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, March 18, 2018

Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: Home Teams Advance in NCAA First Round - Day 2

By Mike Siroky

The two teams in the Southeastern Conference of women’s basketball in the NCAA eliminations sent on the road both lost in Day 2 .

The less-than pair share bad caching and acceptance of a just being there attitude while riding the league’s reputation into post-season again. 

Any wins by these teams would have been upsets and were not to be. They lost to higher seeds, of course, but saved the NCAA hotel costs by checking out before game time and hurrying home .

But the best team in conference and most improved team in conference survived to the Round of 32, which is what the playoffs would have looked like a few seasons ago. Some teams do fulfill traditions.

KANSAS CITY: Mississippi State

At home in StarkVegas, Nicholls State offered little resistance.

Senior Victoria Vivians scored 20 and matched Teaira MctCowan with 13 rebounds in the 95-50 opening round murder.

The 33 points in the second quarter matches the school-record 33 wins in 34 tries. 

McCowan also doubled, with 18 points. Senior Blair Schaefer also scored 18. State shot 50 percent from the field, including 47 percent from 3-point range, and had a 51-29 rebounding advantage.

Vic Schaefer, a  strong candidate for the national Coach of the Year awards yet to be announced, said, “We had a lot of rust to knock off, and I think everybody sees that. 

“It’s my job to try and help get that rust knocked off, and obviously I’m not doing a good job. We are really rusty in a lot of areas.

“I thought this time last year, we came back and were really sharp. We were not very sharp.

“We’ve got basically 48 hours to figure it out. If you look at our stat numbers you’re going to see a lot of good numbers. 

“I thought Jordan (Danberry) came off the bench and gave us some really good minutes, a lot of energy from her in her 12 minutes of play. I thought Jazzmun (Holmes) played awfully well off the bench. I thought we had some kids do some really good things today.

“We’ve got to get ready for a really good Oklahoma state team. I thought they played really well against Syracuse. The game was out of hand in the second half but we’ve got 48 hours to do it, so I’m sure our kids will come back with a little bit better focus, hopefully, and we’ll play a little bit better.”

Blair Schaefer said, “In the past we’ve been really good about our chemistry, and our chemistry is still there. We need to work on all five, and right now we’ll have like four, but I think that’s going to come with more focus and well have that fixed for next game.”

Vivians said it is all a matter of getting “locked down” and ready in the next 48 hours.
Her team has confidence as the seniors face a last home game on their own court, a court where they have established a foundation for future generations.

Mississippi State gets Oklahoma State on Monday. The Bulldogs beat the Cowgirls 79-76 back in December in the Big 12/SEC challenge.

In that game, also at Starkville, Vivians scored 30. But Oklahoma State shot better from the field and outrebounded Mississippi State. Schaefer said then his team out-toughed the visitors, but they were plenty tough themselves.

Mississippi State is ranked No. 4 in America. Important guard Roshunda Johnson of Mississippi State played her first two seasons at Oklahoma State. She scored 18 in the first meeting.

All NCAA tournament games are sold out in Starkville, 10,211.

ALBANY: Georgia

Joni Taylor got her first NCAA win, 68-63, over Mercer. The ’Dawgs gave a lot of credit to the season-high 3.457 home fans.

Georgia won at the Southern Conference champs, 72-54, in November.

 “I think it was really special to have Georgia and Mercer play each other – two in-state teams who had incredible seasons,” Taylor said. “Special moment for everyone, and we’re fortunate to come out on top. Mercer’s got a really good team; they battled and they fought really hard. And I was proud of our girls for how they answered that challenge.”

Following their seasonal trend, Georgia’s frontcourt, senior Mackenzie Engram and junior Caliya Robinson combined for 44 points, 26 rebounds and eight assists.

 It is the most victories in a single season since 2007. Robinson's 16 rebounds are the third-most in an NCAA Tournament game for a Georgia player.  Her 23 points are the most for a Georgia player in a NCAA Tournament game since 2010. 

“I think it goes to the chemistry. I think that it’s easy for us to work together,” Robinson said. “I think it plays well in the game, which helps us a lot.”

 “It’s definitely special to be in the NCAA Tournament and play on our home floor,” Engram said. “Walking up to the free throw line, I just enjoyed the moment. That’s kind of been our message this week: Enjoy where we are, enjoy what we’ve done.

“I just kind of took a look around and knew this is it. This is my last run, and to be able to put the game with my free throws that I finally started making, it was a really good feeling.”

She hit the final two free throws with four seconds left, after hitting two with 14 seconds left.

Next up for Georgia is the touchy game with fifth-seeded Duke on Monday night. 

They had four in double figures, including Leonna Odom’s 25, in their opening win.

Erin Mathias is a senior, joined by redshirt seniors Rebecca Greenwell, Bego Faz Davalos and Lexi Brown, a transfer from Maryland.

 Brown has the most assists (136) and is the leading scorer(19.9) followed by Greenwell (14.2). Greenwell leads the rebounder (6.20). They lost at South Carolina and Louisville and at home to Notre Dame.


It is a sad requiem for and what might have been for Raigyne Lewis if she hadn’t blown out her knee. Long the one trick pony of the Ben-Gals, she never recovered her prominence or promise for this No.6 seed, in a minor upset loss to No. 11 Central Michigan, 78-69,  at the Ohio State feeder. Lewis scored 13.

Coach Nikki Fargas is never expected to produce much and she doesn't. Why some schools accept this mid-major level of results is exasperating.

They drew 4,253.

Road kill again, in and out in one try again, they flopped in a No. 12 beating a No. 5, losing to Florida Gulf Coast 80-70 at the Stanford feeder.

 All the markers of negativity remain with the program, including the team leader getting another unsportsmanlike call and the coach not commenting on it. Same old same old.