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 19, 2017

Hahn's Hot Second Half Help 'Nova Halt Penn in Women's Big 5

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – It took a dominant second half by sophomore Adrianna Hahn Wednesday night, scoring all 23 of her game-high points in the final 20 minutes, to enable the Villanova women to live up to their dominant play in the Palestra and stay alive to earn a piece of the Big Five title by beating Penn 60-48.

Now the the ultimate outcome in the city series will come down to Temple’s visit here next Wednesday night. The Owls, who won their 10th straight overall Wednesday night on the road against Houston in the American Athletic Conference, are 3-0 in the city and a win over the Quakers gives them a sweep.

Otherwise, a Penn win will force Temple and Villanova to share the crown at 3-1.

Meanwhile, in total games played in the Cathedral of Basketball, the Villanova women (9-9, 3-1 Big Five), who share their home court with the top ranked and defending NCAA champion men, are now 24-2 all-time in the Palestra and 42-2 against the Quakers (9-5, 0-3), who had a six-game win streak snapped.

Hahn, a product of the same Ursuline Academy program in Wilmington, Del., that produced all-time women’s great Elena Delle Donne, had been on a tear reaching 20 or more points in four of the last seven games, including 31 at home against Marquette, Dec. 28.

But by halftime Wednesday night, Penn had Hahn under lock and key, shooting and missing her only shot over the first 20 minutes as the Quakers and Wildcats went to the break in a 23-23 tie.

Hahn then became a scoring Houdini, escaping Penn’s defenses to produce 14 of the Wildcats’ 18 points in the third period, including a pair of three pointers, but the Quakers still were in contention, though trailing 41-37 after a Hahn three-pointer closed out the period.

Then early in the fourth, Hahn nailed her third long-range shot from beyond the arc, and teammate Megan Quinn followed with a trey of her own and the Wildcats went to a 10-point advantage never to be seriously threatened the rest of the way.

Fortunately for the Wildcats, Hahn and Quinn were the two-engine attack to get them back to .500 since the rest of the Villanova offense sputtered.

But on the defensive side, the Wildcats kept Penn’s Michelle Nwokedi out of double digits, holding her to eight points while Sydney Stipanovich was limited to 11 and Anna Ross got 12, fueled by three treys.

“I thought when we had control of the game, we were very effective,” said Penn coach Mike McLaughlin, who has yet to beat Villanova in his eight seasons with the program though he has wins over the other three rivals in the City Series.

“I thought when we started the game, we played the first half the right way, the first four, five, six possessions of the second half, the third quarter we had a nice flow and then we lost control – the gap when we didn’t score, things became a struggle, their scoring led to us to have some bad possessions, and then Hahn just took over and slowed us down and took us apart at her pace and we just could never get back into any offensive flow.”

Hahn, who was 7-for-9 in the second half after the one missed shot, connected on 3-of-5 three-pointers, hit all six of her foul shots and dealt three assists. Quinn scored 18 points, connecting on 6-of-13 shots, including 4-of-7 treys.

Penn was missing one of its three-point aces in Lauren Whitlatch, who suffered a knee injury in Saturday’s win over Brown and is not likely to return the rest of the season.

“I don’t know what to really say about that,” Hahn laughed about how things sputtered in the first half. “I don’t know, we were just lackadaisical on offense, our defense is what kept us in the game so that’s good on our part.

“Penn really played us tough, they were bothering me from creating my shot and I just had to keep pumping it and play the game the way I do.”

The win extended Villanova’s current streak to three heading into a return to the Big East wars the rest of the way, beginning at Butler in Indianapolis Friday night.

“I thought we played very good defense,” Villanova coach Harry Perretta, “and it kept us in the game early, and in the second half, Adrianna got it going, and the floor started opening up, she started scoring the ball and then other people got open.

“I wanted Adrianna to split their defense to force them to help so we could start dishing the ball and get other people easier shots because they weren’t getting any easy shots. So by doing that, it opened up the floor and we were able to get the ball to different people.

"Megan came through big time because we had a bad shooting game from everybody else.”

“Sometimes, when you have a tough player like that, you get it going. It was a good win.”



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