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.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Guru Report: Rider Stuns La Salle While No. 22 Villanova Stays Unbeaten Routing Fairfield

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA - The phrase, “like old times,” has had different connotations when it comes to Rider women’s basketball.

With an 0-6 start to this season, the Broncs’ early struggles could be likened to the performance of many years past in the program’s history.

But following what is now a two-game win streak, the “old times” version of Rider’s 76-55 upset of La Salle here Wednesday night at the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena at TruMark Financial Center needs only go as far back as 12 months ago when the Broncs established all-time moments and records for the program.

Meanwhile No. 22 Villanova rolled at Fairfield, Penn State rallied at Fordham, Princeton handled its road stop at Lafayette, Lehigh rallied over NJIT, and Delaware triumphed at Army.

On Tuesday, though, in a game we tweeted but didn’t blog due to the late return, Saint Joseph’s got shocked by host Towson in the Tigers’ gaudy SECU Arena .

As for the game here, though Rider (2-6) led La Salle most of the evening, the outcome could still be had by either team as evident by the 32-29 lead held by the Broncs at the half.

 But the arrival of the fourth quarter saw the Broncs thunder with a 14-point advantage to tuck the triumph away.

“That felt like a Rider victory,” said veteran coach Lynn Milligan. “That we won, I thought it was possible, but I wouldn’t have thought we would win by as many points as we did.”

Rider countered La Salle’s 39-28 rebounding advantage and high-scorer Amy Griffin collecting 26 points, by mining 25 points off the 20 turnovers forced on the Explorers (4-5).

Griffin, the Atlantic 10 leading scorer last season, has reached 20 or more points four times to date.

Shalina Miller on the Explorers had her first double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Following the Broncs’ postseason appearance last March, playing in the WNIT, graduation took its toll on the roster sending Milligan and her staff back to the drawing board to rebuild the chemistry.

“You know, I’ve been seeing us begin to get better, little by little,” Milligan said. “It started when we almost beat East Carolina (the third place game of the Seton Hall tourney two weeks ago), then, of course, we beat Vermont, and now the win, here, tonight.”

Four Broncs scored in double figures, topped by Kamila Hoskova’s 23 points — she also had nine rebounds — reserve Jaiden Morris scored 15, Lexi Posset had a season-high 13 and dealt four assists, while Sheila Johnson scored 11. Rider shot 51.9 percent from the field.

“Tonight was a night where you saw a defensive game plan come together and you saw an aggressive offense,” Milligan said. “We had players making plays for each other and doing the things we have to do to be successful.

“With a young team where you are working out your court chemistry, it takes some time and we saw some good, unselfish basketball tonight on both ends of the floor,” she continued.

“I think the team believed in the game plan tonight. It was really a culmination of this week’s practices. We had some really good and competitive practices this week. The most we’ve had in a while. You play how practice and that was definitely evident tonight.”

Rider next goes to Mount St. Mary’s at 1 p.m. Saturday in the first meeting of the schools in five seasons and then after an idle week on the schedule due to finals, visits NJIT up the road in Newark on Dec. 16 at 1 p.m.

La Salle, meanwhile, heads to North Texas Saturday, then takes its finals break in the schedule and resumes action Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. at Delaware State.

Villanova Routs Fairfield to Stay Unbeaten

On Sunday in Villanova’s rout of Saint Joseph’s at home in Jake Nevin Field House, leading Wildcats scorer Adrianna Hahn had just two points, not that the deficiency came off a slew of missed shots.

So consider the small total a mere pit stop after the graduate of Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, Del., fired away Wednesday night, shooting 8-for-12 from the field, 5-for-9 on three-point attempts, and scoring 21 points as No. 22 Villanova, also 20th in the coach’s national poll, shook off an early deficit to rout the Stags 73-44 at Alumni Hall in Connecticut and run its unbeaten start to 8-0.

Hahn had 14 of the Wildcats’ first 16 points.

Kelly Jekot, who was the scoring star against the Hawks, had seven points, while Alex Louin grabbed nine rebounds, and Bridget Herlihy had a career night, shooting 7-for-10 from the field, including 4-for-6 three-pointers, for 19 points.

The Villanova defense is currently ranked third in the nation.

Fairfield (3-6) got 11 rebounds each out of Khadidiatou Diouf, a career mark, and Samantha Cooper while Sam Kramer had a team-high 11 points.

So ‘Nova’s profile for Sunday’s Big Five showdown at Temple is also set with a 1-0 mark in the City Series. The Owls, at 6-2, are 2-0 in the City but first will host Hampton at 7 p.m. Thursday night at McGonigle Hall.

Princeton Tops Lafayette

Sophomore Bella Alarie and senior Leslie Robinson were the fuel the Tigers needed in their tank to grab a 53-45 victory over host Lafayette in the Kriby Center in Easton, Pa.

Alarie, the Ivy freshman of the year last season, picked up her 11th career double double with 14 points and 12 rebounds while Robinson, the niece of former President Barack and first Lady Michelle Obama, had 15 points, seven rebounds, and a career-matching five assists.

Princeton (5-2) led by as many as 16 late in the third and one point less in the fourth before the Leopards (3-5) rallied to within seven.

Lafayette’s Natalie Kucowski had a double double with 14 points and 15 rebounds while Anna Ptasinski scored 12.

Princeton next heads on Saturday at 1 p.m. to reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion Quinnipiac, which advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. The game at the Bobcats’ campus in Connecticut will be streamed on ESPN3.

The Tigers will then stay on the road but not travel far to Rutgers at 6 p.m. Wednesday in a game of interest considering the vast improvement of the Scarlet Knights to date and that a year ago in Jadwin Gym the home team built a humongous lead and was never seriously threatened.

Delaware Outmaneuvers Army

Never trailing, the Blue Hens took an impressive 70-59 over Army on the road at Christl Arena in West Point, N.Y., fueled by a 28-13 domination in the third quarter.

The third stanza was highlighted by the performance of Bailey Kargo, who scored 12 of her 15 points for Delaware (5-4) in the period against the Black Knights (6-3) of the Patriot League.

Nicole Enabosi had her seventh double double out of the Blue Hens’ nine games with 15 points and 10 rebounds while another double double came from Samone DeFreese with 12 points and 11 rebounds.

Army’s Madison Hovren had 16 points and 11 rebounds while Lena` Hicks had 15 points and Janae McNeal dealt nine assists.

“Wow, I’m so proud of this team,” said Delaware coach Natasha Adair, who has experienced a roller coaster from the Blue Hens after leaving Georgetown to succeed the veteran Tina Martin, now an assistant at UNCW. “Coming off our last game, we were more dialed in and focused.

“This is a group, that since day one, we can challenge and they will respond. This group wants it and they know they need to be tough, disciplined and give 100 percent. And I thought today, from the tip of the buzzer, we did just that,” Adair said.

“To go on the road and beat a team that was 6-2 overall and unbeaten at home, is terrific.”

Delaware’s schedule has had the Blue Hens away much of the time from the Bob Carpenter Center, which Kargo alluded to in her postgame comments.

“We knew Army was going to be super aggressive and we had to fight back and show toughness. It’s been a little overwhelming being on the road for so long and missing class and trying to catch up with work, but we’re getting better because of it,” Kargo said.

“If we can win on the road and get our stuff done off the court, we can do it at home as well. We’re a close unit at home, but on the road, it’s a completely different environment and it definitely helps our on-court chemistry.”

This was the second meeting between the two schools with Army taking the first one in Delaware last season.

Home is ahead now, hosting state rival Delaware State Sunday at 2 p.m. and then after a  break for finals, Loyola will visit Dec. 22 at 1 p.m. to complete the non-conference schedule.

After that, oddly in terms of the local rivalry in the Colonial Athletic Association usually kicking in late January, Delaware will visit Drexel Dec. 29 in the conference opener for both teams.

Page Propels Late Rally to Lead Penn State Over Fordham

With 7 minutes, 48 seconds left in regulation, Fordham held a 10-point lead over host Penn State, indicating that someone in the Atlantic 10 might give the conference something to cheer, considering what has happened lately.

But then the Lady Lions’ Teniya Page, recently returned from an injury, went to work, scoring 14 points, grabbing five rebounds and dealing an assist in five minutes to send Penn State to a 65-60 victory.

Page finished with 27 points and eight assists for the  Lady Lions (8-2) while Jaylen Williams had blocked three shots by the Rams (4-3), including two down the stretch when Fordam threatened an upset.

Amari Carter scored 19 points in the game in which Penn State shot 56 percent from the field and just missed one of 15 attempts from the foul line.

Lauren Holden had 14 points for Fordham, and Mary Goulding had 13 points and 11 rebounds, while the Rams also got a double double at the Bryce Jordan Center in University Park out of G’mrice Davis, who had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Kendell Heremaia had 11 points and Bre Cavanaugh scored 10.

The winning closeout was 19-6 from Penn State, which travels Saturday to St. Bonaventure at 7 p.m.

Lehigh Escapes Slow Start to Top NJIT

The roar from Bethlehem upstate did not have anything to do with holiday celebrations but rather a morning crowd of 4,009, in Stabler Arena for Lehigh’s annual education day tie-in part of the Mountain Hawks schedule.

The crowd, which attracted about 1,000 in the earlier days of this event,  was the first largest ever for a Lehigh women’s home game.

But the initial fun belonged to NJIT, which trailed the Mountain Hawks by a bucket 33-31 at the half before the home team rode the final 20 minutes to a 64-50 victory and keep the Highlanders (0-9) winless.

Lehigh’s Quinci Mann had a game-high 15 points, shooting 6-for-11 from the field, while Gena Grundhoffer scored 12. Mae Williams, a senior, tied a career high with seven rebounds as the Mountain Hawks improved to 6-4.

“I challenged them, honestly, on both ends of the floor,” said veteran Lehigh coach Sue Troyan of her halftime talk. “We had to handle the the ball better and make better decisions with the basketball and play with a higher level of intensity on defense.

“I thought we did a really good job in the third quarter of coming up on the defensive end, really contesting shots and not giving them anything easy.”

Lehigh next visits LIU-Brooklyn Sunday at 1 p.m.

Saint Joseph’s Downed at Towson

So much for a quick turnaround being a cure.

After suffering the worst loss ever by either school Sunday at Villanova in the long-running series between the two Big Five powers, it was thought Saint Joseph’s slated to play again 48 hours down at Towson Tuesday night in suburban Baltimore could be just the mental lift the Hawks could use.

The Tigers, however, of the CAA had other ideas at SECU Arena.

Either inspired by the great start of the counterpart men’s team, who won a tournament in Belfast, Ireland over the weekend, or fired up over the visiting opponent, Towson produced a stunning 90-66 victory in the first meeting of the schools in 23 seasons.

The win was also the Tigers’ first in five overall meetings with the Hawks (5-3) as they improved to 3-4.

“This is really a great win for us,” said new head coach Diane Richardson, who previously was a longtime assistant at such prestigious stops as West Virginia, George Washington, Maryland, and she also worked at American U.

“The kids have bought into what we’re trying to do here. We watched their ‘Nova game and we thought we saw flaws we could expose.”

Raine Bankston had 27 points for Towson, helped by 11-for-12 from the foul line. Mary Cuevas scored 18, Nukiya Mayo had a double double of 13 points and 11 rebounds while Etalyia Vogt scored 11.

Towson later on the conference schedule besides hosting the duo will visit Drexel and Delaware.

After being shut down Sunday by Villanova, Sarah Veilleux had 19 points while Alyssa Monaghan scored 10 and each shot a pair of three-balls.

But Amanda Fioravanti in the post shot 1-for-9, scoring two points, and Adashia Franklyn scored seven points. Chelsea Woods off the bench had 15 points and nine rebounds but was limited to 21 minutes due to an undisclosed but not considered serious health ailment.

The Hawks were outscored 46-28 in the paint, 18-8 in transition, and shot 34.8 percent from the field, while Towson was on fire hitting 32-of-63 attempts for a 50.8 percent accuracy.

Saint Joseph’s after an impressive 5-0 start, looking vastly improved off last season’s early struggles before righting itself in A-10 play, has now lost three straight, including two Big Five games, by 69, 79, and now 90 points.

That sets the scenario for Monday night’s Big Five game when Penn visits, likely coming off a two-game losing streak of its own, having yielded a 13-point lead at La Salle a week ago and will have hosted No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday.

Mathematically, Penn stays in the Big Five hunt with a win and still has Temple and Villanova left to play in January, while Saint Joseph’s, with a long domination of the Quakers, would like of course to get back on overall track and also avoid any more losses in City Series action with La Salle still left to play during the A-10 slate.

Nationally Speaking: No. 3 Notre Dame, which comes to The Palestra Saturday to visit Penn, as mentioned, recovered from its late fade at No. 1 Connecticut Sunday that deprived the Irish of another big upset, by bouncing back with a 90-59 win over Michigan State at home in Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Ind.

Arike Ogunbowale had 23 points and nine rebounds for Notre Dame (8-1), while Lili Thompson had her first career double with 12 points and a career-best 10 rebounds, Jackie Young scored 13, and Jessica Shepard, a transfer from Nebraska given immediate eligibility, scored 19.

“That was as good a start as we’ve had,” said Hall of Fame Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, a graduate of Saint Joseph’s, after dropping Michigan State to 5-3, making it the 21st straight game dating back to after 2009 in the NCAA tournament that the Irish have beaten Big Ten schools.

No. 23 Green Bay, celebrating its return to the AP rankings for the first time this season, went on the road and beat Atlantic 10 reigning champion Dayton 75-64 as Jessica Lindstrom scored 29 points and grabbed 17 rebounds for the Phoenix (7-1).

Lauren Cannatelli scored 17 for the Flyers (5-3).

No. 21 Texas A&M beat visiting TCU 71-58 in the annual renewal of the Maggie Dixon Classic, played predominantly in the past in New York’s Madison Square Garden to honor the memory of the late Army coach who in her first season led the Black Knights to their first NCAA tournament and then died suddenly several weeks later of a heart defect.

Chennedy Carter had 23 points for the Aggies (7-2), who are 20-0 at home in College Station in the series with the Red Raiders (6-2) and 36-4 overall, though they had to rally from a 13-point deficit in this one.

No. 12 Ohio State romped to a 103-77 win over Florida on the road in Gainesville as Kelsey Mitchell collected 30 points to pass WNBA Los Angeles Sparks star Jantel Lavender as the all-time Buckeye (2,840 points) scorer.

Mitchell is currently No. 1 in scoring in the nation with a 25.7 average for Ohio State (9-2), which also got 21 points from Sierra Calhoun against the Gators (5-4).

Elsewhere, No. 15 Maryland (8-2) in a local event hosted Mount St. Mary’s and got an easy 97-57 win while No. 11 Tennessee (9-0) thumped Troy 131-69 at home in Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville.

Syracuse topped Colgate at home 79-39 and next hosts Drexel, Saturday, looking to avenge last year’s loss to Dragons in Philadelphia when the Orange were ranked No. 11 and had been the NCAA national runnersup in 2016.

Looking Ahead

As mentioned, Temple on Thursday night at 7 in McGonigle Hall hosts Hampton, which upset the Owls a year ago, while Drexel visits Niagara.

On Friday Seton Hall visits Rutgers at 2 p.m. in a Garden State battle, while Friday night No. 1 UConn visits DePaul in Chicago in the Blue Demon’s new Wintrust Arena as UConn coach Geno Auriemma goes after career win 999. If attained, the first shot at 1000 will come Dec. 19 against Oklahoma at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

On Saturday, all the local games were already mentioned above, while on Sunday in addition to the Temple/Villanova Big 5 Showdown, Rutgers hosts Fairleigh Dickinson at 2 p.m.

No. 11 Tennessee gets its first big test hosting No. 2 Texas in their annual national renewal at 3 p.m. on ESPN2.

And that’s the report. 




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