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.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Bob Heller’s Philly Small College Report: Four Unbeatens Left in the Early Action

By Bob Heller

The 26 Philadelphia area small college women’s basketball teams kicked off their season two weekends ago with the area Division II squads  opening with a number of in-season conference challenge classics while the Division III squads started regular season play on November 15. 

Now that every squad has at least 3-6 games under their belts as we head into December and the upcoming start of conference play for most teams, a total of four institutions have unblemished records, two from Division II and two from Division III.  


In the Division II ranks, Jefferson University and University of the Sciences, both of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, have perfect marks.  The Rams under the guidance of Tom Shirley, have produced six straight wins to open their season while Jackie Hartzell’s USciences squad has been perfect in their first three games.  


Hartzell’s squad last week reached its highest ever ranking in both national D-II polls, ranking 12th in the D2SIDA Media poll and 18th in the WBCA Coaches poll.  

The Devils are ranked second in the D2SIDA East Region poll behind perennial region powerhouse Bentley University of the Northeast-10.  USciences has beaten NE-10 foes Southern New Hampshire and LeMoyne along with Bloomsburg from the PSAC. 

Hartzell’s bunch is being led by junior Alex Thomas, who is averaging 17.7 points per game and is also shooting 91.7% from the free throw line.  Sophomore Jordan Vitelli is averaging 17.0 points per game and was the CACC Co-Player of the Week after the opening weekend series.


The Rams from Jefferson University, formerly known as Philadelphia U.,  are off to one of their best starts in recent history, defeating three East Coast Conference squads, Lincoln University and a pair of PSAC teams (Shippensburg and East Stroudsburg) en route to their 6-0 mark. 

 Jessica Kaminski leads the Rams, averaging 13.3 points per game while Rachel Day is scoring at an 11 points per game clip.  Kaminski was the CACC’s Defensive Player of the Week last week.   The Rams are currently ranked fifth in the D2SIDA East Regional poll.


Jefferson and USciences are on the road this week with the Rams playing at Kutztown University on Wednesday and Sciences at Adelphia on Tuesday.  Both squads open conference play on Saturday on the road with the Devils at Holy Family and the Rams at Georgian Court.  USciences then has a tough game the next day, hosting East Region Tournament Champions Queens College.


The surprise amongst the Division III programs in the early part of the season has been Rosemont College. 

 The Ravens have their best record ever to start a season in program history with a 5-0 mark.  Rosemont has been doing it with offense, averaging 83 points per game. 

Ke'alohilani Naone-Carter has led the way averaging 16.8 points per game, including a 27-point effort against Bryn Mawr and 21 points against Bryn Athyn.  Jasmyn Parker (14.4 ppg.) and Shirle Brown (11.0 ppg.) are also averaging double figures for the Ravens.  Rosemont opens conference play this week against Neumann University on Wednesday.


The Centennial Conference has the only other undefeated team in the area with Haverford College opening the season at 4-0.  

The Fords began conference play last week with a big win over Ursinus College while also winning the Gwynedd Mercy Tipoff Tournament, handing the host Griffins their first loss of the season.  

Haverford has held their first four opponents to an average of 49 points per game. Offensively Samantha Wetzel and Anna-Sophia Capizzi lead the team, averaging 14.5 and 10 points per game respectively.  Haverford hosts Bryn Mawr on Tuesday before traveling to Franklin and Marshall on Thursday.


Back to the Colonial States Athletic Conference, Gwynedd Mercy University and Cabrini University are both 2-1 to start the season.  GMU opened their season winning the “Battle of 309”, defeating Arcadia University, 54-47.  

The Griffins went on to beat Penn-State Harrisburg the opening game of their tournament before bowing to Haverford.  Rebecca Fuerher leads the 2-1 Griffins, who are averaging 10.5 points per game and open CSAC play with games at Marywood (Weds.) and Centenary (Sat.).


Cabrini won its first two games to start the season, defeating Eastern and Wheaton College before losing at Kean University, 72-67. 

 The Wheaton College game went three overtimes before the Cavaliers prevailed 100-94. Freshman Kate Lannon scored 31 points and had 13 rebounds in the contest.  

She added 12 points in the loss to Kean and leads the team averaging 16 points a game.   Meghan Matthews (15.3 ppg.), Nomi Washington (14.0 ppg.) and Sabrina Hackendorn (10.7 ppg.) are also averaging double figures for the Cavs. 

 Cabrini has a non-conference game against University of Scranton before opening CSAC play at home against Immaculata University on Saturday.


The Mighty Macs of Immaculata have gotten off to a 1-3 start with their lone win against Bryn Athyn, who remains winless on the year at 0-4.  Another area CSAC school, Neumann University, is currently 2-2, winning its own Tipoff tournament, defeating Penn State Brandywine and Misericordia University. 

 The Knights lost their most recent game to Widener University last Tuesday, 71-44 in Chester, Pennsylvania.


Widener meanwhile has compiled a 4-1 record to start the season with wins over Swarthmore, Albertus Magnus and Neumann. The Pride’s lone blemish was an 81-58 loss to host Drew University in the final game of their tipoff tournament.  

Nikki Petri scored 23 points in Widener’s season opening win against Swarthmore and leads the team, averaging 14.0 points per game.  Madison Ireland (13.5 ppg.) and Allison Gallagher (12.0 ppg.) are also averaging double figures for the Pride.  Widener opens MAC Commonwealth conference play on Wednesday with a home game against Lebanon Valley.


Moving back into the Division II ranks, a high powered West Chester University offense has carried the team to a 4-1 record to start the season. 

 The Golden Rams have the third highest scoring average in the country, averaging 92.8 points per game.  In three of their four wins West Chester has scored 95 or more points, including 106 at Clarion University, a 35-point win.  

WCU’s only loss came at the hands of PSAC West foe Gannon University 76-73.  Porsche Speller has scored 20 or more points in four of the Golden Rams five games and leads the team with a 20.8 average.  Speller is one of five players scoring in double figures for the Golden Rams, including Mia Hopkins who had a stellar game against Clarion, shooting 81.8% from the field (9-11) and scoring 24 points.  Hopkins is averaging 15.2 points per game. 


The Golden Rams will host their first games at Hollinger Field House on Saturday and Sunday (Indiana (Pa.) and Seton Hill respectively) after playing their first two home contests at Widener due to ongoing renovations at Hollinger.  


And, finally the big game this week will be at Lincoln University’s Manuel Rivero Hall as the Lions host Cheyney University in their annual “Battle of the First” on Thursday night. 

 The women’s gametipoff at 5:30 p.m. followed by the men’s game.  There are tickets still available and a large crowd is expected.   The Lions are 1-3 on the season coming off a 73-62 loss at Pitt-Johnstown while the Wolves are 1-5 with their lone win coming against Shaw University.



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