Convention.

Rider Crunches Manhattan

Kamila Hoskova of the Czech Republic had 23 points for the Broncs, shooting 10 of 1 from the field in downing the Jaspers 53-36 in a MAAC game at Draddy Gymnasium in Riverdale, N.Y. Julia Duggan had 11 points and 15 rebounds.

Rider (10-4, 4-1 MAAC) jumped to a 12-0 lead and was in front by as many as 21 ahead of Manhattan (5-9, 2-3), which is under first-year coach Heather Vulin, a former aide at Villanova to Harry Perretta.

It’s the fifth time the Broncs have led all the way this season and the 36 points allowed are the lowest ever in the 10-year era of Lynn Milligan, a former Saint Joseph’s assistant, and lowest allowed since holding St. Francis of Brooklyn to 26 in the 1995-96 season.

 Milligan expressed pleasure over her team’s 6-2 road mark away from the Rider campus in Lawrenceville, N.J. “MAAC road wins are very difficult to come by,” she said. “We’re happy to walk out of her with a ‘W.’

"It was a difficult game, not one of our better games. I thought we did some really good things on both ends of the floor, but I thought our consistency was off tonight. I have to credit Manhattan for that. They thought they wanted to take the air out of the ball and slow things down tonight and I think they did that. We came up with some good looks and Kami made some big shots when we needed it.”

Rider next travels to Siena on Sunday for a 2 p.m. Tip time in Loudonville, N.Y., at Alumni Recreation Center.

Lafayette Thwarted at Army in Triple Overtime

The best shooting night of the season was not enough to end the futile losing streak for the Leopards that now stands at 14 straight since beating La Salle on the road in the season opener.

Lafayette is now 0-3 in the Patriot League while the Army win at West Point, N.Y., improved the Black Knights to 11-3 overall and 2-1 in the conference after getting the win at their Christl Arena.

Coach Theresa Grentz’s squad shot 44 percent from the field while holding the efficient shooting (2nd in Patriot) Army group to 31 percent from the field and 25 from beyond the arc.

Close as the outcome was, Lafayette was walloped in foul shooting differential – Army shot 42 free throws while the Leopards took just 18 times.

Army’s Madison Hovren was on the line 23 times in the second half and finished with a game-high 35 points.

A trio of Lafayette freshmen scored in double digits – the first that many in uniform to play were successful – Olivia Gumbs had a career mark with 16 points and Alexis Santarelli also scored a career best 14, while Sarah Agnello scored 12.

The 19 points Army got off Lafayette in the first half were the fewest points in a half this year allowed by the Leopards.

It was Lafayette’s second straight game in overtime which was ensured when Janae McNeal scored for Army beating the buzzer with a layup.

Gumbs for Lafayette forced the second overtime with a foul shot at the end of the period while in the next extra session the Leopards built a five point lead only to see Army force a third on McNeal’s score.

In the last period, Lafayette scored just four points while Hovren got all seven for Army.

The Leopards next visit Boston U this Sunday.

Meanwhile in the other Patriot League game involving a local Lehigh fell at Loyola of Maryland 62-58 outside Baltimore despite three double digit scores from Quinci Martin, who collected 16 points and a career-high six rebounds while freshman Gena Grundhoffer had 14 points, and Hannah Hedstrom scored 10 points.

The loss was the sixth straight for Lehigh (5-0, 0-3 Patriot) while the Greyhounds are now 6-8 overall and 1-2 in the conference.

Lehigh heads to American Saturday afternoon.

National Look: How It Went for the Escape Artists

We go to Virginia first where Louisville emerged 86-81 over the Cavaliers as Myisha Hines-Allen, Mariya Moore and the rest of the Cardinals erased a 15-point deficit from the third quarter.

Hines-Allen had a career-high 31 points and career-best 17 rebounds while Moore had 18 of her 23 points in the second half on a night Louisville (14-23, 2-1 ACC) trailed by 13 at the half after 12 turnovers in the first two quarter led to 17 points by Virginia (11-4, 0-2), who committed six straight turnovers in the second half.

The Cavaliers nailed a trey from freshman Dominique Toussaint at the buzzer to force the extra period.

“We had to try to turn the tempo of the game,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said of the stragegy to rally.

It's the third loss for Virginia after holding a double digit lead at halftime.

Meanwhile unranked North Carolina State seemed on the way to beating a third straight ranked opponent in the ACC, building a 23-9 lead over No. 14 Miami that if it held would have been a program first. But the visiting Hurricanes rallied for a 67-64 win as Keyonna Hayes had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Adrienne Motley had 16 points for Miami (13-2, 2-1 ACC), while Jennifer Mathurin had 17 for the Wolfpack (12-4, 2-1).

In the SEC, Blair Schaefer hit a pair of three-pointers to help No. 4 Mississippi State avoid an upset at Arkansas, beating the Razorbacks 59-51 to stay unbeaten at 16-0 and 2-0 in the conference while the home team fell to 11-4 overall and 0-2 in the league.

The win in Bud Walton Arena in Fayetteville evened the all-time series at 18 apiece.

“You have to commend Arkansas,” Bulldogs coach Vic Schaefer said. “They came in the second half and played very well and defended us very well. We were very bad, offensively, tonight. We need to give credit to Arkansas for that.

“If the Schaefer kid is not on the bus, we don’t win that game. She made some really good plays when we had to have them., both offensively and defensively. We had not been practicing well. Some of the kids are feeling the numbers (unbeaten). We had some players who were tight tonight.”

In Kentucky, Mikayla Epps had 17 points and the Wildcats at home lived off a 26-3 second-quarter run, stopping a Missouri rally for a 64-62 win at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington.

Coach Matthew Mitchell’s squad (10-5, 1-1 SEC) shot 39.3 percent from the floor but forced Missouri (11-5, 1-1) into 14 turnovers worth converting into 16 points.

“So proud of our team, what an important victory for us,” Mitchell said. “A huge second quarter really turned the game around.”

Dawn Staley picked up South Carolina victory No. 200 in her ninth season with the Gamecocks (12-1, 2-0 SEC) after gaining a 73-47 win at Auburn as Kaela Davis and Bianca Cuevas-Moore combined for 40 points. Auburn is now 11-5 and 1-1 in the conference.

Despite the current Tennessee run there won’t be another true test where things are until the Lady Vols host Notre Dame a week from Monday in a Big Monday non-conference game.

But for now, the 70-57 win over unranked Vanderbilt made Tennessee 10-5 overall and 2-0 in the conference while the Commodores under first-year coach Stephanie White fell to 10-5 and winless in the SEC at 0-2.

It’s Vandy’s fourth straight loss.

Diamond DeShields had 16 points in leading Tennessee to its sixth straight while Mercedes Russell had 15 points and 13 rebounds.

LeaLea Carter had 17 for the Commodores.

Looking Ahead

Drexel, currently the No. 1 team in the ESPN Mid-Major rankings, gets tested Friday night in a Colonial Athletic Association showdown with Elon at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

The Dragons will also see the same opponent on the road in North Carolina next weekend.

Struggling Delaware is on the road at UNCW in another CAA contest Friday night.

On Saturday, it’s the opening Ivy showdown when defending champion Penn visits Princeton at 4 p.m. In Jadwin Gym. The Quakers struggled in the non-conference schedule though they just picked up two wins in California against Northridge and Riverside.

The dynamics are totally different in this year's run since Princeton has been in a rebuilding mode, Harvard is looming as a third factor while Columbia could be a spoiler. But for the team that falters along the way is the new salvation of the first four-team Ivy men’s and women’s post season tournaments at The Palestra here in Philadelphia on Penn’s campus in March to determine who gets the automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament.

Last year, salvation for Princeton after losing to Penn on the last day was becoming the first at-large pick from the Ivy women to the 64-team NCAA field.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Penn State is at Purdue in the Big 10, Rutgers, with a brand new two-game Big 10 win streak, visits Illinois, while Saint Joseph’s tries to break out of its slide, hosting Massachusetts in the Atlantic 10.

On Sunday in Part 2 of the local CAA weekend, Drexel heads to Northeastern and Delaware stays on the road visiting Elon. Villanova will be looking for its second straight Big East win, visiting Providence.

Temple hosts Tulane at home in McGonigle Hall, 1 p.m., in a key American Athletic Conference game.

And that’s the overnight report.