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 17, 2018

The Guru Report: Penn and Princeton Get Easy Ivy Wins at Columbia and Cornell

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

NEW YORK — Penn exploded from a narrow four-point halftime lead Friday night to roll over Columbia 75-39 here at the Lions’ Levien Gymnasium to get back on the winning track after being the victim of a 60-40 rout at Princeton Tuesday that knocked the Quakers back into second place in the Ivy League.

Meanwhile in upstate New York, Princeton easily blasted Cornell 72-40 in Newman Arena in Ithaca to stay full steam ahead with the Tigers’ fifth straight win and 12th in 13 games.

On Saturday both winners reverse locations having taken the four-hour bus trip with Princeton tipping off here at 4 p.m. against Columbia (7-17, 1-8 Ivy League) while Penn (16-6, 7-2) will take on the Big Red at 6.

In the win here, the Quakers scored the first 11 points of the third quarter to place the Lions deep in the rear view mirror.

The three-ball that failed Penn against the Tigers was more successful this time around with the Quakers shooting 12-for-27 from beyond the arc.

Starter Ashley Russell had three on the way to 14 points while Phoebe Sterba hit four coming off the bench and also scored 14 points while Anna Ross was the third Penn player in double figures with 12 points and the all-time career assists leader added four to her total to help the Quakers sweep the season series.

On the inside, reigning Ivy player of the year Michelle Nwokedi had a near double double with nine points and 10 rebounds while blocking three shots and grabbing two steals. Freshman Eleah Parker had eight points, five rebounds, blocked a shot and grabbed three steals.

Columbia star Camille Zimmerman had 12 points and 10 rebounds. 

“I Thought we played really well for 40 minutes, especially in the second  half,  defensively,” said Penn coach Mike McLaughlin. “I thought we were as good as can be. Zimmerman got in foul trouble so she played a little soft and that helped us.

“Cornell is always a challenge so  we need to be well prepared against them.”

In the win by Princeton (18-4, 8-1), the Tigers held Cornell (6-16, 2-7) without a field goal out of the gate until the last eight seconds of the opening quarter.

With Courtney Banghart being able to rest her players, sensation Bella Alerie had 18 points, nine rebounds, four blocks, and three steals in 21 minutes of action.

Sydney Jordan had 12 points, shooting a perfect 6-for-6 from the field, while reserve Tia Weledji had 11 points and Leslie Robinson dealt eight assists.

Stephanie Umeh was the sole Cornell player in double figures, scoring 12 points.

Elsewhere in the league, Harvard won at Brown 86-74 to hold third place a game behind Penn, while in an upset of sorts Dartmouth topped host Yale 64-62 in overtime to move into a tie for fourth, making it essentially a five-team race on the women’s side for the four berths at next month’s second annual Ivy tourney, returning to Penn’s Palestra.

Villanova Handled at Marquette

In one of the tougher Big East rode trips of the season Villanova dropped a matinee game to frontrunning Marquette 90-69 in Milwaukee, Wis.

The Wildcats (20-6, 10-5 Big East) seemed poised for a potential upset, rallying to within 52-50 late in the third quarter before Marquette (18-8, 12-3) answered with a 7-0 run.

Alex Louin had 20 points for Villanova, while Mary Gedaka and Megan Quinn each scored 10 points.

Natisha Hiedeman had a game-high 26 points for the Golden Warriors, while Erika Davenport had 16 points and eight rebounds, and Allazia Blockton and Danielle King each scored 15 points.

Louin’s points moved her past current Drexel coach Denise Dillon into ninth all-time on Villanova’s scoring list with 1,365 points.

Villanova heads to a Sunday game in Chicago against DePaul at 3 p.m. with the host Blue Demons looking to bounce back from Friday’s one-point loss at home to Georgetown and also seeking a split with the Wildcats who took the first game decisively last month back on the Main Line.

Sunday’s game will air on FS1.

Delaware Upset Bid Over James Madison Falls Short

Poised to force overtime, Delaware’s comeback against frontruning James Madison was stopped when Neumann-Goretti grad Kamiah Smalls on an area homecoming visit blocked Bailey Kargo’s attempted trey into the hands of Dukes teammate Lexie Barrier and the visitors escaped 56-53 in a Colonial Athletic Association game at the Blue Hens’ Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del.

The win enabled JMU (17-8, 13-1 CAA) to make a small increase to its lead over idle Drexel by 1.5 games.

Smalls had 11 points and Barrier had 14 while Kelly Koshuta had 16 points.

Delaware (15-9, 8-5) trailed by as many as eight points earlier in the fourth quarter.

Nicole Enabosi tacked on another double double with the Blue Hens, scoring 17 points and grabbing 11 rebounds while also blocking four shots.

“We put our heart in everything and it’s tough to let this one go, but you have to have a short memory and we can’t this hangover into Sunday’s game,” said Delaware coach Natasha Adair.

“This felt like March basketball already and for us to be playing some of our best basketball heading into March, then I feel good about this team.”

Delaware won’t have to travel far to the conference tourney, which is at Drexel this season and down in Newark next year.

Sunday is senior day and the Blue Hens will host Charleston at 1 p.m.

Rider Falls at Niagara

The Broncs were also victims among the Guru locals of a rally that fell short in the fourth quarter as Niagara beat Rider 69-61 in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Contest at the Taps Gallaghger Center in upstate New York near Buffalo.

Stella Johnson and Kamila Hoskova combined to score 45 of the total points by the Broncs (11-15, 8-7 MAAC). Hoskova had 25 points, aided by 11 of 13 on the foul line, while Johnson scored 20.  Lexi Posset had a career-high 14 points.

“We picked a bad time for one of our worst shooting nights of the year,” said Rider coach Lynn Milligan. “We battled tonight. Sixty is our magic number and even shooting badly if we get a couple more stops, we’re on the plus side. Defensively, our effort was there, but we just got worn down on a couple of possessions.”

Niagara (10-16, 7-8) snapped a two-game losing streak.

Rider will stay in the area, moving on Sunday to Canisius for a 2 p.m. game that will be televised on ESPN3.

Looking Ahead

On Saturday, besides the two Ivy games already mentioned, Saint Joseph’s will be looking for a sweep of La Salle when the Hawks host the Explorers at 1 p.m. in an Atlantic 10 game at Hagan Arena.

The previous game won at Tom Gola Arena also counted in the final Big Five standings.

In the Patriot League, the two area teams meet each other with Lafayette visiting Lehigh at Stabler Arena at 1 p.m.

On Sunday, besides the games already mentioned, Temple, trying to stop a losing streak, has the misfortune of next up being a visit to No. 1 and unbeaten Connecticut at 2 p.m. at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network.

The Owls already lost to the Huskies last month at home in McGonigle Hall.

Drexel will host William & Mary in a CAA game at 2 p.m. in the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center.

And that’s the report.