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.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

The Guru Report: Nova and Temple Escape While Penn Finishes New England Sweep

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

VILLANOVA — The Wildcats out here on the Main Line and Temple downtown emerged from a heavy Saturday afternoon by the Guru locals with narrow victories while the Ivy duo of Penn and Princeton on the road in New England did their thing in what became quite the race in the league wars at the top with the halfway point and another big weekend just ahead.

As for the rest of the crowd, Rider fell short at nearby New Jersey rival Monmouth while Lehigh topped Boston U.

Let’s begin with what occured here at Jake Nevin Field House where Villanova completed a Big East sweep of Georgetown, holding off the Hoyas 68-67 after grabbing a 60-58 win last month in Washington.

Villanova’s “generations” act bedeviled Georgetown (10-12, 5-7 Big East) in this one as Mary Gedaka came off the bench in the tightly-fought contest in the fourth quarter to score 10 straight points, propelling the Wildcats (18-5, 8-4) from a narrow 52-50 lead to one reaching eight points over their conference traveling partner.

That was just enough for ‘Nova to sustain and walk away to look to a weekend of visits from Saint John’s in a 11:30 a.m. school day special Friday and then another from Seton Hall at 2 p.m. Sunday.

In the coaching game of chess between veteran Harry Perretta at Villanova and first-year Georgetown coach James Howard, Gedaka, who had team highs of 17 points and nine rebounds, was the counter mismatch to several dealt from the Hoyas.

Gedaka’s mother Lisa Angelotti was a star Villanova and Big East notable in the late 1980s.

Alex Louin had 14 and equaled Gedaka’s nine-rebound total while Kelly Jekot scored 13.

Villanova had one more three-point connection with seven than Georgetown but Perretta wasn’t pleased with a bunch of missed foul shots — the Wildcats shot 11-for-20 — that would have otherwise made things more comfortable in the closing minutes.

“Look, they’re good,” Perretta said of the Hoyas. “I find it a miracle that we beat them twice. They’re athletic, they rebound the ball, they kill us on the glass, force us into turnovers, but they had mismatch players and we had Mary and Kelly that were mismatch players and (his) managed to make enough baskets for us to win.

“If they had made some foul shots, the game would probably have not gotten as close. We needed to find a mismatch player (Gedaka) because they’re just too good for us to score against them straight up on defense,” Perretta added.

“You gotta make free throws in close games.”

Georgetown’s Mikaya Venson had 23 points while Dionna Wilson had 21 and Cynthia Petke doubled doubled with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

Perretta coached in his 1,200th game and is now 741-459 in his 40-year career, all spent here alongside a men’s program that has won two NCAA titles and is currently at the top of the Associated Press weekly men’s rankings.

His total is tops for both the Wildcats men’s and women’s programs and places him 13th on the active D-1 coaching list and 17th on the all-time list. 

The Villanova women were ranked six weeks earlier in the season after upsetting then No. 15 Duke here and are third in the Big East, two games in the loss column behind co-leaders DePaul and Marquette.

Atkinson Moves Up in Temple Record Book After Helping Owls Snap Losing Streak

Temple also had a close one, edging Tulsa 76-75 in an American Athletic Conference game at home in McGonigle Hall as senior star Tanaya Atkinson grabbed a rebound at the finish to ensure the snapping of a seven-game losing streak endured by the Owls (10-12, 2-7 AAC).

Atkinson, who completed a three-point play in the final minute, had another big day doing her double double routine with 30 points and 11 rebounds for her 13th in the category.

By the game’s end, the New Haven (Conn.) native had reached 1,725 career points, moving her into third on Temple’s all-time list past WNBA All-Star Candice Dupree (1,698), whose number was retired in December when Dawn Staley’s defending NCAA champion South Carolina squad visited.

Temple had to within a strong performance from Shug Dickinson who had 25 of her 29 points on the second half for Tulsa (8-15, 2-8).

A key to the win was the Owls’ 42-34 rebounding advantage, including 15-6 on the offensive glass.

Mykia Jones matched her career best with the Owls — she’s a graduate transfer from Georgetown — scoring 11 points. Freshmen Emani Mayo and Mia Davis each scored 10 points while newcomer Breanna Perry grabbed a person best 11 rebounds.

Temple next visits Tulane Wednesday in New Orleans and the game with the Green Wave will tip at 8 p.m. and air on ESPN3.

Penn Makes Its Move

The Quakers solidified their early action in the regular-season Ivy race as well as the chase for a berth in the second annual four-team league tourney at Penn’s Palestra as the two-time defending regular season champs completed a New England road sweep topping Yale 69-54 Saturday afternoon in the John Lee Ampitheater in New Haven, Conn., after thumping Brown 88-55 Friday night in the Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence,  Rhode Island.

Lauren Whitlatch in this one had 18 points fueled by five triplets for Penn (13-5, 4-1 Ivy) while Anna Ross had 13 points and added to her Quakers all-time career assists record with six.

Phoebe Sterba had 11 points and three 3-pointers against the Bears (13-6, 1-5).

Inside the posts, senior Michelle Nwokedi, the reigning Ivy player and defensive player of the year, had eight points and 11 rebounds while freshman sensation Eleah Parker had six points and seven rebounds.

Penn has won seven straight.

Yale (10-9, 3-3), coming off Friday’s big 73-59 upset of Princeton, beating the Tigers for the first time since 2009, got 11 points from Tamara Simpson and 10 from Jen Berkowitz.

Princeton (14-4, 4-1) got back on the winning track Saturday beating Brown, which will now have to find a way to turn things around to return to the Ivy race.

Meanwhile, in Friday’s game for the Quakers, the 88 against Brown were the most against a league opponent since topping Yale 92-80 in overtime 17 seasons ago and also the most points ever scored by the visitors in Friday night’s venue.

Ironically, Penn recently topped Villanova for the first time in 17 seasons to help tie the Wildcats for the Big Five title.

The defense held Brown, the top scoring team in the league at 80.6 ppg, to to a season-low 25 points off the Bears’ average.

The Quakers were hot from long range, connecting with 13 3-balls, tying the most ever in the Mike McLaughlin coaching era. 

And the 33-point differential was the most since a 79-43 triumph 18 seasons ago on Jan. 28, 2000, against Columbia.

Parker against Brown had 18 points and 10 rebounds, her fifth double double, putting herself possibly in line for another in an ongoing string of Ivy freshman of the week citations. She also had three blocks and two steals.

Beth Brzozowski tied a career-high with 16 points shooting 6-for-7 and connecting with four 3-pointers, another career mark she tied. Nwokedi had 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots.

Ashley Russell, who helped Penn blaze away from the outset, finished with 10 points, while Ross had 11 points and six assists to bring her total after Saturday to 441 dishes.

The Quakers have won 13 straight against the Bears.

While Penn was doing its number on Brown, the Quakers got help elsewhere when Princeton coming off its annual three-week break for exams lost at Yale.

Roxy Barahman had 17 points, to top four other Eli teammates who scored in double figures.

Leslie Robinson had 18 points and nine rebounds in the Yale game for the Tigers while Gabrielle Rush had 16 points, aided by four treys. Bella Alarie had nine points, eight rebounds, and nine blocks, the latter tying her career high in a single game.

In Saturday’s game, five Tigers scored in double figures — Tia Weledji had 15 points, shooting 6-for-7, Robinson had 14 points and nine rebounds, Qalea Ishmail and Abby Meyers each scored 11 while Rush had 10.

Harvard, which has played one more game than Penn and Princeton, swept its games with Cornell and Columbia to stay atop the Ivies by a half-game in the win column, however, a showdown is just ahead.

The Crimson will visit Princeton Friday at 6:30 p.m. on ESPN3 in Jadwin Gym while Penn will host Dartmouth at 7 p.m. at The Palestra.

Then the schools switch Saturday with Dartmouth visiting Princeton at 5 p.m. and Harvard visiting Penn at 7 p.m.

Your Ivy standings on just the league records heading into Friday are Harvard 5-1, Princeton 5-1, Penn 5-1, Dartmouth 4-2, Yale 3-3, Brown 1-5, Columbia 1-5, Cornell 1-5.

The Rest of the Crowd: Drexel Crunches Towson

In the only other game in the Guru local group Friday, Drexel held tight to its second-place standings behind James Madison, which is perfect league-wise at 10-0 after an 86-41 road win at William & Mary in the Colonial Athletic Association.

The Dragons handled Towson 78-53 at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center for their seventh straight victory as Drexel (17-5, 9-1 CAA) rushed to a 27-10 lead after the first quarter and 43-23 at the half.

Sarah Woods had a career-high 18 points, shooting 9-for-11, and grabbed seven rebounds. Hannah Nilhill, a freshman out of Cardinal O’Hara, had a personal best of 13 points, while also having highs of eight rebounds and six assists.

Bailey Greenberg, shooting 6-for-8, had 14 points, Megan Marecic had 12 points, and Kelsi Lidge scored 10. Aubree Brown dealt seven assists.

Towson fell to 8-13 overall and 3-7.

Delaware was idle but on Sunday heads to Northeastern in Boston after recently having lost at home to the same Huskies. Drexel, which will host the CAA women’s tourney, will be at Charleston for a 1 p.m. tip holding a two-game lead on Delaware for second and a three-game advantage over the Huskies.

The CAA-only standings among the top teams going into Sunday play are James Madison, 10-0, Drexel 9-1, Delaware 6-3, Elon 6-4, Northeastern 6-4, William & Mary 5-5.

Rider Topped by Monmouth

Seeking to sustain position in a crowded Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference behind unbeaten frontrunner Quinnipiac, the Broncs short road trip in central New Jersey to Monmouth ended up in a setback as a rally in the second half fell short leading to a 63-56 win by the Hawks in West Long Branch, N.J.

Stella Johnson had 18 points for Rider (9-14, 6-6 MAAC) while Kamila Hoskova had 12 points.

Monmouth (6-15, 4-6) had lost two straight in the conference.

Rider, which was coming off a strong Thursday night win at home over Manhattan, is off until Friday when Saint Peter’s visits Alumni Gym at 7 p.m. in Lawrenceville, N.J.

While the Broncs are down in fifth in the MAAC behind 12-0 Quinnipiac in the league standings, they stand four behind second-place Marist (10-2), which is followed by Siena (7-5), Niagara (6-6) and Rider (6-6), all in front of Manhattan (5-5) and Fairfield (5-5).

“We didn’t execute well today,” said Rider coach Lynn Milligan. “We battled back, like we always do, but it wasn’t enough.

“Having Kammy on the bench early with two fouls affected our offense, but when your number is called you need to step up. We are still a work in progress. We need to keep working.”

Looking Ahead

Six games involving the locals are on the Super Bowl Sunday slate ahead of the big NFL championship showdown between the Eagles and New England Patriots.

Two have already been spoken to off the CAA group involving Drexel and Delaware.

The Atlantic Ten duo has La Salle at Massachusetts at noon, needing a win for the sake of a win, while the last tip before the kickoff in Minneapolis involves Saint Joseph’s, trying to stay in the top part of the crowd, hosting George Mason at Hagan Arena at 4 p.m. on CBSSN, which is why the late tip was decided long before anyone could foresee that the city of Philadelphia is on the verge of going bonkers off one more football win.

But back in New Jersey, with the last effort at No. 11 Maryland failing tremendously, as we go through the four-game killer stretch in the Big Ten, there’s no bigger deal on the season now for Rutgers than the 2 p.m. visiting from No. 13 Michigan.

The Wolverines are coming in off an overtime loss at Purdue in their last action so both should be going after it, and the extra add-on is that Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer is still stuck on needing six wins to reach the career-milestone 1,000 triumphs already achieved this season by D-1 coaches Geno Auriemma (UConn) and Sylvia Hatchell (North Carolina) and D-2 coach Barb Stevens (Bentley).

We’ll catch up with the implications in the next report before daybreak Monday no matter how much celebration, if such is required, comes to pass.

In the only other game, Penn State hosts Michigan State at 2 p.m. at home in the Bryce Jordan Center in State College as the Lady Lions seek to position themselves in the standings with the conference tournament less than a month away.

Nationally, looking just ahead one extra day, the biggie on Monday is in the Southeastern Conference with South Carolina coming out of its home loss to UConn heading to Mississippi State, which is sold out.

That’s your report for now.



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