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, November 26, 2017

Guru’s Local/National Report: Villanova Takes Vermont Tourney While Mississippi Grabs Road Win at Temple

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — Villanova claimed a tournament title while Saint Joseph’s, Lehigh and La Salle reached championship rounds as part of major action Saturday among the Guru locals.

In singletons, Temple had trouble connecting from the field and fell at home to Mississippi while Princeton won at Davidson and Lafayette won at home against Long Island.

In other tourneys involving advancement formats or pre-determined games, Drexel went home a winner while Rutgers advanced to the top rung of the consolation round to play for fifth. Rider fell to host Seton Hall in the Pirates’ opener, and Delaware got edged in double overtime and Penn State fell to Kansas State out West.

Blanks Over Broad Street Leads to Temple Downfall to Mississippi

Rebels coach Matt Insell had reason to feel good beyond just getting a 64-48 victory over Temple Saturday afternoon in a non-conference game in McGonigle Hall.

“You lose the top scorer in the (Southeastern Conference) and we still managed to win like that,” the fifth-year coach smiled afterwards.

Junior Madinah Muhammad came into the contest averaging 24.6 points per game over Ole Miss’ first five contests but left with an injury eight minutes into the game.

Not to worry.

Senior Shandricka Sessom had a game-high 23 points, five below her career high, and freshman Promise Taylor had 15 points, shooting 7-for-11 from the field while tying another career high with eight rebounds. She also blocked three shots.

Alissa Alston had 10 points and dealt eight assists in going against a former high school and AAU teammate out of New Haven, Connecticut, in Temple’s Tanaya Atkinson, the reigning American Athletic Conference player of the week.

Ole Miss (5-1), whose only loss to date has bas been to Atlantic 10 power Saint Louis, had some nice crowd support in enemy territory, fueled by a Philly homecoming from freshman Chyna Nixon, who had three points and played on the Neumann Goretti state powerhouse.

The Rebels also had other players who hail from close enough to draw fans from Toronto and the Bronx besides the family and friends of Nixon and Alston.

On Wednesday is the annual father-and-son coaching renewal when Mississippi hosts Middle Tennessee pitting Insell against his father Rick Insell, the longtime coach who was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June in Knoxville, Tenn.

Temple’s Atkinson had another strong individual performance with 22 points and 10 rebounds for her fourth double double for the Owls (4-2), who will stay home for six more games, the last of which is a visit from Dawn Staley’s defending NCAA champion South Carolina squad on Dec. 21 next door in the larger Liacouras Center.

That will be the final game in a seven-game consecutive run of home games that began Saturday in Temple’s two venues.

But home wasn’t worth much to Temple against ‘Ole Miss  with the Owls’ downfall in large part attributed to shooting 25 percent from the field despite getting off more attempts than the visitors.

“When you shoot 25 percent, it is going to be hard to win basketball games,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said. “We were erratic in not knowing who and when to get the ball to in situations.

“We’ve got to make shots,” she added. “We’re getting shots but we are not making them.”

Defensively Temple held Ole Miss 23 points under their high-powered scoring average, effectively forcing 23 turnovers.

But Cardoza pointed to the Owls being outdueled battling for second chance points and on the defensive boards, Temple was outrebounded 29-18 and outscored 36-20 in the paint.

Mississippi never trailed but the Owls threatened several times, though were unable to capitalize. As bad as the shooting was the entire game, it was specifically worse in the fourth quarter with a 1-for-14 for a 7.1 percent completion statistic.

Despite the home sites, McGonigle and Liacouras won’t be a bakery offering cupcakes.

Revitalized Saint Joseph’s comes here on Wednesday at seven in what will be the Hawks’ first Big Five game and second for the Owls. The lineup of visitors also includes Harvard, picked third in the Ivy; Villanova, picked third in the Big East; Marist, picked second in the MAAC; and South Carolina, ranked third nationally picked and picked to repeat as SEC champions.

Villanova Captures Vermont’s Tourney 

The Wildcats put up an early lead that proved necessary when the Eagles produced a commanding 26-10 fourth quarter which left American U. just short as Villanova emerged with a 65-60 win to stay unbeaten at 5-0 and bring home the trophy from the TD Bank Classic in Burlington, Vermont.

A year ago coach Harry Perretta’s squad stumbled to a 4-8 start before righting itself and ultimately surging with four straight road wins to reach the final four of the WNIT.

One of those was at James Madison, who the Wildcats beat Friday night, and another at Princeton, which is the next stop Wednesday night on the ‘Nova schedule.

American (3-3), which got past the host Catamounts on Friday by two points 64-62 on Emily Kinneston’s game-winner, got 10 points from her on Saturday.

Cecily Carl led the Eagles with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

Villanova had four players score in double figures with Adrianna Hahn scoring 16 points, Kelly Jekot, the heroine of last Sunday’s upset of then-No. 11 Duke, scoring 14. Megan Quinn had 12 points and seven rebounds, while Alex Louin also had seven rebounds and also scored eight points. Mary Gedaka came off the bench to score 10 points.

Jekot was named the tournament MVP while Hahn also made the all-tournament team.

The Wildcats rode their 3-point prowess early, picking up 15 points on 5-for-10 from beyond the arc and by the half held a 39-24 lead.

But it is rarely easy night after night in many seasons for Perretta, who is completing his fourth decade on the Main Line. In the final period Villanova failed to connect from the field on nine attempts and was 10-18 on the foul line.

On Friday night Kinneston celebrated her return to her home state with American, scoring in the final second to make it a tough loss for Vermont coach Chris Day, who had previously been an assistant at Penn, Indiana under current WNBA Connecticut Sun coach Curt Miller, Saint Joseph’s and La Salle.

Former Villanova star Caroline Coyer spent her first post-graduate year on Day’s staff after he was hired last season.

In the third place game, JMU recovered from the setback to ‘Nova as the Dukes, who are favored to win the Colonial Athletic Association, topped Vermont 68-56 fueled by a 14-4 run in the third quarter.

JMU is 2-4 with losses to Rutgers, Tennessee, Saint Joseph’s and Villanova and when the Dukes get to conference play, two rivals are Drexel and Delaware.

Kamiah Smalls, yet another grad of Neumann Goretti in Philadelphia, had 19 points and 10 rebounds for James Madison and also made the all-tournament team.

Vermont, which visits Rider Friday near Princeton, fell to 2-4 with the loss in its Patrick Gym.

Saint Joseph’s Cruises But Delaware Edged in Double Overtime in Hawk Classic

The Hawks had little difficulty in the opener of their tourney Saturday afternoon beating Eastern Illinois 80-62 to advance to Sunday’s title game at 4 p.m.

Sarah Veilleux had 22 points while Chelsea Woods had 20 points and 11 rebounds to stay unbeaten at 4-0.

“This thing had a lot of storylines at one time when it was put together,” quipped veteran Hawks coach Cindy Griffin after the win over the Panthers (1-3).

The only one that was still in play by the time Saturday arrived and will occur Sunday is for the first time Griffin, who played at Saint Joseph’s, will be coaching her former boss Pat Coyle, who was at the helm for Saint Peter’s in Saturday’s other opener, a thrilling 90-87 win in double overtime over Delaware.

Coyle is part of the famous Coyle twins from West Catholic — her sister Mary Klinger is a longtime coach of Rutgers Prep, the powerhouse high in Central New Jersey. The two also helped make Rutgers University into a women’s powerhouse in the early 1980s and were members of the Scarlet Knights’ 1982 AIAW national championship claimed at the Palestra.

Pat Coyle was also an aide to Jim Foster on Hawk Hill and when she got the head coaching job at Loyola of Maryland, Griffin joined her staff.

A short while later, Coyle became an assistant to Richie Adubato with the WNBA New York Liberty and later became head coach when he was let go. She spent time as an aide to Agnus Berenato at Pitt before landing the Saint Peter’s job in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

After Coyle went to the pros, Griffin was promoted at Loyola and soon after that her alma mater came calling when the head coaching vacancy occurred.

When the field was originally put together, Debbie Black, who was let go after last season, was head coach. A graduate of Archbishop Wood, Black is one of the Hawks’ all-time players.

The other twist not to be, is one of Coyle’s aides is Phyllis Mangina, the former longtime Seton Hall coach, who once had Tina Martin as an assistant and one of Mangina’s former players was Christine Koren Motta, who later finished her career at Delaware and was an assistant to Martin there and now does color on Blue Hens women’s games.

Martin left Delaware after last season and after the field had been put together and is now an aide to former Old Dominion coach Karen Barefoot at UNCW in Wilmington, N.C., which is in the CAA.

And if you are wondering why now the Hawk Classic on Thanksgiving weekend instead of Christmas week when it had always been held, the answer is now that conferences like the Atlantic 10 are backing the start of their league slates in late December, the move affected Saint Joseph’s scheduling.

Now that you’ve been informed with a Guru digression, back at Saturday’s action, senior Adashia Franklyn also scored in double figures with 15 points and nine rebounds.

Most of the Hawks played in the offseason on various teams in the Philadelphia/Suburban NCAA Women’s Summer Basketball League in Hatboro, Pa.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Nehls had 13 points for Eastern Illinois, which will play Delaware at 2 p.m. Sunday in the third place game.

Saint Joseph’s outrebound the Panthers 42-25 and outscored them 50-24 in the paint.

“They are really good,” Coyle said of Saint Joseph’s.

As for the second game Saturday, it was virtually an instant replay of Delaware’s 85-79 overtime loss at home last Sunday to Boston U.

The loss by the Blue Hens (2-3) eclipsed some fine individual performances with Nicole Enabosi scoring a career-high 27 points and grabbing 16 rebounds, while Samone DeFreese had 11 points and 10 rebounds, Abby Gonzales having a career high 18 points and Bailey Kargo scoring 12 points.

There were 16 lead changes and 13 ties in the struggle with the Peacocks (3-2), who scored four straight points in the final seconds.

Talah Hughes had 22 points and 12 rebounds for Saint Peter’s, while three others also scored in double figures.

“We started flat and I didn’t like our energy throughout the game,” said first-year coach Natasha Adair, who was previously with Georgetown and was once on Temple’s short list after Dawn Staley left to be ultimately succeeded by Tonya Cardoza, her friend and former Virginia teammate who had been a longtime aide to Geno Auriemma at UConn.

“We made some runs but we missed a lot of bunnies around the rim. Every possession matters and every possession counts. No game is going to be easy for us, but we need to find a way to finish. It’s one of those things you have to continue to grow and mature through these experiences.”

Sammy Lochner, who had eight points for Saint Peter’s, is the daughter of Lafayette women’s assistant Tom Lochner, who was previously on Delaware’s staff, which would have been another tie-in not to be since he also was a head coach at La Salle.

After the tournament here, Delaware goes to Saint Bonaventure Wednesday.

La Salle and host Lehigh to Meet in Title Game

The Explorers downed New Hampshire 59-51 in the opener of the Christmas City Classic in Bethlehem, Pa., before Lehigh edged Fairfield 56-53 to advance to Sunday’s title game at Stabler Arena at 4:30 p.m.

The host Mountain Hawks (4-2), off to a better start than a year ago, got a career-high 22 points from Camryn Buhr, who shot 8-for-12 from the field.

Gena Grundhoffer had 13 points and Mariah Sexe had a career-best nine points against Fairfield (1-4), which was held to 45 percent from the field.

“I thought it was a sign of maturity and growth for this team,” said Lehigh coach Sue Troyan. “I thought this was a situation where they may have lost last year.

Fairfield made a run, our kids responded with their own run and made some big plays in the last three minutes of the game to take the lead and execute down the stretch to keep the lead. That growth and maturity is going to be important for us going forward.”

La Salle (2-3), meanwhile, bounced back from Wednesday’s Big Five home loss to Temple with the win over UNH (3-2).

A narrow contest most of the way the Explorers broke away from a 35-35 tie to outscore the Wildcats 24-16 over the last 13 minutes, 56 seconds of action in regulation.

Amy Griffin, who had been stymied recently, looked more like the A-10 leading scorer of last season, collecting 22 points, shooting 9-for-17 from the field, while Sofi Ngwafang and Shaquana Edwards each scored nine and a combo 15 points in the second half to propel the Explorers to a win.

Drexel Does It to Butler

The Dragons topped Butler 76-62 and grabbed one victory in the three predetermined contests at the Paradise Jam in Melbourne, Fla., which was moved from St. Thomas, Virgin Islands because of last summer’s hurricane damage.

Drexel (3-3) had let one get away down the stretch on Thanksgiving to Virginia Tech and then was routed Friday by West Virginia, the reigning Big 12 champion formerly with the Big East.

On Saturday, senior Megan Marecic made her first career start and delivered against the current Big East member formerly part of the Atlantic 10 with 15 points as did Bailey Greenberg with the same scoring total.

It was the first meeting between the two schools and three other Dragons also scored in double figures against Butler (4-3) - Sarah Woods with a career—high 14 points while Kelsi Lidge scored 12 points and freshman Hannah Nihill scored 10.

Aubree Brown, who scored six, was named to the all-tournament team.

Drexel shot 11 treys, matching the number they hit in a season-opening loss at Penn State.

Whitney Jennings scored 28 for Butler.

Next for Drexel is a home visit from Lafayette at 7 p.m. Friday night at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Rutgers Pounces on Western Michigan

Following the Scarlet Knights’ first loss of the season, a respectable setback to Dawn Staley’s NCAA reigning champions at South Carolina, Rutgers regrouped in the Gulf South Showcase in Estero, Fla., beating Western Michigan 75-64 after trailing early by as many as 14 points in the second quarter.

Tyler Scaife scored 29 points for the Scarlet Knights (5-1) while Caitlin Jenkins had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Breanna Mobley had 26 points and 12 rebounds and Marley Hill had 14 for the Broncos (2-4).

Rutgers outscored Western Michigan 24-12 in the third quarter to pull away. 

Coach C. Vivian Stringer’s team will play in the fifth place game Sunday meeting Washington State at 1:30 p.m. The Cougars beat ETSU Saturday 80-76 to advance to the top of the consolation bracket. 

Rutgers forced 25 turnovers, the third straight game forcing 20 or more miscues.

Stringer now has a 982-390 record putting her within 18 of reaching 1,000 wins in her career. Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma is much closer and if the Huskies stay unbeaten, the game that provides the first opportunity to reach the total is against Oklahoma next month at the Mohegan Sun.

Penn State Falls Short to Kansas State

A rally didn’t last long enough down the stretch and Penn State in the second of two predetermined games at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout fell to Kansas State 70-65 to make the trip to the desert a winless effort following Friday’s loss to Louisiana Tech.

On Friday the Lady Lions (5-2) opened play in Las Vegas losing to Louisiana Tech, a team that in 2000 fell to them, allowing PSU to advance to the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Philadelphia.

Against the Wildcats Saturday, the Lady Lions threw down 13 three-pointers and outrebounded KSU.

PSU gained a 42-29 advantage in rebounding and its array of triplets was a six season high.

Kansas State (5-1) scored 30 of 70 points in the paint and was a nearly perfect 18-for-22 on free throw attempts. 

The Lady Lions outscored Saturday’s opponent 16-9 on second chance attempts and in a comparison of reserves outscored the Wildcats’ bench 17-8. 

Jaida Travascio-Green got all 15 of her points from five triplets — and dealt four assists for PSU while redshirt sophomore Amari Carter had 14 points while dealing six assists.

Teniya Page added to the Lady Lions’ attack with 10 points.

In the post De’Janae Boykin had 14 rebounds and while teamed with Jaylen Williams the posts combined for 23 rebounds and 14 points.

Williams had nine points and nine rebounds.

Kayla Goth and Peyton Williams each scored 19 points for Kansas State while Kaylee Page scored 13.

The Lady Lions are next back in the Bryce Jordan Center on Thursday to host Wake Forest in the Big 10/ACC. Challenge at 7 p.m.

Rider Toppled By Seton Hall in Pirates’ Tourney

A 34-10 third quarter enabled host Seton Hall to rout Rider 85-49 in the opener of the SHU Thanksgiving Classic in South Orange, N.J.

The winless Broncs (0-5) did get a career high 17 points from freshman Jaiden Morris at Walsh Gym. The game was the first for Seton Hall (3-1) since a recent home loss to Princeton.

Lexi Posset added eight points to Rider’s total.

“Most people will see the score and not really know what happened here today,” said Rider coach Lynn Milligan, who is dealing with growing pains resulting from six newcomers as opposed to last season’s depth leading to the Broncs’ historic run for the program to the WNIT.

“As crazy as it sounds, I haven’t felt this way about a loss this year since the Bucknell game. We needed to take a disciplined step today and we did that. Seton Hall was better today. Hats off to them.

“Take away some of our open-floor turnovers and we make some shots and it’s a different game. We followed our game plan today which was to play as hard as we could for 40 minutes. We did that. Regardless of the score, we played hard.”

Seton Hall has never lost to Rider in 11 meetings. 

In Sunday’s third place game the Broncs will meet East Carolina for the first time at 2 p.m. before Seton Hall plays Jacksonville State for the championship. Because of ECU’s mascot, Rider will be playing Pirates on successive days.

Seton Hall’s Sunday opponent advanced with an 82-73 victory to go to 4-1.

Princeton Downs Davidson

In a single non-special event game, the Tigers got 21 points and 11 rebounds from sophomore  Bella Alarie in North Carolina to bounce back from last Sunday’s loss at home to Georgia Tech with a 63-57 win over Davidson.

Abby Meyers gave a lift with 13 points off the bench and Carlie Littlefield had 11 points and four steals for Princeton (3-1).

Leslie Robinson had 10 rebounds against the Wildcats (3-3), who got 19 points from Justine Lyon.

Princeton next heads home to host Villanova at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Jadwin Gym and then Delaware on Saturday at 5 p.m.

Nationally Speaking

Among the powers that be at the moment, the power of the powers — top ranked Connecticut had little trouble with Michigan State staying unbeaten at 5-0 off a 96-62 rout in Oregon as Azura Stevens had 25 points and 16 rebounds.

The Huskies are currently 136-0 against unranked opposition.

Kia Nurse had 20 points, Napheesa Collier scored 14 and grabbed 12 rebounds, and Crystal Dangerfield had 10 points and 10 assists against the Spartans (4-1) who got 11 points off the bench from Sydney Cooks.

Host Duke, ranked 16th after a five-spot drop caused by the upset loss at Villanova last week, beat No. 18 Oregon State 72-65 at home in Cameron Indoor Arena in Durham, N.C.

Lexi Brown had 19 points and the last 10 scored by the Blue Devils (4-1).

Marie Gulich had 16 points for Oregon State (3-2).

No. 8 Baylor won the Junkanoo Jam beating Georgia Tech 80-57 in Bimini, The Bahamas, as Kalani Brown had 22 points and Lauren Cox scored 22 for the Bears (5-1), who never trailed.

“We’re not the same team as last year but we’re pretty darn good,” said coach Kim Mulkey.

Georgia Tech dropped its first game after a 6-0 start.

The other ranked teams had an easy time of it: No. 7 Mississippi State beat Green Bay 67-46; No. 24 Arizona State beat Columbia 72-48; No. 25 Michigan  beat Ohio U. 74-61; No. 12 Tennessee beat South Dakota 69-49; No. 2 Texas beat Washington 92-68; No. 3 South Carolina in the Gulf South Classic made it to the title game beating St. John’s 76-58, while Notre Dame won over No. 17 South Florida 76-66 to advance against the Gamecocks; No. 9 Ohio State beat No. No. 14 Stanford again, this time 94-82; and No. 10 Oregon beat Oklahoma 92-74.    








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