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, December 26, 2017

Bob Heller’s Philly WBB Small Colleges: Part 1 - Division II Holiday Report

By Bob Heller (@Bob_Heller1)

The Christmas holiday and the NCAA mandated break for Division II schools created a light schedule of games last week for our area small college women’s basketball programs with just under a dozen games taking place.

Six out of the seven division II schools in the five-county area did see action last week and we are going to start off this week’s notebook with them.  

Three players eclipsed the 20-point mark as nationally ranked Jefferson University (#22 D2SIDA Media Poll) held off Wilmington University 84-75 on Tuesday (Dec. 19) to remain unbeaten in conference play (4-0) and move to 11-1 overall with their fifth straight win.

Alynna Williams led the Rams with 24 points on 10-16 shooting from the field while Jessica Kaminski chipped in 22 points (10-12 FT) and a team-high nine rebounds.  Rachel Day added 21 points (five 3pt. FG) and dished out seven assists.

Day had the hot shooting hand in the Rams first quarter as they doubled up the Wildcats 32-16 with the senior guard outscoring the Wildcats by herself with five three-point buckets and one inside the arc for 17 points.   Jefferson shot 56% from the field in the opening quarter.

The Rams maintained their 16 point lead at the break, 49-33 before the Wildcats came out on fire in the third quarter, trimming the lead to sing digits by quarter’s end, 65-56. 

 An 11-5 run by the Wildcats to open the fourth quarter made it a one-possession game at 70-67 with 5:31 remaining.  A pair of baskets from Williams and a three-ball from Caitlyn Cunningham pushed the Rams lead back to seven at 77-71. 

 Wilmington closed the gap to four with 2:17 remaining but that would be as close as they would get as the Rams made 7-for-8 from the free throw line in the final two minutes to seal the win.

The area two other regionally ranked division II squads also battled it out on Tuesday as the University of the Sciences (#6 East Region) built a big lead and survived a shaky fourth quarter as the defeated  West Chester University (#9 Atlantic Region), 82-67 at the Bobby Morgan Arena in West Philadelphia.

The Devils (9-2) backcourt trio of Sarah Abbonizio, Alex Thomas and Jordan Vitelli combined for 60 of the Devils season-high 82 points with Abbonizio leading the way with 23 points (8-12 FG, 3-6 3ptFG).  Thomas had 19 points while Vitelli chipped in 18.  Abbonizio led the team with seven rebounds.

Porscha Speller led the Golden Rams (5-4) with 19 points while Camden Boehner chipped in 12.  Lexi Bruno came off the bench to score 11 points.  Mia Hopkins led the team with eight rebounds.

The Golden Rams jumped out to a ten point lead before the Devils closed out the first quarter with a 13-2 flourish, capped by Vitelli’s layup+one to take a 13-12 lead at the end of the period.  USciences extended the run with a 14-2 spurt to start the second quarter, making it a 27-4 effort over a ten minute period spanning the two quarters as the Devils jumped ahead 27-14.

The Devils continued to expand their lead throughout the third quarter, going up by as many as 30 points 62-32 in the final seconds of the period.  

Abbonizio’s traditional three-point play to open the fourth quarter pushed their lead to its highest point, 65-34 before the Golden Rams exploded with a 23-4 uprising to close the gap to 69-57 with 3:22 remaining. 

 Eleven of the 23 WCU points during the run came off USciences turnovers.  USciences kept the Golden Rams from getting any closer down the stretch with some clutch free throw shooting, making 11 of 12 from the line over the final three minutes to seal the win.

Lincoln University continues to perform well, winning six of their last seven games, including a 68-51 conference win over Livingstone College last Monday.  The Lions improve to 7-4 with the win, and have four more wins than they did at this juncture during the 2016-17 season. 

Michelle Fitzgerald led four Lions in double figures with 13 points (4-5 FG, 4-6 FT) and seven rebounds. Shahra Madison added 11 points and seven boards while DeeDee Irwin also chipped in 11 points.  

Teira Pendleton rounded out the Lions double figure scorers with 10 points and seven rebounds.  

The Lions led this contest wire-to-wire, scoring the first six points and added a 10-0 flourish over the final 2:45 of the quarter to take a 24-6 lead.  

Lincoln extended their lead to 28 points, 38-10, midway through the second quarter with a 14-4 uprising. Irwin's 3-ball started the onslaught at the 8:29 mark and Madison completed the run with a layup at the 5:04 mark.  LU led by 27 at the half, 46-19.

The Blue Bears chipped away at the lead throughout the second half but could come no closer than 15 points late in the fourth quarter before Pendleton scored five straight points to push the Lions lead back up to 22 with just over a minute remaining.  

The remaining Division II game in the area saw two Central Atlantic Collegiate conference (CACC) and Philadelphia area rivals battle it out on the hardwood as Chestnut Hill College hung on to defeat Holy Family University, 73-70.

Vicky Tumasz and Jaeda Wildgoose led the Griffins (6-6) with 25 and 20 points respectively.  Casey Schweitzer paced the Tigers (1-9) with 26 points.

The Griffins jumped out to an early 15-4 lead before five straight points from Schweitzer and a pair of free throws from Anjelai Hayes closed the gap to 15-11. Tumasz’s three-pointer put the Griffins back up by ten before the Tigers cut the gap in half by the end of the period.

Chestnut Hill held a 12-point lead at the half before the Tigers rallied in the third quarter embarking on a 17-3 run, capped by a Schweitzer traditional three-point play to take their first lead 48-46 with four minutes left in the quarter.  The Tigers pushed their lead to five at 51-46 before the Griffins closed out the quarter with a 10-2 spurt to retake the lead 56-53.

The Griffins’ lead was no more than four throughout the first six minutes of the fourth quarter.  Schweitzer’s three-ball gave the Tigers the lead again at 65-64 at the 3:54 mark and HFU still led by one when Wildgoose connected on one of two free throws to tie the game at 68-68 with a minute remaining.  

A defensive stop was followed by a Wildgoose layup putting the Griffins back on top 70-68 with 27 seconds remaining.   Holy Family managed just one more score as the Griffins hung on in the final seconds for the win.


Area Leading Scorers (Div. II)   
through games of 12/26/17
(points per game)

1. Porscha Speller, West Chester (PSAC)20.4
2. Vicky Tumasz, Chestnut Hill (CACC)16.8
3. Sarah Abbonizio, USciences(CACC)16.2
4. Jaeda Wildgoose, Chestnut Hill (CACC)15.7
5. Michelle Fitzgerald, Lincoln (CIAA)15.1

Team Offensive Leaders (overall record
(average points per game)

1. West Chester University (5-4)81.9
2. Lincoln University (7-4)72.6
3. Jefferson University (​11-1)71.3
4. Chestnut Hill College (6-6)71.0
5. USciences (9-2)67.4

Team Defense Leaders (overall record) 
(Fewest points allowed per game)

1. USciences (9-2)58.1
2. Jefferson University (11-1)60.3
3. Lincoln University (7-4)67.0
4. Holy Family University (1-9)67.6
5. Chestnut Hill College (6-6)72.5



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