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, November 25, 2017

Guru’s Local Report: Deep Penn Rally Carries Quakers While Villanova Stays Unbeaten

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

   Penn staged a dramatic rally, Villanova stayed unbeaten, Rutgers almost had a startling upset of the defending national champions, and Penn State and Drexel suffered setbacks in Friday’s action as the big holiday of hoops expanded weekend reached the midway point.

 Let’s review the action of the Guru’s locals beginning with those Quakers who emerged with a split from the Junkanoo Jam in Bimini in the Bahamas.

A 1–1 visit to the tropics was perhaps the best Penn (2-2) could have hoped for, though they would have liked that to be with a win Thursday and then likely losing at the hands of No. 8 Baylor.

But that was not to be because the opening round saw the Quakers fade at the finish in the fourth quarter, losing to Georgia Tech, 69-55, in what was just the third meeting with the Yellowjackets (6-0) and first since 1983.

  Georgia Tech was coming off a visit and win at Penn’s Ivy rival Princeton, on Sunday.

   If there was something to take out of the defeat, the Quakers got two nice offensive performances out of freshmen with Katie Kinum scoring 17 while Eleah Parker scored scored 12, a total matched by teammate and senior Michelle Nwokedi, the reigning Ivy player and defensive player of the year.

   Francesa Pan and Elo Edeferioka each scored 17 points for the Yellow Jackets with Edeferioka grabbing 12 rebounds while Zaire O’Neil also scored in double figures collecting 15 points.

That led Penn into facing Missouri State (1-4), once known as SW Missouri, in the third place game.

Trailing by 18 at the half, it looked like the Quakers were doomed but showing resiliency coach Mike McLaughlin’s group found a way to to get back in the game and then finished strong with an 8-0 run to emerge with a 65-60 victory.

Lauren Whitlatch, recovered from the knee injury that sidelined her during the back end of Penn’s Ivy title run last season, tied a career-high with six 3-pointers and scored 18 points.

It’s the third time Whitlatch has connected with six triplets in a contest.

Freshman Katie Kinum had another productive outing, hitting a trey to give Penn the lead at the start of the fourth quarter. She was perfect on both attempts from beyond the arc and for all six of her points.

Princess Aghayere had her first double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds while Anna Ross scored 11, Nwokedi scored 10 to match Aghayere’s total.

The Quakers’ deficit was attributed to 10 turnovers in the first 16 minutes of play but they atoned outscoring the Lady Bears 27-10 in the third period.

Next up is Penn’s Big Five opener traveling to La Salle Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Explorers are already 0-1 in City Series play following this past Wednesday’s home loss to Temple.

Villanova Tops James Madison

Coming out of Sunday’s upset at home of then-No. 11 Duke, the Wildcats fought off a fourth-quarter surge by James Madison to beat the Dukes 60-57 in the opener of the TD Bank Classic in Burlington, Vermont, and stay unbeaten 4-0.

Villanova on Saturday in the championship will meet American U., which edged host Vermont by two points.

Villanova led by as many as 14 points over the the Dukes, whom they beat last March at the JMU Convocation Center as part of the four wins at host schools to reach the semifinals of the WNIT.

The favorite in the Colonial Athletic Association fell to 1-4 and previously lost to Saint Joseph’s and Rutgers at home.

Kamiah Smalls, a graduate of Neumann Gorretti in Philadelphia, led James Madison with 17 points while Kelly Koshuta had 15 points.

A 21-9 second quarter for Villanova helped provide the Wildcats with enough to stay in front.

Adrianna Hahn had 15 points for coach Harry Perretta’s bunch, while Alex Louin had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Kelly Jekot also scored 10 points for Villanova.

Rutgers Falls to South Carolina 78-68 in Final Minutes

The Scarlet Knights are starting to appear heading to former days of glory, even though coach C. Vivian Stringer’s group dropped their first game of the year and first real test, losing to Dawn Staley’s defending NCAA champion South Carolina in an opener of the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Fla.

Rutgers (4-1) was within three points of the unbeaten Gamecocks (5-0) under the five minute mark in the fourth quarter before South Carolina prevailed.

Tyler Scaife, back after missing last season with an injury, scored 20 points for the Scarlet Knights, while Tekia Mack scored 13 points, including 8-for-9 from the line, while Jazlynd Riollins scored 10.

A’ja Wilson, the preseason national candidate for player of the year, poured down 33 points and transfer Lindsey Spann, formerly with Penn State, scored 17.

The loss sends Rutgers into the consolation bracket, playing Western Michigan Saturday morning while South Carolina in the semifinals will face St. John’s, which advanced with a 76-48 win over Rutgers’ next opponent.

Elsewhere in the bracket No. 6 Notre Dame handled ETSU 77-46 as the Irish (4-0) got 12 points and 10 rebounds from Arike Ogunbowale while Jessica Shepard, a transfer from Nebraska, had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

In the semifinals, Notre Dame will meet No. 17 South Florida, a former rival in the old Big East, which advanced with an 82-45 win over Washington State.

Penn State Felled by Louisiana Tech

In a game between two teams once regular combatants nationally as part of the Top 10 of the weekly rankings, the Lady Lions of the Big Ten fell to the Lady Techsters of C-USA, 71-59, in the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas in an event with predetermined opponents for each day’s action in South Point Arena.

Louisiana Tech (4-1) broke away from Penn State (5-1) late in the third quarter to outscore the Lady Lions 23-10 in the final 11 minutes.

Amari Carter, in her third straight game of 20 or more points, had a career-high 24, shooting 8-for-14 from the field, including 4-of-7 on three-point attempts. 

Teniya Page, in her first game since missing time with an injury, added nine points to add to Penn State’s total. Jaida Travascio-Green had 11 points while redshirt sophomore De’Janae Boykin had 11 rebounds.

Kierra Anthony topped Louisiana Tech scorers, collecting 17 points.

On Saturday, Penn State will meet Kansas State at 8:45 p.m., EST.

Drexel Routed by West Virginia

The Mountaineers (5-0) stayed unbeaten at the Expense of the Dragons (2-3) as Teana Muldrow got 25 points for the defending Big 12 champions in the second day of action in the Paradise Jam, which because of hurricane damage in the tropics, has been moved to Eastern Florida State in Melbourne.

West Virginia is ranked 11th in the current Associated Press women’s poll.

Kelsi Lidge had a career high 16 points for Drexel, shooting 5-for-7 from the floor and 4-for-4 on 3-point attempts.

Sarah Woods had nine points.

On Saturday Drexel will meet the third of predetermined opponents in the field.

The Dragons opened play on Thanksgiving Day, being edged by Virginia Tech 79-67, though they trailed by 11 at the half and rallied for a lead in the fourth quarter before the Hokies regrouped and prevailed.

The game brought an old rivalry back on the sidelines with Drexel’s Denise Dillon going against Virginia Tech second-year coach Kenny Brooks, who previously matched strategy from the sidelines at James Madison in the CAA wars.

The loss ruined two career days for Drexel’s Aubree Brown, who scored 18 points, and Bailey Green, who had 16 with four assists.

The Dragons had a fine shooting day, connecting 50 percent from the field, but their demise was due in a large part to 14 turnovers that became 19 points scored by Virginia Tech.

Looking Ahead

In Saturday action among the Guru’s locals involving games not already mentioned above, in two single contest, Temple will host Mississippi at 2 p.m. in McGonigle Hall, while Princeton will be in the South playing at Davidson.

Saint Joseph’s finally gets to play at home in Hagan Arena as the unbeaten group will open at 2 p.m. against Eastern Illinois in their Hawk Classic, which used to be played after Christmas.

Delaware makes its first city debut under new coach Natasha Adair, coming up North from an hour away to play Saint Peter’s in the second game at 4 p.m.

On Sunday losers meet for third place at 2 and the title game will be at 4 p.m.

Up at Lehigh, the host Mountain Hawks in their tourney in Bethlehem will meet Fairfield before La Salle plays New Hampshire at 4:30 p.m.

On Sunday, the third place and title games will be played at the same time.

Rider, still looking for the Broncs’ first win, will play host Seton Hall at noon at Walsh Gym in South Orange in the Pirates’ tourney, that has East Carolina meeting Jacksonville State at 2:30 p.m. in the other game.

The third place and title games will be played the same times Sunday.

Rutgers will finish its play in Florida, depending on Saturday outcomes, playing either ETSU or Washington State for fifth or seventh place.

And that’s the report.


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