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 23, 2017

Guru's Overniter: La Salle Falls in Double OT to Fordham as A-10 Tourney Field Set

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru 

La Salle lost a tough one Wednesday night, dropping a 66-61 setback in double overtime to Fordham at home at the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena on the final night of the regular season in the Atlantic 10.

The result dropped La Salle (16-12, 9-7 A-10) to a sixth seed, still twice as good as the 12th place finish forecast by the Atlantic 10 coaches back in the preseason, which might land Jeff Williams the coach of the year in the conference.

The win by Fordham (20-10, 11-5) elevated the Rams to the fifth seed.

Saint Joseph’s, which finished up with a win over George Mason on Tuesday night, got bumped up to third seed when Saint Louis lost to Dayton on a night that began with a three-way deadlock for first and ended up with the Flyers and George Washington tied for first after the Colonials won at Richmond.

The Hawks, who were picked for eighth by the Atlantic 10 coaches in the preseason, finished in a third-place tie with Saint Louis, the preseason favorite, but earned the better seed off a head-to-head win over the Billikins 66-63 earlier this month.

In a reconfiguration of the tournament, the top two teams have byes into the tournament quarterfinals in Richmond next weekend while the next six have home games on Saturday and Sunday.

Should Saint Joseph’s, which has been hot since early January, and La Salle win their opening round games Saturday, the two would meet in a quarterfinal in Richmond, sending one to the semifinals the next day.

The Hawks swept the Explorers in their two games this season but before talking more about the tourney, first, let’s look at the particulars of the La Salle loss to Fordham.

Amy Griffin, who led the conference in scoring a second year, had a career-high 37 points for La Salle, including 21 in the second half as she shot 18-for-32 from the field and made her only foul shooting chance.

Jasmine Alston scored 11 points, dealt eight assists, and grabbed six rebounds but the Explorers couldn’t sustain Fordham’s surge in the closing minutes.

G’mrice Davis tied the game at the buzzer to force overtime after Griffin had given La Salle a 52-50 lead with 13.6 left to play.

The Explorers took a 56-52 lead in the first overtime but were shut down the rest of the period and the Rams’ Hannah Missry tied it with 19 seconds to go to force the second overtime.

Fordham then took over the second extra stanza with a 61-56 lead and held off La Salle for the win and fifth seed.

On Saturday, La Salle will host 11th-seed St. Bonaventure at noon.

As for how the Atlantic 10 field became set, in key games Wednesday, George Washington, under new coach and former UConn star Jenn Rizzotti, finished in a tie with Dayton by beating Richmond 63-44 Wednesday night on the road at the Robins Center.

“I am just really proud,” said Rizzotti, who previously won America East titles coaching Hartford. “It is a long season and a lot has to go right for you to be able to sustain a level of success. I feel like our defense is the best it has been all year and it is nice to see so many people contribute and make our team better every night.”

Lexi Martin, a graduate student and transfer from Lehigh, had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Colonials (20-8, 13-3 A-10), who have been part of three straight regular season titles in the Atlantic 10.

George Washington lost the tie-break with Dayton, but got a bye and gets to face the winner between No. 7 Duquesne and No. 10 George Mason in the quarterfinals.

Off the bracket, if the Colonials advance, they possibly would see Saint Joseph’s or La Salle in the semifinals.

Dayton, in a head-to-head with Saint Louis, off a three-way tie at the top when the night began, beat the Billikins 68-62 in overtime at home in UD Arena and got the number one seed winning the tiebreak, as mentioned, with George Washington.

A three-pointer by the Billikens (22-7, 12-4) tied the game with 12.6 left in regulation to force the overtime.

In the quarterfinals, Dayton (19-9, 13-3) will meet the winner between VCU and Richmond, who play Sunday.

Kelly Austria had 16 points for the winners and Saicha Grant-Allen had 12 points and 17 rebounds.

Sadie Stipanovich, the cousin of Penn’s Sydney Stipanovich, had 20 points for Saint Louis.

Michigan State Rally Carries Spartans Over Penn State

In the only other game by the Guru’s local group Wednesday night, Penn State built a 19-point lead in the first half only to be overtaken by the Spartans with a 23-point second-half advantage and ultimate 73-64 win in a key game in the Big Ten.

Michigan State (19-9, 9-6), considered on the bubble by some for the NCAA tournament, held fourth when the night started while the Lady Lions (18-9, 8-7) were also locked into a four-way tie for the spot but dropped to seventh with the loss.

Teniya Page had 23 points for the visitors in East Lansing, Mich., while Sierra Moore scored 19.

Tori Jankosa had 21 points and 12 rebounds for Michigan State.

Looking Ahead

Rutgers finishes up its road season in the Big 10 Thursday night, the only local game on the Guru schedule, as the Scarlet Knights visit Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., before hosting powerful Ohio State Sunday in the season finale.

In the Southeastern Conference, No. 7 South Carolina visits Texas A&M, while No. 3 Mississippi State, looking to finish on top, visits No. 22 Kentucky.

On Friday, in a key Ivy game, Penn, looking to maintain its lead, hosts Cornell, which is tied for fourth with Brown for what would be the last slot in the new four-team league tournament.

Princeton, which trails the defending Quakers by a game, hosts Columbia, in what will be new Lions coach Megan Griffith’s first return to Jadwin Gym since taking the job at her alma mater following a long stint as an assistant to Tigers coach Courtney Banghart.

Drexel, on senior night, will be hosting James Madison, the defending champion currently holding the No. 1 seed spot in a tie with Elon, which will visit Delaware in the other game in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Rider, in a tie for first with Quinnipiac in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, will host Niagara, looking to compile another season series sweep on senior night.

Villanova, in a huge game, visits DePaul, which is tied for first with Creighton in the Big East, while the Wildcats are looking to possibly get ahead to third over Marquette, who Villanova wraps up the regular season on Sunday in Milwaukee.

We will bring all back which is still ahead in the Friday AM overniter, which is light on local but somewhat heavy on national, especially in the Atlantic Coast Conference, if upsets occur.

And that’s a wrap.