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.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Guru Report: Saint Joseph’s Edges Columbia For Second Straight; Minnesota Upsets Syracuse

Guru’s note: The report beyond the Saint Joseph’s game is drawn on reports from emails, websites, and the wires.

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — The Saint Joseph’s women turned the corner a bit Thursday night, rallying from an early eight-point deficit in the third period to outlast visiting Columbia 68-61 in overtime here at Hagan Arena.

The Hawks (3-4), who have needed defensive stands to help their cause, had three players score in double figures, paced by reliable senior Alyssa Monaghan, who collected 16 points and three steals, while Krystalyn Baisden scored 14, and Katie Jekot posted 13, of which all but one came off of four 3-balls, and she also grabbed four steals.

Freshman Katie Mayock had another fine effort with four steals, 10 rebounds and eight points.

“Very proud of our team tonight, I feel we battled for 45 minutes in getting an overtime win, when we needed to make plays, we made plays, when we needed to make stops, we got stops, and overall was very very pleased with our effort,” said veteran coach Cindy Griffin.

It was the first meeting between the two schools, though Columbia (2-5) makes annual visits down in West Philadelphia playing Penn at The Palestra in the Ivy League.

Lions third-year coach Megan Griffith, a native of nearby King of Prussia, played at Columbia and previously spent a six-year stint on the staff of Courtney Banghart at powerhouse Princeton.

Though outrebounded 46-34, the Hawks pressure forced 24 turnovers resulting in 26 points while Columbia got just four.

“The more aggressive we are, the more productive we are,” Griffin said. “We’ve been working on a couple different presses to get us going and perhaps we can get some easy baskets, which have been hard to come by.”

Trailing by their largest margin early in the third, the Hawks rallied on back-to-back three-pointers from Baisden and Jekot to pull within a basket of tying Columbia.

The Lions came into the game averaging just under nine three-balls a game but were limited to just three while the Hawks connected with 11.

Columbia pulled away from Saint Joseph’s third-quarter thrust for a five-point lead heading into the final period but the Lions couldn’t extend further. 

After the Lions pulled from a 40-40 tie to go up by a two with 1 minutes 27 seconds left in the third, the Hawks threw a defensive stand into the fourth and final regulation period and took a 43-42 lead on Whisper Fisher’s inside shot. They continued on what became a 10-0 run for a 50-42 lead on Baisden’s two free throws.

Columbia still had fight, however, rallying to tie it up 54-54 on Riley Casey’s shot with 15 seconds left in regulation.

Both teams turned it over as the clock wound down, throwing away game-winning opportunities.

In the overtime, Jekot’s shot from beyond the arc gave the Hawks the lead and they were able to extend it to five and ride the remaining time left to produce the final score by doubling the Lions 14-7 in the extra period.

“We’ve been in a lot of possession games, we’re going to be in a lot of possession games,” said Griffin of recent contests such as the narrow loss in the semifinals of their Hawk Classic to Rider on Saturday and then the likewise three-point win over Loyola of Maryland for third place Sunday.

“We have to continue to get better at that and at the end of games manage the clock and manage the defense and manage the offense,” Griffin noted.

It’s the first time Saint Joseph’s has won two straight this season and comes in front of Sunday’s annual Villanova game in the Big Five, which will also be played here at 2 p.m.

A year ago the Wildcats routed a more experienced Hawks team setting all kinds of records in the process.

“This is a big confidence boost for our players putting two back-to-back,” said Griffin. “We just want to continue to get better and better each time out.”

As much as it was an uplifting win for the Hawks, it was a tough one for a young Columbia squad on the other side, considering they had gotten things to a point to try to ride out the early effort to a victory.

“Credit to Saint Joseph’s,” Griffin said. “Cindy had her team ready and they were hungry for a win on their home floor.

“Its just tough when you don’t show up and you don’t execute the game plan. I thought they were doing things we don’t practice. So it was tough.

“We’re really young and going through a lot of growing and learning pains right now. It’s just something we have to work through. We have to be better. We have to be better as coaches. They have to show up and be ready to compete,” Griffith observed.

“When you’re young, all these kids are used to winning so it’s just what it takes to figure out when you’re back’s against the ropes and how to play and how to win together. But it’s better to go through it now than January. You just have to learn from it.”

Sienna Durr had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Columbia while Janiya Clemmons scored 11.

Columbia on Sunday visits Boston College, which last weekend swept to the Hawk Classic here with one-sided wins over Loyola of Maryland and Rider.

Penn State Swamped by Florida State

Only two others of the Guru’s local D-1 group played Thursday night and it was a long evening for Penn State, which was trounced 87-58 at Florida State in Tallahassee as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Despite the setback by the Lady Lions (4-3), Kamaria McDaniel had a career-high 24 points, while Teniya Page scored 16 points.

Kiah Gillespie had 27 points for the Seminoles (7-1), while Nausia Woolfolk scored 16, and 11 points each came from Nicki Ekhomu and Valencia Myers, who each scored 11. Myers also grabbed 11 rebounds.

Penn State returns home to the  Bryce Jordan Center to host Jacksonville at at 2.

In the other locally-involved contest, Lehigh at home at Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, Pa., beat Cornell 67-54 as the Mountain Hawks (6-2) got 23 points from Cameryn Benz while Laura Bagwell-Katalinich scored scored 12 for the Big Red (2-4).

Nationally Speaking: Notre Dame Handles Iowa While Minnesota Edges Syracuse

The highly anticipated 1 vs 2 showdown battle of unbeaten teams is set for Sunday for the first time since both Connecticut and Notre Dame competed in the title game of the NCAA championship in 2014 in Nashville.

In that one the Huskies claimed a 79-58 win over the Irish.

But it will be different this time in what in the long run is just a double measuring stick in the early season clash.

The pre-game fortunes are reversed in that it is Notre Dame with the No. 1 ranking and also the tag as defending national champions with the game to air at 4 p.m. from the Irish’s Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind. 

Furthermore, Connecticut has the revenge motive after falling in the semifinals on Arike Ogunbowale’s shot at the buzzer in overtime.

Two nights later she repeated the feat to spoil Mississippi State and deliver Notre Dame’s second ever crown following the one 17 years earlier in 2001.

The last 1 vs 2 matchup was also a Notre Dame/UConn affair in 2017, and also in South Bend, in which Notre Dame fell to Connecticut in a run in which the Huskies surprised all going unbeaten as part of the NCAA-record 111-game win streak until Mississippi State ended it on a buzzer-beater in overtime in the national semifinals.  

Despite Notre Dame’s departure from the old Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference and UConn’s move to the American Athletic Conference, the two have continued to mostly annually meet in the regular season, usually as the participants in the Jimmy V Classic on the women’s side, which will be the same cause on Sunday. 

The Huskies (6-0) routed DePaul Wednesday to stay with a zero in the loss column, and Notre Dame completed the set up Thursday running over No. 14 Iowa 105-71 with Ogunbowale the center of the story again.

“It’s one of the best rivalries in college basketball,” she said of Sunday’s game after scoring 30 points to top her four starting teammates who also scored in double figures.

“When we play like that and play together we’re unstoppable,” said Ogunbowale, who peppered the Hawkeyes defense with a 12-for-21 shooting night.

Brianna Turner, the first of four key Notre Dame players sidelined by knee injuries a year ago, had 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Marina Mabrey scored 18 in what was her second game following an absence of the first five due to a quad injury.

“It was probably one of our better games of the season,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, a former Saint Joseph’s star inducted to the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame earlier this month. “I was really excited about the assist-to-turnover ratio. That’s the thing that has been missing.”

Her team (7-0) had 21 assists against only nine miscues.

“Offensively they are just a juggernaut — there are so many weapons and so many people you have to guard on that team,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “It was their offense which took us out of our game.”

Megan Gustafson, a national player of the year candidate from the Hawkeyes (4-2), had 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Minnesota Upsets Syracuse

In her first major test in her fledgling coaching career former WNBA great Lindsay Whalen guided her alma mater No. 10 Gophers to a 72-68 win over No. 12 Syracuse at home in Williams Arena and it would not be a stretch to say the Maggie Dixon Award for the top rookie on the sidelines given by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) is now Whalen’s to lose.

Taiye Bello had a career-high 20 points and she grabbed 18 rebounds while Kenisha Bell had 24 points and nine rebounds.

The game, as well as the Notre Dame/Iowa meeting, were part of the pairings in the annual ACC/Big Ten challenge the last two nights.

The Gophers (6-0) were ahead early but Syracuse (6-2), which had shown potential to repeat the Orange’s first-ever Women’s Final Four appearance of several years ago, was up six when Minnesota launched a 12-0 run and topped the visitors with a 17-7 advantage over the final 3 minutes 30 seconds of the game.

Destiny Pitts (10 pts.) and Annalese Lamke (13 rebs.) were also factors for Minnesota, while Kiara Lewis scored 14 for Syracuse, Miranda Drummond scored 12, Tiana Mangakahia had 11 and dealt eight assists, and Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi had 10 points and blocked five shots.

Syracuse came into the game off a buzzer-beating win over No. 16 DePaul just previous.

Meanwhile, unranked Purdue in another ACC/Big Ten Challenge event, upset No. 21 Miami 74-63 at home in Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind., as Dominque Oden had career-highs of six three-balls and 27 points for the Boilermakers (6-2) Miami (7-1) took its first loss despite Emese Hof scoring 25 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.

Another cross conference challenge game saw No. 13 North Carolina State beat Michigan 66-55 at home in Raleigh as Grace Hunter scored 13 to send the Wolfpack to a 7-0 start for the first time since 1999. 

Old Dominion visits Sunday trying to break up North Carolina State’s string of 23 straight wins at home over non-conference opposition.

Michigan (5-2) got 18 points from Nicole Munger.

No. 7 Maryland at home in the Xfinity Center in College Park beat Georgia Tech 67-54 to stay unbeaten at 7-0 while the Yellow Jackets fell to 5-2, and No. 5 Louisville at home rode Asia Durr’s 25 points and eight rebounds for the Cardinals (7-0) to an 85-68 win over Nebraska (2-4) in two other challenge matchups.

No. 17 Texas A&M fell to unranked Lamar 74-68 at home in College Station as Aggies coach Gary Blair suspended reigning national freshman of the year Chennedy Carter for breaking a national team attendance rule.

Chastadie Barr had 23 points for Lamar (5-3) and Miya Crump scored 20. Aaliyah Wilson had 17 points for the Aggies (4-2).  

And that’s the report.      




Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Guru Report: Perretta Gets 750th as Villanova Tops Princeton; Drexel Extends Win Streak Defensing La Salle

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

VILLANOVA, Pa. – There are many signature moments in what is now veteran Villanova women’s basketball coach Harry Perretta’s collection of 750 victories and overall record.

Foremost perhaps is the one for the Big East championship in 2003 that brought an end to the then-NCAA record 70-game win streak by the University of Connecticut.

Add to the pile the few that came right after, enabling the Wildcats to become the first Big Five women’s team to advance to the NCAA’s Elite Eight stage of the tournament.

Then there’s the the run to the AIAW Final Four in 1982.

And there are many more as well as some on the other side of the ledger that prevented the number to arrive sooner in his 41 seasons on the Main Line such as Saturday’s fourth-quarter meltdown in Florida that led to a setback to Virginia Tech.

However the timeline has run, put the whole shebang together and No. 750 hit the career log Wednesday night in the form of a 67-46 win over defending Ivy champion Princeton at home in Finneran Pavilion, impressive in most situations given the program that Courtney Banghart has built.

But soon after the update became ready to be applied on the next pre-game set of notes referring to Perretta’s record (750-465), he was quick to be the first to place a virtual asterisk on this one, the fourth straight the Wildcats (4-2) has owned over the Tigers (1-7), making them 12-7 in the non-conference series between the two.

“I feel sorry for them,” he said of the vastly depleted lineup that also includes reigning Ivy player of the year Bella Alerie among the missing (broken shoulder). “I thought our defense was good but it’s hard to tell when three of their best players aren’t playing. But I thought it was good against the team they put out there tonight.”

For that matter, put an asterisk on Princeton’s now seven-game losing streak after a season-opening rout at nearby Rider, a slide that hasn’t happened since the first of Banghart’s 12 seasons. The loss also became her 100th against 233 victories and six Ivy titles.

“We were able to stay in front of them, which has been a problem for us (against other teams) and we shot the ball half-decent and moved the ball half-decent,” Perretta said of the Wildcats’ improvement from the two losses in Florida. “But it’s just hard to tell (playing) a team that is depleted.

“I’ve been in that position. I know what it’s like,” Perretta continued.

 “You try to play against teams when you’re depleted. It’s hard. I think she’s doing a good job getting the other kids ready, trying to get the other kids back.” He continued.

“Look, we were 3-8 when we had injuries and we finished with 20 wins when we got the kids back. My point is when they get the kids back and relatively soon, then you can go from there.”

On a night that Kelly Jekot struggled, shooting 2-for-12 from the field and scoring four points after a pre-game season average of  18.4 points per game, the Wildcats got a game-high 17 points from graduate student Adriana Hahn as she shot 7-for-11 from the field, including 3-of-6 three-pointers, while Mary Gedaka had a double double of 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Jannah Tucker and reserve Bridget Herlihy each scored nine points.

“I think we did well with the adjustments we had to make,” Hahn said. “Princeton switched everything. We had a mistmatch down low or we had a mismatch on the perimeter guarding the posts, we had really good open threes or good cuts to the basket.

“We rebounded the ball better (39-32) than down in Florida. We got outrebounded bad. We did a really good job with that tonight. I think our defense was better and we didn’t send the other team to the free throw line a ton. So I think we’re adjusting as a team.”

Gabrielle Rush was the lone Tiger in double figures with 13 points and also she grabbed eight rebounds, but Carlie Littlefield, who was averaging 15.1 points per game, was held to five.

“We played two very athletic teams in Florida,” Perretta referred to an uncharacteristic number of turnovers, “and they forced us into a lot of turnovers. We’re just not good against athletic pressure.

“I was excited we got close to 16-18 points from our bench and we had not been getting that at all in past games. So we changed our starting lineup and brought Bridget in off the bench. Mary does an excellent job inside, she shoot’s a high-percentage shot and that’s important.”

Next up is a visit to Saint Joseph’s Sunday for the season’s second Big Five game, going against the Hawks at 2 p.m. in Hagan Arena. Villanova has a win over La Salle, while Saint Joseph’s is 0-2 with losses to Temple and Penn.

A year ago the Wildcats surprisingly set records for a lopsided outcome in the series when the game was played next door in the smaller Jake Nevin Field House while Finneran was undergoing a renovation.

Though that edition of the Hawks was more veteran than will be Sunday’s group, which hosts Columbia (1st ever meeting) Thursday night at 7 and has struggled, Perretta is not assuming any advantage.

“It’s a Big Five game,” he said. “You saw the La Salle game here at home. Everybody thought we were going to win by 30, we struggled to win the game.

“I know what it’s like, I’ve been around for 40 years. I don’t care if it’s five against zero down there. It is what it is.” 

While Villanova will be on Hawk Hill, Princeton will be back home Sunday in Jadwin Gym, hosting Davidson.

Drexel Extends Win Streak With Triumph at La Salle

The Dragons have now gone 12 quarters or three straight games holding the lead all the way after winning at La Salle 58-43 at the Explorers’ Tom Gola Arena as they used their top-ranked defense to offset a tough night of ball control committing 19 turnovers.

They are limiting opponents to a 43.0 points per game cumulative scoring average.

Drexel (5-1) has not lost since the season opener, a narrow finish, against Quinnipiac, then the No. 1 ranked mid-major. Two city teams are now in the victims column and a third local game, a big one, will be played Dec. 21 in a neighborhood scrum when Penn comes three blocks up 33rd Street from the Palestra to resume a series at 11:30 a.m. in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

Bailey Greenberg, the reigning player of the week in the Colonial Athletic Association, has been the Dragons’ top scorer each game and Wednesday night was no difference with her total of 19 points. She also had nine rebounds.

Freshman Keishana Washington had 14 points and shot 6-for-11 from the field against La Salle (0-6), still looking for its first win under new head coach Mountain MacGillivray. 

It was just the second home game of the season for the Explorers who will visit No. 9 Oregon State on Saturday ( 3p.m. EST) on the Pac-12 network before visiting Penn next Wednesday at The Palestra.

Aubree Brown scored 11, making it the first time this season Drexel has had three players score in double figures in a game.

Niki Metzel had a career-high 10 rebounds to go with her six points for the visitors.

A 6-0 run helped La Salle stay in contention though Drexel went to the break ahead 30-23.

The Dragons inched ahead to a 10-point lead at the end of three quarters, having held La Salle to two points in the first 8 minutes, 17 seconds of the third.

No one on La Salle scored in double figures with Jeryn Reese getting a team-high seven points while Deja King, Janay Sanders, and Shayla Sweeney each scored six. 

The Dragons are on break from game nights but not the classroom until a week from Friday when they will visit Riverdale in suburban New York to play in the Manhattan College Holiday Tournament, playing the host Jaspers at 7 p.m. 

The opponents are predetermined each of the two days so Drexel on Saturday, Dec. 9, will face Wright State at 3:30 p.m.

Rider Tops NJIT

Back home in Alumni Gymnasium from a dusting Sunday from Boston College in the title game of the Hawk Classic, a short road trip away at Saint Joseph’s, the Broncs bounced back with a 67-46 win over NJIT in a non-conference game in Lawrenceville, N.J.

Stella Johnson, who got the program’s first-ever triple double earlier this month in the last home game, got 22 points in this one along with eight assists, five steals and three assists, while Lea Favre had  20 points, shooting 10-for-16 from the field.

Leading 30-23 at the half, Rider (3-4) stayed in front and pulled away down the stretch against the Highlanders (1-7).

“To force 26 turnovers is a good step for us,” said Rider coach Lynn Milligan. “Everything is a progression for us. If we continue to grow together then we will be where we need to be when we need to be there.”

The Broncs belong to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

Rider next hosts Navy at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Rutgers Falls to Virginia Tech in Big-10/ACC Challenge

It’s that time early in the season when two of the Power Five conference women’s teams match up against each other. Therefore, if you want to say Rutgers got another test traveling with a Big Ten flag to Virginia Tech, the answer is yes the Scarlet Knights did and the outcome was no better than the bulk of the recent weekend spent at the Vancouver Showcase in Canada’s British Columbia.

Leading early, the Scarlet Knights once again succumbed to a rally, this one by unbeaten Virginia Tech, which took a 67-51 victory at home in Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg.

Taylor Emery scored 22 for the Hokies (8-0), while Kendyl Brooks scored 11. She is the daughter of coach Kenny Brooks, who previously was the longtime coach of James Madison. Regan Magarity had nine points and a game-high 14 rebounds.

Sierra Calhoun scored 14 for Rutgers (5-3), while Charise Wilson scored 11.

Rutgers shook off an 8-0 run by the home team to be knotted 31-31 at the half.

The Hokies answered an early Scarlet Knights lead in the third with a 12-3 run to hold a slight 47-43 lead heading into the fourth and final period.

Virginia Tech then got the Knights on both ends building a 16-point lead and holding them to a pair of field goals and eight points.

Rutgers is now off until a trip to Harvard a week from Saturday in Cambridge, Mass.

Nationally Speaking: UConn Completes Its Notre Dame Prep at the Expense of DePaul

If anything, DePaul coach Doug Bruno would be the person to go to analyze this Sunday’s 1 vs. 2 showdown when Notre Dame hosts Connecticut in their first meeting since the host Irish’s NCAA Semifinals upset in overtime of the Huskies on Arike Ogunbowale’s shot last April.

His Blue Demons have played both the top-ranked Irish and second-ranked Huskies in the last 11 days, the second of which occurred Wednesday night in a 99-63 loss to Connecticut (6-0) in the XL Center in Hartford.

DePaul (4-3), which had to be a bit tired after playing a three-day Thanksgiving weekend tourney that included a buzzer-beating loss to No. 12 Syracuse, used to see the top two teams regularly when all three were members of the old Big East.

The Demons are part of the reconfigured Big East, devoid of the other two, and are now the defending champions.

On Wednesday, as in the recent loss to Notre Dame, Bruno’s team started out competitively, until the opposition flexed its talent, which is not to say DePaul is empty-handed.

A strong run by UConn occurred as DePaul went dry after staying within a point with 4:21 left in the first period. Then the kaboom as the Huskies went on a 16-0 run to the end of the first quarter and an overwhelming 40-18 lead at the half.

It was the Demons’ fifth game in seven days.

Katie Lou Samuelson had 24 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists for the Huskies, while DePaul’s Ashton Millender scored 15, Dee Bekelja scored eight, and Kelly Campbell, Lexi Held and Sonya Morris each scored seven points.

“Part of playing on Sunday was playing today and playing as well as we could to prepare ourselves,” Samuelson said. “We really focused on this game.”

DePaul, which visits Villanova early in the their home-and-home portion of the Big East schedule, has lost 16 straight to UConn since winning the first game in the series in 1983. 

Notre Dame has one more piece of business, hosting No. 14 Iowa Thursday night before the Huskies come calling Sunday.

DePaul, by the way, next hosts Temple Monday at 11 a.m. (12 p.m. EST) in Chicago, the last of a six-game road trip for the Owls before returning home Dec. 6 to host Iona.

Thursday night’s other national game of note has No. 12 Syracuse visiting No. 20 Minnesota in the first major coaching test for former WNBA great Lindsay Whelan at her alma mater in Minneapolis.

Locally, Thursday, besides Saint Joseph’s hosting Columbia, the other game on the slate is Penn State, trying to shake off its recent upset home loss to Stony Brook, visiting Florida State as part of the Big Ten/ACC challenge as is the Syracuse/Minnesota game.

This is now the finals period where not a lot of games occur until a short burst before the holiday break.

And that’s the report.





Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: Holiday Business Trips Bring Success to Most

By Mike Siroky
When you are a ranked team in the Southeastern Conference of women’s basketball chances are you spend your holidays entertaining fans at exotic locations while campuses are closed.

Several conference members (including some unranked ones) did just that.

It is all part of the advantages to the players that they get to see sites not every college student gets.

 Yes, it’s a working holiday. But the players and coaches do not see what they do as work, especially as they move to at least 10 wins in the pre-conference season with the goal of 20 for the season and inclusion once again in the NCAA eliminations.

It doesn’t work for everyone. 

Kentucky had four wins and not one vote last week, despite a 4-0 start. They won thrice more and so added a fifth team to the poll from the league, at No. 25.

The first of the Wade Trophy watch lists came out. The Wade was the first National Player of the Year Award reaching back to the 1977or pre-NCAA.

Several SEC players are on it, including Caliya Robinson (Georgia); Teaira McCowan, (Mississippi State); Tyasha Harris (South Carolina); and Chennedy Carter (Texas A&M). 

The favorite will be whoever Geno Auriemma designates from his three UConn nominees. After all, UConn has nine Wade trophies since 2002. But it’s fun to be considered

More national signees showed up. Maybe they just wanted to wait for the solo spotlight or maybe they just wanted to be assured of classmates.
No. 6 Mississippi State (6-0)

Superlative senior center Teaira McCowan was the first SEC Player of the Week and teammate Anriel Howard  was the second.

They did not stem the momentum. We say just give it every week to McCowan. She will be the season winner. 

We are calling it before December Because none of the teams ahead of them in the poll lost, they stayed at No. 6

She became the first State player to hit 100 percent of her shots when attempting at least 10. She was 11-of-11 from the field  against overwhelmed Furman in a 106-41 win.

Her 10 rebounds made it a 43rd career double/double.

State cleared 100 in three straight, a program record.

The Bulldogs made 12 of 20 3-point shots and had four other players score in double figures.

"We've got people knocking down shots on the outside, which frees it up for me to go one-on-one to the hole," McCowan said. "My 1-on-1 game is pretty good, so I'm confident in that."

They used a 30-0 run over 12 minutes of the first and second quarters to run away from the Paladins. 

Mississippi State led 60-18 at halftime.

The Bulldogs closed the third quarter on a 16-0 run and had 18 points in the period from McCowan for an 88-26 advantage.

Coach Vic Schaefer said. "I just thought our kids did a good job of taking them out of what they wanted to do."

Chloe Bibby had a career-high 21 points on 5-of-6 shooting from long range for the Bulldogs. Andra Espinoza-Hunter had 14 points, Anriel Howard scored 12 and Myah Taylor had 10.

Bibby had been  shooting 52 percent on 3s. She already has surpassed her 3-point total from last year.

"I didn't really think about my shot," Bibby said. "If I get open, I'm going to shoot and today we found the extra pass and I was wide open. I was just happy to knock down the shots when I needed to do it."

Mississippi State shot 63 percent from the field. The Bulldogs out-rebounded the Paladins 45-24, forced 26 turnovers and shared 28 assists.

"We're great in transition -- this is one of our better ones, maybe our best," Schaefer said. "If teams don't turn it over 26 times, are we good enough to execute things in the half court and still score? 

“I think we're making shots right now and it's a whole lot easier game when you're making shots.

"Trust me, the naysayers are out there. I feel them on the back of my neck saying, `OK, let's see how they do in December.' I think we're playing well, but the naysayers are out there and that's my challenge to them. Let's work so we can answer that in December." 

They take on Texas, Oregon and Marquette over a span of four games next month.

The Bulldogs have this holiday tradition wherein they have a Teddy Bear toss.

Fans bring Teddy Bears get free admission to be tossed onto the court for distribution to children. The foe this year was Jackson State. 

Here’s a perspective: Jackson State scored its 29th point with two minutes to go in the third. State had that many in the first quarter and kept adding offensively and defensively  until it was 105-38/

McCowan didn’t double only because she was not needed on the court. She managed 8-of-9 from the field among her 18 points Jordan Danberry wads unleashed for 16. Three others, including two off the bench, hit double figures.

State had 12 steals, caused 25 turnovers and had  21 assists.

“We came out offensively and were very good,” Schaefer said. “Our transition game was good. We didn’t make as many 3s as we normally do. Bre’Amber Scott did a great job off the bench. I wanted her to be the first one in today. She really delivered.”

They drew 6,953.

No. 11 Tennessee (5-0)

After toying with Clemson and the former Florida coach, the Lady Vols advanced to the finals of the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas.

They doubled up the Tigers in the fourth, including a  13-0 run. They won the quarter by a 24-12 margin in the fourth ,which settled the game 78-66.

Senior swing Meme Jackson led UT in scoring, 4-of-9 3s, with 14 points. It earned her a spot on the all-tournament team. Junior forward Rennia Davis scored 13 and rookie Zaay Green with 11.

The Lady Vols had 14 steals, forcing 23 turnovers and won rebounds, 41-32. 

Clemson actually took a four-point lead three times in the third before UT settled win with multiple substitutions.

UT shot 60 percent from the field in the fourth to close out the game, forcing Clemson to 5-of-13 from the field with six takeaways. "We settled in and attacked the basket," coach Holly Warlick said.

"We weren't doing a good job of handling (dribble) penetration," Warlick said. "I thought the zone was huge for us. Our kids did a great job with it."

"Some (mistakes) come with speeding up on defense," Jackson said. "The adrenaline is going. We have to learn how to slow down and let the game come to us on offense." 

"I think we're going to have to play better," Warlick  said. "I think we're going to have to take care of the ball a lot more." 

In the tournament final, Birmingham won the first quarter by seven, the second by two and the third by one. 

But Warlick smacked her team awake somehow and they won by four in overtime for a 73-68 win and a 5-0 start. 

It was Birmingham’s first loss. 

Only 250 came to see it as everyone else decided the beach was better.

Davis had 18, Evina Westbrooke 16 and center Kasiyahna Kushkituah 13, with as many rebounds, her first career double/double. 

They won the fourth by 10 and had two last-second attempts. So it took and 8-4 extra period to finish it.

Kushkitauh gave the Lady Vols their first lead since the first half at 70-67 with a 3-point play at 46.2 seconds left in overtime. Tennessee survived a poor-shooting day at the  line, making 9-of-22 free throws.

The defense held Birmingham to 23 percent from the field in the fourth and beyond. “We were fortunate,” Warlick said. “We work a lot on our persistence drill. To get 11 stops in a row, that is fabulous for us.

“It shouldn’t been as close as it got.  They did what we asked them to do. And we grinded it out.”

Davis was MVP of the tournament. She hit three 3s at opportune times in the second half.

Birmingham has a 12-point lead with eight minutes  left. That’s when Davis hit her three 3s.

"I was so proud of our team with the resilience," Warlick said. "The fourth quarter, we got 11 out of 12 stops. That is huge. We are growing up, seeing the freshmen and sophomores grow up on the court." 

 UT earned a week off. Like State, because none if the teams ahead of them in the poll lost, they stayed at No. 11
No. 18 Texas A&M (4-1)

The Aggies rebounded from their lone loss by smashing Little Rock, 61-40. Two defensive stops of eight points allowed in each of the middle quarters. It is the fewest points allowed since 2016, also at Arkansas State.

Sophomore Aaliyah Wilson scored a career-high 20.  She has been in double figures three of the first four games. 

Classmate Chennedy Carter scored at least 10 points for the 14th straight game, dating back to last season. She had a season-best six assists.

The Aggies led 27-20 at halftime, then made six of their first seven shots after the break to add 10 points to the difference.

On the day after Thanksgiving, the Aggies welcomed in Arkansas State for its 19th straight home win, 97-56.

The Red Wolves started  competitively, down 25-17 after one. Carter had nine points and three assists as the Aggies hit 64 percent from the field. 

The Aggies won every quarter. and eased out before 5,341 appreciative fans.

A&M shot 64 percent from the field. Carter had 23 points (10-of-13 field goals). Three teammates hit double figures

Sophomore N’dea Jones a second straight double/double, with 13 points and as many rebounds. The team doubled rebounds, 46-23.

“Obviously, we played very well in the first half, our offense was clicking, and that was as good as we could play offensively,” coach Gary Blair said.

“ Chennedy had the same type of half that she had against Syracuse and then she struggled, got three fouls in the second half, like in Syracuse, then she came back from sitting down and then finishes up with two more baskets.

“I’m really more impressed with her running the offense in the first half. 

“She looked like an All-American running that team. The points are just icing on the cake, running her team was the most impressive thing, that is what a true point guard can do, whether she is the scorer or distributor.
“I was pleased with Shambria Washington coming in and just taking her six assists, one turnover, she didn’t need to shoot because everybody was scoring inside.

“N’dea Jones keeps getting better and better,‘ Jones said. “I think we needed to kind of focus on our jobs and roles that forced us to rebound and then get offensive rebounds. 

“Also, just trying to help our teammates out by just finishing it up with a layup. I would say we have been focusing on layups and making sure we have a presence in the paint.”  

“Our shooting percentage inside between five post players was great, Blair said.

“Their shooting percentage might be an all-time best, as far as by five post players. Give them a lot of credit they were battling in there, and we made a pretty good team look average tonight.

 “This team of ours keeps getting better possession by possession, our whole goal is to not give up a right hand drive in the first half and we didn’t.

“We had a great rebounding average, great 3-point shooting, kids coming off the bench being able to play some extended minutes. Jasmine Williams did a good job when she came in; she was the one who got the 30th assist.

 Having won before and after Thanksgiving, they earned the rare weekend off and inched up in the Top 20

No. 19 South Carolina (3-3)

The Gamecocks started the Vancouver Showcase by clearing 100 against East Tennessee State, then ran smack into a higher-ranked team.

Senior Doniyah Cliney hit a pair of 3s, of 11 team 3s for the game, as the guards plan was on display to open the 101-55 ETSU festivities.

Defensive dominance showed in the 22-8 second quarter. SC had runs of a 20-4 start and 9-0.

 Cliney and Bianca Jackson had 14 points apiece and Tyasha Harris scored13. 

Bianca Ceuevas-Moore finally got in a game, 17 minutes.

 She had missed last season with knee reconstruction and all the previous games this season. Once the fastest player on the team, she is no longer that but can add the weight of experience. 

She started with a 3 in the second quarter. It was already a wipeout, 55-29 at the half.

South Carolina shot 76.9 percent in the first quarter, including 5-of-6 3s. The Gamecocks finished 11-of-16 on 3s, for a Staley-era best 68.8 percent.

 The 28 free throws made are a season high.

 Sophomore guard Bianca Jackson had a career-best six steals.  Elysa Wesolek was 3-of-3 from the field, including a pair of 3s, and 2-of-2 from the line.

No. 9 Oregon State was another matter. 

The Beavers showed little regard for South Carolina’s reputation, setting up the 70-68 win with a deadly 17-7 first quarter.

SC, of course, showed little regard for itself by allowing it. Even though they did not lose the next three quarters and won the fourth by seven, they never truly recovered.

So the not ready for prime time players avoided a showdown with Notre Dame.

There is no swagger.

The defense allowed 10 more than its average and the offenses scored seven less, almost the exact margin of loss.

The Beavs will take it, using the old coaching gem of praising the fallen foe as being a top-notch team, thereby implying if they’re so good and we still won, then we must be . . .

"South Carolina is a program that is used to winning at a high level, and this is the first time we have been in a game like this this season," said Oregon State  coach Scott Rueck. "As much as you can try to prepare for situations like this, it's not a substitute for the real thing. 

“We made the plays we needed to make down the stretch to win the game. To do that against a great team with a great coach, this is a big win for us."

And, woo-hoo, they drew barely a thousand.

Te’a Cooper scored 22 and Alexis Jennings doubled, 12 points and 14 rebounds, but no one else helped much. 

The Gamecocks were 32 percent from the field, a two-year low. 

There is no closer here. That is asking a lot of Cooper. Bianca Cuevas-Moore use to be that player. The senior got three minutes and no other statistic here.

All points count and coach Dawn Staley can whistle past the graveyard with bravado with the almost comeback, but all losses count as well as the national stage and there is not much confidence building going on.

Jennings had been restricted  while resting a sore knee.

“It was great to have her back,” Staley said, “knowing that she can play heavy minutes for us and rebound and score. That’s a positive thing as we move forward in this young season.”

State scored its final points on free throws with two seconds left, Cooper tried a 3 at the buzzer for the win. Her 3 with 25 seconds left had tied it. It came off a Jackson steal They had made up six points in the final 3:25.

But what this game shows is Mississippi State will once again dominate the league and SC should be competitive with the other top conference teams.

So what is a Drake? 

It’s the less-than team you wax next to avoid a .500 season, making the cross-country trip home just sad.

 They were eliminated in the first round of the NCAAs last season by A&M.

 It’s what Mid-Major conference champs do, offer southern comfort.

In Drake’s coaching legacy is the multi-decade career of Carole Baumgartner and of still-coaching Susan Yow.

Yep, a nice team to beat.

But South Carolina did not.

The middle quarters cost them, 32-46. It eliminated wiggle room, and led to a 6-11 overtime, where they lost the game, 90-85. The defensive average had been 60, with a scoring margin of 15.

Oh Cooper did all she could, delivering on the premise she had while at Tennessee.

The career-high 31 points were wasted. She opened with six straight field goals. As we said, no go-to closer.  
They have lost consecutive games to nonconference opponents for the first time since 2010, also the last time the Gamecocks were at .500 or worse at this point  in a season.

Drake’s 13-2 run to close the half made it a six-point lead. SC went five minutes without a basket. SC used to do that.

Junior guard Tyasha Harris scored 11 of her 18 points and redshirt senior forward Alexis Jennings scored all 10 of her points in the third and fourth quarters. In the OT, SC missed its last five field goal attempts, including 0-for-3 on 3s in the final minute. 

On the season, they are 2-0 when making 10 or more 3s and 1-3 when not. Sophomore guard Bianca Jackson was 0-for-6 on 3s.

It is Drake’s biggest upset in 15 seasons. They drew 1,866.

SC is the only team with three losses in the Top 20, a ranking based on reputation of its coach.

Maybe Zia Cooke and the others in the second wave of early signees merely wanted to see their new classmates before making a commitment.

She is the No. 7 ranked player in America.

“Zia will join our program with a full toolbox and an eagerness to make an immediate impact on both sides of the ball,” Staley said. “She is an electrifying lead guard that can score with confidence and put our team in a position to win. 

“She is the perfect balance of both her parents who modeled strength, hard work and confidence. She is a fighter and a competitor who  Gamecock Nation will be excited to watch.”
She has a pair of international gold medals with USA Basketball in the 2017 FIBA U16 Americas Cup and the 2017 U17 World Cup. 

Cooke helped her Rogers High School squad in Toledo to the 2018 Division II state championship, posting 33 points and 14 rebounds in the title game. In season. she averaged 21.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 3.1 steals.
No. 25 Kentucky  (7-0)

The Wildcats jumped past formerly ranked Missouri and Georgia.

At the 2018 Paradise Jam, Island Division in the Virgin Islands, they got their three wins for the week, each time defeating teams that have been ranked or receiving votes this season.

It was almost one year after Kentucky departed the poll from No. 20, after 132 consecutive appearances, which was the eighth longest in then-current poll history anong ranked teams at the time.

The 7-0 start is their best since the 10-0 2015.

In the Paradise Jam Island Division,  Kentucky defeated then-No. 17 South Florida, UCLA and finally North Carolina the latter each receiving votes in the national rankings when UK was not. The Kats also have a win over Virginia, with four starters back from an NCAA qualifier.

Freshman guard Rhyne Howard has led Kentucky, averaging 18.3 points with a team-best 6.4 rebounds. 

She has scored 20 or more three times while leading UK in scoring four times.

 Howard was named the MVP of the Paradise Jam Island Division with senior guard Taylor Murray also on the all-tournament team. 

Murray averages 15.6 points and 3.7 rebounds per game while leading UK with 31 assists and 24 steals.

 Senior guard Maci Morris is also averaging double digits, 13.9. She has hit 18 3s.

UK is averaging 79.6 points per game while limiting opponents to 54.3.

 The Kats will play 11 games against teams currently ranked or receiving votes in the AP Top 25.  As usual, playing in the SEC has its RPI perks.

But this month the rivalry with undefeated Louisville is a likely first loss.

In the league, it is Mississippi State, all-time rival Tennessee, No. 17 Texas A&M and Carolina (twice each), and Georgia, Missouri and LSU (twice) who are all receiving votes.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Guru Report: Saint Joseph’s Rallies for Third in Hawk Classic on a Day The Other Locals Suffer Defeat

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — The Saint Joseph’s women used a dominating third quarter to avoid more dubious history in their own Hawk Classic and also salvage one bright spot in Sunday action among the teams in the Guru’s local D-1 group who faced competition.

Playing for third place following Saturday’s narrow loss to Rider in the tournament’s 25th anniversary, only the second-ever setback in their semifinals, the Hawks trailed Loyola of Maryland by 13 points at 23-10 late in the second quarter before shaving off some of the deficit going to the break behind 26-18.

At the outset of the third period, Saint Joseph’s continued the run with the first nine points and 14-0 across the halves to go up one at 27-26 on Kristalyn Baisden’s three-ball. 

The Greyhounds came back to tie, making one of two foul shots, but then the hosts kept playing like old times and making it 25-8 for the quarter and ultimately 49-46 for the game.

Had Saint Joseph’s (2-4) got hit with another upset, which would have been the initial win on the season for Loyola (0-6), it would have been the first time the Hawks would have been wiped out both days here in Hagan Arena.

The other semifinal loss was in late December, 2014, to Quinnipiac, 69-67.

As it was, the Greyhounds did not go away after yielding their big lead and trailing by 11 early in the final stanza. A 7-0 run got them back in play at 47-44 with just over 4 minutes left in regulation. 

Mary Sheehan provided Saint Joseph’s with a little more breathing room inside the paint with 3:37 left but that was to be the final Hawks score of the game. 

Isabella Therien’s score for the visitors made it a three-point game again but the offensive lights then went out on the visitors.

With one last chance to tie as the clock wound down through it’s final ticks, another turnover ensued for Loyola to finish things off.

“It’s going to be a long season of nights like this,” said veteran coach Cindy Griffin.

It definitely was a long afternoon for everyone else in the area Division I group.

Penn suffered a grueling demise down at Navy, similar to Villanova’s last-second loss in Orlando on Saturday, as Maine rallied for a 47-46 victory in the Navy Classic in Annapolis, Md., at the Naval Academy.

Temple fell to No. 24 Miami 73-61 at the host Hurricanes’ Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Fla., while elsewhere in that state Villanova finished off what became a lost weekend as the Wildcats fell to host UCF 71-56 in Orlando.

Penn State trailed by 24 at home and gained somewhat of a moral victory but still suffered an upset loss to Stony Brook 81-70.

And back here in the championship that was played first because the Hawks slotted themselves to be the 2 p.m. game no matter what their fate in the semifinals, Rider’s effort to build on the win over Saint Joseph’s was quickly demolished by unbeaten Boston College, who cruised to a 112-61 thrashing.

 Despite Saint Joseph’s season start, there are lots of reasons for Griffin to be patient and be upbeat about the future, whose bloom might not show till a year from now when a talented group of recruits listed in the top 50 as a class arrives.

“Yes, no question, we’ve got a great class coming,” Griffin said. “And right now a lot of our younger players are going to get a lot of experience and be ready to fit in when the others arrive.

“We’re in a stretch where we have a lot of home games to try to get better every day. You’ve seen us struggle during this phase in recent seasons and then do well when we got to (Atlantic 10) conference,” she added.

“You just want to be ready in March at the end. Look at what we did last year,” she noted of the Hawks’ dark-horse run to the title game.

“In this one, (freshman) Katie Mayock had a great second half.”

Mayock, a 6-foot-2 post player from suburban Berwyn (Pa.) and Conestoga High, who was the Central League MVP, had nine of her season-high 15 points, the only Hawk in double figures, in the final two periods while on the afternoon also grabbing seven rebounds, she shot 6-for-11 from the field, blocked two shots and had a steal.

Michala Clay had nine points and a career-high 11 rebounds while also dealing five assists. Senior Alyssa Monaghan had five points and five rebounds, dealt four assists and had three steals.

Lula Roig had eight points and six rebounds while Mary Sheehan also scored eight points.

Therien had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Greyhounds, who also got 11 points from Bri Betz-White.

In the opener, Boston College was able to send early word back to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to make a space in the trophy case after rolling to a 30-15 first-quarter lead and on to the final 112-61 score over Rider (2-4).

The Eagles’ total was one short of their all-time record that came at the expense of Penn State.

It was the first meeting between the two programs. 

Boston College tossed a near second-quarter shutout making things worse with a 31-4 differential.

The Eagles (6-0), who are still unbeaten under first-year coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee, were led by Marnelle Gerrard, named the tournament MVP after scoring 28 point and collecting six rebounds, four assists, and three steals while also shooting 8-for-12 from the field, including 4-of-7 three-balls.

Makayla Dickens had 19 points, while Taylor Ortlepp scored 11 and dealt six assists, Georgia Pineau scored 10, and Clara Ford had nine points and 10 rebounds.

Rider’s Stella Johnson had 13 points, Amari Johnson scored 10, and Daiji Moses, Amanda Mobley, and Lea Favre scored nine each for the Broncs.

BC was deadly beyond the arc, connecting with 14 to just a pair from Rider.

“Unfortunately, there aren’t many positives to take away from today,” said Rider coach Lynn Milligan. “I think we started with the right pace and right energy, but we got into foul trouble early.

“We didn’t play Rider basketball in the first half at all. I think in the second half we responded. We played a great team and we just didn’t have enough in us to get the result we wanted today.”

Boston College’s Emma Guy and Ortlepp, the Hawks’ Monaghan, Rider’s Stella Johnson, and the Greyhounds’ Therien were named to the all-tournament team.

Saint Joseph’s next hosts Columbia at 7 on Thursday night. 

While the Lions visit town every season, playing Penn at The Palestra, this one provides an even closer homecoming for third-year coach Megan Griffith, who is from King of Prussia (Pa.) and was an all-Ivy player at Columbia.

She previously was a six-year assistant at Princeton.

Rider next hosts NJIT on Wednesday at 7 in Alumni Gymnasium in Lawrenceville, N.J.

Penn Nipped by Maine at the Finish

Poised to complete a successful weekend at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., the Quakers had the expectation go to naught when Maine, defending America East champions, hit a driving layup from Tanesha Sutton with 5.5 seconds left to rally to the 47-46 victory in Alumni Hall.

It was only the second meeting between the two teams in a series now standing at 1-1.

Billed by the host Midshipmen as the Navy Classic, the format predetermined the opponents both days and Penn came away Saturday with a satisfying triumph over Navy.

But a sweep was not to be, primarily, if one wants to find the cause in the statistics, the Quakers (4-2), couldn’t handle the ball, committing 20 turnovers to just eight by the Black Bears (4-2), who got 15 points out of the sloppiness.

It was unfortunate, because although it was contested in a differential of single digits all afternoon, Penn owned the boards with a 46-29 advantage. The game had 11 lead changes and three ties.

Ashley Russell grabbed a career-high 12 to help the cause, while Tori Crawford matched two career highs with nine points and six rebounds.

Eleah Parker had 17 points and nine rebounds and also shot 8-for-12 from the field while Katie Kinum scored 12.

Maine’s Sutton had 16 points and was named MVP of the Navy Classic while Parise Rossignol scored 12 and each collected seven rebounds.

According to the Penn record keepers, this was the Quakers’ first setback since 2013 when it comes to holding an opponent under 50 points, a defensive stand that made coach Mike McLaughlin’s group 60-0  in that span when that statistic has existed.

Things fell apart after Penn went up six midway through the final period, beginning with a trey from Maine to cut the deficit at three 43-40.

Then late in the game where shots were difficult to connect by both sides, Maine went long range to go ahead 45-44 with 17.7 seconds left in regulation.

Penn countered to Parker inside but on the next possession the Black Bears found the winning path to the basket.

The Quakers had a chance to produce a miracle moment but another turnover ended that attempt leaving them with a loss.

Penn now has 10 days off to put this one in the past and prepare for a visit from La Salle for a Dec. 5 Big Five game in which the Quakers will look to avenge their only City Series loss a year ago, which deprived them of an outright local title.

Penn State Rally Falls Short Against Stony Brook As Seawolves Get First Win Over a Power 5 School

Slow starts have been plaguing the Lady Lions all season but they’ve managed to overcome most of them, just recently forging a huge rally to bypass Princeton at home in overtime.

But on Sunday back in Bryce Jordan Center in State College, a 24-deficit to Stony Brook became a bit much and coach Coquese Washington’s squad fell short 81-70, wasting a 34-point scoring effort from Teniya Page.

It was the eighth time Page has scored 30 or more points for the Lady Lions (4-2), which is second best in the program’s history. She started the day tied with Germantown Academy’s Maggie Lucas, who is in the WNBA.

Kamaria McDaniel also scored in double figures for the home team with 13 points.

The Seawolves (4-1), who got their first-ever win over a so-named “Power Five” opponent, moved quickly at the outset, building a 15-5 lead that settled at 17-9 after the first quarter.

Then Stony Brook’s Shania Johnson, who exploded for 25 points, ignited the Seawolves with four 3-pointers on the way to a 43-21 halftime lead that basically held and led to a 58-37 blowout with two minutes left in the third.

Finally, PSU responded with a 9-0 run to close the period and make it interesting at 58-46.

The Lady Lions got it down to within six at 72-66 with 2.22 left in regulation, looking like the rally over Princeton was about to be repeated.

But the Seawolves held with nine of the last 13 points to protect the upset.

“Over the short season so far we have stretches where we look really good defensively and we have stretches where we look really bad defensively,” Washington said afterwards. “The task right now is to find a way to put four quarters of good defense together, and when we can do that, I think we’ll be fine.”

Three other Stony Brook players also scored in double figures with Jerelle Matthews collecting 18, India Pagan scoring 14, and Anastasia Warren scoring 13.

“We’re just really proud of all our players coming in with the right mindset and staying focused,” said Seawolves coach Caroline McCombs. “We were prepared and then an opportunity presented itself and we were able to play tough on the road.”

McCombs, who last week passed former Tennessee star Trish Roberts to become the program’s winningest coach, lauded the play of sophomore Hailey Zeise, a native of Pittsburgh who had a career high three steals and took five charges.

Former La Salle coach Jeff Williams, who was let go after last season, is now associate head coach at Stony Brook.

Next up for Penn State is a trip to Florida State Thursday at 7 p.m. as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Villanova Swept Out of Florida

Following a tough loss Saturday at the conclusion of the game against Virginia Tech in a similar ending suffered Sunday by Penn to Maine at Navy, the Wildcats couldn’t contain host UCF and fell 71-56 in the Knights’ Thanksgiving Classic in Orlando.

The format is similar to the Navy Classic the Quakers participated in which opponents are predetermined for both rounds.

Villanova (3-2) led midway through the second quarter by a point before the game began swinging toward UCF (5-1), which has become a growing program in the American Athletic Conference that contains Connecticut, South Florida, and Temple.

A 9-3 run near the end of the second period put the Knights up 32-27 at the half.

The surge continued at the outset of the third period as the advantage increased to a 38-27.

A 13-3 run put the outcome in the Knights’ hands, though Nova made one last rally to trim a 17-point deficit to nine.

The Wildcats’ Kelly Jekot continued her fine start, scoring 17 points, fueled by five three-pointers, while Mary Gedaka had 11 points and eight rebounds.

Kornelia Wright scored a game-high 20 points for UCF, which is now tied 1-1 with the Wildcats in their two meetings. Kayla Thigpen had 17.

Villanova next hosts Princeton at 7 Wednesday night in the Finneran Pavilion with the defending Ivy champs, barring some upgraded notice, arriving still missing starters, including Ivy player of the year Bella Alarie.

The Wildcats have been able to top the Tigers, currently on a six-game losing streak, the last two seasons, but there are a bunch of unknowns going into this one.

Temple’s Road Woes Continue

Whether this long stretch of games away from North Broad Street will be beneficial won’t be determined until the AAC slate arrives, but for the moment the pattern remained the same Sunday as Temple stayed with a quality opponent in No. 24 Miami but couldn’t overcome the Hurricanes in a 73-61 defeat.

It’s the fourth straight loss for the Owls (2-4) in the string of games away from McGonigle Hall that began with a win at Saint Joseph’s in the Big Five and losses featuring rallies at Mississippi, Marist, and this past weekend in Florida to Radford and the hosts.

Temple’s Mia Davis had a double double with 19 points and 11 rebounds, while Aliya Butts scored 18 and dealt five assists,  and she also grabbed three steals to make the al-tournament team.

Beatrice Mompremier had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Miami (6-1), while Kelsey Marshall scored 17, and Emese Hof scored 13.

Billed as the Miami Classic on the weekend, the event, like the ones participated by Villanova and Penn, featured predetermined opponents both days.

The Hurricanes lived up to their nickname in the second half, shooting 50 percent to get the win.

The Owls’ next game is at No. 16 DePaul in Chicago next Monday morning at 11. They will be a heavy underdog in that one, then return home to host Iona, Dec. 6.

After two days of wildness, nothing of great consequence occurred nationally, and since games involving D-1 locals don’t play till Wednesday and all of those games are referenced above, no looking ahead in this one either, which means, that’s the report. 







The Guru Report: Drexel Takes Vermont Tourney While Penn Wins at Navy

Guru’s note: Information in this report drawn on email, website, and wire reports. The Saint Joe tourney is in a separate file under this post.

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

The Drexel and Penn women continued to show their prowess on the road Saturday, while Villanova took its first loss letting one get away, but Rutgers, and Delaware had bounce-back wins. Not so much, however, for Princeton.

Nationally, a day after second-ranked Connecticut got challenged, it was top-ranked Notre Dame’s turn to rally.

But let’s first head to the power center of local Division I teams, whose campuses are just blocks apart in West Philadelphia.

Up in New England, Drexel clamped down on host Vermont in Burlington for a 60-44 win over the Catamounts in their TD Bank Classic championship, following up on the Dragons’ title there in 2012.

Bailey Greenberg drove the surge with a career high 22 points and also had eight rebounds to earn MVP honors with 17 of them coming in the first half. She also had 19 in Friday’s win over Siena in the semifinals for the Dragons (4-1).

Aubree Brown also made the all-tournament team.

Career-day honors also went to Niki Metzel with 13 points and seven rebounds.

Hannah Crymble remained unstoppable for Vermont (3-3), scoring 23 points, more than half the team’s total.

The Dragons responded to their 20-9 rebounding deficit at the half to own the boards 24-11 the next two quarters and land an overall edge 33-31.

Across the second and third periods Drexel kept Vermont off the scoreboard for more than 11 minutes in a lopsided 25-0 run, the first 11 of which came at the end of the second period as Keishanna Washington scored or assisted on all of them. She finished with eight points and five assists.

Depth also arrived as Mariah Leonard, sidelined for most of last season, saw her first action and scored seven in the second half in Patrick Gymnasium.

Next up comes Wednesday when the Dragons travel La Salle in the Tom Gola Arena to resume a local rivalry. Then comes a break followed by a visit to Manhattan on Dec. 7 in Riverdale followed by a neutral game at the same site the next day against Wright State.

Penn Sinks Navy

The Quakers continue to be the early season surprise of sorts, if only due to a slight rebuild, but coach Mike McLaughlin’s group navigated dangerous waters to sink Navy 65-61 in a closely fought contest at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Penn’s strength is still where it’s always been on the inside despite the graduation of former Ivy player of the year Michelle Nwokedi. On Saturday Eleah Parker had 15 points and Princess Agahayere scored 14, a career-high with the Quakers (4-1) to go with her 11 rebounds.

The visitors have won three straight against the Midshipmen (1-3), two in Annapolis and are now 5-5 in the series.

Freshman Mia Lakstigala helped the cause with seven points and eight steals.

The game in Alumni Hall was a homecoming for Tori Crawford.

Kolbi Green had 17 points for Navy, Sophie Gatzounas scored 16, and Morgan Taylor scored 13.

The Quakers will stay in town in what is billed as the Navy Classic, meeting defending America East champion Maine on Sunday at 3:15 p.m.

Then on December 5, Penn gets back on the Big Five trail hosting La Salle, the one team that deprived the Quakers of an outright title last season.

Villanova Fades Down the Stretch Against Virginia Tech

Cruising along with a 13-point lead against the Hokies in the third period of the UCF Thanksgiving Classic in Orlando, Fla., the Wildcats suffered their first defeat of the season, 61-59, when they got overtaken on the boards and fell in excruciating style.

Virginia Tech remains unbeaten at 6-0.

Adrianna Hahn missed a three-ball for Villanova (3-1), with the Wildcats ahead by a point. Going the other way, the Hokies’ Taylor Emery missed a runner but teammate Trinity Baptiste scored on a putback and was fouled. She made the and-one with 2.8 seconds in regulation to give the Hokies the victory.

In the loss, Kelly Jekot had another fine effort with 22 points for Villanova, shooting 9-of-13 from the field, while Mary Gedaka had 11 points and nine rebounds. Jannah Tucker had 10 points and dealt five assists.

Emery scored 22 for the Hokies while Regan Magarity had a double double with 18 points and 16 rebounds.

In the weekend event, opponents were predetermined, so the Wildcats will meet the UCF host Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

On Wednesday night, Villanova will greet Princeton at 7 in Finneran Pavilion, which should be interesting.

Rutgers Takes Seventh In Vancouver

Following losses to Drake and Gonzaga in the TCL Vancouver Showcase in Canada, the Scarlet Knights returned to winning ways, salvaging a 68-44 triumph over ETSU, which is now 0-7 on the season.

Charise Wilson had 17 points for Rutgers (5-2), while Stasha Carey and Arella Guirantes each scored 10 points. Victoria Harris grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds but Erica Haynes-Overton had a game-high 23 points for ETSU.

Rutgers goes to Virginia Tech Wednesday night for its match in the annual ACC/Big Ten Challenge at 7 p.m. in Roanoke. The team will stay on the road to visit Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.

Delaware Handles Lafayette

The Blue Hens took third place in the FAU Thanksgiving Tournament routing Lafayette 65-47 in Boca Raton, Fla. 

Justina Mascaro had a career-high 14 points for Delaware (3-3) while Bailey Kargo scored 13, and Samone DeFreese had 11 points and seven rebounds.

Gadson Lefft, a redshirt senior, had eight rebounds.

Lafayette (3-3) had 16 points and 10 rebounds from Natalie Kucowski.

Delaware next travels to Boston U. A week from Sunday (today).

Princeton Woes Continue

Holding a 42-34 halftime lead, the Tigers got plundered the rest of the way as Kansas State crushed the defending Ivy champs 46-19 to go on to an 80-61 victory in the final day of the Cancun Challenge at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya in Mexico.

The Tigers (1-6), missing four starters including Ivy player of the year Bella Alarie, have dropped six straight after an opening night win at nearby Rider.

Carlie Littlefield equaled her career high for Princeton with 22 points, while Gabrielle Rush had her first career double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Payton Williams had 23 points for Kansas State (4-2), while Christianna Carr had 22 points, and Rachel Ranke scored 15.

Having met one group of Wildcats, Princeton meets another of the same mascot identity but more familiar when the Tigers travel to Villanova for a 7 p.m. game Wednesday night.

Looking Ahead: Temple Heads into Hurricanes

It turns out, the Owls’ weekend trip to Florida has them playing No. 24 Miami Sunday afternoon and not Saturday. Temple (2-3) is on a rugged six-game road trip where after a win at Saint Joseph’s, the Owls have lost at Mississippi, Marist, and Friday to Radford in the first game at Miami.

Temple hasn’t played the Hurricanes (5-1) since 2000. The game will air on ACC Network Extra at 2 p.m.

After Sunday, Temple has one more stop a week from Monday at No. 16 DePaul in Chicago.

Penn State hosts Stony Brook Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. on the Big Ten network while the only other local D-1 action involves Rider and Saint Joseph’s in their games at the Hawk Classic as mentioned in a separate posted under here and the Villanova game at UCF.

Nationally Speaking: Notre Dame Rally Keeps Irish Unbeaten

The holiday wave of upsets and near upsets continued Saturday, but the 1 vs. 2 matchup for next Sunday at Notre Dame when the Irish host second-ranked Connecticut at 4 p.m.

Technically, a loss could still occur before the game in South Bend, but if it happens, the AP Poll wouldn’t be affected until the next vote Sunday night.

UConn almost got shocked by unranked St. John’s Saturday at the Paradise Jam, in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, but rallied at the close of the fourth period.

The unbeaten Huskies (5-0) had a much easier time Sunday, crushing Purdue 86-40, as Katie Lou Samuelson tied her season best with 22 points, Nspheesa Collier had 19 points and 10 rebounds, rookie Christyn Williams had 17 and the Huskies have now won 120 straight regular season games.

In between are two buzzer-beating losses in the NCAA semifinals to Mississippi State and Notre Dame the last two seasons.

Dominique Oden and Kayana Traylor both scored 12 points for the Boilermakers (5-2).

The Huskies host No. 16 DePaul Wednesday night.

While Connecticut could breathe easy on Sunday, not so for the defending champion bunch from Notre Dame which used the fourth quarter to outscore No. 9 Oregon State 23-11 in the fourth period and take a 91-81 victory in the inaugural Vancouver Showcase title game in Canada after trailing by 12 earlier in the game.

Jackie Young had 23 points, Arike Ogunbowale and Brianna Turner each scored 21, while Jessica Shepard, sidelined Friday with a sore ankle, scored 17 for the unbeaten Irish (6-0).

“We really struggled at the beginning of the game,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw, a former star at Saint Joseph’s.

Destiny Slocum had 21 points and Mikayla Pivec scored 17 for the Beavers (6-1), who lost their first game.

Shepard had 10 rebounds.

Oregon State next on Saturday hosts La Salle after the Explorers play Drexel Wednesday night.

Notre Dame plays No. 12 Iowa at home Thursday night before the UConn visit.

Meanwhile, in the third place game in British Columbia, after No. 13 South Carolina launched a huge rally that nearly toppled Oregon State on Saturday, the Gamecocks were shocked by Drake 90-85 in overtime.
Sara Rhine had 25 points for the Bulldogs (6-1), who upset Rutgers in the first round before losing to Notre Dame in the semifinals to land in the third place game.

Dawn Staley’s Gamecocks (3-3) forced the overtime but were ruined by a 7-0 run after taking a brief lead in the extra period.

Te’a Cooper had 31 for South Carolina, and Tyasha Harris scored 18.

Unranked Florida State knocked off Iowa 71-67 for the title of the Junkanoo Jam in Bimini, Bahamas, as Nausia Woolfolk scored 25 points for the Seminoles (6-1).

A day earlier the Hawkeyes (4-1) had launched their biggest rally in the Lisa Bluder coaching era, coming back from a 24-point deficit to escape an upset from No. 25 West Virginia.

Tania Davis had 22 points for Iowa, while Megan Gustafson had 16 points and eight rebounds.

No. 11 Tennessee, playing in another division of the Junkanoo Jam for the title, forced overtime against  unranked UAB before taking a 73-49 win after trailing by 12 in the fourth period.

The unbeaten Lady Vols (5-0) got 18 points from Rennia Davis, 16 from Evina Westbrook, and 13 from Kasiyanha Kushkituah to avoid an upset. 

Rachel Childress and Katelyn Thomas each scored 19 for UAB (4-1).

Tennessee made just 9-of-22 foul shot attempts.

No. 14 Syracuse edged No. 16 DePaul 83-81 in overtime in the title game of the Cancun Challenge as Tiana Mangakahia had 22 points, 10 rebounds and six assists and hit the game-winner at the buzzer for the Orange (6-1) who nearly won at No. 3 Oregon earlier this month.

Miranda Drummond had 21 for Syracuse. Gabrielle Cooper had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Orange who jumped to an 18-6 lead in the first quarter.

Chante Stonewall had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Demons (3-2), whose other loss has been to Notre Dame.

No. 7 Maryland got pushed by Georgia, which fell out of the rankings last week, but the Terrapins held on for a 58-51 win in the title game of the Puerto Rico Classico tournament in Trujillo Alto.

Stephanie Jones had 21 points for Maryland (6-0) as Georgia fell to 3-3.

No. 17 South Florida, which suffered two losses in the Junkanoo Jam, edged unranked UCLA 60-56 as Sydni Harvey had a career high 19 points. Laura Ferreira scored 14 for the Bulls (5-2).

Japreece Dean had 17 points for the Bruins (3-4).

No. 10 Texas, which had to rally to beat unranked Quinnipiac, Saturday, beat Michigan 69-52 to reach the title game of the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Fla. Jaterie White had 16 points for the Longhorns (5-0), who will play Fordham Sunday.

The Wolverines (4-1) will play Washington for third place.

Fordham advanced to the title game with a 65-57 win over Washington (3-2) as Bre Cavanaugh had 26 points and four steals for the Rams (4-2).

In other games of note, not involving ranked teams, Kentucky made a bid for the poll, beating North Carolina 85-75 as Taylor Murray scored 23 for the unbeaten Wildcats (7-0) and Stephanie Watts had 27 for the Tar Heels (5-2) in the Virgin Islands.

Lehigh beat Norfolk State 62-41 at home in Stabler Arena in Bethlehem as Camryn Buhr had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Mountain Hawks (5-1).  

And that’s the report.






Saturday, November 24, 2018

Hawk Classic: Rider Edges Saint Joe’s in First-Ever Over Hawks to Advance to Title Game Facing Boston College

Guru’s note: decided to break out the event attended from the rest of the report

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – There’s a first and second time for everything and happily for the Rider women and unhappily for their host Saint Joseph’s counterparts both historical moments occurred here Saturday afternoon in the opening semifinal round of the annual Hawk Classic at Hagan Arena.

In the second half the Broncs finished erasing a 10-point deficit and held on for a narrow 56-54 win to advance to Sunday’s title game at noon against Boston College, which beat Loyola of Maryland 73-47 in the second game.

Saint Joseph’s (1-4) will play the Greyhounds (0-5) for third place at 2 p.m. following the championship presentation. The Hawks slotted themselves for that time slot Sunday no matter Saturday’s outcome.

It’s the first-ever win for Rider (2-3) against the Hawks in the now six-game series, though the last time the two sides met was Jan. 21, 1986, just over three decades ago.

But it’s also just the second time Saint Joseph’s has lost in its own semifinals. The previous was at the 22nd anniversary of the Hawk Classic when Quinnipiac on the way to its own historic season edged the Hawks 69-67 on Dec. 28, 2014.

Rider now has a two-game win streak after a historic triumph a week ago at home in Alumni Gym in Lawrenceville, N.J., when Stella Johnson had the program’s first triple double.

“When I was here, the Hawk Classic was always a big deal, something you looked forward to,” said Rider head coach Lynn Milligan, who was an assistant to Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin, who has a previous loss to the Broncs when she coached Loyola of Maryland.

“We’re really fortunate to come in here and grind one out. It’s a big win for our program. We needed that,” Milligan said of getting the second straight win. “Sometimes when you lose early you have to take steps and remind everybody this is a process.

“Our kids buy into what we do. We work hard every day. We started to take steps a week ago and today  was a testament to that and we ground this one out.” 

It’s the second time this month Saint Joseph’s has been involved in a common great/dubious moment, the previous was the loss at Drexel when the Dragons blanked the Hawks 16-0 in the opening period, marking the first shutout quarter tossed by the home team and first-ever scoreless period suffered by the visitors.

This is the third season of NCAA competition using four 10-minute quarters instead of two 20-minute halves.

“It came down to who’s making plays and who handled the ball best down the stretch,” Griffin said. “We had some key turnovers under three minutes that you wish you could get back. Nonetheless, we still had the ball down two with 14 seconds left.

“I don’t think we got a great look, but we got a look (from Katie Jekot). And then they missed a couple of free throws and we had a little more of a chance than we deserved at that point but we had a chance.”

After Jekot’s missed shot, the Broncs’ Amari Johnson, who had a game high of 17 points and also grabbed seven rebounds, collected the rebound to aid Rider in the closing seconds.

“We said in the huddle we have to get one more stop and we’re going to have to get a rebound. And Amari went way up and got that one. And then down here we forced a tie-up and everyone in the huddle knew it was our possession. We did a really good job.”

 With both squads coming off their first wins of the season following 0-3 starts, Rider, which had trailed by 10 points early in the second period, went back in front early in the third to make it a narrowly fought contest the rest of the way.

Amari Johnson scored in the paint with 5 minutes, 26 seconds left in regulation, to give Rider a 48-47 lead that would twice expand to four points, the second of which on Stella Johnson’s shot with 48 seconds left.

There were 11 lead changes and four ties in the game.

Alyssa Monaghan made two foul shots for the Hawks to get the deficit down to two. Amari Johnson made a bad pass but then got the rebound on Jekot’s missed shot with four seconds left. She was fouled but missed both free throws, though Daiji Moses got the rebound, enabling the Broncs to retain possession.

Graduate transfer Mia Farmer from George Washington went to the line with one second left and also missed both chances but time ran out.

Rider got 16 points on opposition turnovers while the Hawks mined just three off Broncs miscues.

Stella Johnson had 14 points, four assists, and three steals while Lea Favre had 10 points and eight rebounds.

The Hawks’ Jekot had 10 points and six rebounds while Monaghan had a team high 13 points and dealt eight assists.

“We’re still a work in progress, obviously, with some people in new roles,” Griffin said. “We just have to continue to get better. We have another game tomorrow, so we have to shake this one off and have to be ready.”

Saint Joseph’s is in the middle of a long stand, having beaten Niagara Tuesday, playing the tournament this weekend, hosting an improved Columbia team Thursday and then hosting Villanova Sunday, followed by visits from Auburn (Dec. 6) and Towson (Dec. 10) before a long break.

“We couldn’t ask for a better opportunity to have some home games and just keep getting better. We need to tighten some things on offense and certainly defense,” Griffin noted. “We’re not going to score a whole lot of points, we know that, we have to hold people under their averages which we did a good job today and get better at sub five-minute games.”

There was some irony in how this game went for Saint Joseph’s compared to the way the other semifinal loss went against the Bobcats, who missed two foul shots in the final seconds.

But former star Natasha Cloud, now a WNBA standout with the Washington Mystics, who had had a superb contest, went the other way and slipped and fell, creating a turnover to preserve the win for the visitors.

In Saturday’s second game, Boston College (5-0), under new coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee, who previously coached Albany, Emma Guy had 15 points and nine rebounds, Georgia Pineau scored 12 and dealt six assists, while Marnelle Gerrard and Makayla Dickens each scored 10 points.

The Greyhounds’ Alexis Gray scored 11 and Bri Betz-White scored 10 in the program’s first ever meeting with the Eagles.

There are some local ties with the Hawks program and B.C. and Loyola. Former star Kerri Shields, who does color for Eagles games, is a sister of former Hawks star Erin and daughter of former Saint Joseph’s star Renie Shields, who is now the athletic department’s senior women’s administrator who does color for her alma mater’s broadcasts.

Loyola coach Joe Logan is a former Hawks assistant under Griffin. Assistant Sarah 
Jones played at Villanova and Jenna Loschiavo played for the Hawks, while Saint Joseph’s former star, now operations director Katie Kuester, had her first assistant coaching job under Logan.

Greyhounds assistant Shelley Sheetz is a former Colorado star and past Boston College pick.

Having been a local star at Boulder, she was a first-round pick for the Colorado Xplosion in the former American Basketball League. However in the league’s first season she found herself bumped in the starting lineup by Debbie Black, an all-timer here on Hawk Hill.

Saint Joseph’s and Loyola last played in 1999. 

The Guru Report: Drexel Takes Vermont Tourney Opener On A Day of Ranked Teams With Narrow Escapes or Losses

Guru’s note: Today’s roundup is totally drawn on email, websites, and wire reports.

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

On the local front with one exception, the first two days of holiday weekend competition did not go so great, while nationally it’s been fascinating in terms of how a myriad of games have worked out.

Your Guru was not at any and will be spending the weekend here at the annual St. Joseph’s Hawk Classic beginning at noon Saturday but will be plugged into everything else.

Though we’re only in the third week of what should be another wild season, the questions locally are already coming — who’s the best?

In terms of the Philly Six, three teams have emerged early and will have a chance to hold that ground by the time Sunday night is over.

Promising starts have been posted by Drexel, Penn and Villanova, while Temple’s and Saint Joseph’s youth are causing strugles, and La Salle is in an admitted but potentially promising rebuild.

We start the report with Drexel, which overcame a tough shooting afternoon Friday to down Siena 51-39 holding the lead wire-to-wire in the opening of the TD Bank Classic in Burlington, Vt.

The triumph sends the Dragons (3-1) after their first road game of the season against the host Catamounts Saturday at 4 p.m.

In a sense of irony, Drexel dodges meeting former Vermont coach Chris Day, the past Penn assistant coach, who was on board when the invitation was made for the Dragons to participate.

But they won’t miss Day entirely because he left to return home to Philly to become associate head coach under his longtime friend Mountain MacGillivray at La Salle, which Drexel will visit Wednesday night at 7 at the Tom Gola Arena.

As for the game against Saints (1-3), who opened the season earlier this month losing to Penn at home, though the Dragons shot just 39 percent, they dominated the boards with a 39-25 rebounding advantage, including 13-5 on the offensive glass.

Bailey Greenberg kept Drexel in front, scoring 14 of her 19 points in the second half. Aubree Brown scored 12 and dealt eight assists, her season to date best in the dishing department. Niki Metzel added nine points, three steals, and a pair of blocks.

Siena’s Joella Gibson was the only Saints player to score in double figures, collecting 12 points, while Maddie Sims grabbed nine rebounds.

In the other game, Vermont needed overtime before edging Wagner 56-54 at Patrick Gym as Hanna Crymble had a game-high 18 points and Candice Wright scored 14.

Wagner overcame an 11-point deficit in the meeting in which Janelle Mullen and Alayshia Dailey each scored 11 for the Seahawks (1-4), who will meet Siena in the third place game of the tourney Drexel won in 2012.

Rutgers Roughed Up in Vancouver

Just over a week ago Rutgers experienced the high of Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer’s 1000th win, the sixth female and fifth in Division I to reach the elite club as well as being the first African-American.

Added to that was the news of attracting some blue chip recruits for next season.

But suddenly while one can say, but it’s early, still, hopes for breaking a sizable NCAA tournament drought are on red alert after dropping two straight at the inaugural TCL Vancouver Showcase in the Canadian Northwest with one game left.

Record-wise the Scarlet Knights (4-2) might have only gone 1-2 on the weekend no matter what the play out but there are different kinds of 1-2 and when you schedule to get a chance to play ongoing elites on the national scene to pick up, if anything, valuable experience for the Big Ten schedule and some RPI juice and return home with something less, suddenly there is a lot of ground to make up.

But the new problem is what kind of ground exists to bounce back. 

True, there are a bunch of opponents ahead who have had marquee reputations. However, looking ahead as of now, and it can change, just Maryland and Iowa in the conference represent what would be super value victims through upsets.

So the good and bad news is that when the ball gets tipped against those teams the Scarlet Knights can be on a somewhat level playing field most nights.

 The bad news is that with the margin of error for now greatly reduced, the phrase “Must Win,” is going to be the mantra until enough of a record can be built so get the RPI in decent shape when the stretch drive hits.

So how did Rutgers get to this situation.

It started on Thursday when the Scarlet Knights squandered a 15-point halftime lead to Drake, the current No. 1 team in the ESPNW Mid-Major Poll, and fell 69-59.

Stasha Carey had 20 points for Rutgers, shooting 7-for-9 from the field and 6-for-8 from the line, while the Bulldogs’ Becca Hittner had 23 points, Sara Rhine scored 18, and Sammie Bachrodt scored 14.

Temporarily, the win on the other side allowed Drake to be 5-0 and unbeaten one more day.

But the effect of the loss for Rutgers deprived the Knights of a chance of meeting top-ranked and defending NCAA champion Notre Dame on Friday when the Irish eventually turned Drake aside 82-64 after being tied 17-17 through the opening period to head to Saturday’s championship against Oregon State.

A year ago the Knights were able to play then-defending NCAA champion South Carolina, lose respectively by ten, and went into a full speed ahead run to the NCAA until imploding on the back end of the schedule.

So instead of getting a chance to do at worst like-wise and then meet either the Gamecocks again or Oregon State, it was into the consolation round against Gonzaga on Friday.

No shame playing the Zags in one sense. The program became prominent under Kelly Graves until he moved on several years ago and turned Oregon into a budding super power.

But rather than bounce back, Rutgers fell 57-40 while Gonzaga went to 5-1 and into the fifth-place game against Western Kentucky, which would have been preferable considering that the Hilltoppers are 2-5 and the Knights’ 7th place opponent ETSU is still winless at 0-6 after the 82-68 loss.

In the loss to Gonzaga, Victoria Harris had 12 points while the Zags’ Zykera Rice was the lone player on that side in double figures, scoring 16 points.

The Zags led by as many as 19 points in the final quarter.

The game against ETSU will be 2 p.m. Eastern Time.

When Rutgers returns home, ahead in the next several weeks will be road stops at Virginia Tech and Harvard this week, a visit from LSU on Dec. 15 and then a 13-day break before opening the Big Ten portion of the schedule at home hosting Northwestern on Dec. 28 at 4 p.m. and traveling to Maryland at noon on New Year’s Eve, a Monday.

Delaware and Temple Get Sun But No Fun in Florida

Temple and Delaware dodged the chill up north but not the opposition in separate games in Florida on Friday afternoon.

For the second straight game, the Owls of North Broad Street had a rally fall short at the finish on their rugged six-game road trip, falling to Radford 56-50 at the Miami Thanksgiving Classic.

The event is in a predetermined arrangement for games, so Temple (2-3) will meet the nationally-ranked and host Hurricanes (No. 24) on Saturday at 2 p.m.

In Friday’s event, the Owls, who have lost three straight in a slide that began at Mississippi and continued at Marist, trailed by 14 in the third quarter and surged to on a 17-1 run to go ahead by a bucket.

But Radford (3-1) countered with a 9-0 run in the fourth to take the contest.

Alliya Butts continued her comeback from last season’s knee injury, scoring 19 points, dealing five assists and grabbing four steals.

Mia Davis had 13 points and nine rebounds but played just 22 minutes due to foul trouble.

Shannen Atkinson had 12 rebounds.

Miami topped Nebraska 82-68 in the other game as Laura Cornelius had 23 points, Beatrice Mompremier had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Kelsey Marshall scored 18 over the Cornhuskers (1-3).

Meanwhile, Delaware opened play in the FAU Thanksgiving Tournament in Boca Raton and fell to Bradley 59-47 and will meet Lafayette for third place Saturday at at noon.

Ironically, the game puts Lafayette assistant Tom Lochner in another interesting set up after the Leopards recently suffered a narrow loss to St. Peter’s on which his daughter Sammi plays.

Lochner, a former La Salle head coach, was an assistant to former Blue Hens longtime coach Tina Martin.

In Friday’s game, freshman Jasmine Dickey had her third double double for Delaware (2-3), scoring 11 points and 18 rebounds, while Gadson Lefft had 10 points and six rebounds, and Samone DeFreese grabbed eight.

Delaware was within a point of Bradley (3-0) at the half before being undone by a 19-10 yield in the third period.

“When the shots aren’t falling, the one thing you can control is defense and I thought we were just a step slow all day,” said second-year Blue Hens coach Natasha Adair.

“Today is disappointing but you have to have a short memory because we’ll be out there again in less than 18 hours.”

In the other game in FAU Arena, a slow third quarter doomed the Leopards, who fell 53-49 to FAU (2-3).

Hustling on the boards for 31 offensive rebounds, the total was caused by a slew of missed follow shots, with Lafayette (2-2) getting just eight points for the effort.

FAU outscored the visitors 22-10 in the third period to advance to its title game, meeting Bradley.

Lafayette’s Olivia Martino and Natalie Kucowski each had 10 points and nine rebounds while FAU’s Myka Matthews scored 25.

Princeton Pounced by Syracuse

The short-handed Tigers dropped their fifth straight following an opening victory at Rider and unlike Thursday in the Cancun Challenge against No. 16 DePaul and two previous games, the defending Ivy champs were handled in this one Friday by No. 14 Syracuse 92-61.

Princeton, an overwhelming pick to win the Ivies again, has been missing four starters, including reigning Ivy player of the year, Bella Alarie.

The Orange (5-1), who nearly upset No. 3 Oregon several weeks ago, used a 31-12 run at the end of the third quarter to subdue the Tigers.

Syracuse’s Gabrielle Cooper had 20 points to lead three other teammates who all scored in double figures.

Gabrielle Rush scored all 15 of her points for Princeton with a career-high five three-balls while Carlie Littlefield scored 11, and Neenah Young scored 10.

The Tigers’ final game at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya will be against Kansas State at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

Prior to arriving in the tropics, Princeton squandered a rally at home, losing to Seton Hall, and then yielded a seeming upset at Penn State, when the Lady Lions rallied to force overtime and take the win.

On Thursday against DePaul, the Tigers jumped to a 10-6 lead on the Blue Demons (3-1), but DePaul clamped down on them, limiting just nine points in the fourth quarter to take an 82-67 victory.

Sydney Boyer had four treys and a career-high 16 points for Princeton, while Carlie Littlefield scored 16 points, and Sydney Jordan and Julia Cunningham each scored 10.

After routing Kansas State 79-59 on Friday, DePaul will wrap up its Cancun schedule playing Syracuse at 1:30 p.m. reuniting a rivalry from the old Big East before the Orange left for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Princeton next week visits Villanova on Wednesday at 7 in Finneran Pavilion.

Nationally Speaking: A Day of Upsets and Near Upsets

Holiday traveling was anything but a holiday for many of the ranked team in the Associated Press women’s poll as well as several other prominent programs.

Your Guru starts at a normally unlikely place, that would be No. 2 Connecticut, who except for the two upsets at the buzzer in the last two NCAA semifinals, is rarely extended but was challenged by unranked St. John’s before pulling away in the fourth quarter for 65-55 victory at the Paradise Jam in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

Katie Lou Samuelson scored 19 points for the Huskies (4-0), Napheesa Collier scored 17, and Crystal Dangerfield had 14 to make it 119 straight wins in the regular season.

For the moment, the win kept a 1 vs. 2 billing alive when UConn travels to Notre Dame next Sunday for their first meeting since the Irish felled the Huskies in the semifinals last spring on the way to the national title.

“Not every game is going to be us scoring 100 and the other team scores 50,, and we all live happily ever after,” said Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma. “Some games are going to be a struggle.

“But if you’re going to be a championship kind of team, you’ve got to win all kinds of games. We just as easily could’ve lost that game as we won that game, but we made some big, big plays in the last five minutes. That was the difference in the game.”

Saint Johns (3-1) got 13 points from Tiana England, while Alisha Kebbe scored 12, Kadaja Bailey scored 11, and Oadashah Hoppie had 10.

The last loss in regular season for the Huskies was the second game of 2014-15 in overtime at Stanford and the last loss to an unranked team was to Saint John’s, Feb. 18, 2012, which also was a buzzer beater 57-56 and it stopped an NCAA home win-streak record at 99.

Meanwhile, several other teams needed rallies.

No. 10 Texas edged Quinnipiac 56-55 on Audrey Warren’s shot with 47 seconds left at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Fla. The Longhorns (4-0) had trailed the Bobcats by 15 points and suffered a potential season-ending loss when point guard Lashann Higgs with 6:55 left in the first half was sidelined with a left knee injury.

Quinnipiac of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is one of the top mid-majors in the nation and advanced to the Sweet 16 several seasons ago.

Sug Sutton and Jatarie White each scored 12 points for Texas while Danni Williams scored 10.

Jen Fay had 15 points for the Bobcats.

“A lot of good things happened in this game,” said Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabbri, who grew up in South Jersey and whose team rallied over Drexel here in the season opener for both earlier this month. “Our bench really contributed, and I hope we can build on that.”

No. 12 Iowa needed the biggest rally in the Lisa Bluder coaching era with the Hawkeyes erasing a 24-point deficit to beat No. 25 West Virginia 84-81 in the Junkanoo Jam at Bimini, Bahamas.

The Hawkeyes (5-0) will meet Florida State, Saturday, while the Mountaineers (3-1) will meet Eastern Kentucky.

Megan Gustafson had 28 points and 16 rebounds for Iowa, while Makenzie Mayer scored 20.

West Virginia’s Kysre Gondrezick scored 22.

No. 9 Oregon State had to hold off a rally from No. 13 South Carolina to claim a 70-68 win and advance to Saturday’s title game in the Vancouver Showcase against top-ranked Notre Dame. The Beavers’ Katie McWilliams hit a pair of foul shots with 1.9 seconds left for the win.

Destiny Slocum, a former Maryland player, hit a half-court bomb at the half that was also a factor in the win.

McWilliams and Taya Corosdale each scored 14 points for Oregon State (6-0), while Mikayla Pivec scored 11.

Te’a Cooper had 21 points for the Gamecocks (3-2), who were routed at home last week by Maryland.

“Broken plays, more times than not, are the difference makers,” said South Carolina coach Dawn Staley. “Tonight, I thought Destiny Slocum made two great plays, one before the half and then one when the game was on the line. I thought that was a great heads up play.”

South Carolina will play Drake for third place.

No. 4 Baylor had to pull away late to stay unbeaten at 5-0, winning over  South Dakota State 72-66 as Lauren Cox had 28 points and 10 rebounds at the South Point Thanksgiving Shootout in Las Vegas. Kalani Brown had 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Madison Guebert had 22 points for South Dakota State (3-2).

In another game at the Shootout in Las Vegas, No. 5 Louisville edged No. 19 Arizona State 58-56 as Sam Fuehring had 18 points, which included a game-winning shot with 2.5 seconds left in regulation to keep the Cardinals unbeaten at 4-0. 

The Sun Devils fell to 2-2.

In other competitive games of note, No. 18 California beat Tulane 65-57 at the San Diego Thanksgiving Tournament to keep the Bears unbeaten at 5-0 as Kristine Anigwe and Kianna Smith combined for 33 points.

Unranked Michigan made a bid to make its first poll appearance of the season next week by upsetting No. 21 Missouri 70-54 to stay unbeaten at 4-0 in another Gulf Coast Showcase game as Deja Church scored 15 points. The Tigers fell to 3-2.

North Carolina, also unranked and absent from the poll in several seasons, took down No. 17 South Florida 71-69 at the Paradise Jam, the second straight loss for the Bulls, who recently lost Kitija Laksa, their top player, to a knee injury.

Stephanie Watts scored 24 points for the Tar Heels (5-1), while Laura Ferriera scored 22 for South Florida. (4-2), which lost unranked Kentucky 85-63 on Thursday.

The Wildcats edged UCLA 75-74 in overtime to face UNC, which on Thursday routed the same Bruins.

UCLA will meet South Florida for third place.

Duke (2-2), which started the season in the rankings, fell to Washington 71-64, at the Florida Gulf Coast event as Leonna Odom had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Blue Devils, while Missy Peterson scored 17 and grabbed 9 rebounds for the Huskies (3-1).

Looking Ahead: Hawk Classic Features Reunion of Sorts

Though Rider is in the area, there’s still a homecoming aspect when the Broncs meet host Saint Joseph’s at noon in Hagan Arena in the opening round of the Hawk Classic Saturday before Loyola of Maryland meets Boston College at 2 p.m. The final rounds are Sunday afternoon.

Rider coach Lynn Milligan is a former Saint Joseph’s assistant to veteran coach Cindy Griffin and Broncs assistant Pam Durkin is a former aide at Drexel and star high school player from South Jersey.

Loyola of Maryland coach Joe Logan also was previously on the Hawks staff under Griffin.

Penn continues to make its bid for early season success, playing Navy at 1 p.m. at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and then Sunday will meet Maine at 3:15 p.m.

Villanova, the other of the three locals mentioned way in the beginning of this report, opens against Virginia Tech at noon in UCF’s event in Orlando, Fla., and then Sunday meets the hosts at 1:30 p.m. in a predetermined arrangement.

Penn State, following its comeback win over Princeton at home last week and other Bryce Jordan Center win over North Dakota in State College, remains home Sunday to host Stony Brook in a non-conference game at 1 p.m.

All the other locals playing Saturday were mentioned above off their Friday results and ensuing competition.

And that is one big report.