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, February 02, 2017

Guru's Overnighter: Temple Becomes UConn Win Streak Victim No. 96

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – Temple and top-ranked Connecticut both had the Owls’ number Wednesday night in an American Athletic Contest women’s basketball game played at the larger Liacouras Center.

On Temple side, the hosts were able to virtually hit their season-average scoring to date, getting 69 points against the powerful Huskies.

Unfortunately, for coach Tonya Cardoza’s bunch, UConn had their number, also, as they have had the number of everyone in NCAA Division I, this time rolling to a 34-point wipeout in the first half before the Owls became competitive the rest of the way with the final score settled at 97-69.

The 69 points were the most anyone in the conference has scored against the Huskies (21-0, 9-0 AAC) this season and the 29-22 Temple performance in the third quarter matched the most anyone had scored in a period, equaling a 29-point quarter delivered by Florida State at home on opening night in a game that UConn escaped in the final moments.

Since then, it has been scorched earth against everyone else, except for the win in single digits at Maryland on Dec. 29.

The Huskies’ triumph extended their ongoing NCAA win streak number to 96 and they now have a new NCAA road win streak mark of 35 surpassing the previous mark, also owned by them, by a point. UConn also owns the win streak mark broken several weeks ago, which was at 90.

"The first half, I thought the way we started the game on the defensive end, the way we approached every switch and every rotation, everything we wanted to do to keep them off-balanced, we got it done,” said UConn coach Geno Auriemma, making his annual homecoming visit near Norristown, where he grew up.

"What that did, is it led to some really good stuff down the other end. We wanted to attack them off the dribble because we knew the defensive pressure they want to put on you on the perimeter, and I thought we did a great job with that,” he continued.

“We were very, very efficient with shots, we didn’t rush anything, we got the right people getting the right shots at the right time. I can’t think of one thing when we went in at halftime, where I had to say, `You know we have to do a better job.’ That was about as good a first half as we played, that, and the South Florida game, might have been the two best first halves this year.”

Temple (16-5, 6-3), off a second half in which the Owls outscored the visitors, 51-45, led the game on the offensive glass 26-8 leading to a whopping 25-9 on second chance points.

But the reason is UConn was deadly on first-chance points, shooting 38-for-62 from the field for a percentage of 61.3 percent while the Owls shot 36.5 percent for the game, but in the first half only 7-for-36 for 19.4 percent.

Napheesa Collier, Katie Lou Samuelson, and Gabby Williams, three of four Huskies along with Kia Nurse, on most national watch lists, were virtually unstoppable. Collier was 12-for-14 and hit her only free throw attempt, to get a game-high 25 points, while also grabbing 10 rebounds, dealing two assists, blocking four shots and getting three steals.

Samuelson, off 9-for-14 from the field, 2-for-4 on 3-point attempts, and 4-for-6 from the line, collected 24 points. Williams, shot 7-for-11 and picked up 14 points, while Saniya Chong also scored in double figures with 12, helped by a perfect 7-for-7 from the line.

Freshman Crystal Dangerfield in her first game back since Jan. 10, a period of five missed games due to a stress reaction in her left foot, shot 3-for-6 from the field to account for all six points in 18 minutes of action.

On the Temple side, Tanaya Atkinson, who hails from New Haven, Conn., had 20 points and 10 rebounds and dealt a career high four assists, Alliya Butts had 13 points, of which nine came from three triplets, while Khadijah Berger came off the bench with support, which she did in Sunday’s rally and narrow loss next door to then-No. 23 South Florida, this time hitting four treys and scoring 12 points.

But Feyonda Fitzgerald was held to seven points, shooting 3-for-16 from the field, but still dealt six assists.

"Playing against UConn, they show you every single night why they’re great,” said Temple’s Cardoza, who spent 14 years on Auriemma’s staff  before succeeding Dawn Staley running the Owls in the summer of 2008.

“They’re efficient in everything they do, they cut hard, now their defense is unbelievable, how they’re able to switch one through five. They put a lot of pressure. And when you turn the basketball over, they’re out in transition,” Cardoza observed.

“They got 24 points off our turnovers (24-10), and that in itself is going to put you in a big hole.”

The Huskies also outscored the Owls 58-26 in the paint.

 “But I love that my team gets to play against them,” Cardoza said. “Because you get to play against the best team, one of the greatest teams to ever play basketball. Whenever you compete against the best it gives you an opportunity to see where you stand.

“In the first 20 minutes, we were caught up in the hype and not really competing against them, allowing them to do whatever they wanted. And again, credit to them because they are really good.

“In the second half, we just threw that all out the window and went out and played with them and competed with them and things were different, because we found some success. That’s half the battle, just understanding and knowing you can play with them. When we did that, the game turned around a little bit for us.”

Temple has lost two in a row, both to ranked teams, after the Owls’ 12-game streak but are still holding third place. Technically, things should ease up for a bit, if they return to form, starting Sunday when they travel to Tulane in New Orleans.

They return here Wednesday for the annual kids game Wednesday at noon against Tulsa, also in the Liacouras Center, and then will be favored in four of Temple’s final six, which should have the Owls in good shape in getting to the NCAA tournament.

The crowd Wednesday night was 4371, which is double the sellouts the past few seasons when the UConn games were played in McGonigle Hall, where the women’s team plays most games.

The Owls draw more, however, with the annual Kids Game, though perhaps that should be a separate category. UConn drew some 6,000 without Temple the opponent when the school hosted a regional leading to a Final Four.

Saint Joseph’s and La Salle Land A-10 Victories

The Hawks staved off a loss to Duquesne, winning 60-58 at home in Hagan Arena while the Explorers on the road pulled away late to win at Rhode Island, 58-49, as a four-way third place in the Atlantic 10 was reduced to three.

The reduction came via George Washington slamming Fordham 63-46 in a head-to-head matinee game in the deadlock played at home in the Colonials’ Smith Center in the nation’s capital.

Frontrunner Dayton topped Davidson 68-52 on the road as the Flyers (15-7, 9-1 A-10) won their ninth straight and 12th of the last 13 while second place Saint Louis won at Massachusetts 81-60 in Amherst to stay in first and second place in the A-10, one game apart, followed by the three-way tie one game further behind.

In the Saint Joseph’s game, the Hawks (10-12, 7-3 A-10), moving closer to .500 overall, had to rally from 12 down in the third period and senior Jaryn Garner hit a shot with 11.2 seconds left in regulation to get the win.

Adashia Franklyn had a career high 23 points and completed the double double with 16 rebounds in a game the Hawks led for only 48 seconds.

After Garner hit what became the game-winner, Duquesne (12-12, 5-6) has a chance to win or force overtime and going for broke Julijana Voljinovic’s shot popped up and Alyssa Monaghan grabbed the rebound to save the game.

Saint Joseph’s now has a chance to rope in Saint Louis for a three-way second-place deadlock when the Hawks travel to play the Bilikens Sunday at 4 p.m. On the CBS Sports Network.

One day earlier, George Washington in a head-to-head on Saturday will come to town to play at La Salle at 1 p.m. in Tom Gola Arena with the winner either alone in third if the Hawks lose Sunday or become part of a second place three-way deadlock.

Meanwhile up in Rhode Island Wednesday night as Explorers coach Jeff Williams had feared the Rams gave his team everything it could until La Salle prevailed down the stretch.

Michaya Owens had 18 points for the Explorers (14-8, 7-3 A-10) while Amy Griffin had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Jasmine Alston had six points, 13 rebounds, 11 on the offensive glass,  and six steals, and Sofilia Ngwafang had 11 points.

Nicole Jorgensen had 20 points and 13 rebounds for Rhode Island (4-18, 0-10) in the game played in Kingston.

An 8-0 run in the final 1:06 got the Explorers to their fifth straight win as Ngwafang got six of those points in that stretch.

La Salle got 28 points off turnovers in the game.

In the George Washington win, Caira Washington returned from a four-game absence with a wrist injury and scored a game-high 21 points for the Colonials (14-8, 7-3 A-10) while Lexi Martins scored 20 points.

G’mrice Davis had 18 points for Fordham (15-9, 6-4).

Penn State Overtaken at Ohio State

The Lady Lions took an early lead before the 14th ranked Buckeyes at home in the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio, answered with a 19-2 run and went on to an 87-72 win in the Big Ten.

In the loss, Penn State (14-8, 4-6 Big Ten) had a career-high 32 points, including 10-for-10 at the line, from Teniya Page go to waste.

All-American Kelsey Mitchell had 23 points for the Buckeyes (20-5, 10-1) while Stephanie Mavunga had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Sierra Calhoun had 17 points, fueled by five treys.

Penn State remains on the road heading to Northwestern on Sunday. The Wildcats rolled over Wisconsin 63-43 at home in Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill., in another Big Ten game played Wednesday night.

Nia Coffey had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the host Wildcats (17-5, 6-3) over the Badgers (5-17, 0-9).

Looking Ahead

On Thursday night among the locals Rider visits Monmouth a 7 p.m. on ESPN3 trying to hold on to second place in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which earlier Wednesday announced the first and quarter rounds of the conference tournament will be streamed live for free on MAAC.TV on March 2-4 – the quarterfinals are held over two days – with the semifinals March 5 on ESPN3 and the title game March 6 on ESPNU. Check the MAAC website maacsports.com/basketball for complete information.

Siena visits Rider at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Also on Thursday, Rutgers will be at Iowa at 8 p.m. In Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, streamed on BTN plus.

On Friday, the big story nationally will be No. 8 Stanford (19-3, 9-1 Pac-12) hosting USC (12-9, 3-7) as Stanford coach and Naismith Hall of Famer Tara VanDerveer goes for career win No. 1000, a number on the women’s side only previously achieved by the late Tennessee legendary coach Pat Summitt.

Locally, in the Colonial Athletic Association, Drexel travels to College of Charleston at 6:30 p.m., while Delaware hosts UNCW. Drexel and Delaware are tied for third and meet each other Sunday for the first time this season at 4 p.m. At Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

In the Big East, Villanova hosts second place Creighton at 7 p.m. In the Pavilion and then stays home Sunday to host Providence at 1 p.m.

In the big showdowns in the Ivy League, defending champion hosts Harvard at 7 p.m. in the Palestra with the visiting Crimson having tied a program record winning 16 straight after dropping the opener. Both teams are the only ones left without a loss with Harvard a half-game in front of Penn.

Meanwhile, Princeton, which has already been saddled with two losses, hosts Dartmouth then on Saturday Dartmouth travels to Penn at 7 p.m. and Harvard travels to Princeton at 6 p.m.

Saturday’s La Salle game hosting George Washington has been mentioned as was Rider’s game hosting Siena.

All the local Sunday games have been mentioned and that’s the wrap.



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