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.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Guru Report: Houston School-Record Air Attack Gives Cougars First-Ever Win Over Temple

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — With Houston hungry for redemption following Saturday’s 95-35 wipeout back home by top-ranked Connecticut perhaps Temple coach Tonya Cardoza might have thought twice about submitting a starting lineup containing (Khadijah) Berger and (Emani) Mayo against the Cougars who ended up eating the Owls alive in a 99-75 lopsided American contest Tuesday night at McGonigle Hall.

Coach Ron Hughey’s squad showed up acting like Temple was holding a come dressed like the Villanova women promotion because the Cougars (15-5, 4-2 American Athletic Conference) filled the air with a school-record 15 three-pointers that came on 26 attempts.

Before Tuesday, unlike General Santa Anna, Temple (9-8, 1-4) had never lost to Houston holding a perfect 8-0 mark in the series between the two that came into being as a result of the creation of The American following the breakup of the old Big East.

The loss for the injury-riddled Owls was their third straight and by extension the streak is likely to become four considering UConn is heading this way Sunday afternoon for a 1 p.m. tip-off in McGonigle Hall.

On the Houston side, the win is the latest in a breakthrough season for Hughey, who had previously served on the staffs at UCF when it was a C-USA champion, Rutgers, Texas, and Florida State prior to his hire by the Cougars in 2014.

Houston does not get a second dose of UConn on the American schedule so Tuesday’s win clinched a 15-15 regular season record, Hughey’s first non-losing and likely soon-to-be winning record after going 6-24, 6-24, and 12-19 his three prior efforts.

Although things were so bad Saturday that Temple’s Tanaya Atkinson’s 39 points in the loss at Cincinnati were more than Houston’s 35 against UConn, the Cougars did not take much to regroup and continue onward to here.

“That was our whole focus,” Hughey said of going into last weekend and then coming here. “Take our lumps from UConn, learn from it, though we prefer winning, but come up here and turn back into the hunter.

“Its funny about the record, because last week our men’s team set a record for threes, shooting 18 of them. We usually shoot the three pretty well,” he continued.

Houston’s 11 wins in non-conference play this season tied the mark set by the Cougars 2003-04 squad back when they played in Conference-USA.

Having been picked 11th out of 12 by the conference coaches, Hughey could end up carrying home some personal hardware from The American tournament, again at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., in March.

“I told you at media day I thought we were a bit disrespected considering how we finished last season,” Hughey said. “This group here, I knew we were hungry. And coming into this year we could establish things and they just turned it on and bought what we were selling.”

Jasmyne Harris, who has already picked up several conference player of the week honors, will be contending for another following her performance against Temple, shooting 10-for-15 from the field, 4-of-6 three-pointers, grabbing six rebounds, dealing four assists, and scoring 29 points, while Angela Harris, not related, was 9-for-12 from the field, 5-for-7 on three pointers, scored 24 points and dealt three assists.

Dorian Branch scored 16 and Serithia Hawkins scored 12.

On Temple’s side, Atkinson had another big game on the scoreboard with 20 points while Mia Davis matched her with 20 and Mayo scored 14.

Cardoza was dismayed over her team’s defense and lack of leadership from the upperclass to help the newcomers along.

“We knew Houston was going to be a matchup problem for us because of their style of play and they like to shoot the three as well as get to the basket,” Cardoza said. “In that first half, they were really, really hot, and we didn’t do a good job of closing out.

“They way they play, you have to be disciplined on defense and guard their shooters as well as their dribble penetration. But again, hats off to Hughey, whose done a great job building that program and the kind of basketball he wants them to play.

“Again, we have to be committed to the defensive side right now and as a team I don’t feel we’re committing and allowing the teams to score.”

Looking Ahead

The Temple game was the only local one on the Guru card Tuesday night.

But Wednesday, Penn and Villanova step out of their conference world at Villanova’s Jake Nevin Field House at 7 p.m. for a Big Five showdown. If the host Wildcats win, the race is over with Villanova claiming a 4-0 sweep of the City Series.

But if Penn wins, then it comes down to the Quakers visit here next Wednesday where another win makes it a co-championship with Villanova. Otherwise a Temple win would give the Owls a share of the Big Five crown with the Wildcats.

Elsewhere, La Salle will be at front-running Duquesne in Pittsburgh for an Atlantic 10 game while on Thursday, Rutgers will visit Penn State in a Big Ten battle while Rider will host Niagara in a MAAC matchup at 11 a.m. at Alumni Gym.

On Friday, Villanova stays home and returns to a key Big East weekend, hosting DePaul while Marquette will visit Sunday. In the CAA, Drexel will be at Northeastern while Delaware will be at UNCW.

We’ll have more of the weekend ahead in our post of the Penn-Villanova game in which our anonymous Postgame Scout is back in town to bring some extra analysis.

And that’s the report.