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, February 18, 2018

The Guru Report: Drexel Defense Leads Way to Win Over William & Mary

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA —  It was another afternoon where the best offense for the Drexel women was the Dragons’ defense, clamping down for a 54-34 victory over William & Mary in a Colonial Athletic Association victory at the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Down the road, Delaware, the other local team in the conference, took an easy 79-51 win over Charleston at home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark to stay in the hunt for at least third place.

The triumph for Drexel (20-6, 12-2 CAA), which will host the CAA tournament here next month, maintained a solid hold on second place 1.5 games behind James Madison heading into Friday night’s second showdown between the two, this time here at 7 p.m.

With the win also came a little history making it the first time Drexel has ever posted 20 overall wins or more in consecutive seasons. The Dragons are also unbeaten at home this season at 11-0.

The last time Drexel met the Tribe (16-10, 7-8), the Dragons had to erase a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter down in Williamsburg, Va., and then go ahead in overtime to capture the win.

“We stole that one at their place and we knew they were going to come into here seeking redemption,” said Drexel coach Denise Dillon.

In this one after a close contest early Drexel moved in front and went on to not allow William & Mary reach double digits in any of the four quarters, the first time that’s happen in the program since the NCAA switched from two 20-minute halves to four 10-minute quarters three years ago.

“We took advantage of the bye week to focus what our edge has been this year,” said Dillon, referring to Friday’s off-day, “which has been hustle plays and some rebounding.

“We definitely play a solid defensive game, I thought we were disruptive, and proud of the girls for coming in here after a week off and practicing to come in here and get a big win.”

While Drexel forced just two more turnovers than the Dragons committed at 15-13, the home team was still able to take advantage by outscoring the Tribe 16-8 on points in transition.

They also owned the boards with a 43-28 rebounding advantage, including 14-6 on the offensive glass, leading to 12-4 on second chance points. As a team without any gaudy scoring totals individually, the Drexel depth still showed with a 21-3 domination on bench points.

Though William & Mary arrived with four players averaging double figures, only Bianca Boggs was able to achieve that distinction and her 12 points were four off her 16.4 average.

Bailey Greenberg had a team-high 12 points and Kelsi Lidge scored 10 for Drexel while she and Aubree Brown each grabbed eight rebounds and a big contributor off the bench was sophomore Niki Metzel, a graduate of Rutgers Prep, who had a career high nine points and matched another career mark with six rebounds.

“All week we worked on our post defense and it was great to get Niki in there and her understanding what had to be done, defensively. But rebounding was the biggest thing. She saw the ball coming off the rim and grabbed six rebounds, which was huge for us.”

Meanwhile, in the Delaware game, Kiersten West, one of four outgoing seniors paid tribute before the game, had a career-high 18 points, shooting 6-for-9 from the field and a pair of three-balls in the opening quarter to propel the Blue Hens (16-9, 9-5 CAA).

Nicole Enabosi posted her 19th double double of the season, a school record not even achieved by Elena Delle Donne, with a game-high 22 points and 14 rebounds while Abby Gonzales had 11 points.

Bri Boyd had 12 points and Tanisha Brown had 11 rebounds for Charleston (6-20, 2-13), which first-year Delaware coach Natasha Adair and assistant Bob Clark coached previously with Adair in between also coaching Georgetown before taking the Blue Hens job last summer.

“I’m most impressed with our team and how we rallied,” said Adair of her squad which suffered a narrow loss at home Friday night to James Madison. “We are constantly improving and obviously we’re not the very best yet, but it’s going the right way at the right time.”

Enabosi had six of a season-high 10 blocked shots for Delaware.

West was the only player suited up among the seniors because Makeda Nicholas, Danielle Roberts, and Alexis Sears are all sidelined with injuries.

“It was tough being the only senior suited up today,” West said. “I knew they all wanted to be on the court with me, but I was playing for them and that’s why I had a little more edge and went out with a bang.”

Delaware has a home game left on March 1 hosting Drexel, which beat the Blue Hens here in late December to open the CAA schedule.

Next weekend, they head to William & Mary Friday at 7 and then play the second in the season series at James Madison Sunday at 2 p.m.

Villanova Edged at DePaul

The Wildcats seemed poised for a season sweep in the Big East with the Blue Demons but the home team rallied at McGrath-Phillips Arena, their campus venue in Chicago, to emerge with a 71-66 victory and maintain a first-place tie with Marquette, which beat Villanova Friday in Milwaukee.

Ashton Millender had a game-high 19 points for DePaul (27-7, 13-3 Big East), while Amarah Coleman had 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Kelly Campbell grabbed 13 rebounds.

Villanova returns to Chicago next month for the Big East women’s tourney, which will be held at Wintrust Arena, DePaul’s new downtown venue.

A 7-2 run at the outset of the fourth quarter gave the Blue Demons a 58-55 lead over Villanova (20-7, 10-6), which opened with a 10-0 lead to start the game repeating the same barrage they had launched in the earlier game back home.

But DePaul matched it and then it became a tightly-fought contest the rest of the way.

Both teams connected with eight three-pointers.

Kelly Jekot had 17 points for Villanova, Alex Louin had 13 and seven rebounds, and Jannah Tucker and Mary Gedaka each scored 12 points.

Villanova hosts Providence Friday at 7 at Jake Nevin Fieldhouse.

Rider Tops Canisius

The Broncs earned a split on their weekend road trip to Western New York as Stella Johnson had 25 points and 13 rebounds in Rider’s 62-54 win at Canisius in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Contest at the Koessler Athletic Center in Buffalo.

On Friday, Rider (12-15, 9-7 MAAC) had dropped a close one with Niagara. In that one, Johnson had also reached 20 points making it the first time in the sophomore’s career she had scored 20 or more points in two consecutive games.

Helping the win was a strong fourth quarter at the foul line in which the Broncs shot 13-of-14 free throw attempts to get a season sweep of Canisius (9-18, 7-9).

Kamilia Hoskova had 14 points for Rider while Lexi Posset had 13. Johnson’s rebounds and four blocked shots both tied career highs.

“When we play good defense, we win,” said Rider coach Lynn Milligan. “This was a big tests for us today and we passed. I thought we executed very well over the last six minutes.”

The Broncs next host Quinnipiac Friday night at 7 at Alumni Gymnasium in Lawrenceville, N.J. The Bobcats clinched another regular season MAAC title Sunday but had to go into overtime to beat Marist.

Temple Trounced at Connecticut

When the Owls met top-ranked and unbeaten Connecticut last month at home in McGonigle Hall, they were routed 113-57 by the Huskies.

Completing the season series Sunday afternoon at UConn’s off-campus Hartford venue, the XL Center, didn’t offer the visitors anything better in getting steamrolled 106-45 in an American Athletic Conference before a crowd of 13,110.

The Huskies (26-0, 13-0 AAC), who have never lost a conference game after The American was formed out of the old Big East, opened with a 15-3 run and they were on their way.

The loss for the Owls (10-16, 2-11), who have dealt with major injuries all the way back to the preseason when they lost all-league point guard Alliya Butts with a knee injury, virtually dooms them from postseason play, short of winning the AAC tourney next month at the usual Mohegan Sun Arena nhear New London, Conn.

Freshman Emani Mayo had 17 points for Temple, rookie Mia Davis had eight and six rebounds, while Tanaya Atkinson, who had been amassing a slew of double doubles, was shut down limited to five points, the same total as Breanna Perry.

Atkinson, who pulled down two rebounds, and scored 15 in the previous game against UConn, was averaging 22 points and nine rebounds.

UConn’s Katie Lou Samuelson had 27 points and Kia Nurse scored 16, while Napheesa Collier scored 12, Azura Stevens scored 11, and Gabby Williams and freshman Megan Walker each scored 10.

While it is a foregone conclusion UConn will claim another conference title, the entry to the record books was withheld Sunday when South Florida was able to top UCF.

Samuelson and Collier are now 100-1 in their careers with the Huskies.

“That’s pretty amazing to be part of that,” Samuelson said. “But we still have things we want to accomplish as a class, specifically this year. So rather than focusing on the past, we want to see what else we can do.”

Four UConn classes, including the current one with juniors Samuelson and Collier, hold the NCAA record of fewest games to 100 wins at 101.

The next conference title, including the days of the old Big East, would be number 24. The Huskies’ record in The American is 95-0.

As for her team, which has seen four freshman gain a lot of playing time due to the injuries, coach Tonya Cardoza, who was a 14-year assistant to Geno Auriemma before moving to Philadelphia, said, “They’re playing harder, they’re understanding, they’re more comfortable and that’s probably the biggest thing.

“We haven’t won a lot of games but hopefully it’s going to help in the future, the experience they’ve gained.”

Temple next hosts Cincinnati at noon Wednesday in the Liacouras Center, the larger campus arena, for the annual Kids Day game.

And that’s the report.