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 25, 2017

Guru's Overniter: Rider Sails to Ninth Straight on Senior Night; A-10 Tourney Opens at La Salle and Saint Joe

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Rider senior night had the sweet smell of success most of the Broncs’ Cinderella season has had to date this one being an easy 62-41 win over Niagara Friday night in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game played at Alumni Gymnasium in Lawrenceville, N.J.

Still without Robin Perkins due to a nagging ankle injury, the absence was again no problem for coach Lynn Milligan’s squad.

Julia Duggan, one of the outgoing seniors honored, had another double double with 18 points and 11 rebounds to climb back into a first-place tie with Quinnipiac on the final weekend.

The Bobcats, who swept the Broncs early in the season, host Canisius Saturday, and a win means if Rider (22-6, 16-3) wins at Fairfield Sunday in Connecticut, the only MAAC team they lost to other than the Quinnipiac sweep, the two will be co-champs.

The Fairfield win earlier this season in Lawrenceville was 68-67 in overtime.

Obviously if the Bobcats lose Saturday and the Broncs win Sunday Rider wins the conference outright and gets the number one seed going into next weekend’s MAAC tournament in Albany, N.Y.

Rider will be a two-seed if the Broncs and Quinnipiac are co-champs but they can’t be any lower, even should they lose.

Friday’s triumph was Rider’s ninth straight and it seemed like yesterday back on the season opener when the Broncs romped at Princeton, there was wonderment at just what might suddenly has blossomed in Central New Jersey.

“This is a special group,” Milligan said of Duggan and her three other outgoing seniors from what is her tenth season with the program. “We always talk about leaving your mark, leaving your legacy and leaving the place better than you found it and these young ladies have done that.

“They care about this team and each other. They lead this team and they give me everything they’ve got every day.”

In addition to Duggan’s ninth double double, second in the MAAC, Stella Johnson scored 14 points and Kamila Hoskova scored 13 points.

Victoria Rampado had 12 points for Niagara (8-20, 5-14), while Kaylee Stroemple scored 19 points.

Drexel and Delaware Fall to the CAA Front-Runners

The local duo of Drexel and Delaware in the Colonial Athletic Association each found home was of little comfort in each hosting one of the first-place tandem of defending champion James Madison and Elon, the surprise team of sorts in the conference.

Drexel held its senior night at the Daskalakis Athletic Center before playing James Madison and the only satisfaction the Dragons had was reducing a blowout to a final 74-64 result that at least looked a little more competitive.

Delaware at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark fell to Elon 74-64.

Back in Philadelphia, trailing by 21 in the first half to the Dukes (21-6, 14-2 CAA), the Dragons (20-7, 11-5) got to within three late but no closer in the game which featured the first Drexel  senior class to have three 1,000-point career scorers.

Sarah Curran, part of that trio, had 14 while Kelsi Lidje had 12 points and nine rebounds.

Freshman Bailey Greenberg and Sarah Woods each scored 11 while Meghan Creighton, another senior, scored seven points.

Drexel, which has two shots to set a season pre-conference tournament win record at 21, heads to Hofstra Sunday in Hempstead on Long Island, looking to sweep the Pride for the first time since 2008-09 when the Dragons won the CAA, ironically, at James Madison, which will host this season’s tournament the same weekend in two weeks as the Ivy League.

Coach Denise Dillon’s group finishes at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va., on Wednesday.

The Dragons are locked into the third seed and with JMU and Elon tied for first, the Dukes sweep gets them the No. 1 seed and for Drexel, the Phoenix could be the lesser of two Evils as the third seed if all the high seeds advance.

Precious Hall, likely the CAA player of the year, was unstoppable again, this time scoring 24 to move into second all-time on the JMU career charts. Amber Porter had 15 points and Hailee Barron scored 10.

JMU finishes up at home for its final two games hosting William & Mary Sunday at the JMU Convocation Center in Harrisonburg, Va., and then holds senior night Wednesday, hosting College of Charleston.

In Delaware, Nicole Enabosi had her 14th double double with 12 points and 12 rebounds while Erika Brown was the top scorer with 14 points for the Blue Hens (14-13, 8-8 CAA), who will be either the fourth, fifth, or sixth seed in the conference tournament.

Essence Baucom and. Jennifer Rhodes each scored 11 points for Elon (22-6, 14-2), which is setting program records for wins this season.

"We kept ourselves in the game tonight with our rebounding,” Delaware coach Tina Martin said. “That was a major key if we were going to try and steal one from the top team in the CAA.

“I thought we really battled on the boards. We had some good looks but we just weren’t able to knock them down. Elon is a veteran team that plays really well together. We hung around, but we just couldn’t get it down to a one-possession game to put some pressure on them.”

Delaware finishes up at Charleston Sunday before returning home Wednesday to host Towson, which gave JMU both its losses.

DePaul Explodes Over Villanova

Villanova’s calendar may have said it was February in Chicago but all anybody really cared about in DePaul’s balliwick Friday was the return of January, as in Jessica January, the Blue Demon’s top star who had been sidelined the last two months.

Even though January was back, the star who emerged while she was gone Brooke Schulte continued to be a force in a 77-50 win over Villanova in a Big East game at McGrath-Phillips Arena.

Schulte had 17 points for DePaul (23-6, 15-2 Big East), while January scored 13 and Chante Stonewall had 12 points. Jacqui Grant offered 12 points and 10 rebounds.

The Wildcats (16-12, 11-6), after two straight overtime wins at homde, went into the final weekend on the road hopeful of slipping into third place prior to next weekend’s tournament in Milwaukee after it had previously been held in suburban Rosemont and then at DePaul.

But a 19-2 run early in the second half shattered some of Villanova’s dreams.

Freshman Mary Gedaka was the only Villanova player to score in double figures, getting 12 points as the Wildcats were held to 29 percent from the field.

The Wildcats are in fourth place one game behind Marquette heading to finish with the Warriors on Sunday.

DePaul, which hosts Georgetown, and Creighton, which beat Xavier in Cincinnati 67-57, are tied for first going into the final day on the schedule. Marquette, which upset DePaul earlier in the week, beat Georgetown 80-70.

Creighton goes to Butler Sunday.

The National Roundup: Oregon State Gets Sweep of Stanford in Pac-12 Showdown

In a battle of two Top 10 teams in the Pac-12 conference at the top, No. 10 Oregon State edged No. 8 Stanford at home 50-47 in front of a program record crowd of 9,604, a sellout, in Gill Coliseum in Corvallis to clinch at least a share of the conference title.

“It seemed the whole state was at Gill tonight,” senior star Sydney Wiese said. “That definitely fueled us.”

Wiese had 22 points for the Beavers (26-3, 15-2 Pac-12), including five 3-pointers, while Kolbie Orum had 12 points.

Erica McCall and Alanna Smith each had nine points for Stanford (24-5, 14-3), which fell into a second-place tie with Washington.

The Cardinal had a four-game win streak snapped and took its first road loss of the season.

“They have an excellent team. They had a great crowd. It was very exciting. Great environment,” said Stanford coach Tara Va Derveer, who said similar things in a recent same-like atmosphere in Seattle where Stanford upset the Kelsey Plum-led Washington squad.

In 2014 the Beavers won the Pac-12 outright to end Stanford’s streak of 14 seasons having at least a piece of the top. Oregon State claimed a share last year and then won the conference tournament and advanced all the way to Indianapolis and the Women’s Final Four, as did Washington.

“This conference is so good, and for this team to do what they’ve done this year – with all the new people, with several teams that had more experience on the court than they did – the heart and grit and the togetherness that they’ve displayed to make this possible, that’s something to celebrate,” Oregon State coach Scott Rueck said. “To go back-to-back-to-back in this conference? It’s unbelievable.”

Near the end Stanford held a 47-46 lead before OSU got it back with a layup. Karlie Samuelson, whose sister Katie Lou plays at UConn, missed a trey, and the Beavers scored two foul shots for the final score.

“We’re up one with how much time to go, 14 seconds?” VanDerveer said. “We didn’t find a way to win. It’s disappointing.”

Earlier this season, Oregon State beat Stanford 72-69 on Jan. 8 in double overtime at Maples Pavilion near Palo Alto.

The Beavers, who host California Sunday while Stanford goes to Oregon, get the top seed for the Pac -12 tourney in Seattle if both are tied.

Meanwhile No. 6 Texas lost its third straight, being taken down 70-66 at home in Austin to unranked Iowa State in a Big 12 game.  Last year the Cyclones didn’t get to the NCAA tourney for the first time in nine years.

Seanna Johnson scored 22 for the Cyclones (17-11, 8-9 Big 12).

“That’s one of the biggest wins we had in a long time,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “Texas has a Final Four caliber team.”

Bridget Carleton added 18 points to the Cyclone total.

“I’m concerned,” said Texas coach Karen Aston of the Longhorns (21-7, 14-3) struggles. “I ha ve to be. I’m the coach. It’s my responsibility if we played like we did tonight. We didn’t play with (steady) urgency. They had some urgency. They’re on the NCAA bubble.”

Brooke McCarty had 12 points for Texas while Brianna Taylor scored 11, and Joyner Holmes and Alecia Sutton had 10 each.

Looking Ahead: Atlantic 10 Tourney Begins at La Salle and Saint Joseph’s

Just like schedules in some large conferences backload into December for openers, so to is a piece of March Madness getting under way in late February.

Under the reconfigured Atlantic 10 tournament format, the top two teams – Dayton and George Washington – get byes straight to Richmond, Va., and next weekend’s quarterfinals, semifinals, and the championship.

The next six of the top eight are getting home games this weekend as No. 6 La Salle, finishing six slots better than the preseason forecast of 12, hosts Saint Bonaventure at 1 p.m. at Tom Gola Arena.

Saint Joseph’s, which shrugged aside an overall 2-11 start after 2017 arrived to suddenly pulsate a 12-4 run in the conference wars to land a third seed, will host Rhode Island at 2 p.m.

Should the Explorers and Hawks each advance they get to run into each other the third time after Saint Joseph’s had a sweep in the season series.

In one other game on Saturday, No. 10 George Mason visits No. 7 Duquesne.

On Sunday, No. 9 Richmond goes to No. 8 VCU, which is a cross-town trip, and the winner will meet No. 1 Dayton on Friday.

No. 5 Fordham hosts No. 12 Davidson on Sunday and the winner meets the other Sunday winner between host No. 4 Saint Louis, the preseason pick, and No. 13 Massachusets in Friday’s quarterfinals.

The Duquesne/George Mason winner on Friday meets No. 2 George Washington, which had the other bye.

Meanwhile, No. 23/20 Temple will try to shake off Wednesday’s mauling at No. 1 Connecticut by hosting Cincinnati on Saturday in an American Athletic Conference game in McGonigle Hall.

Temple is trying to finish second in the conference and also build its resume for the NCAA types.

And that’s the wrap.





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