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.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Guru's Overniter: Temple Clinches 2nd in American While St. Joe and La Salle Win A-10 Openers

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – It didn’t take No. 23 Temple much time Saturday afternoon to show that the Owls were none the worse for wear following Wednesday night’s drubbing up at unbeaten Connecticut.

In fact, coach Tonya Cardoza’s group delighted a senior day crowd in McGonigle Hall and did an outstanding job on Cincinnati  impersonating the Huskies’ style in the opening quarter throwing the Bearcats a defensive O-for-10 no hitter from the field on the way to a 23-2 advantage and eventual 88-64 victory in the American Athletic Conference.

Though one game remains in the regular season when the Owls (22-6, 12-3 AAC) visit Central Florida Monday night, Temple officially fulfilled the expectations it received from the conference coaches in the preseason poll by clinching second place.

The American tourney begins Friday at the Mohegan Sun near New London, Conn., and Temple will have a bye.

What the Owls may not have resulting from the only damper against Cincinnati (16-12, 7-8) is junior guard Donnaizha Fountain, who has been part of Temple’s three-guard tandem attack but went down with an unspecified leg injury with two minutes left in the first period.

Fountain, who is averaging 14.6 points per game, was seen outside McGonigle Hall navigating on crutches under her own power after the game.  Official word wasn’t available after the game and nothing had been released by the house as of Saturday night.

While Fountain’s potential absence from both the conference and likely NCAA tourneys just ahead could be cause for dismay, compensation may be available in her absence if Saturday’s performance is an indicator.

Tanaya Atkinson came off the bench to score a career-high 30 points and also grabbed 13 rebounds while Alliya Butts was lights out shooting 5-for-10 from beyond the arc on the way to 23 points.

Feyonda Fitzgerald, one of the departing seniors along with Ruth Sherrill, Safiya Martin and Monasia Bolduc filled the boxscore, as they say, shooting 6-for-11 from the field, including 4-for-6 on 3-point attempts, and dealing 11 assists while scoring 18 points.

“This was a good win,” Cardoza said. “You always want a good bounce back coming off an UConn loss and I thought that first quarter was something really special, holding them to zero field goals. That’s the way you want to play.

“And then in the second quarter, they played really good basketball. Jamelle (Elliott) is always going to make sure her team competes.”

Elliott is a former UConn star who spent a long stint with Cardoza as assistants to Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma with the Huskies.

“They really came back out in that second quarter and made some shots and made it a little closer.But I like the way we competed.”

Shanice Johnson had 15 points for Cincinnati, including connecting on three of the Bearcats’ five 3-pointers, and Sam Rogers scored 13.

Temple out rebounded Cincinnati, 41-27, including 14-7 on the offensive glass and dominated second chance points 15-6.

“Just for our seniors to always go out with a win is always good.”

Fitzgerald became the first player at Temple to deal 600 assists and recently passed Candice Dupree, the WNBA All-Star, into second place all-time in scoring with a pre-Saturday total of 1,723 points.

Saint Joseph’s and La Salle Take Atlantic Ten Openers

A Big 5 team is headed to the Atlantic 10 tournament semifinals but which one will be decided on Friday in Richmond, Va.,  when sixth-seeded Saint Joseph’s and La Salle meet a third time this season in one of the four quarterfinal games at the Richmond Coliseum.

The third-seeded Hawks (16-13), who must be considered the overall dark horse in the tourney, swept the sixth-seeded Explorers (17-12) in their two meetings during the season.

The top two teams No. 1 Dayton and No. 2 George Washington earned byes and then as the final standings were set, a tie-breaker with preseason favorite Saint Louis bumped Saint Joseph’s into the third seed.

After the two bye teams were determined, they both were 13-3 in conference play by the way, the next six got to host games this weekend with three on Saturday and three more coming on Sunday.

Saint Joseph's had the easier time at home in Hagan Arena beating No. 14 Rhode Island 77-51 while La Salle held off No. 11 St. Bonaventure, 73-70.

In the third game, No. 7 Duquesne rallied to oust No. 10 George Mason 66-55.

On Sunday, in a crosstown game in Richmond, eighth-seeded VCU (15-14) will host ninth-seeded Richmond (13-16), while No. 5 Fordham ((20-10) will host No. 12 Davidson (6-22), and No. 4 Saint Louis (22-7) will host No. 13 Massachusetts (9-20).

Looking first at the two local games, on Hawk Hill, Adashia Franklyn, the daughter of all-time Temple great Marilyn Stephens and a star last summer in the league in Hatboro in the suburbs, scored 23 points.

The quarterfinal involving the Philly teams will be the last one Friday, tipping off at 7 p.m.

The Saint Joseph’s game was well under control in the Hawks’ favor heading into the fourth quarter against Rhode Island (6-23) with a 55-37.

Franklyn, who tied her previous career high for points, had seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.

Chelsea Woods scored 17 points, while Alyssa Monaghan had 13 points and four assists.

Charise Wilson had a team high 13 points for URI.

The Hawks have won five straight and after a 53-44 loss at George Washington in early January that dropped them to 3-11 overall, they have gone 13-2. One of those two losses was a narrow result at Dayton in overtime.

Meanwhile, at La Salle, which also got off to a bad season start, the Explorers outscored the Bonnies 19-8 in the first quarter, only for the visitors to rally with a 24-9 effort in the next period and a halftime lead of 32-28.

The home team had a slim 72-70 lead with nine seconds left  before Adreanna Miller hit one of two foul shots made it 73-70 La Salle.

Miller had 20 points for the winners while Lisa Mintzer scored 18. Jasmine Alston had 11 points and 13 assists,

Mariah Ruff, who missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime, scored 22 points for the Bonnies, while Gabby Richmond finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds.

In the other game Saturday, Amadea Szamosi had 14 points and six rebounds for Duquesne (16-14) st the Dukes’ Palombo Center in Pittsburgh.

Tiffany Padgett had a game-high 20 points and Kara Wright scored 18 for George Mason (13-17).

In the quarterfinals Friday, Dayton will host the Richmond/VCU winner at 11 a.m., Saint Louis or Massachusetts will meet Fordham or Davidson at 2 p.m., followed by Duquesne and George Washington at 4:30 p.m. Before La Salle and Saint Joseph’s wraps the quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m.

The Saturday semifinals will air at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network and the championship will be Sunday at noon on ESPNU.

Looking Ahead: Rider Goes for MAAC Co-Championship

Quinnipiac beat Canisius at home Saturday 62-49 to finish with the one seed in next weekend’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tourney in Albany, N.Y.

However, Rider can claim a co-championship for the regular season if the Broncs win at Fairfield Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. in Connecticut and the Guru will be on the scene.

Meanwhile Villanova is already locked into the fourth seed in next week’s Big East tourney in Milwaukee but the Wildcats are already in the town finishing up at Marquette, which has the third seed.

Villanova in the tourney will open against St. John’s whom the Wildcats swept during the season.

DePaul and Creighton are tied for first with one game remaining but if it finishes that way DePaul gets the No. 1 seed.

In the Big Ten Rutgers finishes up hosting Ohio State while Penn State hosts Michigan.

Drexel is at Hofstra going for a season sweep while Delaware is at Charleston in the next to the last games in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Nationally, in the Atlantic Coast Conference in a big one Florida State is at  Notre Dame.

Oregon State will be trying to lock up the top seed in the Pac-12 tourney finishing by hosting California while Stanford visit Oregon.

And for now that’s the wrap.


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