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.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Guru's WBB Roundup: Villanova/Temple/Rutgers Win Big

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

VILLANOVA, Pa. – On a Wednesday in which nationally four-time defending champion and top-ranked Connecticut came within a game of its all-time record 90-win streak and locally Drexel earned a No. 1 ranking in the latest ESPN mid-major women’s rankings, out here on the Main Line Villanova put together a complete game at the Pavilion to rout Georgetown 71-50 and earn its first Big East win of the season in three attempts while keeping the Hoyas out of the same column continuing their futile 0-3 start in conference play.

Elsewhere, on the local front in suburban Atlanta, Temple blasted Kennesaw State 79-38 in the Owls’ next-to-last non-conference game of the season and Rutgers made in two straight conference wins, topping Wisconsin at home in the RAC in Piscataway, N.J., but Saint Joseph’s was competitive but lost again at George Washington in the Colonials’ Smith Center in an Atlantic game in the nation’s capital.

Let’s take care of the business at hand first right here at a game in which the Wildcats (5-8, 1-2 Big East) never trailed and sophomore Adrianna Hahn had another lights out shooting performance, scoring 23 points, her fourth 20-plus game of the season, connecting on 9-of-18 overall from the field, including 5-of-11 on 3-point attempts, and also dealt three assists and grabbed two steals.

Offering balance, Jannah Tucker, the transfer from Tennessee in her first season of eligibility, had 12 points off 5-for-8 from the field, including 2-of-3 on 3-point efforts. Veteran Megan Quinn had 10 points and eight rebounds and freshman Kelly Jekot off the bench added 10 points off 4-of-8 from the field, including 2-of-3 3-pointers. Jordan Dillard, another reserve, dealt five assists in her 18 minutes of action.

The Wildcats as a team connected on 12-of-27 on their specialty 3-point shooting while the Hoyas (8-5, 0-3) were 6-of-13.

“In that game we had balance in scoring, we played together on defense, we did a lot of things well today,” said Villanova coach Harry Perretta. “You know with a young team some days we look great and some days we don’t.”

As for Hahn, Perretta's prized sophomore out of Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, the alma mater of WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, Perretta said, “Look she can make threes and that’s what she does. She takes the ball to the hoop. She does different things.

“We stuck with the upperclassmen except for Kelly. She was the one (newbie) we played. We stuck with the upperclassmen because we’re trying to get some continuity.”

The game was also Villanova’s We Back Pat contest, the annual nationwide effort to support the Pat Summitt Foundation fighting Alzheimer’s Disease, of which she succumbed to its effects last June after a nearly five-year battle after revealing she had been diagnosed with the illness.

Summitt and Perretta became good friends over a decade ago when she came to Villanova to learn his motion offense and took to the whimsical longtime Wildcat mentor.

In the game here on the other bench, Dionna White scored 18 for Georgetown, Dorothy Adomako scored 14, and Faith Woodard scored 11.

Hahn was a heralded catch when she arrived last season and has lived up to her reputation.

As for Wednesday’s performance, she noted, “I think that was the best game by far we played as a team. We had to pick up our defense which led us on the offensive end, we stuck together, we played hard, we focused on players and what we can do.

“I think we could have had Marquette and DePaul could have been a closer game,” Hahn said of last week’s setbacks in the opening of Big East play. “But it was pretty good winning against Georgetown. They’re a good team and we didn’t think we would end up winning by 20 something points but we did and it was a good turnout.

“In this game, we looked to go inside and we finished well with that. He gives me the green light so I know I have to look to shoot the ball, even when I’n not hitting, I know I have to continue to keep shooting, I know it’s going to fall,” Hahn said.

“I’ve been working on it and it’s where most of my points come from so I have to continue to keep shooting the three.”

Villanova now hits the road for two games, visiting Providence on Sunday and Creighton Tuesday before returning home to host Seton Hall a week from Friday, which will be a morning 11:30 a.m. school day game, a change from the 7 p.m. tip time listed.

Elsewhere in the Big East Wednesday night, DePaul, back in the AP Poll at No. 23, beat Creighton 79-65 at home in Chicago in a battle of unbeatens as Brooke Schulte had a career-high 30 points – the winning Blue Demons are now 12-4 overall and 4-0 in the conference after their sixth straight win while Creighton falls to 9-5 and 3-1; Marquette edged visiting Providence 79-74; and  host Xavier topped Seton Hall, 72-64.

Temple Runs Win Streak to Six

The Owls at times have become the showcase for teams playing them this season as was the case when former Penn assistant Chris Day brought his Vermont squad to McGonigle Hall and Wednesday when Kennesaw State hosted Temple and suffered a 79-38 wipeout.

“I want to play this type of competition and these kind of athletes because in the future we want to have that type of program,” said first-year Kennesaw coach Agnus Berenato, the sister of Atlantic 10 commissioner Bernie McGlade who has previously coached at Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh.

Berenato is looking at a three-year build to get to Temple’s level.

Ironically it was the Owls versus the host Owls, who are in the Atlantic Sun.

As for the Owls back here in the American Athletic Conference, dominated by UConn, Temple at 10-3 is off to its best start since going 10-2 at the outset of the 2009-10 season.

Coach Tonya Cardoza’s group forced 27 turnovers and dominated the boards 49-31.

Donnaizha Fountain had a game-high 20 points while Feyonda Fitzgerald had her third straight double double with 17 points and 10 assists. Tanaya Atkinson likewise double doubled with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Freshman Shantay Taylor had seven points and eight rebounds in 14 minutes of action.

Temple returns to conference play Sunday hosting Tulane in McGonigle Hall in a game that will air on ESPN2.

Rutgers’ Air Attack Sprouts a Win Streak

After all the struggle and futility prior to opening the Big 10 season, the Scarlet Knights followed up Saturday’s upset of Penn State with a three-point shooting display at home, connecting on 11 three-pointers to down Wisconsin 68-52 for their first back-to-back wins to date.

The overall 5-11 may still be awful for those who lived the glory days of Rutgers past but a 2-1 start in the Big 10 could be a sign of hope things are turning around.

Wisconsin, under new coach Jonathan Tsipis, formerly with George Washington, fell to 5-10 overall and 0-2 in the league.

Coach C. Vivian Stringer’s group was 11-for-19 from beyond the arc as Khadaizha Sanders had 16 points, including a career-high four treys; Shrita Parker had 15 points, Aliyah Jeune had 13 points, and Victoria Harris scored 10.

No one on Wisconsin scored in double figures.

The last time Rutgers had such prolific three-point shooting was throwing 12 down against DePaul in the glory days of the old Big East wars on Dec. 7, 2006, ironically the date for Pearl Harbor Day.

The Scarlet Knights matched a building record that was set by Providence on Jan. 2, 1996, which was Stringer’s first season following her move from Iowa.

Next up is a visit to Illinois on Saturday.

Elsewhere in the Big 10, No. 3 Maryland has recovered nicely from its tough loss to Connecticut last week, the latest being a dominating 93-49 win at Nebraska Wednesday night to go 14-0 overall and 2-0 in the league the Terrapins have owned since moving from the Atlantic Coast Conference. Maryland’s Shatori Walker-Kimbrough had 19 points in this one while Brionna Jones had 13 points and 11 rebounds against the Cornhuskers (4-11, 0-3), still looking for their first conference win of the season.

Saint Joseph’s Shut Down By George Washington

A new coach but like old times when it comes to low-scoring output between the Hawks and Colonials and thus was the deal Wednesday when the GW with former Hartford coach and UConn star Jen Rizzotti new at the helm edged Saint Joseph’s 53-44 in a game that used to have Atlantic 10 title implications all over it.

It still did this time but only on the home team’s bench as the Colonials reached 10-5 on the season and 3-0 in the conference while the Hawks are now 3-11 and 0-2 off their second road outings that saw a loss Saturday at Richmond before venturing into the Smith Center.

Kritalyn Baisden had 12 points, though she shot 4-for-12 from the field, for Saint Joe’s, the tops on the team, while Amanda Fioravanti scored 10. Adashia Franklyn, who was on a recent tear, was held to six points but did grab nine rebounds.

Missing with ongoing rehab from injuries were Chelsea Woods and Sarah Veilleux.

Both teams shot in the mid-30s from the field, typical when they have met over the years.

Lexi Martins, a former Lehigh star, had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Colonials, Hannah Schaible had 12 points, with her 1,000th career point part of the mix.

GW outdid the Hawks in points off turnovers 15-6 and outrebounded the visitors 40-30. The Colonials also showed depth with a 24-8 advantage on bench points and they also had a huge advantage  on second-chance points, 11-2.

“The team is really starting to understand we can win games on the defensive end of the floor,” Rizzotti said. “… if we can continue to lock people down defensively, it will put us in a position to win all the time.

Schaible is the 32nd member of the Colonials’ 1,000-point club and third on the current roster along with Caira Washington and Martins.

Rizzotti noted the added experience that Martins brings from Lehigh.

“She just has that game experience, which is invaluable,” Rizzotti said. “To be able to have someone like that, who started for another team in the country, and coming off our bench and accepting that role and complimenting Kelli (Prange) and Caira, and picking them up when it isn’t their night is such a great asset to have.”

The Colonials pulled away at the finish with an 11-2 run to seal the triumph.

The Hawks had used a 7-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to take a short-lived one-point lead.

Next up is a visit from Massachusetts for Saint Joseph’s at 2 p.m. Saturday in Hagan Arena.

Elsewhere in the Atlantic 10, Fordham beat visiting Davidson, 85-72; Dayton edged Saint Bonaventure, 62-60; Massachusetts edged Rhode Island, 68-67; preseason favorite Saint Louis beat visiting George Mason, 89-50.

UConn Arrives on the Doorstep of More Notoriety

Like most games in the AAC involving the nation’s all-time dominate women’s basketball power, the inherent end in playing against Connecticut happens much quicker than the final score.

That’s how it went early on in the unbeaten Huskies’ 90-45 route of East Carolina at the XL Center in Hartford that made UConn 14-0 on the season, 89-0 on the current streak and 2-0 in the AAC.

Napheesa Collier had 21 points for the Huskies, while Katie Lou Samuelson had 14 and Kia Nurse scored 14 as the UConn steamroller now has two win streaks better than the once-famed 88 achieved by the UCLA men under John Wooden.

Leave it to Geno Auriemma to produce another pearl, this one concerning the current run to glory.

“I just want them to enjoy this,” the Hall of Famer said, “because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, well, at least I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime. They’ve already done something by winning tonight that people thought would be impossible to do and it’s happened twice now. I don’t even know what to say.”

East Carolina is off to an 0-2 start in the conference and is 9-6 on the season.

Pirates coach Heather Macy talked about how going against the Huskies is not to worry about the score – they haven’t come within 40 points in seven meetings – but just gauge self-performance.

“The goal is how many five minute segments can you win as we progress,” she said.

While many expect the run to reach 99 on the eve of the non-conference showdown with South Carolina in Storrs in early February, had not Stanford eked out a comeback two-point win at home in overtime on Nov. 17m 2014, UConn would be holding a 137-0 record instead of the 136 of last 137 games being wins.

Win number 90 may not come as easy as Wednesday to tie the mark, considering next up on Tuesday is No. 22 South Florida, which along with Temple, are the top two teams in the AAC.

A combination of UConn’s keeping tabs of itself, the AP among others reporting the numbers, and yours truly using all that as source for this report including other team emails and websites, shows the Huskies with the three longest women’s streaks at 90, 89, and 70, the latter of which was ended by Villanova.

Back when the Huskies were an emerging power, with one exception, and not yet an empire, they had win streaks of 47, 35, and and 33 with the 47 occurring from 2013-15.

They are also within three of an NCAA-record 34 straight road wins, own a 55-home win streak, 117-0 against unranked opponents; and 292 wins out of 293 against teams outside the top 20 and the one was a buzzer beater in Storrs. Since the start of the 2008-09 season they are 312-12 making them 300 games over .500.

They’ve gone 863 games without losing two in a row; and are 57-0 after a loss since March, 1993.

“We really don’t lose games we’re not supposed to lose,” Auriemma said. “We don’t lose to teams that are not as good as we are. We don’t show up and just go through the motions and mail it in and have an upset one night. The fact that hasn’t happened is probably the most amazing thing.”

Looking Ahead

Rider is at Manhattan Thursday night while La Salle will be hosting Duquesne at 7 p.m.

On Friday Drexel hosts Elon in a key CAA game.

And that is for this post.