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, February 28, 2018

Guru Report: Saint Joseph’s Advances While La Salle Season Ends in A-10 First Round Action

Guru’s note: Postgame Scout was on the scene at St. Joe’s on Tuesday and the report is posted below this Guru roundup. Also, the D2 CACC quarterfinals are in this report down below.

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — There’s nothing sheepish this week when it come to the Saint Joseph’s women’s basketball team beating Rams.

Three days after edging Fordham on the road in the Bronx before time expired to end the regular season, the sixth-seeded Hawks eliminated 11th-seeded VCU 72-63 on what was a career night Tuesday for senior Chelsea Woods with 33 points against the Rams from Richmond, Va., at Hagan Arena in an Atlantic 10 tournament first-round game.

The points were the most by any Hawk women in the program’s history since Ayahna Cornish scored 35 at Dayton in 2007 and the most by any of them in the A-10 tourney since since Dale Hodges scored 35 against West Virginia in 1990 in an A-10 semifinal.

Woods scored the winning shot Saturday against the same Fordham Rams, the three seed, Saint Joseph’s (16-13) will now meet Friday night at 7 in the Richmond Coliseum in a quarterfinal game on the A-10 network, which will also air the other three games.

Fordham advanced as the survivor of the fittest Rams at its Rose Hill Gym, topping 14th-seeded Rhode Island 75-53.

And speaking of Rhode Island, even the Hawks men’s team Tuesday night got into this late season theme on campus as Phil Martelli’s bunch battered the 17th-ranked Rams of URI up in Kingston with a 78-48 triumph at the Ryan Center.

For the Hawks men who ruined the four-day glow of Rhode Island’s first ever outright A-10 regular season title and a chance to go unbeaten in the conference, it was their first true road win over a ranked team since beating No. 15 Georgetown on Jan. 2, 1979, which was 39 years ago.

A stat reported later said the Saint Joseph’s men’s triumph was only the second since keeping the records since 1949-50 and first since 1993-94 that an unranked team beat a ranked team on the road by 30 or more points.

Meanwhile, the only other local D-1 women’s team in action was also in the Atlantic 10 openers and the season came to end for No. 12 La Salle, which lost in the nation’s capital to No. 5 George Washington 69-49 and finished 8-22 overall and 3-13 in the 14-team conference.

Back here the recent performance of Woods, who also has starred in the Philadelphia Women’s NCAA Summer League, has led the Hawks out of the woods especially after recovering from a concussion.

Saint Joseph’s went 6-2 in February in getting back to above .500 and thus becoming eligible for an at-large bid to the Women’s NIT if the Hawks don’t win the continuation of the A-10 tourney this weekend, which will conclude Sunday at noon on ESPNU-TV.

“I thought our kids really battled tonight,” said Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin. “We knew VCU was going to be really well-prepared. When you play a team three times you know each other very, very well.

“And nothing came easy for us. We had to work for everything we got tonight and when we needed to make plays, we made plays, and when we needed to make stops, we certainly did that.”

As for Woods’ performance, which was Saint Joseph’s second best ever in the A-10 tourney and all other places the Hawks have appeared in the postseason, Griffin said, “Fantastic.

“Chelsea’s really playing well for us lately. Obviously she’s healthy now. She’s a great player and anytime we can get her touches, we would like to do that in the flow of offense, and she’s a tough matchup for people.

“We like to get help get her the ball in successful situations and her teammates help do that.”

Woods, of course, was motivated by the desire that as a senior this time of year in situations as the Hawks befell, a win helps extend your career to at least one more game, taking it round by round.

“Definitely. We’ve gone farther every year and that’s what we want to do, just keep going, climbing, and climbing.”

Woods shot 12-for-16 from the field and 9 of 12 on the line besides dealing two assists, blocking a pair of shots and grabbing a steal.

Sarah Veilleux scored 14 points and Alyssa Monaghan scored 12, all her points coming off a perfect 12-for-12 from the line, matching a standard previously set by Mary Sue Garrity, Angela Zampella, and current assistant coach Stephanie McCaffrey.

VCU (7-22), who split with the Hawks on the season, got 18 points from Taya Robinson and 13 from Nyra Williams.

“They did a good job,” VCU coach Beth O’Boyle said of the Hawks after concluding her fourth season and one that started with six graduated seniors gone from the Rams, three of which were 1,000-point scorers.

“It’s always tough when it’s over but like they say you can only have one winner at the end, right?”

But that moment is a month away until the title game of the NCAA tournament in Columbus, Ohio, though the champion of the WNIT will also finish on a happy note.

La Salle’s Season Finished by George Washington

The Colonials downed the Explorers 69-49 to advance against their area rival George Mason, which they swept at home in the Charles E. Smith Center and nearby at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va.

La Salle hung tough in the opening quarter, trailing by a point at 14-13, before the Colonials took over the next three stanzas, 22-10 to pull away, 16-12, and 17-14.

Leading by five midway through the second quarter, the Explorers were swamped by a Colonials 20-2 run in which La Salle was scoreless for almost six minutes.

The home team’s defense stifled any notion of a second-half rally by the visitors.

Three GW players combined for 44 points — Brianna Cummings scored 18, Kelli Prange scored 16, and Kelsi Mahoney scored 10 while Mei-Lyn Bautista dished nine assists.

Adreana Miller had 14 points, Shalina Miller scored 13, and Amy Griffin, the A-10 leading scorer a year ago, had 12 in her final game for La Salle.

The telling statistic was GWU’s 27-7 domination in points off turnovers.

 As for the other teams looking to join the two bye schools —  Dayton and Duquesne — in Richmond, Friday, in Fordham’s win, the Rams (22-8) got 23 points and 15 rebounds from G’mrice Davis, Laura Holden scored 16, and Bre Cavanaugh scored 13.

Elemy Colome scored 15, Nicole Jorgensen scored 13, and Dina Motrechuk scored 10 as the season ended for Rhode Island (3-27).

Fourth seeded George Mason continuing its landmark season ousted No. 13 Saint Bonaventure 89-79 at home in Fairfax, Va., overcoming a 30-point performance from Mariah Ruff for the Bonnies (8-22).

Danielle Migliore scored 16 points and Mckenna Maycock scored 15.

The visitors opened with an 11-4 lead before the Patriots (23-8) rallied. 

George Mason’s Natalie Butler had 20 points and 19 rebounds, while Jacy Bolton scored 24.

While VCU is no longer alive to draw a home crowd this weekend, eighth-seed Richmond, which was in its Robins Center, snipped ninth-seeded Davidson 62-53, spurred by the Spiders seniors to take the short trip downtown Friday to the quarterfinals.

Richmond (14-16) never trailed, leading the Wildcats by as many as 16 points in avenging a loss from earlier in the season at home to Davidson (12-18).

Micaela Parson came within three of her career high, scoring 30 points, and also becoming the first player in Spiders history to top 150 foul shots made in a season, reaching 151. Her sister Alex scored 11 points.

Mackenzie Latt scored 22 for Davidson while Justine Lyon scored 14 and Katie Turner scored 11. Ally Welling pulled down 14 rebounds.

Saint Louis, the seventh seed, coming off last weekend’s upset of top seed and defending champion Dayton at home, bested 10th-seeded Massachusetts 70-64 rallying from a 16-point deficit in the first half to the Minutewomen (14-16) in Chaifetz Arena in the game played in the Midwest.

Jackie Kemph had a game-high 21 points for the Billikens (16-14), of which all but two came in the second half. She also dealt eight assists and was 9-for-10 on the line.

Kerri McMahan scored 15 to tie a career-high while Jenny Vliet reached her 1,000th career point, scoring 11 while grabbing seven rebounds.

A key to the comeback was holding UMass star Hailey Leidel to five points, shutting out the conference’s second best three-point shooter who was 0-for-9 from long distance.

Saint Louis equaled its game best 10 blocks that early also came against the visitors.

Maggie Mulligan had 14 points and 19 rebounds for the Minutewomen while Genesis Rivera scored 13, Paige McCormick scored 12 and Bre Hampton-Bey had 10.

The Friday quarterfinal action begins at 11 a.m. when top-seeded Dayton (22-5) meets Richmond at 11 a.m. The George Mason-George Washington game follows at 2 p.m. while Duquesne (23-6) plays Saint Louis at 4:30 p.m. and Saint Joseph’s and Fordham, as mentioned way above, wrap up the day at 7 p.m.

In terms of the bracket and Saturday’s semifinals, which will air on CBSSN, the Dayton-Richmond winner meets the George Mason-George Washington winner at 11 a.m. followed by the Duquesne-Saint Louis winner against the Saint Joseph’s-Fordham winner at 1:30 p.m.

Looking Ahead

Penn State (15-14) opens play in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis at 4 p.m. Wednesday on the Big 10 Network meeting Illinois (9-21), while Rutgers has the day off until Thursday when the Scarlet Knights open in the second round playing Purdue.

As for teams still in regular season play, Drexel has a big one Thursday night at 7 playing at rival Delaware in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark going for a sweep and trying to make its Colonial Athletic Association record portion of its overall mark dead even with James Madison at the top of the standings.

Then the Dragons will finish up Saturday hosting Charleston at 1 p.m., JMU hosts William & Mary, and Delaware, vastly improved since the CAA opener in December losing to Drexel, visits Towson.

Should Drexel and James Madison finish deadlocked, the Dragons likely will hold the No. 1 seed with a better RPI average as the tiebreaker for the CAA tourney, which Drexel will host, beginning a week from Wednesday in outbracket games and finish Saturday at 1 p.m. with the champion gaining an automatic NCAA tournament bid.

The field is set for the second annual four-team each but not the seeds on the women’s side of the second annual Ivy Tournament returning to Penn’s Palestra next weekend, not this one, with the women’s semifinals to play a week from Saturday at 6 and 8 p.m.

The championship for the NCAA automatic bid is a week from Sunday.

Princeton, which hosts Brown Friday and Yale, Saturday, needs a win to gain the top seed,having swept Penn, which needs a win Friday over Yale (7 p.m.) or Saturday over Brown (6 p.m.) to get the No. 2 seed, which also gains automatic entry to the Women’s NIT.

Yale, playing the teams mentioned above, is fighting for position alongside Harvard, which will finish by playing Columbia and Cornell.

The Ivy men are also involved with Penn holding a one-game lead over Harvard. The rest of the field is not totally set.

Nationally, as the rounds move closer to the weekend, a large portion of the NCAA field will take focus with the Power Five conferences all involved — The Atlantic Coast, the Big Ten, the Big 12, The Southeastern, and the PAC-12.

Other tourneys are The American at the Mohegan Sun where Temple opens Saturday against Wichita State and at the top No. 1 Connecticut will be shooting to stay totally unbeaten in American history besides heading into the NCAA with another unblemished record.

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference has Rider opening with Fairfield on Saturday, while in the Big East, Marquette and DePaul finished tied for the top, and Villanova, which was third, will open quarter final play in Chicago Sunday night playng Georgetown.

Division II Action — Jefferson and USciences Advance in CACC

At home in the Gallagher Center, Jefferson University (formerly Philadelphia U.), as the second south seed in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, beat No. 3 North-seed Dominican 74-55 to move to the weekend’s semifinals and final, which the Rams are hosting for both the men and women.

Jefferson (25-4) will face Bloomfield at 2 p.m.

In the win over Dominican (11-18), Beverly Kum had 20 points and 15 rebounds. Alynna Williams had 13 points and Rachel Day had 12. Caitlyn Cunningham had all her 11 points in the first half.

Bloomfield (18-11) eliminated Holy Family 75-43 as the Tigers’ season ended at 10-18.

Zhane Robinson had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Bloomfield while Kiamsha Bynes scored 15 and Deja Mckenzie scored 13.

Holy Family (10-18) got 12 points from Elizabeth Radley and 11 from Alex Hofstaedter. 

USciences at home at Bobby Morgan Arena also advanced to Saturday’s action at Jefferson by beating Felician 58-41 to move on to playing Caldwell, the No. 2 seed from the North at noon.

Caldwell (25-5) is also the No. 5 team in the latest NCAA East Region Rankings and on Tuesday eliminated Chestnut Hill College  (19-10)  with a 109-49 victory.

Vicky Tumasz with 16 points was the only Chestnut Hill College player to score in double figures.

Tina Lebron had 24 points, leading six Caldwell players scoring in double digits.

Saturday’s winners will meet Sunday for the championship at noon.

In Tuesday’s win by USciences (26-3) over Felician (10-17), Colleen Walsh had nine three-pointers on the way to a career high 31 points, while Sarah Abbonizio scored 13.

The Devils beat Caldwell 66-56 at the end of January in their only meeting.

And that’s the report.


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