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, March 18, 2017

Guru's WNIT Report: Drexel Wins Big to Advance Hosting 'Nova While Rider's Magical Season Ends

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Will it be 2013 for Drexel once more in the WNIT or will Denise Dillon’s alma mater be a barrier?

Rider’s magical season has ended as has Saint Joseph’s hopes for a glorious finish.

There’s new life for Villanova as the Wildcats finish Princeton’s year of rebuild.

Penn State survives and advances.

That’s the storylines for the Guru’s PhilahoopsW group of six teams who dipped into the WNIT waters Friday night, some to stay afloat and others to sink.

The Guru begins in West Philadelphia where Drexel used a strong second half to top Duquesne of the Atlantic 10 Conference 70-47 at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center to gain the first WNIT victory since 2013, the year the Dragons surprised by winning the entire tournament.

The result keeps Drexel (22-10) at home Sunday for a 2 p.m. local and bittersweet contest as the Dragons will host coach Denise Dillon’s alma mater Villanova, which took a 59-53 local road win at Ivy runner up Princeton in the Tigers’ Jadwin Gym.

In the Drexel game, the Dragons had total control after the break outscoring Duquesne 44-20 over the Dukes (18-16), who had surprised in the A-10 conference tournament as a seventh-seed, upsetting second-seeded George Washington and third-seeded Saint Joseph’s before falling to Dayton in the conference title game.

Dillon’s squad trailed by one at intermission.

Propelling the second half action were senior Sarah Curran, who scored 17 of her game-high 24 points over the final two periods and Kelsi Lidge, who scored all 11, of which nine were collected in the third period when Drexel pulled away.

In the final period Drexel was holding a 15-point lead with 4 minutes, 34 seconds left in the game when Duquesne coach Dan Burt drew a double technical to get ejected and Curran went to the line and converted all four foul shooting attempts from the penalty.

Less than a minute later, Duquesne’s Brianna Thomas drew a third technical.

Meghan Creighton scored 16 points for Drexel, whose freshman Bailey Greenberg scored just two points due to struggling much of the night in foul trouble.

On the Duquesne side, Chassidy Omogrosso led the Dukes (18-16) with 18 points, while Amadea Szamosi recorded a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Drexel finished third in the Colonial Athletic Association standings and fell from the conference tournament in the semifinals to host and second seed James Madison, which also won Friday night but fell to top seed Elon in the CAA title game in its own building.

Villanova 59, Princeton 53 – The Wildcats (17-14) snapped a three-game losing streak, two at the end of the regular season and to St. John’s in the quarterfinals of the Big East tournament, by winning over Courtney Banghart’s Tigers, whom Villanova has met in recent seasons.

The win send coach Harry Perretta’s group still on the road but again in the area, visiting Drexel, whom the Wildcats have played facing on of Villanova’s distinguished graduates in coach Dillon.

Princeton’s shooting woes, which in part contributed to the Tigers’ demise in the first Ivy League women’s tournament title game against Penn in the Palestra Sunday, continued against Villanova in the first half, with a percentage of 30.3 to trail the Wildcats 32-26.

The shooting slump prevented Princeton (16-14) from taking advantage of Villanova’s mediocre 2-for-17 on three-point attempts across the first two periods.

Early in the fourth Villanova opened a 50-42 lead but the Tigers would not go down easily and rallied to within a bucket at 55-53 with 1:42 left in the game.

Two Princeton fouls enabled the Wildcats to chew up 1:12 of clock time before Kelly Jekot took a pass from Alex Louin and connected on a triplet for a 58-53 lead with 30 seconds left.

Princeton then missed a shot and committed a turnover on the next possession to seal the win for Villanova.

Louin had a game-high 18 points while Jekot and Adrianna Hahn each scored 12 points and Jannah Tucker scored 11 and grabbed four steals.

Princeton’s Leslie Robinson scored had 14 points and 12 rebounds for a double double while Vanessa Smith scored 11 and freshman sensation Bella Alarie had nine points and s game-high 13 rebounds. She also broke the Tigers’ single season record for blocked shots with 51.

Virginia Tech 76, Rider 62 – The Broncs’ landmark run and advance to a first-ever postseason appearance came to its final destination point with a loss to the Hokies on the road in a WNIT opener in Blacksburg, Va.

Rider (24-9) did get one more highlight with senior Julia Duggan becoming the 21st player in program history to reach her 1,000th career point.

“Tonight we started a little slow and they came out strong,” Broncs coach Lynn Milligan said. “We fought like we always do. I don’t think it was nerves. I think the speed and pace of the game caught us off guard a little bit.”

Rider finished second in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference regular season by a game to Quinnipiac and advanced to the conference title game before losing to the Bobcats.

Milligan was named conference coach of the year and is a nominee along with a slew of Rider players for the annual Metropolitan area awards out of New York City.

The Broncs had to finish the season down the stretch without their star player Robin Perkins, the MAAC player of the year, but managed to get a bunch of wins in her absence.

In Friday’s WNIT game junior Kamilia Hoskova scored 18 points, helped by 6-for-7 from the line, while Duggan scored 12 points, and freshman Stella Johnson and sophomore Lexi Posset scored 13 points each.

“Julia has been a warrior for four years,” Milligan said. “She works hard, she gives everything she has every day and she’s really developed into a terrific leader. She’s done everything I’ve asked her to do and I’m really proud of her.”

Virginia Tech (18-13), which gained a new coach in Kenny Brooks from James Madison up the road in Harrisonburg, will move on to the second round, facing Navy a surprising upset winner over George Washington.

Regan Magarity had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the host Hokies, while Chanette Hicks had 21 points, and Samantha Hill scored 19.

Virginia 62, Saint Joseph’s 56 – The host Hawks (17-15) fell at home in Hagan Arena to a Cavaliers squad that many felt got snubbed by the NCAA tournament committee, especially more so on Friday when two teams that got picked as at-large entries ahead of them got bounced very quickly.

Friday’s game on Hawk Hill was typical of the way coach Cindy Griffin’s squad played since early January fighting back from a 3-11 record to even become eligible for a WNIT at-large bid.

There were six ties and eight lead changes with Virginia (20-12), Saint Joseph’s had one more rally in it after trailing by 11 in the third period but launching a run to take a lead early in the fourth.

Then it became a fight in the balance until Cavaliers freshman sensation Jocelyn Willoughby snapped a 53-all deadlock with a layup with 1:08 left in regulation and after the Hawks turned it over on the next possession scored again on a three-point play at 58-53 with 22 seconds left.

Sarah Veillux got the Hawks within a bucket on the next possesion when she was fouled on a three-point attempt and made connected with all three free throws to cut it to 58-56 with 17 seconds left.

But Virginia then sealed the win on a pair of foul shots.

Veilleux had a team-high 17 points, Chelsea Woods scored 12 and had nine rebounds, and Adaisha Franklyn had nine points and five rebounds.

The game ended the collegiate careers of Mackenize Rule, Jaryn Garner and Amanda Fioravanti, who transferred previously from Virginia to the Hawks.

Willoughby had a game-high 25 points for Virginia, which next plays James Madison.

Penn State 74, Ohio 65 --- The Lady Lions looked like they had things under control at home in the Bryce Jordan Center, building an 18-point advantage in the third quarter, only to let the Bobcats rally before stopping the run.

Penn State (23-9) got 20 points from Sierra Moore while freshman Siyeh Frazier had a career-high 11 points. Teniya Page had 11 points and tied a career high with nine rebounds. Redshirt freshman Amari Carter also scored in double digits with 12 points.

Ohio (23-9) got some solace in Quiera Lampkins scoring the first double double against the Lady Lions in WNIT tournament play history, collecting 19 points and scoring 12 rebounds.

Taylor Agler, the daughter of Brian Agler, the coach of the WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks, scored 18 points with four 3-pointers and she also grabbed three rebounds.

Penn State stays home Sunday to host Fordham in a second round game at 2 p.m.


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