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 22, 2018

The Guru Report: Everyone’s Satisfied - Even Temple After Another Thrashing by UConn

By Mel Greenberg @womhoops

PHILADELPHIA — On the scoreboard the American Conference 113-57 outcome here Sunday afternoon between top ranked Connecticut against Temple was its usual gruesome result that occurs for many in the league who compete twice in the regular season against the unbeaten Huskies (18-0, 7-0 AAC). 

But for those directly involved everyone had something to leave McGonigle Hall satisfied.

The Temple athletic department had a second sellout in three seasons tying the venue record of 3,392 which actually is a few hundred more than watched defending NCAA champion South Carolina and homegrown Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley visit last month next door in the larger Liacouras Center, though school was not in session.

And it was a weeknight as opposed to a weekend afternoon.

As for the opposition, UConn coach Geno Auriemma, another homegrown product, arrived stewing over the performance of his squad, particularly the bench, in last Thursday’s win up North against Tulsa.

However, highly touted freshman Megan Walker, who had been one of the younger roster members subject to his dismay, came off the bench to score 22 points, grab six rebounds, and deal five assists.

“Today, she did what she was suppose to do,” Auriemma said. “Hopefully it will be this way moving forward.”

But perhaps the most elated was Temple coach Tonya Cardoza saying forget the number placed on the scoreboard by her Owls (9-9, 1-5) as she rewarded style points for being able to compete the way they did defensively while acknowledging the talent disparity isn’t going to allow very much more.

“This is always a game I look forward to, for my players to play against the very best,” said Cardoza, who spent 15 years as an assistant to Auriemma before succeeding Staley here a decade ago. 

“I’m sure everybody on my team grew up watching them and aspiring to wanting to play for them or against them and just talking to them about this is an opportunity to play against the very best and them to have a sellout crow, you can’t ask for anything much more,” she continued.

“And then throwing freshmen out there and being able to compete against some of the very best players in the country, you just want to go out there and compete. And I felt we did. We went out there and competed as best we could.”

She noted how in recent weeks how many flaws they showed with their defense but on Sunday, “There was something positive that came out of it because hopefully we can grow.”

Temple stayed in contention early in the game before Connecticut hit the pedal but Cardoza was happy Auriemma stayed with his prime lineup, though Katie Lou Samuelson was sidelined with an ankle injury in her last game.

“I like it. I like that we had to go against his best players every single minute.”

The best of the best on Sunday ironically came attached with a former Eagles star quarterback several hours before the local NFL team was to kickoff down the street at Lincoln Financial Field and crush the Minnesota Vikings for the NFC title and gateway to the Super Bowl, which will be two weeks in Minneapolis.

Donovan McNabb is the uncle of Canadian Kia Nurse, who had 24 points, six rebounds, four assists and a steal.

In all, six UConn players scored in double figures with Gabby Williams (12 points), Azura Stevens, the Duke transfer starting in place of Samuelson (13), Crystal Dangerfield (12), and Napheesa Collier (13) joining Walker and Nurse.

Connecticut shot 63.8 percent from the field and 61.5 percent on three-point attempts.

Meanwhile, freshman Mia Davis scored 19 for Temple, while Tanaya Atkinson, a native of New Haven an hour from UConn’s campus, scored 15 points but was limited to three rebounds.

The Owls’ second game against UConn will be Sunday, Feb. 18, at the XL Center off campus in Hartford and televised on CBSSN. 

A third game is possible in mid-March in the AAC tournament which again returns to the Mohegan Sun, home of the WNBA Connecticut Sun, in Uncasville, Conn., near New London.

As it evolves, Temple’s next game is out of conference but has sudden relevance when Penn visits here at 7 on Wednesday night.

The Owls are defending Big Five champions after going 4-0 last season in the local round robin. Because Penn won at Villanova at the last second last Wednesday for the Quakers’ first win over the Wildcats in 17 seasons, the outcome deprived the home team of an outright City Series championship.
Thus whoever wins this week between the Owls and Quakers will get to share the local bragging rights with Villanova.
Drexel Moves Alone in Second in CAA With Win at Hofstra
The Dragons made it a perfect weekend on the road Sunday winning 58-47 at Hofstra at the Mack Sports Complex in Hempstead, N.Y., and broke the second-place deadlock with local rival Delaware in the Colonial Athletic Association after the Blue Hens fell 64-51 at defending conference tourney champion Elon in North Carolina.
Preseason favorite James Madison University stayed a game in front of Drexel, extending the Dukes’ overall win streak to eight and staying unbeaten in the conference off a 63-48 win at UNCW in Wilmington.
Lexie Barrier had 14 points for JMU (11-7, 7-0 CAA) against the Seahawks (7-12, 0-8).
In the Drexel game, the Dragons (14-5, 6-1) completed their first sweep over the Pride (10-9, 4-4) since 2008-09, though they had to shut down a rally in the second half after leading by as many as 19 points in the second quarter.
Bailey Greenberg had 15 points and eight rebounds while Sara Woods scored 13 points as the two leading Drexel scorers.
Aleana Leon had 11 points for Hofstra, the only Pride player in double figures with Ashunae Durant held to four.
Meanwhile, Delaware struggled with fouls, being assessed with 28, in dropping into third a game behind Drexel and two behind JMU.
Samone DeFreese had 10 points and a career-high 14 rebounds for the Blue Hens (12-6, 4-3) while Lizzie O’leary had 13 points.
Malaya Johnson scored her 1,000th point and finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds for Elon (12-6, 4-3) while Shay Burnett scored 16.
“I thought we played in spurts,” said Delaware coach Natasha Adair.
Drexel will host Elon Friday at 7 at the Daskalakis Athletic Center while Delaware will host Northeastern at 7 in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark the same evening.
Rider Edged at Marist
While playing much better this time around against the Red Foxes than in last month’s loss back home at Alumni Gym in Lawrenceville, N.J., the Broncs came up just short in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., as Marist rallied with five points in the final minutes to complete a season sweep 68-67 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game in McCann Arena.
Rider (7-12, 4-4 MAAC) held a four-point lead with 40 seconds left in regulation and had a chance to virtually lock up the win on the foul line but the Broncs missed both attempts and Marist (9-10, 5-2) had a new life.
The Red Foxes got to the line with 20 seconds left, made the first, missed the second but grabbed the offensive rebound.
Maura Fitzpatrick scored on a putback but missed the ensuing free throw only to have Grace Vander Weide keep the ball in Marist hands and she got to shoot a pair of fouls to give the Red Foxes the win.
Lexi Posset had 19 points for Rider shooting 7-for-12 from the field. Kamila Hoskova scored 18 while Stella Johnson scored 13 and Lexi Stover scored 10.
Rider next continues in conference play visiting Iona Thursday night at 7 in New Rochelle, N.Y.
Villanova Topped by Marquette
The Wildcats completed the first half of Big East competition unable to pull a weekend sweep as frontrunner Marquette recovered from Friday’s thrashing at Georgetown and beat Villanova 67-57 on the Main Line at Jake Nevin Field House.
The Wildcats were coming off a upset domination at home of DePaul but for the most part spent most of Sunday afternoon chasing the Golden Warriors (14-6, 8-1 Big East).
Mary Gedaka and Alex Louin each scored 11 points for Villanova (15-5, 5-4), which is in a big log jam behind Marquette and DePaul.
Erika Davenport had had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the visitors while Allazia Blockton had 21 points for Marquette.
The Wildcats are off until a weekend road trip Friday night at Xavier in Cincinnati and Sunday at Butler in Indianapolis.
Rutgers Falls at Home to Nebraska
The teams with the best two turnaround performances for the season in the nation as well as the Big Ten matched up and unfortunately for host Rutgers, which was hanging on at No. 25 in The Associated Press Women’s Poll, the Scarlet Knights suffered their first home loss in Piscataway, N.J., at the hands of Nebraska 52-42.
Besides being jeopardized in terms of staying in the rankings, which has been a two-week appearance after an absence of several seasons, the countdown to Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer getting her 1000th career win at home has been adversely affected.
First things first, redshirt senior Tyler Scaife had 20 points for the Scarlet Knights (17-5, 5-3 Big Ten) in Sunday night’s conference game. Her career total is now 2,062 and she needs 150 more to slip past WNBA All-Star Cappie Pondexter into second on the all-time list in the program. Sue Wicks, another past WNBA great, Sue Wicks, is first. 
The loss followed Thursday’s last second loss at Penn State and was the third in the last four games.
Kate Cain had 14 points for Nebraska (14-6, 5-2) while Jasmine Cincore scored 11.
Stringer’s career record is now 994-395, still stuck on six short on her combined record at Cheyney, Iowa, and Rutgers.
If the Scarlet Knights were to revert to earlier form and run the table then the first shot at 1,000 would come at Wisconsin. But that table is soon about to get tougher.
Following almost a week off, the Scarlet Knights visit Indiana Saturday and then go through a buzzsaw of four nationally ranked teams, visiting Maryland, hosting Michigan, visiting Ohio State and then hosting Maryland before finishing out visiting Wisconsin, hosting nationally-ranked Iowa and visiting Northwestern.
La Salle and Saint Joseph’s Drop A-10 Road Games
Saint Joseph’s  dropped another game off the pace of the Atlantic 10 leaders Sunday, losing at Saint Louis 96-73 at Chaifetz Arena despite Amanda Fioravanti scoring 18 points for the visiting Hawks (19-9, 4-2 Atlantic 10).
The loss dropped Saint Joseph’s into a tie with the Billikens (10-9, 4-2).
Adashia Franklyn had 13 points for the Hawks while Alyssa Monaghan had 13 points and dealt seven assists and Kristalyn Baisden scored 10.
Jackie Kemph had a game-high 21 points for Saint Louis and dealt 13 assists.
The Hawks next hosts frontrunning Duquesne at Hagan Arena on Wednesday at 7 and then head to La Salle on Sunday afternoon in a game that will also count in the Big Five standings, the final one on the City Series slate.
La Salle, meanwhile, on Saturday ran a balanced attack but fell down the stretch to Rhode Island 72-63 at the Ryan Center in Kingston.
Adreana Miller scored 14 points for the visiting Explorers (6-13, 1-5 Atlantic 10) while Shaquana Edwards scored scored 13 points and Amy Griffin scored 11.
The Rams (3-17, 1-6) used an 11-2 run late in the game to gain their first conference win of the season. 
Next up for La Salle back home at Tom Gola Arena at TruMark Financial Center is a noon game Thursday against VCU and then the first of two Saint Joseph’s games next Sunday at 1 p.m.
And that’s the report.