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.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Guru's Overniter: Drexel Youth Carries Dragons Over Towson

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

In a switch, the Drexel freshmen sealed the deal Friday night in the Colonial Athletic Association and when the trio of Aubree Brown, Bailey Greenberg and Ana Ferariu finished dominating the last two quarters or second half, take your pick, the Dragons had themselves an 80-65 victory at Towson.

They also had stronger control of third place, courtesy of Delaware losing at Northeastern in Boston, opening up a two-game lead that could grow to three Sunday afternoon since the Blue Hens are heading for part two in the local rivalry, visiting the Dragons at 3 p.m. In the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

James Madison, with a 70-59 win at UNCW moved a half-game in front of idle Elon in terms of first place in the CAA, but the Dukes are already holding a projected number seed in next month’s conference tourney they will host since they swept the season series with the Phoenix.

Drexel (19-6, 10-4 CAA) is two games behind the leaders but having been swept by Elon and already losing one at JMU, third place is the likely seed, though perhaps Elon might be the lesser of two evils in a projected semifinal game in the conference tourney.

As for Friday’s action, the three rookie amigos collectively had 31 of Drexel’s 44 points at SECU Arena in suburban Baltimore as the Dragons have now beaten Towson (11-14, 4-10) for a string of 17 straight times.

Sarah Curran, an elder on the roster as a senior Dragon, had 19 points, but Brown had a career-high 14 for her rookie season, Ferariu scored 15, and Greenberg had seven. Meghan Creighton scored 10 points.

The game was a homecoming for Sarah Woods, who six points, two rebounds, two steals, and a pair of assists.

Kelsi Lidge, who has been on the sidelines with a wrist injury suffered in the James Madison game on Jan. 27, had two points, a rebound and an assist in ten minutes of play returning to active duty.

Meanwhile, Delaware had trouble scoring again, losing to Northeastern 50-41 in Boston.

Makeda Nicholas had a career-high six blocked shots go for naught, all of which were also the Blue Hens’ total. She finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Erika Brown had 11 points for Delaware (14-11, 8-6), which fell two games off the pace from third place Drexel, heading into Sunday’s local visit to the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Claudia Ortiz had 14 points for Northeastern (9-17, 5-9), while Jess Genco had 10 points.

“The decision-making wasn’t at the level that it’s been the last few games and we really made some questionable shot choices,” said veteran Delaware coach Tina Martin. “You have to hand it to Northeastern, they made big shots when they needed to and their guards really hurt us in transition.”

Delaware shot just 7.7 percent off 1-for-13 in the third quarter.

Sunday’s game at Drexel will be on the American Sports Network and in Philaadelphia on Comcast SportsNet.

Meanwhile, as Elon stood at rest, James Madison, the defending champs and preseason favorites, continued to roll, winning 70-59 at UNCW in North Carolina.

The Dukes (19-6, 12-2 CAA) were checked off elected quickly in this one, bursting to an 11-0 lead at the outset.

Precious Hall continued to do her thing, scoring 29 points while Amber Porter and Lexi Barrier each scored 10.

Believe it or not, JMU makes just its first meeting with Charleston, Sunday, playing on the road.

Time Out:  It’s Naismith BHOF’s Turn to Announce Finalists

The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., will be making its annual announcement of the induction finalists at NBA All-Star Weekend, of whom the honors committee will decide who earns entry and the winners will be announced at the men’s final four, though there is a movement to have the winners if any out of the women’s committee to be announced a day or two early in Dallas at the women’s final four.

The announcement will be carried at 11 a.m.

Considering who is in the mix among the women’s finalists to the subcommittee, if they are voted out, which will be known Saturday, some may have to be in Dallas anyway.

With Sheryl Swoopes inducted in September off the expanded allowance of four from two candidates, it will be interesting to see who has been moved forward.

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw could be expected to be sent up again since there was much surprised she wasn’t elected last time around.

Other people who were under consideration with Guru’s odds in parenthesis

Marianne Stanley as a coach (50-50)
Harley Redin as a coach (30-70) only because has lost out in honors several times
Barbara Stevens as a coach (40-60) – local consideration to Mass. Coaching Bentley
Pearl Moore (55-45) – as a player past great from yesteryear
Jennifer Azzi (50-50) – as a player depends how fares to others and how ABL years factor
Susie McConnell (50-50) – Olympic great and college great out of Penn State
Theresa Grentz (50-50) – as a player only. Was face of the game in her time at Immaculata
Theresa Weatherspoon (60-40) – Was La Tech, Olympic, and WNBA great

Kim Mulkey (70-30) – Didn’t come out last year but with Swoopes elected, chance to be moved into the mix as a coach. Less likely as a Louisiana Tech star.

Leta Andrews (50-50) – Was finalist in 2016  and strong credentials as h.s. coach in Texas.

Rebecca Lobo (65-35) – Just the Guru’s opinion on odds and electability. Could have easier time in honors than did in subcommittee. Depends if total impact on game considered.

Wayland Baptist (55-45) – Was moved last year. Could try again since hold all-time streak and in light of the UConn attention, might get some reflection.

Still Time Out: The MAAC Race

Quinnipiac defeated Iona to get back into a tie for first with Rider in the MAAC race. The Broncs are idle until hosting Monmouth Tuesday night but could clinch at least the two seed with a win, which would put them in good shape for a shot at the WNIT if they don’t win the NCAA automatic qualifier.

Time In: The Wild West Pac-12 Resumes as UCLA Beats Washington

Just three ranked teams played Friday night, two games in the Pac-12 with the big story, No. 18 UCLA upset No. 9 Washington 90-79 at home in Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.

Jordin Canada, who didn’t practice all week rehabbing an injury and who didn’t start, came off the bench to score 22 points for the Bruins (19-7, 10-5 Pac-12) .

“I thought they were very efficient without her, but then she took it to another level when she came in,” said Washington coach Mike Neighbors. “She was in total command.”

Monique Billings had 19 points and Nicole Kornet scored 15.

Kelsey Plum of the visiting Huskies, who leads the nation in scoring, poured 39 points while Chantel Osahor had another double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Plum is now three points behind all-time NCAA runnerup Brittney Griner, the former Baylor star, who finished with 3,283 points, while Plum has 3, 280.

The all-time NCAA leader is Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Jackie Stiles of Missouri State, who finished with 3,393 points, which is 113, though Kansas’ Lynette Woodard had more playing in the AIAW  just before the onset of the NCAA.

The Bruins’ win stopped a four-game streak by Washington (24-4, 12-3), which advanced to the Women’s Final Four last season.

Meanwhile, No. 11 Oregon State escaped a near-upset from host Colorado in Boulder, hanging on to a 54-49 win as Sydney Wiese scored 14 points and  Kolbie Orum scored 10 for the Beavers (24-3, 13-2 Pac-12).

Colorado fell to 4-12 overall and 4-11 in the conference.

Drake, which is not in the Pac-12, but the Missouri Valley Conference, returned to the AP Poll for the first time since 2001 this week and was the only other ranked team in action Friday.

The Bulldogs won their 14th straight, beating host Indiana State, 64-45, in Terre Haute as Brenni Rose had four three-pointers and scored 14 points.

Back in the Pac-12, Arizona upset in-state rival Arizona State, 62-58, depriving the Sun Devils a chance to return to the rankings after falling out on Monday. Oregon, which has been hot lately, won at Utah 73-61, while Southern Cal won easy over visiting Washington State, 80-64.

Looking Ahead

You got the Ivy lineup for the locals and rest of the conference in the Guru’s separate post, but in the Atlantic 10, one big one Saturday afternoon.

Saint Joseph’s hosts Davidson  at 2 p.m. and the game will air on the A-10 network. It’s senior day for the Hawks (13-13, 10-4) at Hagan Arena but with a win and a Fordham loss at home Sunday to Dayton, they could nail down fourth for this month’s tournament, which starts next weekend on home courts before moving on to Richmond, Va., the following weekend for the quarterfinals thru championships.

Theoretically, they could move into a three-way tie for second if George Washington lost to visiting George Mason and Saint Louis lost to visiting Richmond, but probably couldn’t move up in that mix.

They might, however, if just Saint Loses, which puts them in third on a tie-break.

La Salle goes to Massachusetts Sunday and if Fordham loses to Dayton, the Explorers could be in position to move into fifth.

In the Big Ten Saturday, Rutgers is at Wisconsin, while in the Patriot League, Lafayette travels to Lehigh.

Connecticut, in its first game since winning 100 straight on Monday night, visits Tulane in New Orleans going for win No. 101.

On Sunday, Temple is at nationally-ranked South Florida trying to expand a one-game lead in second to two and virtually clinching second place.

In a big national game Monday night, Baylor goes to Texas in the Big 12 seeking to avenge a recent loss in Waco to the Longhorns.

And that’s the wrap.