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 15, 2017

Saint Joseph's Wins at La Salle To Extend Win Streak to Three

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – Healthier with the recent return of Sarah Veilleux (concussion) and Chelsea Woods (broken bone in foot), Saint Joseph’s has taken off on a three-game win streak, the latest triumph of which gave some satisfaction of revenge.

The Hawks’ victim Saturday afternoon was La Salle, which Saint Joseph’s topped 75-55 in the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena in a game counting in the Atlantic 10 standings but not in the Big 5.

That will come in part two of the home-and-home local Atlantic 10 setup on Feb. 12, Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Hawks’ Hagan Arena.

While that will be the last of the City Series clashes this season, the outcome will not impact the Big 5 title chase.

That will be long decided before the two local Atlantic 10 rivals meet again. Saint Joseph’ is 1-2 and La Salle is 1-2 in the City Series and the ultimate outcome will come the next two Wednesdays when Villanova visits th Quakers this week and Temple travels to the Palestra 10 seven days later.

The Owls, currently on a nine game win streak, are 3-0 so a win at Penn gives them the title outright. Villanova is 2-1 so a loss automatically gives Temple the title. If both lose to the Quakers, the Owls back in at 3-1 or if Villanova wins and Temple loses then it’s a tie.

The Wildcats won last year at 3-1, defaulting into the outright winner because of what happened here last season in February when La Salle ended a long streak of losses against the Hawks to deprive them of sharing local Big 5 bragging rights.

So perhaps a bit of that was encased in Saint Joseph’s memory when the Hawks met the Explorers Saturday or maybe it was just a matter of continuing to shed the awful November and December experiences with a new approach since A-10 play began.

A 23-11 second quarter advantage and a closing 21-10 fourth quarter rout did the job for coach Cindy Griffin’s team (6-11, 3-2 Atlantic 10), which this time didn’t let an opponent rally against the Hawks even if leads shrank a bit on separate occasions.

“We’re finding our way,” Griffin said of the turnaround. “These last couple of games there’s been a difference in the mentality. When some teams showed some resistance we didn’t always fight back and I think we’re learning to do that.

“La Salle has become a good team. And it’s evident by their personnel, by their coaching and by their record,” she continued. “It was a scary game because they have a kid that can beat you. And we did a really good job.

“Veilleux was terrific off the bench.Chelsea Woods was terrific off the bench. Two kids that started for us early due to injuries, they’re coming off the bench and I just think we’re better because we’re into a little bit of a slow and it’s not so much as who starts. It’s just based on how the game goes.”

La Salle (9-8, 2-3) had just been closed out in a non-conference game at the buzzer here Wednesday night by Harvard, which is looking like a renewed force in the Ivy League off its 13-1 overall record.

The setback was the fourth in five games, a series that began after La Salle had shaken off an 0-3 overall start to then go on an 8-1 binge which could have been 9-0 had not Villanova edged the Explorers 52-49 on the Main Line in a Big 5 clash.

The two formerly injured Saint Joseph’s stars were also the top players Saturday with Veilleux scoring 18 points, making all seven of her shots, including all three 3-point attempts and her only free throw attempt, and Woods picking up 17 points, aided by a perfect 7-for-7 at the line.

Adashia Franklyn had a double double with 10 points and 11 rebounds while Alyssa Monaghan scored 10 points.

Amy Griffin, the leading scorer in the Atlantic 10 and defending scoring star of last season, collected 16 points in this one and Michaya Owens off the bench scored 14, while everyone else was held in check.

There was one highlight for La Salle as Jasmine Alston entered the contest tied with Jennifer McGowan (1988-93) for the all-time steals record in the program so her first of two Saturday give her ownership of the new mark and her second makes her career total now 235.

Saint Joseph’s is back on Hawk Hill Wednesday night hosting Fordham while La Salle heads to Richmond the same night to launch a brief road trip.




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