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.

Monday, January 01, 2018

The Guru Report: Drexel’s Dillon Gets Milestone Win; Saint Joe’s Snaps Spell; Rutgers Stays on a Roll

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — Saint Joseph’s returned to life Sunday afternoon here at home in Hagan Arena kicking off its Atlantic 10 portion of the season schedule by pounding VCU 79-41 to part ways with a seven-game losing streak that enveloped the Hawks (6-7, 1-0 A-10) after a 5-0 start.

Drexel coach Denise Dillon down the road in West Philadelphia joined four of the five other current coaches who are the winningest in each of their program’s histories in the Philly Six after the Dragons completed a perfect weekend start in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) by outlasting Hofstra 47-38 in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Out on the road the Rutgers renaissance stayed on track moving along with a gritty 61-58 victory at Michigan State in a Big Ten game in East Lansing while Penn State narrowly missed a major upset at home, also in the Big Ten, losing to No. 15 Maryland 69-65 at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa.

Finally, among the D-1 locals in the Guru’s collection playing Sunday, injury-riddled La Salle in its Atlantic 10 opener at home in the Tom Gola Arena fell to preseason favorite Dayton 76-47.

On Saturday, since we have to do a catch-up before clearing out the slate for 2017, No. 18 Villanova bounced back from its first loss of the season, beating host Providence 63-55. 

Princeton, meanwhile, got ready for its part in the Ivy opener at Penn this Saturday by taking down visiting UMBC 77-40 while Rider lost a tough Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference loss at home in Alumni Gym to Siena 71-67 in overtime, and Temple got waxed on the road in its American Athletic Conference opener 76-46 in Orlando, Fla.

Working here from the top of the list, after building a 32-23 lead at the half, Saint Joseph’s created its own heat on VCU (3-10, 0-1) with a dominating second half, holding the Rams to single digits in each quarter for a 47-18 differential.

Sarah Veilleux recovered the handle that went missing during the drought, pouring 6-of-8 three-ball attempts to gain a game-high 20 points, while Alyssa Monaghan also returned to stroking the long ball with four triplets and 17 points to go with eight assists.

Chelsea Woods also got 17 points and made it a double double on the afternoon with 10 rebounds, while Adashia Franklyn almost had a double double with eight points and 13 rebounds, and Amanda Fioravanti had 10 points and seven rebounds.

Defensively, the Hawks allowed just one player in double figures, VCU’s Tera Reed, who scored 12.

Sophomore Danielle Hammond out of the Baldwin School in the area made a homecoming with the Rams and scored a point on the foul line in 13 minutes of action off the bench.

VCU was playing its third game in four days, having been routed by Penn in the opener of the NJIT tourney in Newark, N.J., before taking third with a win over Long Beach State on Friday.

“It was a great way to start Atlantic 10 conference play,” said veteran Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin. “We had some time after Christmas to regroup and work on some things.

“That break was really good for us. The kids came out and shot the ball with confidence. Sarah got back on track, Alyssa got back on track, Chelsea gave his great minutes, we could go down the line, everyone contributed today.”

A year ago, Saint Joseph’s also struggled into the New Year off its non-league schedule and then launched a strong run to gain the third seed in the A-10 tourney and a place in the WNIT.

“This game was the most we played zone and we rebounded well out of it,” Griffin said.

Veilleux, expressing the relief off getting back in the triumph column, said, “We didn’t just get a win today, we got a great win. Offensively and defensively, we felt we were on the same wavelength and it was good to get that feeling back.”

The Hawks next on Wednesday travel to Saint Bonaventure and then return here Sunday to host Dayton.

“It’s a very competitive conference and you can see teams that had very tough national non-conference competition so everybody;s ready to show where their non-conference schedule has gotten them,” Griffin said.

“You can’t take anything for granted but I do believe anyone has a chance to win this conference.”

Dillon Dials Up No. 265 With Drexel as Dragons Top Hofstra

Back in early November veteran Drexel coach Denise Dillon, a former Villanova star, was prepared for patience with a roster accented with youth.

But the newcomers grew up quickly and now the squad has made her the winningest coach in program history following Sunday’s low-scoring 47-38 victory.

Defense has been a forte and the Dragons (10-4, 2-0 CAA) are 5-0 at home with no overall losses in which Drexel was the favorite.

In gaining win No. 265, Dillon broke a tie attained Friday with Lil Haas.

As for Sunday’s win, Sarah Woods scored 14 points and had 10 rebounds for the senior’s first double double.

Haas coached from 1963-92 and 120 of her wins occured before the school elevated to Division I in 1982..

Freshman Hannah Nihill had 11 points and six rebounds, a high in her young career.

On the other side Aleana Leon had 10 points while Ashunae Durant had 10 rebounds for the Pride (6-7, 0-2).

Drexel next heads to the high rent district of the CAA, visiting preseason red hot William & Mary on Friday and preseason favorite James Madison on Sunday.

Scaife Keeps Rutgers Win Streak Alive

The last time out, it was senior Tyler Scaife scoring key attempts at the finish to give Rutgers a narrow home win over Purdue to get the conference slate under way.

On Sunday, her defense came through as she blocked a potential tying three-pointer to enable the Scarlet Knights to grab a 61-58 win at Michigan State at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

Gaining on six wins a year ago, Rutgers is now 14-2 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten, and owner of a nine-game win streak, the most since going  6-0 at the end of the 2014 season that led to the WNIT title.

And now Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer has 991 triumphs, moving her to within nine of become the fifth women’s coach and third this season to reach 1,000 victories.

UConn’s Geno Auriemma and North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell each reached 1,000 on Dec. 19 behind the late Tennessee legend Pat Summitt and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, who were the first two women to reach the total.

Near the finish Sunday, the Spartans (11-4, 1-1) went on a 7-0 run to take a slight lead but the Knights came right back to regain the advantage.

Scaife finished with a game-high 25 points and Caitlin Jenkins grabbed 12 rebounds.

Shay Colley had 16 for Michigan State, which had a six-game win streak snapped,  while Sidney Cooks scored 11, and Branndais Agee had a double double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Rutgers next hosts Illinois at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night at the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.

Penn State Falls Short of Upsetting No. 15 Maryland

Carrying the fight most of the way, Penn State yielded six straight points at the finish, enough for No. 15 Maryland (13-2, 2-0 Big Ten) to escape a rare conference loss not involving Ohio State since the Terrapins switched from the Atlantic Coast.

The 69-65 result dropped the Lady Lions to 9-6 overall and 0-2 in the Big Ten. 

Coach Coquese Washington guided Penn State to be the first team in the conference this season to eclipse the Terrapins at the end of three quarters.

Jaida Travascio-Green had 21 points while Amari Carter scored 15, both for Penn State.

The Lady Lions later this week host Indiana at 7 on Wednesday and then head to Rutgers Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

The Terrapins got 15 points from Blair Watson, 14 from Iesha Small, 12 from Brianna Fraser, and 10 from Kristen Confroy.

Maryland’s Kaila Charles topped all players with 11 rebounds.

La Salle Dropped by Dayton

Missing leading scorer Amy Griffin, who suffered a bone bruise and ankle sprain in the loss at home to Villanova on Dec. 20, La Salle couldn’t totally compensate her absence in the Explorers’ A-10 home opener and fell to the preseason favorite Flyers 76-47 at Tom Gola Arena.

Adreana Miller had 17 for La Salle (5-8, 1-0 A-10), while Shaquana Edwards scored 12. 

The Flyers (8-4, 1-0) forced the Explorers into 21 turnovers leading to a 24-4 advantage in transition.

Dayton’s JaVonna Layfield was one of three Flyers who led the team with 12 points and she also grabbed 24 rebounds.

La Salle next hosts George Mason Wednesday at 7 and then heads to Richmond, Saturday.

Princeton Throttles UMBC

While Penn hit the weekend after Christmas with two thunderous wins to take the NJIT tourney in advance of its IVY showdown opener Saturday with Princeton, the Tigers stoked their offensive and defensive prowess last Saturday in a 77-40 win at home on Carril Court in Jadwin Gym.

Ahead of its Palestra visit Princeton finished its non-conference schedule portion at 10-3 as freshman Carlie Littlefield had 15 points, shooting 6-for-6 from the field.

Bella Alarie added 13 points to the Princeton total.

“Our defense has been very good,” said Princeton coach Courtney Banghart. “It was a very good game for us and now we can get ready for Penn and the Ivy season.”

Gedaka’s Career Day Propels Villanova Over Providence

The Wildcats, after suffering their first loss of the season Thursday in a Big East opener at Creighton, came back Saturday to win at Providence 63-55.

Villanova (11-1, 1-1 Big East), ranked 18th in the AP women’s poll, had to rally from a 44-38 deficit near the end of the third quarter.

Mary Gedaka had a career-high 24 points, for coach Harry Perretta, shooting 11-for-12 from the field. Alex Louin had 14 points and Adrianna Hahn scored 11.

Jovana Nogic scored 26 for Providence (6-6, 0-2).

Villanova returns home Tuesday to host Butler at 7 at Jake Nevin Fieldhouse.

Temple Extinguished in American Conference Opener

Most of the positives from Temple’s American Athletic Conference opener Saturday in Orlando belonged to host UCF as the Owls experienced back-to-back losses for the first time this season on the heels of the Dec. 21 home loss to defending NCAA champion South Carolina.

In the 76-46 loss, Mia Davis had 14 points and grad student transfer Mykia Jones out of Georgetown scored 11 points for Temple (8-5, 0-1 American).

The Owls were pressed into 23 turnovers while Tanaya Atkinson ran into foul trouble so the double double machine had to settle for six points and five rebounds in her 24 minutes of action.

UCF (9-5, 1-0) shot 31-for-63 just below 50 percent from the field.

Temple continues to be several players down in the rotation due to injuries.

The Owls next play at home in McGonigle Hall Sunday at noon against visiting SMU.

Aliyah Gregory had 19 points for UCF while Zakiya Saunders scored 17, Masseny Kaba scored 13, and Nyaka Shuler scored 12.

Hoskova’s Big Night Goes By the Boards in Tough Rider Loss

A year ago Rider on its Cinderella run had enough veterans to prevail in narrow games but now the fates are dragging a youthful Broncs squad in the other direction.

The two-game opening in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) became a wipeout Saturday afternoon when Siena edged Rider 71-67 in overtime in Alumni Gymnasium on the heels of Thursday’s MAAC opening loss to Marist.

Rider has lost all four games this season to date with a differential of four points or less.

In Saturday’s game, Kamila Hoskova reached 1,000 career points in the fourth quarter for the Broncs (3-10, 0-2 MAAC).

In the overtime Siena (6-7, 1-1) opened the extra period with a 6-0 spurt and did not yield the lead to a Broncs team that swept them last year.

Hoskova scored 23 but a missed free throw in the fourth quarter stopped a streak of 28 consecutives foul shots.

Stella Johnson and Lexi Posset each scored 10.

Veteran Rider coach Lynn Milligan credited Siena for getting the ball “to the right people at the right time.”

Praising Hoskova, who had surgery Friday for a broken nose suffered in the recent Binghamton game, Milligan said, “For her to break her nose against Binghamton, play 40 minutes against Marist, be in the hospital all day (Friday) getting surgery and then show up today and play another 40-plus minutes and scoring her 1,000th point, who does that?

“There aren’t a lot of kids who would have suited up today after what she went through. She’s a warrior and she’s everything this program embodies. I could not be more proud of her.”

The Broncs next travel Tuesday up the road to play Saint Peter’s at 7 p.m. in Jersey City.

And that is the report now leading off 2018.

Happy New Year every one!