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 11, 2018

The Guru Report: Villanova Edges Seton Hall on Alumni Day for Big East Weekend Sweep

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

VILLANOVA — It was throwback Sunday or Alumni Day at Villanova depending which theme one wants to apply to the extra-curricular activity.

But one thing that hasn’t changed with an occasional bump here and there over time is the collection of triumphs in what is has been for decades the Harry Perretta era out here on the Main Line.

In a gritty afternoon here at Jake Nevin Fieldhouse, a venue itself a throwback to the early chapters while the larger Pavilion is undergoing renovation this season, Villanova built leads and then let things get close but ultimately topped Seton Hall 59-53 to hold third in the Big East a game behind Marquette and two behind DePaul.

The victory by the Wildcats (20-5, 10-4 Big East) made it Perretta’s 20th 20-plus win season in his 40 years here at ‘Nova and sixth straight capturing that total on the left side of the overall season won-loss records.

“Yeah, I was beginning to feel like a grandfather out there,” he said of the large gathering of his former court kids who brought along their own personal family kids.

As for the way it went down against the Pirates (15-11, 7-8) who were swept on the season by the home team that completed a fine weekend begun Friday here by topping St. John’s, Perretta said, “I thought it would be a very difficult game, they’re playing much, much better than they had earlier in the year.

“And their guards are very good and they have good inside kids and they can take the ball out of bounds and they’re difficult to guard. They pressed us a bit, they disrupted us a little bit. And they put somebody on Mary (Gedaka), we couldn’t mismatch Mary against the kid, so Adrianna (Hahn) came through, she made some big threes and Alex (Louin) came through with some big baskets.”

Louin finished with a double double of 12 points and 14 rebounds, Kelly Jekot also scored 12 points, and Hahn had 10 points.

JaQuan Jackson scored 13 for Seton Hall, Selena Philoxy had 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Kaela Hilaire scored 10.

Ultimately, the philosophy of Perretta over the years stood up again on Sunday as the Wildcats shot 9-for-27 in three-point attempts while Seton Hall completed a mere 1-for-11 from beyond the arc to complete the weekend sweep at home of the Big East metro New York rivals.

“Both teams they were beating us up there, they made a run at us here, and St. John’s beat us before. So you’re just happy to win a game like that,” Perretta said.

“I thought we did a decent job (defensively), we held them under 60 which is our goal and we had to because we weren’t scoring the ball too well. Luckily, we got up 14, which gave us a little cushion, because we made a few mistakes at the end.”

Next up this weekend is a road visit to the two teams ahead in the standings, playing Marquette in Milwaukee Friday night to go after a split in the series, and then on Sunday comes a stop at DePaul in Chicago at McGrath-Phillips Arena, the Blue Demons’ campus venue.

The new Wintrust Arena downtown will host the Big East women’s tourney next month.

Villanova won a recent game here against DePaul on what was a blazing night from the field for the Wildcats.

DePaul coach Doug Bruno, who himself has been on the scene a long time, though the Demons have held a bunch of previous conference memberships before joining the Big East, this past week earned his 700th victory.

Perretta is now 743-459.

Drexel and Delaware Take CAA Victories

Coach Denise Dillon’s Drexel squad, in danger of making the entire weekend in North Carolina a lost cause, broke open a tight game with a 17-0 run across the third and fourth quarters to beat host UNCW 58-40 in the Colonial Athletic Association for a season sweep in Wilmington, N.C.

The Dragons (19-6, 11-2 CAA), had an eight-game win streak snapped Friday night at Elon to fall from a first-place tie with James Madison after Drexel had earlier pulled a huge fourth-quarter rally to top the defending conference tourney champs back in Philadelphia.

The win on Sunday, however, enabled to keep Drexel a game behind JMU, who beat Towson, and stay two games in front of Elon to keep a grip on second place, with an eye to the CAA tourney, which will be held next month at the Dragons’ Daskalakis Athletic Center.

They have now equaled their best start after 25 games, previously attained in 1989-90 and last season, though they faded down the stretch to finish 22-11 being ousted by Villanova in the WNIT.

Drexel has never won 20 games in consecutive seasons but after a bye on Friday night, the Dragons will get their first shot at making history Sunday when they host William & Mary at 2 p.m.

In the win over UNCW (8-16, 1-12) at Trask Coliseum, Kelsi Lidge had 11 points and nine rebounds, while Aubree Brown scored 10, and Bailey Greenberg scored nine.

Once again, the Drexel defensive prowess came through, allowing no one on UNCW to score in double figures. Rebekah Banks had a team-best eight points.

Meanwhile, Delaware, fighting for third with Elon and with a chance to perhaps catch Drexel, shook off a five-point deficit to Hofstra and thumped the Pride 61-41 at home at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

The win by the Blue Hens (15-8, 8-4 CAA) leaves them a half-game behind third place Elon but next up will be a visit Friday night from James Madison.

In the win over Hofstra (10-14, 4-9), Nicole Enabosi jad 17 points and 19 rebounds while grabbing five steals. Samone DeFreese had 18 points and 10 rebounds and shot 9-of-12 from the field.

Aleana Leon had 11 points and six assists for The Pride.

“This is a group we can constantly challenge,” said first-year coach Natasha Adair. “When I give them feedback or something to work on they don’t make excuses.”

Delaware has lost just once to Hofstra at home in 34 games.

After the JMU visit on Friday, two days later the College of Charleston will drop by on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Rider Completes a Weekend Sweep in the MAAC

Following up Friday’s win over St. Peter’s at home in Alumni Gymnasium, Rider returned to its court in Lawrenceville, N.J., to top Iona 80-53 in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and sweep the season series with the Gaels.

Stella Johnson had a big afternoon for the Broncs (11-14, 6-8 MAAC) with 17 points, 10 assists, 7 rebounds, and 6 steals.

It was the fourth straight loss for Iona (1-24, 1-13).

Kamila Hoskova had 17 points in the Rider attack, while Lexi Stover scored 12, and Jaiden Morris rode four 3-balls to 14 points in her freshman season.

“A huge focal point of ours this week in practice was that we have to start games better and put ourselves in a better situation,” said veteran coach Lynn Milligan. “We were able to come out strong for the second game in a row to help us break our pattern of win-lose-win-lose. I was pleased with the start.”

Rider’s score was its best on the season and the Broncs’ defense forced 22 turnovers.

Coming Up is the Buffalo road trip in upstate New York in the conference visiting Canisius Friday night and Niagara on Sunday.

Rutgers’ Collapse Allows a Maryland Sweep in the Big Ten

Suddenly, Rutgers Hall of Fame Coach C. Vivian Stringer could reach her 400th loss before her 1,000th win.

The milestone countdown again got idled, this time by No. 10 Maryland, which took a 72-54 victory, handing the Scarlet Knights (18-9, 6-7 Big Ten) just their second loss in 15 games in Piscataway, N.J.,

And so the gruesome gauntlet of four straight ranked games against Big Ten foes saw a 1-3 outcome with sizable deficits at Maryland, at Ohio State, and at home against to Maryland, with a win over Michigan at home.

It gets easier, one would think, in the weeks ahead with a visit to Wisconsin Wednesday, a visit from Iowa the following Wednesday and then a wrap up at Northwestern.

All this carnage leaves Stringer’s record at 995-399 in 47 seasons, including previous stops at Cheyney and Iowa in 47 seasons.

Running the table means winning the first two games in the tourney, though the second one could be more of a challenge depending on Rutgers’ final slotting in the standings.

Then the next move would be to take a big gun down or two in Chicago to improve in the eyes of the NCAA committee because anything less before the later conference tourney stages will suddenly have the Rutgers prospect be characterized as bubble.

That’s quite a drop from mid-January when the Scarlet Knights were ranked for the first time in several seasons and listed as one of the top 16 seeds in the NCAA committee’s first reveal.

If Rutgers falls short of the NCAA field and just short of Stringer’s 1000th still needed to be reached, is that the home folks would get a chance to cheer the milestone since the Knights would surely get early home games in the WNIT.

And as for the 400th loss reference, let’s recuse from the cuteness and be fair because in 47 seasons, that averages 11 losses and many were much less though there were some nightmares, the most horrifying a year ago that produced six wins as talented transfers had yet to be eligible and Tyler Scaife was sidelined with a detected heart defect.

For example, Villanova’s Perretta has had 400 losses for a while in his 40 seasons.

Meanwhile, as for Sunday’s statistics, Scaife, who has been sensational, scored ten to move within 83 of passing WNBA star Cappie Pondexter into second place on the all-time Rutgers scoring list and just behind Sue Wicks, a retired WNBA legend.

The trio are the only ones to pass 2,000 points in Rutgers history.

Victoria Harris had 13 points and 11 rebounds while Stasha Carey had nine points and 10 rebounds.

Maybe Rutgers would have benefited from playing Maryland (22-3, 11-1) earlier when the Knights were on a ramage and the Terrapins were still finding their way before building a current two-game lead in the conference.

Eleanna Christinika, a recent eligible off transfer from Florida, had 18 points while Stephanie Jones scored 13 and Kristen Confroy scored 12. Kaila Charles and Ieshia Small each scored 10 points.

Penn State Trounced at Minnesota

Things went even worse Sunday for the other Guru local in the Big Ten as Penn State got crushed at Minnesota 101-68 dropping the Lady Lions (14-12, 5-8 Big Ten) to 10th in the conference and elevating the Golden Gophers (19-6, 8-4) in Minneapolis to fourth.

Teniya Page had 22 points for the visitors while Amari Carter scored 12, and Siyeh Frazier scored 10.

Gadiva Hubbard had 25 points, propelled by a perfect 5-for-5 on triplet attempts. Kenisha Bell had 15 points and 10 assists, while Destiny Pitts scored 17, and Carlie Wagner and Jasmine Brunson each scored 11.

And that is the report done very early on a Sunday night.


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