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 30, 2017

The Guru Report: Penn Rolls to NJIT Tourney Title While Drexel Continues Mastery of Delaware in CAA Opener

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — In separate locations home and away the two of the Guru’s local mix who reside here in West Philadelphia came up big Friday as the 2017 portion of the composite schedule offered a flood of games on the final weekend of the calendar year.

Here at Drexel, the Dragons thumped their area Colonial Athletic Association rival Delaware 74-53 in the Daskalakis Athletic Center to open conference play.

Penn, meanwhile, up north in Newark, N.J., dominated VCU 82-52 in the opener of the NJIT tournament on Thursday and then performed a another  rout on Friday on the host Highlanders 77-38 to take the championship as the Quakers (6-4) now look ahead to next Saturday and the opening defense of their two-time regular season Ivy championship, hosting arch-rival Princeton at 1 p.m. in The Palestra.

Of course a win in that one is not as critical as in the past prior to last season now that the top four Ivy women’s finishers as well as the men converge in a NCAA-qualifying tournament, which will return to Penn again in mid-March.

Meanwhile, unbeaten at home in five games, Drexel (9-4, 1-0 CAA) shut down the Blue Hens over the final 5:26 of the of the second quarter in which the Dragons did not allow a field a goal, of which the last 4:01 the Blue Hens were scoreless, and then Drexel expanded a lead to 23 in the third.

In that period, Delaware remained scoreless the first 3:51 of play after intermission.

On the defensive side, coach Denise Dillon’s group forced 20 turnovers by Delaware (7-5, 0-2), limited the Hens to just 2-of-15 three-pointers for a 13.3 percentage, and ended Nicole Enabosi’s eight-game double double streak, though she was still a force with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Samone DeFreese scored 13 and grabbed eight rebounds.

It’s the fifth straight win in the series and seven of the last eight by Drexel, which connected with nine triplets and mined the Delaware miscues into an 18-7 advantage in transition.

The streak matches the longest on the Drexel side since a six-game run from Jan. 10, 2008, through Jan. 31, 2010.

Kelsi Lidge had 16 points, Bailey Greenberg scored 14, Aubree Brown had 10, and Sarah Woods had eight points and seven rebounds while the bench advantage of 21-5 was built on the play of Megan Marecic with eight points and Eline Maesschalck with six.

“We had a few good practices over the short break and the girls carried that to the court today,” Dillon said after the win. “I felt our defense set the tone and while things weren’t going our way offensively, but the defensive put our team in position to win against a talented team in Delaware.

“We tried to disrupt their guards and pressed from start to finish, take some time off the clock, because you could see what Enabosi is capable of doing because when she touches the basketball, it’s instant offense.”

Normally most games in the long series have gone down to the wire but not this one, which was the first between the two with Natasha Adair at the helm of Delaware after previous stops at Georgetown and prior to there at Charleston, which is also in the CAA.

The differential on the winning side for Drexel was the largest in the series and first by more than 10 points since a 21-point win occured on Feb. 19, 2009 - nine seasons ago.

“Drexel set the tone early and was very aggressive and active,” said Adair. “We didn’t play Delaware basketball today. We will become a better team because of this and we have a lot of basketball left to play.

“There were different levels to this game and against an opponent like Drexel, the room for error is very small. This was a tough one for sure.”

The two teams will meet again in Delaware at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark on March 1, a week before the CAA tourney opens here at Drexel on March 6.

The Dragons host Hofstra Sunday at 2 p.m. while the Blue Hens are idle. It’s the first time the two have opened the conference slate against each other, normally not meeting the first time in the home-and-home until mid-to-late January.

In Drexel’s game Sunday with Hofstra, a win will give Dillon 265, all with the Dragons, breaking the tie for all-time coaching program wins she reached Friday with Lil Haas, who won 264 from 1963-92, of which 145 occurred following the program upgrade to NCAA Division I in 1982. 

Lehigh Long-Range Attack Leads to Win Over Lafayette

In the Patriot League, the two upstate neighborly rivals opened conference play at Lehigh’s Stabler Arena in Bethlehem where an air attack of 15 three-pointers tied school and conference marks by the home team led to a 70-45 win over the Leopards.

Camryn Buhr was perfect in four attempts with the three-ball on the way to 17 points, while Quinci Mann had 16 points, fueled by four triplets, and Gena Grundhoffer scored 11 for the Mountain Hawks (7-5, 1-0 Patriot).

Natalie Kucowski had 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Leopards (4-7, 0-1).

“We can put a lot of different looks on the court that can knock down the three,” said Lehigh coach Sue Troyan. “We’re a pretty tough team to zone when we execute well.”

Lehigh next hosts Navy Tuesday night while Lafayette travels to Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., the same evening.

Penn Finishes 2017 With a Third Championship

Calendar year speaking, the Quakers capped the close of 2017 winning NJIT’s holiday championship after winning a second straight regular season Ivy title, three of the last four, and the first-ever NCAA-qualifying Ivy  in March.

The Quakers are heading into Ivy play with a fine-tuned offensive machine after a bit of a bumpy non-conference run, though two non-league games remain early in the New Year when they visit Villanova and Penn.

Thursday’s lopsided win over the Rams of the Atlantic 10 marked the first time since Jan. 3, 2003, which is 15 seasons ago that Penn had scored 80 or more points in back-to-back games and it just missed becoming a trio of games Friday with the win over the Highlanders.

Against VCU (2-9), rookie sensation Elah Parker, the reigning Ivy newcomer of the week, had 18 points, her best outing in her young career, and also had three blocks and a pair of steals.

Michelle Nwokedi, the reigning Ivy player and defensive of the year, had 13 points and 14 rebounds, her 36th double double, just one below recent grad Sydney Stipanovich, who is third all-time in the category in Penn program history.

The Texan also had six blocks.

Lauren Whitlatch had all 14 of her points in the first half. Freshman Katie Kinum had 12 points off a career-best four treys.

As a team, the Quakers owned the boards with a 49-25 differential, the largest since an equal length against Temple two seasons ago.

That win gave Mike McLaughlin a 12-12 record against Atlantic 10 teams and third straight, following wins over Saint Joseph’s and Rhode Island earlier this month. 

In Friday’s win over NJIT (2-8), rookie Parker had 16 points and nine rebounds, while Beth Brzozowski, in her first start of the season, scored 12, all in the second half off four three-balls.

The Quakers connected on 13 from long range.

Parker’s play in the two games earned her the tournament MVP title and she was joined on the all tournament team by Whitlatch.

Anna Ross dealt six assists and Nwokedi had 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Thursday Recaps: Scaife Gets Rutgers Win Over Purdue to Open Big 10 Play

Of four locals playing Thursday as the second part of the 2017-18 schedule resumed after the Christmas break, only Rutgers came up a winner as the Scarlet Knights continued their revival with a 58-50 triumph beating Purdue at home at the Rutgers Athletic Center to open league play.

The Scarlet Knights (13-2, 1-0 Big Ten) did not lock the game until the final minutes with Tyler Scaife making key plays to eventually finish with 23 points.

Nigia Greene had 11 points, helped by a perfect connect of three 3-pointers, while Caitlin Jenkins had nine rebounds and Stasha Carey grabbed eight.

Karissa McLaughlin and Andreona Keys each scored 13 for Purdue (9-6, 0-1), which swept Rutgers last season when the Scarlet Knights won just six games overall.

It’s the eighth straight win for the Scarlet Knights heading into Sundagy’s New Year’s Eve late afternoon clash at Michigan State.

They return Wednesday to host Illinois at 7 p.m.

Hall of Fame Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer is now at 990 career wins, 10 away from becoming the third women’s coach this season and fifth overall to gain 1,000 victories following Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell, who both reached 1,000 on Dec. 19.

Previously, the late Pat Summitt at Tennessee and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer reached the milestone on the women’s side.

Villanova Falls From the Unbeatens

The 18th ranked Wildcats had their perfect start snapped after 10 games, losing in the Big East opener at Creighton 69-54 in Omaha, Neb., which gave Bluejays coach Jim Flanery his 300th win with the program.

Audrey Faber and Jaylyn Agnew each scored 19 points for Creighton (7-4).

The game was tight until Sydney Lambert’s 3-point play with 5:51 left in the third period.

Megan Quinn and Jannah Tucker each scored 11 for the Wildcats, while Adrianna Hahn scored 10.

After playing two games in 18 days and now down 7-3 to Creighton in the series, Villanova stays on the conference trail, visiting Providence at 1 p.m., Saturday, and returning home Tuesday to host Butler at Jake Nevin Fieldhouse.

Slow Start Dooms Rider in MAAC Opener With Marist

Before the coming of Quinnipiac, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Marist were synonymous as the Red Foxes became the conference heavyweight, even showing the ability to get nationally ranked and go toe to toe with many teams out of what is now the Power Five collection of programs.

But last year Brian Giorgis’ team was riddled by injuries while those on the court were more youth than veteran.

And so the paybacks began, especially from the perennial MAAC doormat Rider that blossomed to chase the traditional MAAC elite.

However, graduation has claimed some of the Broncs contributors so Rider is still trying to fit all the pieces together while a tough non-conference slate prior to Thursday night’s MAAC opener belies what is now a 5-8 Marist record.

One could surmise that going in on Thursday, the playing field was level with these two but with Marist’s leveling of the Broncs with a 29-8 opening quarter the Red Foxes were able to go home from Alumni Gym in Lawrenceville, N.J., to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., with an 80-69 victory.

Still, there were glimmers of daylight for the home team, considering the Broncs (3-9) won the combined next three quarters 61-51.

“They shot great and obviously our defense gave up a lot of easy looks due to some miscommunications,” said Rider coach Lynn Milligan. “We were prepared for the game tonight, but we weren’t ready at the start.

“It took us a good ten minutes, and when you spot someone 18 points in the first quarter, we’re never going to stop. I knew were going to come back, that’s who we are, that’s what we do, but we really dug ourselves a really deep hole,” she continued.

“It puts so much pressure on our defense the rest of the game. And our offense, every shot got bigger and bigger. But I was happy with the way we played the last three quarters, obviously we made some mistakes, but you take away that first quarter it’s a pretty even game.

“So we gotta make sure when that ball is tipped, we need to be ready and not on our heels.”

Rider did get the differential under double digits in the third quarter but Marist got the necessary stops to avoid the rally overwhelming them.

Marist’s Rebekah Hand, one of the better conference stars, had 29 points and 11 rebounds, while Alana Gilmore had 16 points and 11 rebounds, Maura Fitzpatrick scored 11, and Grace Vander Weide scored 10.

Rider’s Stella Johnson continued her fine play, scoring 26 points, Lea Favre scored 14, and Lexi Stover scored 11.

The telling stat was the Marist 41-26 rebounding advantage, causing a 50-36 differential in the paint and and 18-6 on 2nd chance points.

There’s little time to rest for the Broncs, who are back on the floor at home Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. hosting Siena.

Penn State Drops Big Ten Opener

Coming off a non-conference loss at American U.,the it’s a new season approach didn’t last long for Penn State, which fell at No. 21 Michigan 89-69.

The die was cast at the opening tip when the Wolverines took off on a 20-0 run in the Big Ten opener to build the overall record to 12-2 for the first time in five seasons.

The Lady Lions (9-5, 0-1) won’t find things easier with the next opponent being No. 15 Maryland visiting Sunday at their Bryce Jordan Center in State College.

Like elsewhere around the nation, the threes were flying in Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich., in this one for the home team, connecting for Katelynn Flaherty, who set a Wolverines record with 10 and finished with 33 points.

Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico, who previously coached at St. John’s, tied Sue Guevera for most wins in school history with 123.

Teniya Page had 19 points for Penn State. Amari Carter scored 16 points for the visitors, and Jaida Travascio-Green scored 10.

Around the Nation: Unranked Stanford Upsets No. 11 UCLA

Forget those “when was the last time Stanford was below .500 at the stage of the season” questions for the moment.

Bounced from the Associated Press women’s poll for the first time since the 2001 season, ending a ranking appearance streak of 312 weeks, the Cardinal took the rejection for motivation Friday night, beating No. 11 UCLA, going wire-to-wire all the way to a 76-65 win in their Pac-12 opener at home in Maples Pavilion.

Stanford (7-6), having lost three of its previous four and holding the worst overall start since the 1998-99 season, got 26 points from Brittany McPhee, including 13 in the fourth quarter.

UCLA, in dropping to 9-3 overall, got 20 points from Jordan Canada, while Monique Billings had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Had the Cardinal lost, they would be on their first three-game home losing streak since 1985-86, when Hall of Famer Tara VanDerveer first arrived from Ohio State.

Meanwhile, still in non-conference competition, Duke got Joanne P. McCallie her 600th victory Friday night, courtesy of the No. 14 Blue Devils’ 68-51 triumph over Liberty at home in Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.

Duke is now 9-0 at home and 11-2 overall, the two setbacks at Villanova and to South Carolina.

Lexi Brown had 26 points and Haley Gorecki scored 17.

On Thursday night, Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, with previous stops at Arkansas and Stephen F. Austin, reached his 750th victory as the No. 22 Aggies (11-3) routed SMU 79-57 at home in College Station, Texas, as Chennedy Carter scored 28 points.

Texas A&M opens Southeastern Conference play Sunday at defending conference champion South Carolina, currently ranked fourth.

DePaul tied a program record with 19 three-pointers as the Blue Demons smacked visiting Seton Hall 89-66 in a Big East opener Thursday at home in Chicago.

Kelly Campbell with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists became the fourth player in history to register a triple double for DePaul (9-4, 1-0 Big East).

Ashton Millender had seven of the treys on the way to a team high of 21 points.

Former Temple player Donnaizha Fountain had a game-high 23 for Seton Hall (8-4).

Looking Ahead: On Saturday’s local front, besides the Siena-Rider and Villanova-Providence games previously mentioned, UMBC visits Princeton at 4 as the host Tigers (9-3), fresh off winning Florida’s tournament beating Saint Joseph’s and Chattanooga, close out non-conference play in advance of next Saturday’s opening Ivy showdown at Penn.

Temple opens play in the American Athletic Conference visiting UCF at 2 p.m. In Orlando, Fla.

On Sunday on New Year’s Eve, Saint Joseph’s (5-7) will open Atlantic 10 play at home at 2 hosting VCU trying to snap a seven-game losing streak. 

La Salle, in an Atlantic 10 home opener at home will host league favorite Dayton at 1  in the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena.

And as previously mentioned in the above re-caps, Drexel hosts Hofstra, continuing CAA opening weekend, Rutgers travels to Michigan State in East Lansing while Penn State hosts Maryland, both in Big Ten opening weekend games.

Everyone locally is off Monday on New Year’s Day.

And that’s the report.



Post a Comment

<< Home