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, December 09, 2017

The Guru Report: Fourth Quarter Surge Carries No. 3 Notre Dame Over Penn at The Palestra

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA - When the marquee teams come to town to play the Penn women in The Palestra, the Quakers usually rise to the occasion.

Saturday afternoon was no different, not that coach Mike McLaughlin’s group was able to stun No. 3 Notre Dame, which was held at bay until pulling away in the fourth quarter for a 66-54 victory.

But still, the two time defending Ivy champs, having taking some time to get re-tooling done in the non-conference phase of the season, stayed within single digits and trailed 42-34 before the Irish powered to.a 20-point advantage and Penn (2-4) finished with an 8-0 run to set the final score.

A crowd of 1,747 saw the Quakers defense limit the opposition to the lowest output for Notre Dame (9-1), which a week ago had top-ranked Connecticut on the ropes in Hartford heading into the last period. Later in the week, the Irish returned home to wallop Michigan State before heading here.”

“I thought Penn did a good job — they wanted it in the ‘60s, we like to play in the ‘80s, we were careless with the ball and they forced us into 22 turnovers, which was not a good day for the Irish,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, who celebrated another homecoming, being a Big Five Hall of Famer out of Saint Joseph’s.

McGraw is 33-18 all-time against the Big Five, much of it against Villanova in the old Big East configuration.

When the conference imploded, she expressed a desire to continue to make visits here, though not necessarily calling on the Wildcats, whose methodic style of play has never been to her liking.

She noted her time playing games in The Palestra with the Hawks before the renovation, calling the legendary collegiate basketball arena “a friendly home environment to play in.”

Before the game, McLaughlin, athletic director Grace Calhoun, and Mary DiStanislao gave McGraw a presentation to note her induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., in September.

DiStanislao coached Notre Dame prior to McGraw after the Irish first became a Division I program and was an assistant coach to Cathy Rush at Immaculata during the Mighty Macs’ glory era.

“I bring teams like Notre Dame here to fill the stands for these players, they work so hard, it was a great atmosphere, just proud of the group, not proud of the result, but I thought we got a little bit better today,” McLaughlin said.

Arike Ogunbowale had 20 points, of which 13 came in the fourth quarter for the Irish, while Marina Marbrey scored 15.

“We were in attack mode,” Ogunbowale said of the explosion to burst from Penn. “In the fourth quarter, we knew we had to pick it up. When we attacked, we got people open and got a few buckets.”

Lauren Whitlatch had a career-tying night for the Quakers from beyond the arc, with all 12 of her field goal attempts being 3-pointers of which she sank six and finished with 18 points.

Eleah Parker scored 10, but Notre Dame was able to control Michelle Nowkedi, the reigning Ivy player of the year who had just four points shooting 2-for-14 from the field.

“Defensively, I thought we did a really good job on Michelle,” McGraw said. “That was kind of the key to the game. I thought we were physical with her. Jessica Shepard and the defense defended her well.”

From McLaughlin’s perspective of the defense of his star player, he said, “They gave Michelle some space on the perimeter. She’s been struggling from shooting the ball outside 15 to 18 feet. She missed some real easy ones. They played her really well and I think it snowballed on her.”

The Irish, who at the moment have a nation-best seven road wins, dominated the paint, outscoring the home team 40-18.

They next host DePaul at the end of the week on Sunday.

Penn has little time to regroup, having just one day off and then it’s over to Hawk Hill Monday Night to play Saint Joseph’s at Hagan Arena in a Big Five battle.

The hosts have a three-game losing streak after getting off to a 5-0 start while Penn has lost two straight having been off for over a week since yielding a 13-point lead at La Salle.

Still, the Quakers will be alive for at least a piece of the Big Five if they win though more of the City Series round-robin will clarify after Sunday’s (today) showdown between host Temple and No. 22 Villanova at 2 p.m. at McGonigle Hall.

Both teams are unbeaten in the city with the Wildcats at 1-0 and Temple at 2-0. Both teams still have to play Penn next month.

Princeton Rides Twin Double Double Attack to Down Quinnipiac

The Tigers had identical 16-point and 11-rebound productions from Leslie Robinson and Bella Alarie on the road in Hamden, Conn., to claim a 60-46 victory over Reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Quinnipiac (5-4), which advanced to the NCAA  Sweet 16 last season.

Alarie, a sophomore who was Ivy freshman of the year last March, passed her 500th career point as Princeton handed the Bobcats just their fourth home loss at the TD Bank Sports Center since the outset of the 2014-15 season.

Prior to then, Quinnipiac had won 43 of 46 games played at home.

The Tigers (6-2), who next visit Rutgers at 6 p.m. Wednesday night, moved from a 44-43 deficit with 7 minutes, 13 seconds left in the game, to close out with a 17-2 run the rest of the way aided by nine straight foul shots in the final 1:22 of the game.

Carlie Littlefield added 10 points to Princeton’s attack.

The Bobcats got 16 points and nine rebounds from Aryn McClure, who scored Quinnipiac’s last points before the Tigers’ run began and got the Bobcats’ final two with a field goal with 50 seconds left in regulation.

The home team’s output was its lowest of the season while the shooting percentage of 30.9 from the field was its second worst.

Rider Win Streak Snapped at Mount St. Mary’s

Kamilia Hoskova had a career-high 32 points but the Broncs’ brief two-game win streak was ended narrowly as Mount St. Mary’s triumphed 82-78 in their Knott Arena in Emmitsburgh. Md.

Both the Mountaineers and Rider, which scored its most points on the season, are now 2-7.

Hoskova got the Broncs within a point with 11 seconds left, hitting a pair of free throws but the Mount made two ensuing foul shots for the game’s final points.

Rider held a 40-33 lead at the half.

Jaiden Morris scored 11 points and the Broncs’ Stella Johnson also scored in double digits with 12 points.

“Today was a game in which we got outplayed on both ends of the floor,” Rider coach Lynn Milligan said afterwards. The turnovers we made today were not forced, which is uncharacteristic for us, but cost us a lot of possessions.

“We were sloppy on the defensive end all day. Our switches were off. We gave them 11 threes. You’re not winning games when you give up 11 three-pointers. We came up short today, but we had a lot of controllable errors that we need to lock in.”

Rider is off until Saturday when the Broncs travel up the road to meet NJIT at 1 p.m. in the NJIT Wellness and Events Center in Newark. The game will air on ESPN3.

La Salle Stymied by North Texas

The Explorers started slowly and couldn’t get much of an offense mounted as North Texas romped to a 70-44 non-conference win at home in the Super Pit in Denton.

Amy Griffin, the Atlantic 10 leading scorer last season, was held to a team-high 12 points, while Shalina Miller scored eight. The duo each grabbed a game-high seven rebounds.

The Explorers (4-6) were set on their heels early, falling behind 19-2, though La Salle had a brief spark getting a 9-1 run at the end of the first quarter.

Lauren Holmes had a game-high 17 points for the Mean Green.

La Salle is off the rest of the week for finals and then resume play Sunday at Delaware State.

Drexel Upset Bid Foiled at Syracuse

After a dramatic survival two days earlier beating Niagara at the last seconds, the Dragons were on the way to an upstate New York sweep until Syracuse had other ideas down the stretch.

Fighting back from a halftime eight-point deficit the Orange moved ahead late in the game to gain a 72-62 win in the Carrier Dome and gain revenge for Drexel’s last-second upset a year ago in Philadelphia when Syracuse held a No. 11 ranking and had finished runner up to Connecticut in the NCAA tournament the previous March.

Megan Marecic, the heroine of the fall of Niagara, fired five treys in this one and had a career-high 17 points for Drexel (6-4), while Bailey Greenberg just missed. by a point matching her career-high, scoring 16 for Drexel (6-4). Tereza Kracikova had a career high with 10 points. Kelsi Lidge, however, was held scoreless though she pulled six rebounds.

Five players scored in double figures for Syracuse (10-0), which is 24th in the coaches weekly poll. Digna Strautmane had 19 points and 11 rebounds, Miranda Drummond scored 17, and Tiana Mangakahia had 16, while Gabrielle Cooper and Isis Young each scored 10.

Drexel is off a week for finals and is back in the city for the Dragons’ next game, but it is at Saint Joseph’s, 1:30 p.m. next Sunday.

Penn State Edged by St. Bonaventure

The Lady Lions on the road gave up a 12-point lead they held at halftime, eventually losing to the Bonnies 65-62 inside the Reilly Center in Olean, N.Y., where Delaware recently escaped with a one-point win.

Penn State (8-3) had three chances to shoot with under 10 seconds left in regulation but the Bonnies (5-5) were able to prevail propelled by a 17-3 surge during the second half.

Teniya Page had 18 points for the Lady Lions while Amari Carter scored 12 but no one else on Coquese Washington’s squad could reach double figures on the offensive end. Jaylen Williams, however, did grab 11 rebounds.

Mckenna Maycock had 23 points for the home team and Mariah Ruff scored 22 to give the Atlantic 10 something to cheer about this week from one of its members.

Penn State is off a week until next Sunday when it visits Pittsburgh, coached by one of the Lady Lions all-timers in Susie McConnell-Serio. They have now lost three straight times to the Bonnies.

And that’s the report.



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