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.

Friday, January 05, 2018

The Guru Report: Villanova Shines in Beating Xavier While Delaware Stuns CAA Champ Elon

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

VILLANOVA, Pa. - The temperature may have plunged the last few days but life was back in the upswing at Jake Nevin Field House Friday night where the 21st-ranked Villanova women were once again shooting the three with authority and playing solid defense all of which led to a 75-57 Big East win over Xavier.

Elsewhere on a small local slate that got somewhat smaller for the night, Delaware played a matinee home game for school kids at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark and produced a stunning 80-66 upset of defending Colonial Athletic Association Elon after a week off following its conference opening loss at Drexel.

Those Dragons were scheduled to play at William & Mary Friday night in a key road trip into Virginia but the weather in the Hampton Roads area forced a postponement until Tuesday night.

Sunday’s game at James Madison, however, is still set.

But back here, first, a second-half overall shooting average of 17-28 for 61 percent from the field helped the Wildcats (12-2, 2-2 Big East) pull away from a slim halftime lead to an easy victory.

Kelly Jekot had a game-high 21 points, shooting 6-14 from the field, including three of Villanova’s 10 triplets, and also dealt six assists.

Megan Quinn, shooting 4-for-5, including a pair of 3-balls, scored 10 points, but after Jannah Tucker was lost for the second half with a hand injury, Bridget Herlihy came off the bench and finished with eight points and grabbed six rebounds.

Adrianna Hahn had nine points, shooting 3-for-4, while Alex Louin scored eight points and dealt eight assists.

“We shot the ball better today, it’s something we have to do to win,” veteran Villanova coach Harry Perretta said afterwards. “We have to make three-point shots, especially when Jannah Tucker couldn’t play the second half after hurting her hand, so Bridget Herlihy picked it up, made two threes, made a layup, she really picked it up for us.

“And the defense did come back, we played much better defense tonight.”

Jaday Byrd had 12 points and Imani Partlow scored 11 for Xavier (8-6, 1-2), which was held to 39 percent from the field.

Villanova is now 9-1 against Xavier and 6-0 here since the Musketeers moved to the Big East from the Atlantic 10 where they were once a leading conference power over there.

Between now and the next time the Wildcats see Xavier Jan. 26 out in Cincinnati, the Villanova slate gets challenging with conference stops at Georgetown, Wednesday, at Seton Hall, Friday, and at St. John’s a week from Sunday before returning here to host Penn on Jan. 17 when a win will give Perretta’s bunch the Big Five title outright or it may have to be shared otherwise.

Then Depaul and Marquette visit the following Friday and Sunday.

Delaware Stuns Elon

A week after being handled at Drexel, the Blue Hens returned to the court and shocked defending CAA champion Elon 80-66 in an afternoon game at the Bob Carpenter Center to improve to 9-4 overall and 1-1 in the conference.

It was the Blue Hens’ first win over the Phoenix, coached by former North Carolina star Charlotte Smith, since Elon joined the conference several years ago.

It was also Natasha Adair’s first conference win as the new Delaware coach though she has previous CAA triumphs from a former coaching stint at Charleston prior to moving to Georgetown.

Bailey Kargo had a career-high 21 points, shooting 7-for-10 from the field for Delaware, including 5-for-6 on three-point attempts, while Abby Gonzales had 16 points and dealt eight assists, Samone DeFreese scored 14, and Nicole Enabosi, the double double star most of the season, came close to another with 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Meme Garner had 15 points for Elon (9-4, 1-1), while preseason CAA player of the year Shay Burnett had 14 points and 11 rebounds while dealing seven assists.

“Today’s game is a measuring stick for our group,” Adair said. “I feel like we were ready today, and we prepared all week for this challenge.

“Our players executed the game plan very well. I want people to know we have talent on our team too.”

Citing Enabosi sitting on the bench for a stretch in the first half, Adair noted, “Our supporting cast … stepped up and showed that we are a team and not just Nicole.”

Kargo comparing last week’s game and Fridaystated, “Today’s victory was huge for us. The way we shot the ball today was night and day compared to Drexel. We played lockdown defense today, which we need to be doing consistently.

“If we do that consistently, we’re going to get great wins like today.”

Elon had a ten-game win streak against CAA opponents from the back end of last season into the current one.

Ironically, Adair gets a pseudo homecoming Sunday when Delaware visits Charleston at 1 p.m. in the TD Arena in South Carolina, though the Blue Hens are using a jury-rigged way to get there due to cancellation of the original flight due to the weather.

Next weekend the Blue Hens visit Hofstra Friday and host Towson on Sunday.

Looking Ahead

Two big games in Southwest Philadelphia at the same time and nearby mark Saturday’s slate with the Ivy opener at The Palestra as the two conference powerhouses, Penn, the two-time defending regular-season champs and one-time defending Ivy tourney champs, and Princeton, tip off at 1 p.m.

The Quakers have a five-game win streak over the Tigers, who had ruled the conference until Penn’s recent blossom under Mike McLaughlin has resulted in three titles in the last four seasons.

Meanwhile, USciences will be hosting Jefferson U. (Formerly Philadelphia U.) nearby in a key Division II CACC game also at 1 p.m.

Elsewhere La Salle will be at Richmond at 6 p.m. for an Atlantic 10 game while a key Big Ten game between former Atlantic 10 rivals has Penn State visiting red hot Rutgers at 4:30 p.m.

The host Scarlet Knights on an amazing turnaround have won ten straight and are off to their best Big 10 start at 3-0 since joining the conference. A year ago Rutgers won just six overall and only three in the Big Ten.

Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer is just eight short of becoming the third coach this season on the women’s side of reaching 1000 career wins after Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell both reached the milestone on Dec. 19.

The late Tennessee legend Pat Summitt was the first women’s coach to reach 1,000 and was later followed by Stanford coach Tara VaDerveer.

UConn, incidentally, faces its biggest conference threat in The American, when the unbeaten and No. 1 Huskies visit South Florida on Saturday.

On Sunday, Temple is back home trying to get rid of a two-game losing streak as the Owls host SMU at noon in an American game on ESPNU.

Saint Joseph’s off to a 2-0 A-10 start and back at .500 at 7-7 hosts preseason favorite Dayton at 2 p.m.

Rider hosts Canisius at 2 p.m. in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game and you’ve already been told above about Delaware at Charleston and Drexel at James Madison in the CAA.

And that is the regional report out of here that is going to be posted before leaving Villanova at the Guru ungodly early hour of 10:30ish in the East.

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