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.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Bob Heller’s Philly WBB Small College Report: D-2 Edition: USciences, Jefferson and West Chester - NCAA Bound

By Bob Heller (@Bob_Heller1)

The University of the Sciences became the first team from the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference since Holy Family University in 2012-13 to repeat as conference tournament champions as they held off a late rally from rival Jefferson University to defeat the host Rams 64-56 Sunday afternoon at the Gallagher Center.

USciences, with the CACC automatic bid, earned the #3 seed for the upcoming NCAA East Regional and will play #6 LIU-Post on Friday at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts.
Jefferson meanwhile, received an at-large bid as the #7 seed and will face #2 seed Bentley University, who is making their record 34th appearance in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
The win was also USciences’ 28th of the season setting a program record for wins and breaking last year’s mark of 27.
Alex Thomas led four USciences players in double figures with 17 points.  The junior forward was named CACC Tournament MVP after totaling 40 points in the three playoff games.  Senior guard Sarah Abbonizio added 16 points and sophomore Jordan Vitelli chipped in 14 points.  Freshman Irisa Ye came off the bench to score 11. Laura Trisch led the team with six rebounds while Colleen Walsh dished out a career-high seven assists. Vitelli and Ye joined Thomas on the All-Tournament team.
Alyanna Williams was the lone Jefferson player in double figures with a game-high 23 points.  Jessica Kaminski added nine points. Beverly Kum led the Rams with eight rebounds.  Williams and Kaminski were also named to the all-tournament team.
The two teams exchanged baskets for much of the first six minutes of the game with the lead changing hands twice.  Tied at 5-5 with 3:52 left, the Rams produced a 9-4 flourish to close out the quarter and take a five-point lead 14-9 with Rachel Day’s three-point bucket capping the run.
The Rams continued to increase their lead in the opening minutes of the second quarter, adding an 8-2 run via three pointers from Williams and Day and a basket from Caitlyn Cunningham to take a 22-11 lead with 6:40 left in the half.   

The Devils regrouped and counter with a 14-3 flourish to rally and tie the game at 25-25 with 2:56 left.  Seven points from Ye and two three-balls from Vitelli highlight the run.  Vitelli’s two free throws at 1:15 gave USciences their first lead since 3-2 in the first quarter at 29-27.  Kaminski added a free throw in the waning seconds to make the score 29-28 at the half.
The Devils used an 11-1 spurt to open the third quarter and take a double-digit lead at 40-29, while their defense held Jefferson without a field goal for the first 4:01 of the period when a Cunningham jumper found the bottom of the net.  

Two Williams’ free throws would cut the Devils lead to five at 40-35.  The Devils closed out the quarter with a 13-8 run to take a ten point lead 53-43 into the final period.
Thomas opened the fourth quarter with a three-point field goal to give the Devils their largest lead of the game at 56-43.  USciences still led by ten 58-48 with 4:42 left in the game when the Rams started to rally.

  Baskets by Day and Williams made it a two possession game, 58-52 with 3:25 left and an Erin Maher jumper at the 1:55 mark pulled the Rams within four 58-54.  This would be as closed as the Rams would come as the Devils were a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line in the final minute of play, sealing the 64-56 win.
Hartzell Named CACC Coach of the Year; Abbonizio CACC Player of the Year
Earlier in the week, The CACC announced its post season awards with the Devils taking home two of the major accolades.

  Head Coach Jackie Hartzell was named Coach of the Year, earning the award for the second time (the first in 2014-15).  In earning her second CACC Coach of the Year honor, Hartzell become just the second USciences coach in any sport since the school joined the CACC in 1999 to earn two CACC Coach of the Year awards.  

Hartzell is also just the second women’s basketball coach in CACC history to earn multiple Coach of the Year Awards, joining Mike McLaughlin of Holy Family.
Senior Sarah Abbonizio was named the CACC Player of the Year, becoming the Devils’ third women’s basketball athlete to earn the honor joining two-time winner Leah Shumoski (2004, 2006) and Caitlin Shaw (2011). 

 Alex Thomas earned First Team All-CACC honors for the second consecutive year, becoming the Devils first back-to-back First Team honoree since 2,000-point scorer Brianne Traub earned three straight first team honors (2013-15).
Chestnut Hill’s Cassie Sebold was named the CACC Rookie of the Year. Sebold turned in a strong collegiate debut during the regular season, as she averaged 11.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while starting just once during the season.
Sebold’s teammates Jaeda Wildgoose and Vicky Tumasz also earned All-CACC honors with Wildgoose joining Abbonizio and Thomas on the first team and Tumasz earning second team honors.   

Williams and Kaminski from Jefferson University also earned second team honors while teammate Day was a third team selection.  Holy Family’s Casey Thomas and Alexis Hofstaedter were also selected to the CACC All-Conference team as third team honorees.
Wooden Named PSAC EAST Coach of the Year; Four WCU Players on All-PSAC East Team
Keeping with the awards theme over in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), West Chester University Head Coach Kiera Wooden was named the PSAC East Coach of the Year after guiding her team to 23-5 record and a 19-3 mark in PSAC games. 

Wooden’s team had a program record 18-game winning streak which was broken with a PSAC semi-final loss to Edinboro.
Three Golden Rams were also named as All-PSAC East First Team honorees with senior Porscha Speller leading the way. 

 Speller led the Golden Rams in scoring throughout the season, averaging 16.1 points per game (#11 PSAC).  Speller was also a first-team honoree last season.
Seniors Mia Hopkins and Camden Boehner were also named to the All-PSAC first Team. Hopkins leads WCU in 11 different statistical categories including rebounds (241), rebounds/game (8.9) and double doubles (11).  

She is also the only PSAC player to record a triple double this season with 22 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists against Cheyney University in February.  Boehner is third on the team in scoring, averaging 13.7 points per game and has scored in double figures 19 times this season.
Lexi Bruno was named to the PSAC East Second Team.  Bruno leads the Golden Rams in assists (109), assists/game (4.2) and assist/turnover ratio (2.35) with the latter the top mark in the PSAC.
Golden Rams Fall in PSAC Semi-Finals; Earn at-Large Bid to NCAA Tournament

Back to game action, the Golden Rams traveled to Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex for the PSAC Semi-Final game, taking on #11 Edinboro University on Saturday.  
Edinboro constructed an 18-point lead in the first quarter of the game and never looked back, as the Fighting Scots were able to build their advantage to as many as 31 points in the third before eventually taking the contest 106-78. 

West Chester's 78 points were the fewest scored by the team since January 10 (77 vs. Cheyney) and Edinboro's 106 points on Saturday were the most the Golden Rams have allowed since surrendering 112 against Glenville State in last year's season-opener. 
Despite the loss the Golden Rams received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.  They will be the #7 seed and will find themselves in a rematch of their semi-final playoff game, drawing #2 seed Glenville in the opening round of the Atlantic Region, hosted by Virginia Union University.
Hopkins paced the West Chester attack with 16 points, while Gabrielle Troisi notched her second double-double of the season with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

 Speller added 14 points in the loss while Bruno handed out a team-high five assists to go along with 13 points.
Edinboro scored the first nine points of the game and quickly pulled away, jumping out to a 28-10 lead after the first ten minutes of play. 

The Fighting Scots ran their lead to 22with a 7-3 flourish to open the second quarter, taking a 37-15 lead with just under seven minutes left. 

  Edinboro grew the lead to as many as 29 points before settling in for the 60-34 lead at the break.
The Fighting Scots maintained their 20+ point lead for much of the final two quarters. Hopkins drilled a three-ball to cut the deficit to 82-64 with 6:23 left and after a basket by the Fighting Scots to bring the lead back to 20, Bruno’s two free throws at the 5:47 mark again made it an 18-point game, 84-66. 

  Edinboro however closed out the game on a 15-5 run to pull away with the 28-point win.
Lincoln Turns in another Impressive CIAA Tourney Run; Stuns Defending Champs before Falling In Semi-Finals
Over in the CIAA, the Lincoln University Lions made an impressive run for the second season in a row, again reaching the conference semi-finals before bowing to eventual champion Virginia Union University, 73-50 on Friday.
The Lions finish their season with an 18-11 record, a nine-win improvement over the 2016-17 season in what is one of the strongest leagues in the eastern half of the United States, which saw five CIAA teams ranked in the D2SIDA Atlantic region polls for much of the season.
Against Virginia Union, the Lions came out flat and were held to a season low 12 first half points as the Panthers opened a 38-12 lead at the half. 

 In the third quarter, VUU went ahead 38-14 and held at least a 20-point lead throughout, until Lincoln cut it to 55-40 at the 6:21 mark of the fourth quarter. 

From there, Virginia Union regrouped and pushed the lead to their largest of the game, 27 points (71-44) with just 1:30 remaining, eventually taking the 73-50 win.
Teira Pendleton led the way for Lincoln with 15 points, while Michelle Fitzgerald added 10.  Pendleton concludes her career as the only player in Lions history to record 1,000 or more points (1,135), 500 or more rebounds (507) and 150 or more assists (165).
To get to the semi-finals though, the Lions had to defeat defending CIAA Champions Johnson C. Smith University the day before 58-52.
Shecquan Bailey scored a career-high 22 points while McKenzie Spencer chipped in ten.  Bailey, Pendleton, Shahra Madison and Amanda Okodugha had seven rebounds apiece to lead Lincoln.
The game saw nine ties and 12 lead changes as both teams battled throughout the 40 minutes of action.

Madison added the opening basket for Lincoln within the opening minutes to jump to a quick 2-0 lead. JCSU’s Kendall Adams answered with adding a layup to tie the score two all with 7:59 left in the opening quarter.

 The Lions then added a layup to take a 4-2 advantage. JCSU's Xena Dove secured a three-pointer to take a 5-4 edge. Lincoln then added back-to-back baskets collecting an 8-5 lead with 5:43 left on the clock.

 Jasmine Carter added two free throws cutting the lead by one. A three-pointer by Bailey grew LU's lead to 11-7. The Golden Bulls rallied to retake the lead but Pendleton's bucket at the buzzer put Lincoln back on top as the quarter ended, 15-14.

Spencer's three-pointer to open Lincoln's scoring in the second quarter broke a 15-15 tie.  Fitzgerald later added a layup to push the Lions lead to four 20-16.

  The Lions lead would oscillate between one and three points  before Jamia Johnson sank two free throws to give the Golden Bulls a 24-23 lead.

  Another three-ball from Spencer put the Lions back on top 26-24. The Golden Bulls would then score four of the final five points to take a 28-27 lead at halftime.

Okodugha opened the third quarter with two straight layups to give the Lions a 31-28 lead before Jordan tied the game with a three-ball at the 6:50 mark, 31-31.  Jordan then scored two straight baskets to complete a 6-0 Golden Bull run and give the defending champions a 35-31 lead. 

 The Lions countered with a 10-2 run to go back up by four 41-37.  JCSU scored the final four points of the quarter to send the game into the fourth quarter deadlocked at 41-41.

Neither team could find the bottom of the net as the fourth quarter commenced with Madison's free throw with 7:17 left marking the first points by either team. 

Malia Rivers put the Golden Bulls back on top with a layup and Bailey followed with a three-ball as the lead switched hands again. 

The game saw its last tie at the 5:30 mark of the fourth quarter with a layup by Adams making the score 47-all. Bailey then ignited an 11-5 run with a three-pointer at the 2:15 mark to close out the contest with a 58-52 final score.


At Monday’s CIAA Tipoff Banquet, Fitzgerald was named to the All-CIAA team.  She is second on the team in scoring (12.4) and leads the team in rebounding (7.9/game).


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