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.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The Guru Report: Penn and Princeton Complete Weekend Ivy Sweeps while La Salle and Saint Joseph’s Rally in the A-10

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — Way after Penn coach Mike McLaughlin had already gushed in the formal postgame press conference about the play of his freshman Eleah Parker in Saturday afternoon’s 70-51 victory over Columbia here in The Palestra to complete a sweep of the first Ivy weekend he continued to praise the 6-4 center from Charlotte, N.C. a little bit more.

“She was just a force out there,” he smiled.

Parker has been setting career highs several times beyond her first meaningful marks this season and Saturday with her third double double, the top of her personal charts were updated again to the likes of 22 points and 14 rebounds, eight of which were on the offensive glass for the Quakers (8-5, 2-1 Ivy).

Since coming to Penn, now in his ninth season, from running the Division II powerhouse Holy Family in Northeast Philadelphia, McLaughlin has brought in several prominent post players in recently graduated Sydney Stipanovich, senior Michelle Nwokedi, and now Parker, who is quickly building her own reputation.

As for why she chose Penn, Parker said of her decision that she was chased by several Atlantic Coast Conference schools, began reducing conferences and in her Ivy mix visited Harvard, then the Quakers, and after her visit here with what is now the two-time defending Ivy champs, “I signed to go to Penn.”

Columbia (6-11, 0-2) arrived here from Friday night’s whipping at Princeton, though star senior Camille Zimmerman had 29 points against the Tigers.

Shaking off the setback, the Lions jumped to a 7-0 lead which McLaughlin said was a result of Columbia going with a small lineup creating a series of mismatches.

But then he made a few adjustments and Penn took off on a 21-3 three run and stayed in control the rest of the way.

“Eleah was really special tonight and Michelle on the defensive end,” McLaughlin said of Nwokedi, who had just two points, a number the Penn coach says indicates little of her play. She also grabbed 11 rebounds, blocked four shots, grabbed a steal, and dealt three assists.

Parker cited how much Nwokedi has been a guide to her rookie season.

“She’s really helping me, talking to me on the court, really helping me to know where I need to be, if I’m out of position, she’ll talk to me a bit. But all the upperclassmen have been helping.”

Ashley Russell added 15 points while Anna Ross had another solid game committing no turnovers in 26 minutes, scoring seven points and dealing seven assists while Beth Brzozowski off the bench dealt three assists, scored three points and was also turnover free in her 15 minutes of playing time.

Phoebe Sterba off the bench scored nine points, fueled by three of Penn’s ten 3-ball connections.

Penn dominated the boards with a 54-36 rebounding advantage, including 21-10 on the offensive glass that resulted in a 22-4 advantage on second-chance points.

While Casey Riley scored 20 for the Lions, the only Columbia player in double figures, in a rarity the Lions’ Zimmerman was held to nine points and had eight rebounds but only one was off the offensive boards.

“Defensively, this weekend, we definitely showed we can defend,” McLaughlin said.

Penn now parks its Ivy pursuits until that part of the schedule resumes with the first road trip on Feb. 2-3 visiting Brown and Yale.

Next, however, is a visit to Villanova, a team that has had Penn’s number, on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Jake Nevin Field House.

The Wildcats, who had been ranked for six weeks until Monday, are 3-0 in the Big Five, having clinched a tie for the city crown, but obviously a win over the Quakers gives then the local title outright.

Should Penn win, however, the Quakers can earn a tie by winning at Temple on Jan. 24, but if the Owls win in that scenario then Temple will have tied Villanova for the crown.

“Villanova, they’re very good and have beat us beat pretty good as of late. But we’ll let it fly and see what happens,” McLaughlin said.

Princeton’s Big Second Half Subdues Cornell

Ahead by a slim 36-34 advantage at the break, the Tigers opened the third quarter with a 17-0 run and then rode comfortably to a 75-54 win at home in Jadwin Gym for their seventh straight overall win and remained unbeaten in the early Ivy action at 3-0.

Leslie Robinson had 16 points for Princeton (13-3), while Bella Alarie had 14 points, Gabrielle Rush scored 11 and Abby Meyers scored 10.

Samantha Widemann had 17 points for Cornell (4-11, 0-2).

The Tigers now take their three-week haitus for finals before resuming the Ivy chase on the same road trip as Penn in reverse order Feb. 2-3 playing at Yale then Brown.

Rutgers Tops Minnesota in Overtime

Coming off a low scoring loss at Purdue earlier in the week, No. 21 Rutgers, which entered the Associated Press women’s poll for the first time in several seasons on Monday, got forced into overtime but prevailed over Minnesota 80-70 in a Big Ten game at home in the Rutgers Athletic Center in Piscataway, N.J.

The Scarlet Knights (17-3, 5-1 Big Ten) are 12-0 at home.

Tyler Scaife, who earlier in the week became the third player in the program history to pass 2,000 points behind Sue Wicks and Cappie Pondexter, had a game-high 25 points against the Golden Gophers (14-5, 3-3).

Scaife has 2,032 points, 180 short of passing Pondexter into second on the Rutgers all time scoring list.

In addition to Scaife scoring in double figures for the home team, Stasha Carey had 23 points and 14 rebounds.

Minnesota’s Carlie Wagner scored 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Destiny Pitts had 22 points and Gadiva Hubbard scored 13.

Pitts’ 3-ball tied the score with 15 seconds left in regulation, then Rutgers turned the ball over but Minnesota missed a potential winning layup at the buzzer and the game went into overtime.

An 8-0 run early in the extra period got Rutgers back into the winners column.

The triumph brought Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer’s record to 994-393 bringing her to within six of becoming the third Division I women’s coach this season  and fifth overall to claim 1,000 wins.

Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell reached 1,000 wins on Dec. 19 while the late Tennessee legend Pat Summitt and Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer previously reached the total.

In Division II, Bentley’s Barb Stevens reached 999 wins Saturday when the Falcons beat New Haven and could earn her 1,000th on Wednesday when Bentley hosts Adelphi.

Stevens did coach Massachusetts for several seasons while Stringer also coached at Cheyney University in the Western suburbs of Philaxdelphia and also at Iowa.

Speedy Morris, who has coached the La Salle University men and women in Philadelphia, now coaches at Saint Joseph’s Prep and earned his 1,000th career win on Friday.

Rutgers next travels to Penn State on Thursday to complete the home-and-home that earlier this month saw the Scarlet Knights prevail in Piscataway.

Getting to 1000 wins before the regular season expires may take some doing for Stringer.

Running the table the next six means winning at Penn State, then over Nebraska at home, at Indiana and then it gets tricky: at nationally ranked Maryland , home against nationally ranked Michigan, home against Maryland. Then the regular season closes out at Wisconsin, at home against Iowa, at Northwestern, then games in the Big Ten tourney.

Saint Joseph’s Rallies at Massachusetts

The Hawks rallied from a six-point halftime deficit to defeat the Minutewomen 84-79 in an Atlantic 10 game on the road at the Mullins Center in Amherst.

Alyssa Monaghan and Chelsea Woods, who earlier this week reached her 1,000th career point, each scored 19 points for the Hawks (9-8, 4-1 Atlantic 10).

Trailing 46-40,  Saint Joseph’s rode a Monaghan 3-ball to a 51-51 tie halfway through the third period and a 12-3 run over the final four minutes enabled the Hawks to earn an overall 25-12 mark in the period over Massachusetts.

Woods also had 11 rebounds for her fifth-straight double double. 

Monaghan was 5-for-8 from beyond the arc and also dealt seven assists.

Kristalyn Baisden scored 14 for Saint Joseph’s while dealing five assists and Sarah Veilleux scored 13 while Adashia Franklyn had 11 points and eight rebounds.

Bre Hampton-Bey had had a game-high 26 points for Massachusetts (8-9, 0-4), which is still looking for its first conference win of the season. Hailey Leidel had 16 points, Maggie Mulligan scored 11, and Paige McCormick scored 10.

Saint Joseph’s has a week off but stays on the road resuming play next Sunday at St. Louis.

La Salle Edges Saint Bonaventure

Shaquanna Edwards’ three-pointer with 57 seconds left in regulation enabled La Salle to snap a five-game overall losing streak and enable the Explorers to get their first Atlantic 10 win of the season by beating St. Bonaventure 66-63 at home at the Tom Gola Arena at TruMark Financial Center.

La Salle (6-11, 1-3 A-10) had a nine-point deficit with 3:49 left in regulation before Amy Griffin’s two foul shots launched a 14-2 run over the final 3 minutes, 17 seconds of action.

Adreanna Miller tied the score at 61-61 with 1:31 left before the visitors’ Jalisha Terry answered to regain the lead by a bucket for the Bonnies (6-12, 1-4).

Then Edwards connected to put the advantage back with the Explorers by a point and when St. Bonaventure couldn’t score on the next possession, the Bonnies had to foul with 10.4 seconds left.

Miller’s two foul shots accounted for the game’s final score when Mariah Ruff, who had a game-high 30 points, launched a contested 3-pointer that fell short for St. Bonaventure.

Edwards had 17 points and three steals for La Salle while Miller scored 15 points.

Griffin and Shalina Miller each had 13 points.

La Salle now hits the road for two, traveling to Duquesne on Wednesday in Pittsburgh followed by a Saturday visit to Rhode Island.

Temple Downed at Cincinnati Despite Atkinson’s Huge Game

Tanaya Atkinson had the third-best ever individual game for Temple, scoring 39 points but the Owls fell to the Bearcats for the first time since the 2014 season as coach Tonya Cardoza got bested by her good friend Jamelle Elliott 80-72 in an American Athletic Conference game.

Elliott is a former University of Connecticut star and the two spent long stints together on the staff of Hall of Famer Geno Auriemma at Elliott’s alma mater.

A 22-15 Cincinnati advantage in the fourth quarter was decisive as Temple (9-7, 1-3 American) dropped its second straight and third of its last four.

The Owls got close near the finish before an 8-3 run by the Bearcats sealed the outcome.

Atkinson, who was the only Temple player in double figures, also had a career-high six assists. The only two games better scoring wise than her’s in Temple history is Kristen McCarthy’s 42 in the 2009-10 season and all-timer Marilyn Stephens’ 41 in 1983-84 while Nancy Kelly in 1957-58 also had a game scoring 39 points.

Genesis Parker had 17 points for Cincinnati (11-7, 3-2), while Angel Rizor and Llmar’l each scored 14 points and Ana Owens scored 12.

Temple next hosts Houston at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in McGonigle Hall before Connecticut comes roaring through also in McGonigle Hall next Sunday.

Looking Ahead

To save you looking at Saturday’s post unless you want to catch up with the roundup, four local games are on the slate Sunday with two out of the Colonial Athletic Association.

Delaware, which has been on a tear, hosts Towson at 2 p.m. at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark while at the same time Drexel, where the Guru will be back here in West Philadelphia, hosts UNCW, which is under former Old Dominion coach Karen Barefoot.

Her top assistant is former longtime coach Tina Martin.

Villanova, meanwhile, in a bid to keep its NCAA prospects strong as well as a shot to return to the rankings after a week’s absence, will visit St. John’s, looking to make it a three game sweep of the Wildcats’ week-long Big East road trip.

And in the other game among the locals, Penn State in a Big Ten match will host Wisconsin, also at 2 p.m.

On Monday, Rider visits Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference frontrunner Quinnipiac in a rematch of last season’s conference championship. The Broncs have had depletions through graduation while the host Bobcats maintained a strong roster this season.

And that is the report.

  






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