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 11, 2017

Guru's Overniter: Penn Stays Perfect in the Ivies, Drexel's Dillon Gets 250th, Rider Still in First

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

NEW YORK – Up here in Morningside Heights, the front running and defending Ivy champion Penn women’s basketball team continued to keep daylight between the Quakers and the rest of the pack Friday night with a 64-54 win over host Columbia in a game that in some ways was not as close as it appears.

Meanwhile halfway across the state Princeton stayed two games behind in the loss column by edging host Cornell 58-54 – an outcome that left the losing Big Red in fifth and two games behind being in a qualifying position for the new four-team Ivy Tourney that will be held next month at the Palestra in Philadelphia.

The other half of the Ivy women were idle due to weather conditions in New England, so Yale at Harvard and Brown at Dartmouth will be held Saturday with the switch in the group pushed to Sunday afternoon.

Back here in Levien Gym, A 21-8 second period by the Quakers (13-6, 6-0 Ivy), who are unbeaten in league play, propelled them to a 39-15 halftime advantage that looked like a continuation of last week’s thumping of Harvard and Dartmouth at the Palestra.

It still looked that way when the lead grew to 22 points early in the third before Columbia (12-8, 2-5) whittled its way back to a respectable, if not total satisfactory, finish.

Foul trouble to Michelle Nwokedi, who had 12 points, nine rebounds, and blocked four shots, and to Sydney Stipanovich, who had 11 points, seven rebounds, and blocked four shots, forced coach Mike McLaughlin to kind of tread water with his roster.

However, once again off the bench to fill in the gaps, Princess Aghayere had a career high 21 points while grabbing six rebounds and shooting 9-of-11 from the field. She also made all three foul shooting attempts.

“We had two and three fouls with them for a while, but fortunately I was able to stretch and sit them as long as I can, but to get that kind of contribution (from Aghayere), it was awesome,” McLaughlin said.

“It was phenomenal. She has an uncanny way of scoring the ball. She sometimes looks distorted around the basket, she’s got tremendous footwork, awesome game for her.”

He also got strong bench support from Ashley Russell, who had seven points on 3-for-6 shooting and grabbed a pair of steals.

Not only did Penn have its usual band of followers come on the road, but the actual Penn band decided to help make the Quakers’ beat goes on.

Columbia’s Camille Zimmerman continued to be one of the dominate players in the league, scoring 28 points, while Penn held everyone else more or less in check.

The final score was a result of the Lions narrowing Penn’s lead, outscoring the Quakers 10-2 over the final 2:48.

"I think we realized (in the second half), we can compete with some of the best in the Ivy League and take them out of their stuff,” said Columbia first-year coach Megan Griffith, who played for the Lions. “It’s not complicated in the game of basketball. If we build good habits, we’ll be in a better place the next time we see (Penn).

Stipanovich’s two blocks moved her within one of tying the all-time Ivy career record and she didn’t seem to show much difficulty after suffering a high ankle sprain in the second half of Saturday’s win over Dartmouth, though she only missed six minutes away from the action.

“I give Sydney credit, she worked her butt off to get back here tonight,” McLaughlin said. “She’s determined to end her career on the court and play and end her Penn career on the court playing hard. She battled tonight. She worked really hard. She struggled a little earlier in the week getting around, but you would never know it. She’s a warrior. She’s a winner. And I’m glad she’s on my team.”

Penn goes on to Cornell Saturday night while Princeton comes here.

In the Princeton  game at Cornell Friday night in Ithaca, N.Y., , the Tigers (10-9, 4-2 Ivy), who finally got above .500, also got 21 points from Bella Alarie in Newman Arena.

Alarie is the currently sharing Ivy player of the week honors with Penn’s Nwokedi and is also both the Ivy freshman and United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) national freshman of the week.

Gabrielle Rush had 13 points off the bench for the Tigers while Leslie Robinson was short of a double double, scoring nine points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Megan LeDuc had 20 points for Cornell (12-8, 3-4) while Nia Marshall scored 14 points and grabbed nine rebounds.

LeDuc’s three-pointer got Cornell within a bucket 54-52 with 2:36 remaining before Princeton on the way to 17 straight over the Big Red, slammed the door.

With the Tigers heading to Columbia, their appearance will cause a brief reunion between Princeton coach Courtney Banghart and Griffith, who had served a long stint as an assistant coach at Princeton under Banghart.

The tip here Saturday will be 6 p.m.

Rider Completes Sweep of Iona to Regain Share of MAAC First

For a change the Broncs were wired instead of going to the wire for the third straight time as they romped over Iona 52-36 in the Gaels’ Hynes Center in New Rochelle, N.Y., to rejoin Quinnipiac in a first-place tie in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

The stingy defense made it the second time this season Rider (18-6, 12-3) had set a mark for low points allowed (36) in the 10-year rule of Broncs coach Lynn Milligan. Earlier the visitors had done likewise at Manhattan.

“Our defense today was huge,” Milligan said. “We followed our game plan personnel wise absolutely perfect. That needed to happen against a team like Iona (15-9, 10-5) that has two high powered guards that can score so well.

“I think our guards did a good job keeping them off balance.”

Julia Dugan had 14 points, 12 rebounds and grabbed four steals. Stella Johnson also scored 14 points and five steals and six rebounds.

Karynda DuPree had 12 points and Alexis Lewis scored 10 for Iona.

Rider is 8-1 on the road in conference play and 14-1 when leading at halftime. The win total, which when it became 16, is the most in the Milligan era.

The win pushed the Gaels two behind Rider in a third place tie with Fairfield while the Broncs continue to strengthen their situation to land in the WNIT if routes to the NCAA tournament became blocked.

Next up is a game back in Lawrenceville, N.J., on campus against Canisius at 1 p.m. Sunday in Alumni Gymnasium.

Drexel Gets Dillion Milestone Win While Delaware Turned Aside at James Madison

Denise Dillon, a former Villanova star coaching at Drexel, picked up her 250th win, all with the Dragons, Friday night via 65-48 win triumph over William & Mary in a Colonial Athletic Association game at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center in Philadelphia.

The result enabled Drexel (17-6, 8-4) to step out of a third-place tie with Delaware, which fell at No. 2 James Madison 77-42  in the JMU Convocation Center in Harrisonburg, Va., the site of next month’s CAA tourney.

Drexel will host in 2018 followed by Delaware the following year.
Jessica Pellechio had a team-high 15 points for the Dragons in the win over the Tribe (15-8, 5-7), while Sarah Curran had 14 points, and Meghan Creighton scored 10.

Creighton is now tied with Fiona Flanagan (2010-14) for most games in Drexel history at 132 and she is also 13 points short of becoming the 24th member of the Dragons’ 1,000-career points club.

The squad stays in town Sunday for a 1 p.m. tip against UNCW.

Delaware, meanwhile, went cold in the second half, scoring just 14 points, enabling JMU to cruise to a 77-42 win and stay within a game of Elon holding second.

The Dukes (17-6, 10-2 CAA) face the Phoenix at home Sunday after having beating them on the road earlier but then being upset at Towson to fall from the top.

The Blue Hens (13-10, 7-5) got 14 points from Redshirt junior Sade Chatman while Erika Brown scored 12.

Precious Hall had 18 points for James Madison, who had four other players score in double digits.

Delaware played shorthanded with Nicole Enabosi sidelined by the flu and Kiersten West disabled by a concussion.

“The third quarter was the biggest difference,” Delaware coach Tina Martin noted what went wrong. “We came out of the gates and were not as patient as we should have been. We wanted to slow the clock down, but we got caught up in the speed and JMU’s tempo of play. We’re learning and we’ll grow from this and continue to get better.”

Hofstra visits Delaware Sunday at 5 p.m.

Elon, meanwhile, eventually pulled away from Northeastern at home in Alumni Gym to win 70-58 and hold a one-game advantage in first going into Sunday’s showdown at James Madison.

A loss would put the Dukes in the top seed position off what would be a sweep but obviously a win puts Elon (19-5, 11-1 CAA) in great shape with a two-game advantage.

James Madison is the defending champion and preseason favorite.

Malaya Johnson had 16 points for Elon in the win over the Huskies (7-17, 3-9) that is 15th out of the last 16 games the Phoenix have played.

Villanova Sweeps St. John’s

It’s road trip week for the Wildcats in the Big East and they started Friday night in fine fashion beating St. John’s 66-56 at Carneseca Arena in Jamaica, Long Island.

Next up will be Sunday’s visit to Seton Hall, over which Villanova (13-11 8-5) will also be seeking a sweep.

A 12-0 run at the end of the third quarter put the Wildcats in a strong place, leading 56-37.

Adrianna Hahn had 17 points for Villanova while having a personal best eight rebounds and matching a career high four steals.

Alex Louin offered the Wildcats 12 points, seven rebounds and tied a career mark with six assists, while Jannah Tucker scored 11 points. Megan Quinn and Kelly Jekot each had nine points off the bench.

Akina Wellere had 16 points for the Red Storm (16-9, 8-6) while Maya Singleton had 13 points and 20 rebounds.

Elsewhere in the Big East, No. 18 DePaul, the conference leader, rolled over Xavier 70-43 on the road at the Musketeers’ Cintas Center in Cincinnati.

Brooke Schulte had 15 points and six rebounds and six assists while Jacqui Grant had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

DePaul (21-5, 13-1 Big East) has won 15 of 16 games, the sole loss being at Temple in Philadelphia.

Marquia Turner had 16 points for Xavier (11-13, 3-10).

The Blue Demons have a one-game lead over Creighton, which is three up in second over Marquette and Villanova, which are tied for fourth.

National Look: Oregon State Upset Loss Sends Pac-12 to Three-Way Deadlock at the Top

While the Beavers were losing, Washington and Stanford won to create a new three-way deadlock in the Pac-12 while UCLA was shocked and shocked two games behind the leaders.

Southern Cal is the main culprit taking down No. 9 Oregon State 70-50 on the road in Corvallis, no less, while No. 10 Washington thumped visiting Arizona 91-55 and No. 8 Stanford got past visiting Colorado 64-51.

No. 23 Arizona State just got past host Washington State, 61-58, and No. 15 UCLA got stopped from moving up the rankings ladder, losing to host Oregon 84-75.

Outside the Pac-12, but the only other ranked team playing was in the ACC, where No. 14 Duke at home in Cameron Indoor Arena in Durham, N.C., hosted No. 20 Syracuse and won 72-55.

In the Oregon State game, Sadie Edwards had 17 points and Courtney Jaco scored 15 to lead USC over the Beavers, who said adios to a seven-game win streak.

“Before the game, we talked amongst each other, and we said, `Why not us? Wy can’t be the team to come in here and win.’

Sydney Weise had 17 points for Oregon State (22-3, 11-2 Pac-12), while Kristen Simon produced 14 points for USC (13-11, 4-9).

“Our shots weren’t falling and they were getting everything they wanted,” Weise said.

Meanwhile, up in Seattle, Kelsey Plum stayed out of the 30s but still scored plenty in 22 besides dishing seven assists for No. 10 Washington (22-3, 11-2 Pac-12) in the Huskies’ win over Arizona (11-13, 2-11), which lost its seventh straight.

Washington’s last regular season title was in 2001 – the year not the movie.

Elsewhere in upset city in the Pac-12, Sabrina Ionescu had 11 points, 10 rebunds, 10 assists, to complete another triple double, her fourth of the season, while Lexi Bando poured in 25 points and host Oregon upset No. 15 UCLA 84-74 at home in Euguene.

Ruth Hebard, another freshman, besides Ionescu, had 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Ducks (16-9, 6-7 Pac-12) while Jordin Canada had 20 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and Monique Billings had 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Bruins (18-6, 9-4).

And that's the wrap.



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