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.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Guru’s Local Report: Rutgers Controls Temple on the Road to Level the Owls and Extend Start to 2-0

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — Unlike a year ago on the banks of the Raritan River in Central New Jersey when Rutgers hosted Temple in a non-conference encounter in their ongoing rivalry, there was no 90 minute wait down here for Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer to assess her squad’s latest disaster.

True, there was a team bus to catch home but that element aside she emerged from the dressing room in Temple’s McGonigle Hall with a hop in her step and a pleasant smile following the Scarlet Knight’s 84-67 victory to complete a 2-0 sweep opening on the road.

The triumph here Monday night followed Friday’s opening win at James Madison and while there’s a long way to go to March and a path beginning at the new year dealing with the Big Ten and heavyweights such as Ohio State, Maryland, and some up and comers like Michigan, the start is decent enough in terms of measuring sticks to bring some early satisfaction.

“There is nooooo comparison,” Stringer said recalling the long struggle. “You saw us play last year. We are able to do the things I like to do and there’s a big difference.

“Did you see, we can shoot the three and, heck, in last year’s game I didn’t even try to press. Now we love to play defense and that’s good.”

And with all those bench-ridden players of 12 months ago kept out of uniform under NCAA eligibility rules, depth is back on the Rutgers roster.

The Scarlet Knights collected seven treys from beyond the arc and Ciani Cryor nailed a pair off the bench to propel Rutgers into early separation from the Owls.

She finished with 11 points and another substitute, Jazlynd Rollins, scored 12 while WNBA prospect and veteran Tyler Scaife, who was sidelined by injury, scored 10 points while Victoria Harris was 5-for-9 from the field and scored 11.

One of the newcomers is former Saint Joseph’s Hawk Kathleen Fitzpatrick, who started and played 14 minutes, though her boxscore statistics were neglible.

Temple, which fell to 1-1 following Friday’s high-scoring opener against Delaware State here, was forced into 23 turnovers leading to a 28-9 differential in transition.

The Scarlet Knights bench outscored the Owls reserves 52-14.

Of course this time around it is Temple with the youth and without a star player in Alliya Butts, whose season was derailed during training with a knee injury.

“We knew coming into the game against Rutgers we had to take care of the basketball and not allow them to get second-chance opportunities, said Temple coach Tonya Cardoza. “We didn’t do a good job in that.

“Once we started turning the ball over, they continued to bring the heat.”

By halftime Rutgers looked like the Scarlet Knights of yesteryear with a 24-point lead though to Temple’s credit it didn’t get any worse in the second half and Cardoza conceded her youthful roster is improving daily though it might have seemed so Monday night.

Tanaya Atkinson had her second straight standout performance with 30 points and 13 rebounds while freshman Mia Davis scored 13.

Atkinson’s second straight double double was a career performance.

Things get less arduous next time around as Temple hosts Wagner Thursday night at 7 while Rutgers finishes its opening triple visits with a stop at Charlotte Thursday night before  it makes its home debut Sunday at 6:30 p.m. hosting Wake Forest of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Temple’s last home lost to an unranked opponent came in a Big Five game at the hands of Penn, though that was nothing to be embarrassed over while if Rutgers stays on a revival course it won’t be long before the Scarlet Knights begin appearing in the weekly polls.

Meanwhile on a light night on the Guru’s local schedule with two of the four teams playing against each other here in McGonigle, elsewhere Delaware got new coach Natasha Adair out of Georgetown her first win after an opening loss as the Blue Hens rallied at Hartford for a 72-63 win while La Salle lost its first game falling to American 66-48 in the nation’s capital after holding an early lead.

In the Delaware game, junior Nicole Enabosi scored 22 for the visitors, who used a lopsided 18-2 third quarter run to take the triumph. Danielle Roberts, a walk-on, played 22 minutes and connected on her first collegiate three-pointer.

Enabosi completed a double double by grabbing 17 rebounds.

The host Hawks were coming off an opening loss to Villanova at home on Friday night.

Makeda Nicholas also scored in double figures with 14 points.

The Blue Hens will make their season home debut Thursday night at the Bob Carpenter Center against American U.

“This team has fight,” Adair said. “I told them after the game that despite all that, there were moments where we could have shut down. But that’s not who this group is. From day one, this group has been united, and they are set out to win.

“People are in different roles, people are receiving minutes they’ve never gotten before. So it’s not going to look pretty right now.”

In the La Salle game, the Explorers got 20 points from Adreana Miller, who shot 7-for-11 from the field, while Amy Griffin was in double figures but held to 10 points.

The Explorers next come back to Philadelphia but not yet home as they head across town Thursday night to play Drexel at 7 in what is unofficially known as a Philly Six contest when games involve the Big Five contingent playing the Dragons.

And that’s how it went on the local scene.