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.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Guru Report: La Salle Gets First Road Win

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — It was four up and three down, including here at Temple’s McGonigle  Hall Wednesday, among the Guru local D-1 teams that played but with not a lot of conversation let’s start with La Salle, which up at St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 picked up win number five on the season and number two in the conference, beating the Bonnies in a defensive lockdown 52-45 in Olean, N.Y.

It was the first road win for the season for La Salle (5-24, 2-13 A-10).

There were positives for the Explorers all over in holding the Bonnies (8-20, 5-10) to just six points in the second quarter, a season best for the visitors, who tied a program record set opening day in the loss to Howard with 61 rebounds.

Shalina Miller, who had 6 points and ten rebounds, tied Linda French’s single season block record at La Salle with 55 and will have two games to break it minimally — Saturday’s senior farewell home game  hosting George Mason at Tom Gola Arena at 2 p.m. and a first round game on the road against an opponent to be named thos werkend for Tuesday.

Janay Sanders had 13 points, while senior Jeryn Reese had 10 points and a career high 16 rebounds.   

“We hadn’t won a road game all season and we have been talking about it, and we came out here and they really performed,” La Salle first-year coach Mountain MacGillivray said. “I thought we had been a defending team for a while, now, holding teams down, but we couldn’t throw the ball in the ocean tonight.

“But you know what, we took care of the ball, we didn’t turn it over, and we defended for the entire game. Played as a unit. Rotated.  Got stops. That’s a beautiful way to win. It’s kind of the recipe I’ve been telling them,” he continued.

“If we can get more shots than our opponent, we’ve got a good chance to win. And we went out there and did that tonight. Nice to pick up that first road win.”

Emily Calabrese had 10 points for the Bonnies, a team high matched by Asianae Johnson, who also grabbed 11 rebounds.

Saint Joseph’s Falls at George Mason

If the Hawks are to open at home in one of six first round games in the Atlantic 10 tournament next Tuesday, they now have their work cut out for them after losing at George Mason 68-59 at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va.

Had Saint Joseph’s (11-17, 7-8 A-10) held on to a 53-49 lead they had with 6 minutes, 31 seconds remaining, as the night played out, the Hawks would have clinched a home game without regard to Saturday’s Senior Day season finale at Hagan Arena at noon against Fordham.

But the Patriots (16-12, 8-7) soon thereafter exploded on a closing 19-6 run that gave them a first round home game without regard what happens when they finish on the road Saturday at La Salle.

Alyssa Monaghan had 18 points, Katie Jekot scored 13, Kristalyn Baisden scored 10 and Katie Mayock grabbed 11 rebounds for Saint Joseph’s.

So right now, the Hawks and George Washington are tied for eighth and Saint Joseph’s in that scenario if it holds has the tiebreak off a head-to-head win in Washington at the Smith Center.

But Fordham is on a roll and clinched along with VCU the two first-round byes so Saint Joseph’s is going to be the underdog Saturday needing to pull an upset to take care of its own business.

Otherwise, some help is going to be needed from Richmond, which will host GW on Saturday.

In a three-way, which happens if George Mason loses to La Salle while the Hawks and Colonials win,  GW is the odd team out because it went winless against both Saint Joseph’s and George Mason.

Temple Rally Erased by Tulsa

Tulsa got revenge for Temple’s 75-61 win over the Hurricanes last month in Oklahoma by pulling away from a 52-52 tie on a 6-0 run in the fourth quarter the Owls had rallied to following an 11-point halftime deficit and picked up a 64-61 win here in McGonigle Hall in an American Athletic Conference game.

Crystal Polk had 16 points for Tulsa (12-15, 6-8 AAC), while Rebecca Lescay scored 13, and Alexis Gaulden had 12 points, 11 of which came in the first half.

Mia Davis had another double double for the Owls (9-18, 5-9) with 18 points and 13 rebounds, while freshman Marissa Mackins tied a career high with 19 points and Alliya Butts had 12 points and dealt six assists.

“Hats off to Tulsa, they really wanted to win,” Temple coach Tonya Cardoza said afterwards. “I thought they came in here and really took it to us right from the start and I feel like we were playing on our heels the entire game.

“I think we were still in our minds when we played there and winning is important and I feel like we went through the motions today.”

Cardoza pointed to one simple reason the comeback occurred at all, which was also part of the explanation of how the Owls got far behind quickly.

“We started making shots, in the first half, we didn’t make shots,” she said. “We had a lot of open shot opportunities. I feel like when you’re in the gym and you have open shots, whether it’s layups or three-pointers, you ought to make them.

“In the second half, we started to make them. Same thing happened at UCF. If you’re not making wide open shots, you need to be in the gym.”

Temple will finish up its home schedule Saturday hosting Wichita State at 2 p.m. in McGonigle Hall, in which will be the final appearances here for senior Lena Niang and Butts, a graduate student who missed last season with a knee injury.

The Owls then go to Memphis Monday in a game that will determine their seed in the AAC tournament the following weekend, which continues as it has ever been, since the conference formed,  at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., near New London.

Penn State Rally Falls Short at Michigan State

Down 20 in the fourth quarter the Lady Lions began to roar and chopped the deficit under 10 points but they were unable to finish the comeback and lost 57-48 to Michigan State in a Big Ten game on the road in East Lansing, Mich.

Coincidentally, 20 is also the number below the Michigan State scoring average the Spartans were held by Penn State (12-16, 5-12 Big Ten), which will go into next weekend’s Big Ten tourney as the 12th seed.

The Lady Lions finish the regular season Saturday on Senior Day hosting Nebraska at home at 3 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.

Lauren Ebo, a Penn State freshman, had her first double double in conference play and second overall with with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Kamaria McDaniel had 12 points and dealt four assists.

Nia Clouden had 14 points for Michigan State (19-8, 9-9), which is tied for sixth with Northwestern and tied a program record with its 15th home seasonal win in the Breslin Center.

Looking Ahead: Rider Seeks a Clincher for the Postseason

Just two games are on the Guru local D-1 slate and both are in New Jersey not far apart from each other on Thursday.

Rider looks for a season sweep and more when the Broncs host Siena in Alumni Gymnasium at 7 p.m. in Lawrenceville, N.J.

A win clinches second place and second seed in next week’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament in Albany, N.Y., but the standings placement guarantees an automatic bid to the WNIT if Rider doesn’t win the NCAA slot in the conference playoff that’s been going to Quinnipiac.

The Broncs are a game ahead of Marist but hold the tiebreak off a season sweep of the Red Foxes. 

Should Rider lose this one and not get help from somebody downing Marist, there will be one more chance Saturday when the Broncs finish on the road at Fairfield.

Meanwhile Thursday night at 6:30 Rutgers seeking to lock up third in the Big Ten hosts Minnesota, which recently beat the Scarlet Knights in Minneapolis.

The Gophers are coached by Minnesota grad and recently retired WNBA All-Timer Lindsay Whalen.

Rutgers will be in its second game without C. Vivian Stringer on the sidelines after taking doctors advice to rest the remainder of the schedule and Big Ten tourney and return for postseason, likely to be in the NCAA for the first time since 2015.

Tim Eatman is running the team in Stringer’s absence. 

Rutgers finishes its schedule Sunday at Ohio State.

On Friday, after battling each other Tuesday night and now tied for first following the Tigers’ win, Penn, which had been alone in first, and Princeton seek to clinch two of the four available spots in the third annual Ivy tourney, which will be held in two weeks at Yale in New Haven, Conn., after having been at The Palestra.

Harvard, which beat Penn in double overtime in Cambridge, Mass., earlier this month and is holding third, is here at The Palestra Friday at 7, while Dartmouth, in a tie with Yale at fourth, is at Princeton at 6.

On Saturday, Dartmouth visits Penn at 6 and Harvard is at Princeton at 5.

Drexel, holding  second in the Colonial Athletic Association, hosts William & Mary Friday in the Daskalakis Athletic Center at 7 while Delaware hosts defending champion Elon at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark at 7.

On Sunday Elon, which beat Drexel in the DAC last season for the CAA title, visits the Dragons, who haven’t lost since the first weekend in January, at 2 while at the same time William & Mary visits Delaware.

Villanova seeking to finish fourth in the Big East is at Xavier Friday night at 7 and at Butler Sunday at 2.

And that’s the report.


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Ivy 1-2 Showdown: Princeton Ties Penn at Top On Bella’s Palestra Act Against Quakers

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — Back in the early fall when the time came to cast preseason ballots for the Ivy race and off who graduated and who was still around when it came to assess Penn and Princeton, what happened Tuesday night in The Palestra  involving the home team Quakers and visiting Tigers is the way voters thought it would play out.

But that was then and this was now in terms of how Penn fans’ expectations were prior to tipoff after the Quakers had pulled a 66-60 upset back in the Ivy season opener at Jadwin Gym on January 5 to grab hold of sole possession of first with the second meeting to be played here with so-called home advantage.

There were additional reasons for the change but in round two it was back to the future per conventional wisdom last Autumn. 

Basically, for Princeton the evening was a Bella-ringer affair as in reigning Ivy player of the year, 6-foot-4 junior guard-forward Bella Alarie, who poured 33 points, shooting 10-for-21 from the field, while grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking three shots in a 68-53 victory that brought the Tigers (16-9, 8-2 Ivy) back from a two-game deficit to even the season series with the Quakers (18-5, 8-2 ), forcing a first-place deadlock with four games in two Friday-Saturday weekends left in the regular season.

“Bella was a warrior tonight,” Princeton coach Courtney Banghart said of the performance. “Obviously, Penn is a good team, they’re tough on the glass, they got great players at every position, you had two heavyweights playing for first place.”  

If it were the earlier days of the (Penn’s) Mike McLaughlin- Banghart era in which the two coaches have produced the last nine Ivy titles, this narrative would say if the two teams stay deadlock there will be a playoff at a neutral court to determine the automatic NCAA bid.

That has since been amended to say even if they don’t stay knotted, there will be a playoff, as in the three-year-old, four-teams each, men’s and women’s Ivy Madness tourney, this year at Yale’s Lee Amphitheater in New Haven, Conn., after the previous two here at The Palestra, on March 16-17, to determine who goes to the Big Dance.

The regular season second place team, at worst, is assured of a WNIT berth, though as now if neither team gets to its number one season goal, that group is likely to make the WNIT with an at-large invite.

If the two make the Ivy event, there may be a third meeting in the semifinal or final, after each beat each other in the previous title games — Penn in 2017 and Princeton in 2018.

The teams have a two-game lead on Dartmouth and can clinch berths, if not the eventual seed, this weekend when the Big Green visits Princeton’s Jadwin Gym at 6 p.m. while Harvard is here at Penn Friday night (7 p.m.), before the visitors switch to Dartmouth here Saturday at 6 p.m. and Harvard at Princeton at 5 p.m. the same nite.

The tourney has caused several changes in how the Ancient Eight gets scheduled, which is why these two no longer play the final date of the Ivy schedule.

“This likely won’t be on a Tuesday night next year,” Banghart said, “since I get to pick the home night (the second game in the home-and-home) and we’ll likely do what the men did playing back-to-back weekends this year.”

McLaughlin said the discussion hasn’t occurred yet but acknowledged that is likely what might happen.

Of course given the 1-2 nature of the Penn-Princeton standings domination in recent years, the drama of the February/March second meeting of the two usually involving first place would have to wait for the tournament clash if it happens because they would finish their series ahead of the rest of the league schedule.

But the old mind set in terms of change won’t involve the players as Alarie said Tuesday night since she has not been involved in the former regular season winner-take-all format.

“I never played in any season except with the Ivy tournament, but I think our mindset stays the same,” the native of Bethesda, Md., outside Washington, said.

“The games matter less in terms of getting to the NCAA tournament (through the automatic bid), but the culture of Princeton is we want to win, we want to be champions no matter what, so though the mentality has changed, I think what we have remains the same.”

Things changed quickly on both sides off the early forcasts  by the time this season began  because a bunch of intangibles – like injuries and youth on the Princeton side and unexpected rapid growth involving the youthful roster on the Penn side – got into the mix.

Alarie  was sidelined rehabbing a broken shoulder soon to be joined by other role players sidelined. 

Thus after an opening night surprisingly easy win down the road at Rider,  Banghart had to deal with a seven game slide not experienced since the former Dartmouth star guard arrived prior to the 2007-08 season from an assistant position at her alma mater to build the Tigers into prominence while McLaughlin’s best hopes, given the number of former reserve players who had moved up with new and major responsibilities, were quickly exceeded. 

Princeton’s skid finally stopped with a win over surprising Atlantic 10 contender Davidson and then the next time out Alarie returned in a 54-42 win over Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference powerhouse Quinnipiac and looked exceptionally rust proof with 16 points and 19 rebounds, though her shooting from the field was off the mark.

But that soon returned to normal and the budding win streak continued five more times heading into the annual Ivy opener with Penn this year playing first at Jadwin Gym.

The Quakers were still an underdog, however, despite just a competitive loss at defending NCAA champion Notre Dame, ranked No. 1 in mid-November, and a last-second loss to America East frontrunner Maine.

But Penn played surprisingly well and poised and aided by Phoebe Sterba’s three-point shooting got the win with a  proclamation that the idea of a Tigers cakewalk was no longer true. 

The two teams then went their own way for the rest of the month, Penn playing Big Five games splitting with a win over Temple and loss to Villanova to finish second in the City Series.

Banghart went back to the drawing board, taking advantage of the three-week shutdown caused by the school’s academic calendar.

“Obviously I was disappointed with the loss my first time against Penn, but we had a lot of time to figure out who we are as a team, get our individual pieces a lot better and I think that really worked to our advantage and we came out and beat a lot of good teams, great teams on the board, but, yeah, that month was definitely hard, but definitely worth it for us,” Alarie said.

She had two monster, record-setting performances on successive weekends once the Ivy schedule kicked back in, scoring 45 points at Columbia, and 41 at Dartmouth.

However, it got worse before getting better for the Tigers chasing the No. 1 seed because they suffered a home upset 96-86 loss to Yale in overtime, while Penn was working a combo of Friday night cruises and then suspenseful escapes 24 hours later to build a two-game lead with a cushion to still grab the No. 1 seed if the Quakers took the hit they got Tuesday night.

Then the proverbial tide turned with Yale taking a slip and the Quakers dropping an 80-72 game at Harvard in double overtime.

Still, McLaughlin noted the first focus of his staff was  in good shape, get to the tournament and then adjust the goals once the berth was in hand.

But the Quakers have pride also and given the recent history and the way the Tigers handled Penn in three games last year, Tuesday would tell just where things are with still a chunk of regular season and tournament ahead. 

Reason for confidence on the Penn side was the season play of 6-4 sophomore center Eleah Parker, who with the improved play of senior Princess Aghayere, allowed the Quakers to have a continued strong post defense in the wake of shot-blocking star Sydney Stipanovich having graduated as did career-assist leader Anna Ross.

In the first half Penn was hurt by quick foul trouble to Aghayere, who played just 25 minutes and ultimately fouled out, though she finished with 14 points in 26 minutes, 17 seconds of action.

Princeton threatened to take strong hold after temporarily being held by Penn by building an eight-point lead with 6:19 left to the half. The Quakers, however, rallied to get to the half just a basket behind at 33-31.

Alarie was already on the way to another dynamite performance with 13 points but Penn was aided by Germantown Academy’s Kendall Grasela matching a career high with 11 points.

Parker had 10 but neither she nor Grasela would score the rest of the game with Parker only playing around 10 more minutes.

Princeton’s Gabrielle Rush had 11 for the visitors but would score just two more while Carlie Littlefield, who had seven over the first two quarters, added seven more for 14.

Alarie, though became more of a problem in the second half as Princeton opened the third period with her gaining eight of the Tigers’ 10-0 run right out of the break for a 12-point lead.

But Penn fought back and by the end of the third trailed just by four at 50-46.

That was the last hurrah in this one for the Quakers as Alarie and Littlefield turned the fourth quarter into a lopsided 18-7 affair.

“We still have a lot of games left and against good teams,” Banghart said. “That doesn’t work to our advantage.”

Besides dealing with Harvard and Dartmouth also fighting for berths next weekend, a week later the Quakers and Tigers will travel to Yale, fighting to get a spot in a tournament the Bulldogs are hosting, and last place Brown.

“We started two games behind Penn,” Banghart noted. “I just told these guys, we’re a better team and we  play hard. We didn’t play hard  the first time out and we knew it and we had to play from behind because of it so it’s nice to get on top.

“We learned after the Penn loss that we don’t play hard and Bella’s got to be more dominate. Even though she had 22 and 17 (last month), we knew she just needed to be better.

“And then after the Yale loss, we learned we knew we had to get more from our pieces. Actually, this weekend was the first weekend we finally had all 14 together in uniform. So it was good to come in here — and Harvard — these are two tough places to win.”

In performing the autopsy of Penn’s demise, though there is still a lot of life left, McLaughlin said, “(Alarie) presents a challenge on both ends of the floor.

 “She just scored too many baskets, especially in the second half, we just had too many breakdowns against a quality opponent, and she made us pay for every one.

“Give them credit. To beat a quality opponent in all areas of the game, especially in the second half we had four, five, six breakdowns that cost us, and good teams make you pay,” he added.

Looking ahead, McLaughlin said of the stretch leading to the weekend, “It’s a tough stretch, we have five games in eight days, you have to be aware of time management and physical fatigue.
“ Great league, we’re in the prime of it and we have to respond Friday, (Harvard) is very good and Dartmouth is going to be a tough out, too.

“I think we’ll be better because of this. We’ll be back at it tomorrow. We’ll look at some film and be ready for Friday.”

Coming Up: Making The Best of What’s Left

The Penn-Princeton game involved the only game on the slate with Guru local D-1 teams, while on Wednesday Temple in the first of two final home games  this week on the season in McGonigle Hall hosts Tulsa at 7 playing for positioning in next month’s American Athletic Conference tourney, again at the Mohegan Sun near New London, Conn.

Saint Joseph’s is at George Mason in Fairfax, Va., seeking a win that could lock up a home game in the first round of next week’s Atlantic 10 tournament that begins Tuesday with the top two teams getting byes and the nexts six  hosting games against the bottom six sending the winners to join the bye teams at Duquesne in Pittsburgh for the final three rounds Friday-Sunday.

La Salle is at St. Bonaventure looking for its second A-10 win and just trying to get better, knowing the Explorers will be on the road next Tuesday for the conference openers.

Penn State, in 12th in the Big Ten, is at Michigan State for a makeup game from the recently weather-causing postponement.

On Thursday, Rider can clinch second seed for the MAAC tourney and a place in the WNIT if it doesn’t win next week’s conference war in Albany, N.Y., for the NCAA berth.

The Broncs will also have another shot Saturday at Fairfield.

Rutgers, playing without coach C. Vivian Stringer, advised by doctors to take a rest through the end of the regular season and Big Ten tourney, hosts Minnesota at 7 looking for revenge and locking up a double bye for the conference tourney next week in Indianapolis.

And that’s the report.




Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: Looking For The Close Out

By Mike Siroky

The best conference in women’s basketball – the Southeastern – is winding up the regular season.

Purists among us favor the marathon winner of the regular season rather than the sprint of a league tournament.

 The tournament is the official bid winner for the NCAA eliminations. It does not guarantee positioning. Six or seven others will receive bids based on regular-season play.

We have been writing for years that every SEC Team that hits 20 wins has gotten in, even some with 19. Tennessee can still do that this season, despite being written off earlier this month by the wonks at ESPN. The five with 20 are in. A sixth has a chance with two to go.

This league is so tough that a six-game win streak is the longest active.

Using the national marker of the final five games if the season, only Mississippi State has won all three played so far. 

That makes the season-ending game at Carolina the league title game. And sets the top seed in the league tournament, though they will likely meet again in that final game.

Only State can win a top seed in the NCAA eliminations, again counter to the pap ESPN had been feeding us.

On Sunday, the best teams all won. 

Much more interesting was the competitive Ole Miss-Arkansas game, the Razorbacks tying Tennessee with 17 wins,  and Missouri staying true to form and losing again at 20-win Auburn. 

The Big Four -- the ranked teams—in conference remain unreachable for everyone else, assured of the double-byes in the league tournament after separating from the less thans. The league will close the season with four Top 20 teams.

Here’s how the league’s ranked teams did in the past week.

No. 5 Mississippi State (25-2)

OK, so state rival Mississippi is not a real competitor. 

It was important if they want to win 30, a mathematical possibility, before the NCAA eliminations. And it kept them in first place.

The Rebels started 62 percent from the floor when it was 12-all. Jordan Danberry had five of those. It was just 17-16 after one. State is a fourth-quarter team when it needs to be.

Teiara McCowan rose to 13 points by the end of the half, with 10 rebounds. They blew it out to 49-35 in the third and could have coasted. But they were aware they were back in first place alone and that nobody was undefeated at home.

Danberry was already at 18. State had 14 more rebounds, had forced 11 turnovers. 

Ole Miss was shooting 20 percent less than the hot start. A 26-14 third made the lead 21. Anriel Howard matched the double with 15 and 10.

State hit its averages in the 80-66 win. Howard had 21 with 10 rebounds. Danberry scored 18. They drew 4,125.

McCowan had 15 with 12 rebounds. The team had 40 rebounds, 17 more than the home team. They forced 15 turnovers.

“That is life on the road right there,” coach Vic Schaefer said. “For us it was a grind tonight. It didn’t seem like we could do much. In stretches we were really bad in the first half.  

“In the third quarter, we were much better. I thought the Rebels played awfully well. Give them credit. It wasn’t our best night defensively.”

 League basement owners Vanderbilt came to StarkVegas next.

State had won five straight in the series. MSU wore adidas uniforms inspired by the Harlem Renaissance on Sunday as a part of the Celebrating Black Culture program.

 The Bulldogs also hosted a bone marrow registry drive during the game in conjunction with Bulldog Sports Properties and Be The Match.

Vandy was, of course, candy to the ’Dogs.

The Commoners stayed competitive, only down by three at half, six early in the third.

But McCowan and Andra Espinoza-Hunter each had 19, Danberry 17.  They actually trailed in rebounds by one.

At the 86-70 end, Howard had 20 points and double with 10 rebounds. McCowan sat 11 minutes with three fouls but still scored 23 with two steals and a block. 

Jazzmun Holmes had six steals and five assists. Espinoza-Hunter scored 20, 7-of-11 from the field. It is the first time in this decade that a trio of Bulldogs hit 20 or more. The league-best crowd of 9,566 appreciated it.

Florida junior forward Mariella Fasoula scored 29, 14-of-16 from the floor. 

Vanderbilt shot 29-of-51 (57 percent) and hit 5-of-10 3-pointers, but the Commodores faded when State forced 23 turnovers. The ’Dawgs had five turnovers.
“First of all, glad to get the victory today,” Schaefer said. “These games are not getting any easier. I really want to commend Stephanie (White) and her staff.

“ Coach White and those kids really played well today. We kind of started out a little slow and flat-footed. We picked it up a little bit toward the end of the half.

“I certainly love what we are doing offensively in the second half with 48 points. I’m certainly concerned defensively, giving up 70 points. Twenty-three turnovers caused is a good thing.”

Espinoza-Hunter continues to gain momentum, after starting in place of Chloe Bibby, lost to an ACL, as the only non-senior starter.

“Coach’s encouragement and the encouragement of my teammates just helps so much,” she said.
“Chloe is my best friend. Having her on the bench whenever I come out to help me means so much. It’s just getting in the gym for workouts.

“I’ve gotten more comfortable in my game. When I was at Connecticut, I was a little timid.”

 She said the other guards are fast, even in a race, that it pushes everyone.

“Coach said Jordan can get to any spot on the floor and she can. Jazzmun is just amazing with her speed. T is a walking double/double right there and the defense starts with her. We feel it out there, we connect and we say ‘Yes!’ ”

The home loss to Missouri at home hurts. They remain in the Top 5 nationally. But they are a game ahead with two to go. 

If they end in a tie, Kentucky can be the technical tiebreaker as the next highest team in the standings to beat one and lose to the other, for the purposes of conference tournament seedings only.

With 20 more points, McCowan will become the fourth best scorer in program history and likely go no higher. 

Those above her played as four-year starters, did not take breaks when the game was out of reach by the opponents.

 One of them ended her season in 2003, the other in 2010. The fourth is her three-year runningmate, Victoria Vivians.

State has won all three of its final five. No one else has. They have Senior Day in StarkVegas then decide the regular season title at South Carolina. If they tie, the tiebreaker ought to be SC’s loss at home to Kentucky.

McCowan is a semifinalist for the national Naismith Defensive Player of the year award. She won it last season.

 No.11 Kentucky (23-5)

 The Kats welcomed in the shadow that used to be LSU, a team in need of a regime change.

They celebrated Senior Day for Paige Poffenberger, LaShae Halsel, Taylor Murray and Maci Morris in a pregame  ceremony. They drew 6,911. 

The game sponsor was UK HealthCare. Pediatric patients from the Kentucky Children’s Hospital met the starting lineup. Cat face fans were distributed.

After the conference-scrambling road win at South Carolina, the first in the series for the seniors, the Kats assumed the longest conference win streak, five.

The Ben-Gals are desperately trying to be an add-in to the NCAA eliminations even if recent history shows they seldom last long.

The Kat defense allowed single digits in the first two quarters, which showed the trend. It was doubled, 30-15, at half. 

More of the same in the thirds, as UK held steady in an even quarter.

Murray and Wyatt each had scored 17 and freshman guard Rhyne Howard 10. 

UK was shooting 10 percent better from the field, 11-of-14 from the floor. The non-starting seniors never got in. The Ben-gals won rebounds by 17.

LSU won the fourth quarter, 20-12 and still lost, 57-52.

UK senior Taylor Murray hit 7-of-8 from the field and lead four in double figures with 18.

Mitchell focused on his seniors, players who stayed when other fled to start at other major programs.m

“I think it feels like it’s gone fast because I love them so much and enjoy being around them so much and they’ve meant so much to our program and they’ve meant so much to me personally. I feel like they’ve helped me grow as a coach and as a person.

“You never feel like you have enough time with these players and on the other hand it flies by. We wanted to honor them on a Sunday when everyone could come out. So I really want to thank the crowd, tremendous crowd in Memorial Coliseum today and showed a lot of love and support for those seniors, which they deserve.”

He said Taylor Murray is just special.

“Taylor was very shy, very quiet coming in and is really running our team right now. She had it under control there in a strategic standpoint there in the fourth quarter. 

“She and I were having great conversations. She was checking in with me and everything she was saying was right on point so she has a good grasp of what we’re trying to get done. 

“She has grown so much with her ability to come out of her shell and just be a wonderful representative of our program. We’re real proud of her and she’s playing some awfully good ball right now.”

Murray said, “It’s just the matter of staying aggressive, especially if they’re denying Maci or Rhyne (Howard). I’m just taking advantage of that situation. I’m not the top scorer on our team, but whenever I’m given the opportunity I’m going to take the shot.

“(Senior Day) is just payback and redemption for when we played Arkansas and I missed both free throws. But, I made both free throws. Just the matter of staying focused and hitting the shots whenever I’m given the opportunity.

“We’re all happy for each other because it’s Senior Day, but we all play for each other each game. This was a gutty win because we were able to handle adversity while staying consistent.

“I would just remember playing for my teammates while playing with each other. You also have a great coaching staff that helps develop you both on and off the court. You work from June to now, but you also have the chance to develop great relationships.”

Morris said: “Like Taylor said, you just meet so many people at Kentucky. You build great relationships and you have both good times and bad times that you get to share with your peers. 

“That’s how you build those strong relationships. Like Taylor said, your teammates, coaches, staff, other classmates, everybody has such a big impact on you and that is what I’m going to remember the most.

“Just trying to enjoy the moment and be thankful, I have a lot of gratitude for everyone that came out and supported us today. It was just amazing to see all of the fans supporting us.”

 “It just keeps building and hopefully we can make it even more special if we continue to win at a high level. Just trying to compete in the tournament, so we’re going to try to make it our best year yet.”

Howard said she learned all season from the senior starters.

“Always have high energy in practice and in games and do what the coaches say.”

 UK closes February in the A&M game and the season at Georgia. They own the double-bye in the conference tournament right now with an undeniable third.

They moved up five positions in the national rankings.

Howard continued her incomparable string as SEC Freshman of the week, repeating again. Just give her the season honor now.

Taylor joined McCowan as a semifinalist for the national Naismith Defensive Player of the year award.

No. 13 South Carolina (20-7)

This did not go as planned for the home team.

The Gamecocks became the last SEC team to lose at home when Rhyne Howard and Taylor Murray each scored 17 and No. 16 Kentucky solidified its hold on third in the conference, 65-57. 

It’s the best defense against SC all season. It ended a nine-game series losing streak, six in Columbia, and allowed the UK seniors to finish with at least one win over SC.

Murray tied a season high with eight rebounds, adding five assists and four steals in the win, Kentucky’s fifth in a row, creating the longest conference win streak at the moment.

Kentucky got 12 points from senior Maci Morris, 10 in the second half.

The Kats forced 21 Gamecock turnovers, including 14 UK steals, and turned those into 19 points. The Gamecocks scored 16 points off 16 Kentucky turnovers.

This evened the season series, each winning on the road. It is a premonition of a tiebreaker should SC win its final home game against Mississippi State. Each team would have win at home. But SC now has lost to the next-highest ranked team that State has defeated.

The Kats opened a 7-2 lead made it stand for a 13-11 lead after one period.

Before halftime, Kentucky had another surge, 11-2 run, including eight in a row by Howard. They increased the lead to 26-17 a 30-24 advantage to 30-24 at the half.

South Carolina started 8-0 run to take the  lead with 6:34 left in the third and led 43-40 after three periods. 

Murray scored six of Kentucky’s 10 points in the quarter.

South Carolina had a three-point lead in the fourth quarter, 45-42, when Morris hit her first basket of the game, a step-back 3, to tie it at  45. 

A one-plus contributed to an 8-0 run 5:49 to play. After South Carolina cut the lead to 50-48, Howard scored five in a row.

The Kats answered every Gamecock basket and built their lead to 60-51. 

SC cut five more off the lead, but UK settled in with 5-of-6 from the line to seal the deal before a league-best 11, 887.

 Four Gamecocks finished in double figures, led by 12 each from Alexis Jennings and freshman Destanni Henderson. Tyasha Harris and Bianca Cuevas-Moore each added 10.

Moving on to Tennessee and a wire-to-wire 82-67 win was a good antidote and a 230th win.

The Vols were expected to lose two and they did. They will recover to win two this week and end with 19.

The Gamecocks got career games from seniors Bianca Cuevas-Moore and Doniyah Cliney to earn their first Game in Knoxville since 2016. 

As dominant as SC has been, Tennessee has challenged them.

 Cuevas-Moore scored a career-high 28, 50 percent from the field in a career-high 39 minutes. Cliney’s 16 points is also a  career best.

 Another senior, Alexis Jennings scoring 13 of 15 points in the second half. Tyasha Harris rounded out the Gamecocks in double figures with 11, adding a career  and SEC-high 14 assists for her second double-double in the last three games. 

They were without leading scorer Te’a Cooper, left home with an illness, denying her a return to her original school.

Cuevas-Moore, a redshirt  senior, scored from the start, often getting behind the defense as they broke a weak attempt at a press throughout the first period. 

The Gamecocks capped the quarter with a 13-0 run, seven of which came from Cuevas-Moore, to gain a 27-11 lead, determining the rhythm of the game.

 The Carolina surge continued in the second quarter as it extended to a 19-2 run with buckets from reserve  Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and Cuevas-Moore, building the lead to 20. 

Herbert Harrigan’s defense changed the game, with three blocks, including two in one possession.

 Harris had eight assists in the half which the Gamecocks , 43-27.

UT coach Holly Warlick had no answers.

In the third, Jennings took over offensively for Carolina. She scored seven points during the quarter, including two straight baskets to open it. Tennessee kept fouling and SC kept hitting free throws, eight of its first 12.

Jennings continued to dominate in the fourth. 

The senior forward sank the opening basket again and scored six more. UT had 16 turnovers, SC scoring 17 off turnovers and 16 fast break points.

“We dug ourselves into a hole in the first quarter, and they were more physical than us, and we just didn’t handle them. We just have to start the game off better,” Warlick said in yet another post-mortem.

“We’re not making shots. We had 54 shots in and around the paint. We’re just not making shots. This is a physical game, and we didn’t finish shots. 

“In the first half, we turned it over too much, we gave up too many layups, and we just mentally were not focused. And then once we got through that first quarter, we were fine, but we just can’t get ourselves in a hole.

“It is (frustrating). Again, we let our offense control our defense, and we weren’t in tune the first quarter defensively, because we were pressing and then we weren’t talking. 

“Nobody was back on the press, so we had so many mental mistakes. You can’t blame it on youth; we’re playing five kids that have been mainly starting the whole year. 

“We just cannot let us not making buckets dictate how we were playing on defense. I mean, we let Bianca (Cuevas-Moore) get too many threes, and you know, she had a great game. 

“She hit shots when they needed it, hit free throws when they needed it. So, we’ve just got to get out of the gate quicker.”

“We’re missing shots. It’s been our M.O. for a while, and we just missed some easy shots. You can’t do that against South Carolina; they’re a great basketball team.

“ You can’t spot them 27-11. 

“That’s an uphill climb, and we’ve got to get better at that. It’s ok. We’re not going to make every shot, but you can control what you do defensively, and you can control what you do on the boards.

“ You know who’s a three-point shooter, you know who’s a penetrator. We had 16 fouls, we have to get better on the defensive end.”

“We’ve talked about how getting down the stretch that you need the games. They know it. They know, and they understand it. It’s all over social media; they read it, so they know. 

“They know, we all know. We got ourselves in this hole, so you have to climb out of it and you have to get these next two games, absolutely.”

“We went to a more experienced lineup,” Staley said, “ because coming in here we knew we would see a lot of different options.

“ I thought we would go with someone who was more experienced who could handle the press. We knew Tennessee would press us a little bit more, especially considering the way we played against Kentucky.

“ We needed to come out to a fast start, because we have not come out to fast starts in the past couple of games. It was good to put 27 points up in the quarter; it gives you a great feel for what the game would be like for the rest of the time. We were not at a 27-point quarter pace, but it was enough to see where we could find our advantages. 

 ”We wanted to go inside-out if they took angles away from us. Not being able to get the ball inside to Alexis, you just try to get ahead of the possession.

“ Fortunately for us, I thought Ty  did a great job of facilitating and finding the people that needed to shoot the ball. A lot of the time Bianca Cuevas-Moore was the recipient of that. (Harris) had 14 assists which is a career-high; she did what point guards are supposed to do in a game like this.”

 She was impressed with her senior forward.

 ”Alexis picked up a quick foul in the first quarter, so she sat a little bit more than we wanted her to. I thought Tennessee mixed up their play with a little more zone, so we could not really get the angles to get her the ball.

“ The moment they went man, we got the opportunity to isolate her down in the paint, and she delivered to us.”

 Then they got a little winded in the second quarter.

 ”It looked that way, mentally. We played minimum players a lot of minutes. We have lulls. The third quarter has been a hard quarter for us. 

“I think we did a good job of when we did not have good scoring output, we did not allow them to. I think the fourth quarter was a great quarter for us. We established ourselves in the paint, and we did a good job of not allowing the open looks.

 ”I didn’t talk to anyone in particular, because you do not want anyone having the pressure of taking improvised shots. Throughout the course of the game I wanted Ty (Harris) to shoot a little bit more, and she did that. 

“I want her to be her best; I told her at halftime that she was going to have to take up the shots. When she misses shots she pretty much goes into a shell and looks to facilitate. She had a big bucket for us in the fourth quarter where she drove the baseline and got two feet under and we opened the lead.”

 Cliney said it was a necessary recovery.

“We just needed to bounce back,” she said. “We prepared very well for this game, so that was a good thing for us. We wanted to show Coach Staley we still are good as we are, so I think that was pretty much it.

“It’s always been emphasized since the season started. Coach Staley is always wanting us to play fast; we just made sure we stayed true to our system and do what we do and run in transition.”

“We just had to make up for everything that Te’a contributes when she is on the court. I mean, players like Bianca, Shay and myself and Te’a included, we all just try to put our head to the basket and score when we have the opportunity.”

Cuevas-Moore said it is all about following a game plan.

“We’ve just got to pick up the all the things that work best for us -- compete, be competitive, and, you know, try to outwork other teams.

“We live for moments like this. Me and Doniyah have been around a long time, so I think we have what it takes at the end of a game like that to come back and, you know, execute our game plan and get the W.”

So it comes down to the showdown and a little home luck this week. First they must execute contentious Auburn on the road.

They fell to No. 14 with the loss. Two spots in the poll. They have been ranked all season, even if they did fall to No. 25 before the SEC started.

The State game season finale will also be Senior Night, during which contributors to the National Title twp seasons ago will be honored.

A double-bye in the league tournament is assured.
No. 19 Texas A&M (20-6)

The third straight home game was Tennessee’s visit this week. 

A&M was seeking to end UT’s mini streak and to win a third straight in Aggieland in the series. 

Vol Rennia Davis is the league Player of the Week as she has fully recovered from the slump in the six-game losing string. Had she hit her average then, UT would be ranked and have 20 wins. This team is that close.

UT is playing better but both losses were expected, as was the South Carolina game at home. 

Now UT can finish with two wins.

Chennedy Carter chose not to finish the loss at Mississippi State, disqualifying herself with a second loudmouth technical to referees.

It was all butterflies and balloons this time.

She is the best scorer (23.1) in league games.

A&M had its 20th win. They stayed strongly third in the league and in line for the double-bye in the league tournament, as well as a possible No. 4 in an NCAA Regional which means two more home games.

“We’re trying to get the best seed we can possibly get,” said A&M coach Gary Blair. “Which is huge.

 “If we can stay consistent between the ears, and play hard for long periods of time, we’re going to be fine,” added Blair.

That was his only public reference to the Carter meltdown.

UT had won five of six. The Lady Vols have four players averaging double figure points, Evina Westbrook (15.8), Davis (14.8), Meme Jackson (11.1) and Zaay Green (10.7).

 “We know they’re a great team; we can’t underestimate Tennessee,” said Carter. “They have a bunch of great players who are capable of making it a challenge for us.” Blair said this was the “post-season push.” They had lost two straight.

It started slowly, which is to Tennessee’s advantage as they always start slowly. UT doesn’t fold like it used  to. They were diving on the floor in a one-point game with seconds to go in the first. 

The possession maintained the 17-16 deficit. Balanced scoring on both sides.

But A&M’s Cierra Johnson picked up a crucial second foul in the final scramble. For a team with no bench that could be disabling.

Rennia Davis, hot of late, had but one basket for Tennessee and that was again the difference. A&M’s Kayla Wells  scored 13, 5-of-7 with 3-of-4 3s. Carter had 10.

Neither coach had submitted to tradition and flung aside a jacket.

 Despite winning 22-6 in the paint, Tennessee trailed by seven in the third. Davis’ dismal effort was chilling. Carter (15) and Wells (18) were dominating guards. The lead grew to an insurmountable 20 in the third and ended 79-62.

Wells finished with 29, Carter 28.

Based on past performance foreshadowing new performances this was supposed to be a two-games lost week for Tennessee. The first one fell as anticipated. But UT can sweep the final two and get to 19 wins, as we projected weeks ago.

A&M got its 20th. They stayed third in conference. They drew 3,789.

Carter said, “We had a terrible game against Mississippi State. We went out and practiced hard. We had great practices. Tonight we played harder than them and I’m just proud of my team. We outhustled them.

“I’m really proud of Kayla Wells. She had an outstanding game. Many people don’t know this, but she is the first one in the gym and the last to leave. It’s her confidence. Kayla is getting a lot of confidence.

“When they went to man, I found my shot one-on-one. Easy.

“Tennessee’s a great defensive team miss or make, they press. So coach said all we gotta do is sprint back and guard ’em. We got a lot of points off their misses.”

Blair said, “It’s how do you respond to adversity. We have got to learn how to get the ball to the hot person.

“We stayed with them on the boards in the first quarter and that little difference is what put us on top.
“I have been playing Tennessee since 1980,” Blair said. “I respect the orange. I don’t fear the orange, I respect the orange.”

With that respect comes the opinion that Tennessee has nothing to fear come tournament selection.
“They’re not on the bubble,” Blair said. “They are in, even if they go 7-9.”

“That team is not finished winning. Tennessee is going to win some more. They’ve got three games left. They just get to seven, they’re in, because of their strength of schedule and who Tennessee is.”

A&M are next to play at bottom-feeder Florida.

Senior Funda Nakkasoglu leads Florida with 16.3 points per game and is the conference’s leader in 3-pointers made.

 The Gators, under second-year head coach Cameron Newbauer, have picked up two-point conference home wins against Missouri and Alabama, as well as a key non-conference victory over Texas Tech.

 “What we got to do is take advantage and go inside against Florida,” added Blair. “We want to be able to get Ciera Johnson and N’dea Jones a lot of shots inside.”

The final two are breaking the third-place tie at Kentucky and home for Senior Day and Arkansas to start March. They have won the double bye in the SEC tournament.
With the wins,  they moved up two in the national rankings.

Monday, February 25, 2019

The Guru Report: Villanova Gains Senior Day Win; Drexel, St. Joe’s and Rider Prevail

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

VILLANOVA — Nothing like picking your own senior day to have your season high in a game in which you leave the court a bit due to a minor injury but end up smiling with a team-high 17 points fueled by connecting 5 of 8 three point attempts as Villanova took a 73-68 Big East win over Seton Hall here at Finneran Pavilion.

That’s the way it went Sunday for Jannah Tucker, whose career started at Tennessee before transferring here.

And if you’re graduate student Adrianna Hahn, while extending your ‘Nova career record three-pointers with three more to cross a threshold to 301, you get a chance to make an encore after being removed for a standing ovation.

That’s  because a win that was in the bag with an early 22-point lead and after reduced to eight got back up to 21 with 7 minutes, 12 seconds left in the game got hairy down the stretch leading to just a five-point differential for the final score.

In a sense while moving to a fourth-place tie with Providence with two games remaining next weekend an entire season highlight of Villanova basketball (17-10, 8-8 Big East) was displayed over 40 minutes.

There were stretches that resembled the Wildcats shooting array of a week ago here highlighted by a 17-of-18 third quarter and others that recalled wins that got away as a recently as Friday night here against St. John’s.

Speaking of recaps, the outset even featured a bit of the famed old Big East days scripted event when Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma and Villanova’s Harry Perretta arranged so a recently injured Nykesha Sales could limp onto the court and start the game to score and set the then-scoring record for the Huskies.

On Sunday with agreement from Seton Hall’s Tony Bozzella, senior Grace Stant, sidelined for the season with a foot injury suffered at Providence early last month, was allowed to be part of the starting lineup for four seconds to make her final appearance in uniform.

The win gave the Wildcats a season-series sweep of Seton Hall (14-14, 6-11), which has struggled.

“They played a good game,” Villanova coach Harry Perretta said of his departing players. “They scored a lot of points. They played well. I tried to take them out of the game so they could get their ovations and then I had to put Adrianna back in because they couldn’t make a foul shot.”

The Wildcats were a mediocre 5-for-16 from the line while the Pirates were 9-for-11, though the home team was superior in bench help outscoring the visitors 21-16.

Hahn finished with 11 points and junior Mary Gedaka, shooting 7-for-10 from the field, had 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Gedaka has been 94-for-128 from the field her last 12 games for a percentage of 73.4. 

The Wildcats connected on 12 three-pointers and also got 22 points from 17 turnovers by the Pirates while yielding nine on just nine miscues, a category ‘Nova is third in the nation for fewest committed.

Seton Hall’s Inja Butina was 9-for-16 from the field for a game-high 23 points. Shadeen Samuels was 7-for-9 for 18 points and Nicole Jimenez scored 11.

Of her perhaps just ceremonial farewell day in Finneran, Tucker said, “It was a fun game, fun game.

“Nail biter turned the end,” she chuckled. “But we held together and pulled out the win.”

Villanova, which finishes up on the road Friday at Xavier at 7 in Cincinnati and Sunday at 2 at Butler in Indianapolis, is two games behind Butler in the standings led by nationally-ranked Marquette, followed by DePaul.

But the Wildcats are just a game ahead of Creighton and Georgetown and two in front of eighth-place St. John’s, which is then followed by Seton Hall in the 10-team conference.

“Oh my gosh with all these ties, it’s crazy,” Tucker said. “Every game matters. There’s nothing like the Big East.”

The Big East tournament will be held in Chicago March 9-12 at DePaul’s Wintrust Arena, its larger off-campus venue downtown that also houses the men’s team, and in the summer the WNBA’s Chicago Sky, among other events.

The winner gets an automatic bid to the NCAA tourney, but the at-large list of contenders is not plentiful as previous years in the recent conference reconfiguration era. Marquette will go without regard to winning or being upset and DePaul also figures as an invited team.

The Blue Demons are also host to an NCAA regional at Wintrust later next month prior to the Women’s Final Four in Tampa Bay, Fla.

Butler is a bit on the bubble off recent losses.

 Villanova would likely have to win it but otherwise the Wildcats are likely to receive a bid to the WNIT and possibly gain an encore here with a home game in the first round.

Drexel Still Streaking But Delaware Falls in CAA Action

It was another completed sweep weekend in the Colonial Athletic Association for Drexel, which finished its road trip into the Carolinas by winning 65-42 at the College of Charleston to maintain second place a game behind James Madison (22-4, 14-1 CAA) but Delaware’s three-game win streak was snapped with a 72-64 loss at UNCW that enabled the Seahawks to gain a split with the Blue Hens.

Drexel (20-5, 12-2), which trailed after the first quarter for the first time this season in conference play and overall since Dec. 21, won its 12th straight since the opening weekend disaster last month when the Dragons were upset by surprising Towson and preseason favorite JMU at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center.

The win was also the Dragons’ 14th straight true road win, which leads the nation as does their tenacious defense in points allowed at 47.8 a game.

Extending first ever back-to-back 20-win seasons from last year now becomes a three-peat with the sixth 20-win season under Dragons coach Denise Dillon and eighth in program history.

Drexel’s Bailey Greenberg, who has entered the mix for potentially CAA player of the year pending the Dragons’ finish in the regular season, had 21 points while Hannah Nihill scored 13 but also grabbed six steals and dealt four assists.

Aubree Brown had 10 points, eight rebounds, and six assists while defensively the Dragons forced 22 turnovers by the Cougars in their TD Arena.

The Dragons did not allow anyone on Charleston (7-19, 3-12) to score in double figures, with Arynn Eady leading the Cougars in points and rebounds with eight each.

Drexel leads the Charleston series  9-6 with a  perfect 6-0 in Philadelphia and 3-3 down south.

Standings-wise, Drexel is 1.5 games but two in the loss column ahead of third-place Towson (17-9, 11-4), moving closer to clinching minimally a trip to the WNIT with a second-place finish. 

The Dragons likely would get one of the WNIT at-large bids if they didn’t finish second or land in the NCAA through the conference championship.

Drexel has a chance to force a second-straight first-place tie at the finish, playing at JMU in Harrisonburg, Va., Thursday, March 7, before also seeking revenge at Towson the following Saturday.

 The Blue Hens won the tie-break last year for the No. 1 seed but it is unclear right now who would have the advantage.

However, directly  ahead is next weekend’s home wrap up with a visit Friday from William & Mary at 7 followed by Sunday’s visit from reigning CAA conference tourney champion Elon at 2 p.m.

The Phoenix are struggling this year but it is their first return since winning the title at the DAC last March after beating JMU in the semifinals before ousting the Dragons in the championship. 

Delaware (13-13, 8-6), meanwhile, slipped back into fifth place, sent there personally by the UNCW team (16-10, 9-6) that jumped over them into fourth a half-game ahead of the Blue Hens, who host this year’s CAA tournament next month (March 13-16) at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

The Seahawks bounced back from Friday’s loss in Trask Coliseum in Wilmington, N.C. to Drexel that was UNCW’s first overall home loss in 13 games this season. 

Wasted in the setback were career performance as the Blue Hens’ Alison Lewis shot 8-for-12 to score 20 points while grabbing seven rebounds, and Rebecca Lawrence was 9-for-11 to score 19.

"This was obviously not the outcome we wanted, but I'm proud of the fight we showed until the very end,” said Delaware second-year coach Natasha Adair. “There were some things defensively that we just did not do from start to finish. 

“When you're on the road against a tough conference opponent, you have to be in sync; there's no room for error,” Adair continued.  “That is something we'll learn from. 

“This game had a tournament feel to it with the energy and atmosphere displayed. We want to grow in these situations. We have to make sure we're disciplined and tough and we have to win some of those battles down the stretch."

Chinyere Bell had 20 points and eight rebounds for UNCW while GiGi Smith had 19 points and Lacey Suggs had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Delaware is back home Friday hosting Elon at 7 and on Sunday hosting William & Mary at 2 p.m.

The Blue Hens are relatively safe from being overtaken by Northeastern (15-10, 5-9) but have only a remote chance to catch third-place Towson so being in play at fourth or fifth with UNCW locks into the same team matchup, though the Seahawks have a better shot at catching Towson to change positions.

Rider Drops Niagara And Reduces Postseason Magic Number To One

The Broncs recovered from their tough Thursday home setback to league leading Quinnipiac by taking down the Purple Eagles 79-64 in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference game in upstate New York to snap a two-game losing streak and move within a win or Marist loss to clinch the No. 2 seed in the conference tourney, which will be in Albany’s Times Union Center once more next month before moving to Atlantic City, N.J. next season.

The extra perk for the seed is an automatic bid to the WNIT if failing to win the automatic bid or get an at-large invitation to the NCAA tourney.

Rider (16-11, 12-4 MAAC) is one game in front of Marist with two left — hosting Siena Thursday at Alumni Gym in Lawrenceville, N.J., at 7 on senior night and visiting Fairfield on Saturday.

But the Broncs, who made their first postseason and WNIT appearance in 2017, swept the Red Foxes so they have the tiebreak. 

On Sunday in Rider’s lone meeting this season with Niagara (12-15, 8-8), the Broncs rode a slim 35-32 halftime lead to a blowout in the second half in which Stella Johnson had all 18 of her points to go with seven rebounds, six assists, and three steals.

Lea Favre had a career high with 24 points, shooting 9-for-14 from the field and going a perfect 6-for-6 on the line, where the Broncs shot a season-high 21 free throws on 24 attempt in the Tapps Gallagher Center. 

She also had six rebounds.

Lexi Posset was a third Bronc in double figures, scoring 18, spurred by 8-10 on the line, and Amari Johnson was back in double double world with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

"It was a really good road win for this time of the year,” said veteran Rider coach Lynn Milligan. “It's not an easy place to come up to, especially for just one game.

“ I was really proud of our effort particularly in the second half. Defensively we did a good job."

A-10 Locals: Saint Joseph’s Rallies at Rhode Island While La Salle Falls at Richmond

Thanks to a rally leading to a 55-48 win at Rhode Island in an Atlantic 10 game in the Rams’ Ryan Center in Kingston, Saint Joseph’s will need to be in playoff mentality Wednesday at 4 when the Hawks (11-16, 7-7 Atlantic 10) visit George Mason (15-12, 7-7) at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Va., near Washington.

At stake is a home game in the first round of the conference tournament next Tuesday and Saint Joseph’s is locked with GMU and George Washington (10-17, 7-7) for seventh place.

The top two teams have byes and the next six get to host sending the winners and the 1-2 duo moving on to Duquesne in Pittsburgh for the quarters, semis, and championship the following Friday through Sunday.

So basically, it’s a two out of three situation among those three for home courts and already Saint Joseph’s holds a win at George Washington and with a win over the Patriots the Hawks would be in good shape should they not prevail in their final game Saturday at home hosting Fordham.

The Colonials host Duquesne Wednesday and will be an underdog.

So that’s the immediate future.

As for the immediate past, Saint Joseph’s had to fight back from a 13-point deficit to the Rams (7-19, 2-12) and after doing so, the Hawks used a 22-12 fourth quarter to prevail and get back on the winning side following last Wednesday’s home loss to Duquesne.

Defensively, the visitors mined 19 points and out of 21 Rhode Island turnovers. 

Alyssa Monaghan, nearing the end of her collegiate career, had a game-high 22 points while Kristalyn Baisden scored 10 points and Mary Sheehan had 10 points and a team-high six rebounds.

The Hawks launched 21 three-pointers which brought the season total to 526, enough to eclipse the previous record of 511 attempts set by the 1997-98 team.

Nicole Jorgensen had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the Rams.

La Salle, meanwhile, held host Richmond to a defensive season best low in outscoring the Spiders 32-22 in the second half but unfortunately that wasn’t enough to overcome a rough start and the Explorers fell short 56-51 in the Robins Center in Virginia.

Jeryn Reese and Shayla Sweeney each scored 10 points for La Salle (4-24, 1-13) while Shalina Miller had nine points and 11 rebounds. 

Miller needs one more block  to tie and two to break a season record.

The Spiders (8-19, 5-9) jumped to a 34-19 halftime lead before the Explorers began to make a dent into Richmond’s expanding differential.

“I was pleased with our second half, but you just can’t start like that,” said Explorers’ first-year coach Mountain MacGillivray. “Each night we’ve tried to pride ourselves, no matter what, to do our best and today we didn’t show our best.”

La Salle next visits St. Bonaventure at 5 p.m. Wednesday before finishing the regular season Saturday against George Mason at home at the Tom Gola Center.

Penn State Top Illinois in Big Ten Basement Clash

The Lady Lions made it two straight in Big Ten competition overcoming roster depletions with star Teniya Page sidelined among others as they topped host Illinois 76-65 visiting the last-place Illini (10-18, 2-15 Big Ten) of the 14-team league in Champagne.

Penn State (12-15, 5-11) went to the air to pull this one out with a season-high 10 three-pointers in breaking a tie and moving up a half-game in the win column ahead of Wisconsin in 12th.

But there is not much season left to rise significantly higher for the Big Ten tourney being held next month in Indianapolis.

Next up will be a makeup at Michigan State Wednesday from a postponement caused by the recent polar vortex weather situation in the Midwest.

Nebraska then visits the Bryce Jordan Center Saturday at 3 p.m. to help conclude the regular season.

It was another good shooting effort for PSU, connecting on 52.8 percent from the field for the second straight triumph over 50 percent.

Penn State’s Kamaria McDaniel had 20 points, Travascio-Green had five treys to get to a season-high 19 points while Amari Carter had 14 points, six assists, six rebounds and four steals, and Siyeh Frazier scored 12 points.

It was only the second conference road win on the season, but in the series PSU has taken eight straight.

“It was good for us to come here and get a road win when we’re a little short-handed without Teniya Page and Alisia Smith,” said Penn State coach Coquese Washington.  “I was really glad that our kids responded to the challenge and were able to come in here and execute the game plan against a tough Illinois team.”

Meanwhile, though the Lady Lions’ traveling partner Rutgers was idle waiting to host Wisconsin Monday night at 7 in Piscataway, N.J., a stir was created in late morning when the school put out a release saying Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer would be taking the remainder of the regular season and the Big Ten tournament off to get much needed rest.

Tim Eatman, who pitched in several times in the past due to absences, would run the squad until Stringer’s return.

Though the phrase “exhaustion,” was used in the wire service report out of New Jersey, the Guru’s trusted sources said there were no major health issues involving the Hall of Famer nor anything sinister in terms of the move leading to a change in command once the season is over.

The Scarlet Knights have enjoyed their best season in a while, holding third behind Maryland and Iowa, with as finish after Monday will include a visit from Minnesota at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and a visit to Ohio State on Sunday.

At one point projected to be a Top 16 team and a recent five-week return to the national rankings, Rutgers barring a collapse on the scale of what brought them down a year ago is still expected to land an at-large bid for the first time since 2015 should the Knights not win the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

And that’s the report. 






Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Guru Report: Penn and Princeton Win To Set 1-2 Ivy Showdown

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — And so as first place Penn and second place Princeton completed weekend sweeps in the Ivy League with the host Quakers here in the Palestra going through another gritty Saturday night act in defeating Cornell 69-58 while up the road the host Tigers held off Columbia 65-59 in Jadwin Gym the stage is set for “yesterday once more” for another 1 vs 2 here Tuesday night at 7 p.m.

Princeton will arrive seeking revenge for the Quakers’ Ivy opening day upset of the preseason favorites last month knowing a win sets a tie at  the top of the standings while Penn knows a victory and season sweep puts the home team in a very good place.

But after the outcome is determined in terms of the postseason discussion it won’t be the same as its ever been for lots of reasons.

For one, unlike the long-running Ivy schedule when the final day of competition landed in either here or up at Jadwin with a men’s/women’s doubleheader in alternating seasons, there’s no longer any finality off no more games to play.

The Ivy tourney, in its third year next month March 16-17 at Yale’s John J. Lee Ampitheater in New Haven, Conn., following the first two here, changed all that.

The men, who were part of a Saturday doubleheader here, won’t be back, having hosted their Tigers counterparts a week after the the men and women played in Jadwin last month.

Off that reconfiguration, following the clash here Tuesday, two more weekends of back-to-back games will have yet to be played, so mathematically landing a place in the four-team field won’t begin to be determined until next weekend when Harvard visits Penn here Friday looking for a sweep ( 7 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia) of the Quakers and then moves on to Princeton Saturday at 5 p.m. while Dartmouth on Friday is at Princeton, 6 p.m., and then comes here Saturday at 6 p.m.

Even the name of the team with a minimal guarantee of a WNIT bid that goes to the second place regular season finisher could still be undecided, though at this point Penn or Princeton in third would likely draw a WNIT at-large invitation.

There is an extra attraction for WNBA types Tuesday on a night the collegiate schedule is thin in general and that is to come here and preview two strongly potential future draft picks, now juniors,  going head-to-head in Princeton’s Bella Alarie of Bethesda, Md., the reigning Ivy player of the year, and Penn’s Eleah Parker of Charlotte, N.C.

All this a reason why the word NCAA is a long way off yet in terms of used in association with the league leaders other than the the tournament now determines the automatic bid.

Questioned here following Saturday’s outcome if its important to maintain the No. 1 slot Penn has carried since its 66-60 upset of the Tigers, a lead that got to two games in front before Harvard took down the Quakers in double overtime in Cambridge, Mass., last weekend, coach Mike McLaughlin brushed the topic aside.

“You know what, we haven’t really talked about it,” McLaughlin said. “(His players) see all the records, they see all that stuff. We’re just trying to play.

“We know we won eight. We lost one. Everyone is below us in some way. The question would be for them. It’s not something (his staff) talk about. 

“Our first goal is very clear, to get in the Ivy tournament. We said once we have enough to get in there, then we’ll reshape our goals and I think that’s what we talk about.”

As for talking about the Cornell game, once again as it was the first half of the Ivy race on three back-to-back weekends in which the Quakers (18-4, 8-1 Ivy) cruised on Friday nights and engaged in grueling close encounters 24 hours later, the Big Red (9-12, 3-7) never really went away until the closing minutes and now sit two games back of the tournament’s final qualifying spot with four games remaining.

“We made the right plays at the right time,” McLaughlin said. “Credit Cornell. They pushed us all the way. Their post players attacked our post players but we adjusted.

“It’s a tough league. (Men’s coach) Steve (Donahue) will tell you on his side, too, Ivy League basketball is at its peak right now in terms of competition, the balance, the parity, and to come back and play back-to-back, credit our group for responding.”

The past two years Penn and Princeton played in the tourney title game so no matter what happens Tuesday, there’s a strong chance the two will hook up again in the semifinal or final depending on how the finish goes in the standings.

Penn’s largest lead against Cornell was its final score after holding a slim 58-53 advantage with 6 minutes, 32 seconds left in the game. Then no one scored for the next five minutes until Parker off a field goal and a 1-2 effort from the line followed by Princess Aghayere’s basket made it a 10-point lead with 1:52 left.

Cornell never got closer than eight over the remainder of regulation.

Aghayere had a career-high 23 points and matched her career best with nine field goals (9-15) in a game that had eight lead changes and seven ties. 

She also had 10 rebounds, while Ashley Russell had 17 points, five rebounds, five assists, four steals and tied a career-best two blocks of the nine rejections handed by the Quakers.

Phoebe Sterba had 13 points and she and Russell each nailed a trio of three-pointers. Parker scored 10 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots while  Kendall Grasela dealt six assists.

Penn clinched a conference winning record for the seventh straight season and this was the sixth straight series taken by the Quakers against Cornell.

The Big Red’s Laura Bagwell-Katalinich had 23 points and nine rebounds while Samantha Widmann had 17 points and nine rebounds.

Meanwhile up at Princeton (15-9, 7-2), after having control in the early going the Tigers allowed Columbia (7-16, 3-7) to score 25 points in the third period but then toughened the defense, yielding just four field goals in the final period to stay close to the Quakers in the standings.

Alarie had 14 points while Carlie Littlefield had 13 points and eight rebounds while Grace Stone tied a career-high also scoring 13 points for the Tigers.

Columbia’s Janiya Clemmons had 20 points while Casey Riley scored 15.

Elsewhere in the league Dartmouth moved closer to league tourney contention, helping itself with a strong 48-18 second half to cruise over Brown 78-43 at home in Leede Arena in Hanover, N.H., as Isalys Quinnones tied a career high for the Big Green (12-11, 5-5) with 23 points and grabbing nine rebounds while Katie Douglas set a career high with 20 points.

Justine Gaziano had 19 points for the Bears (9-16, 1-9).

Harvard (14-9, 7-3) dropped visiting Yale (15-10, 5-5) into a fourth place tie with Dartmouth by beating the Bulldogs 83-69 at home in Lavietes Pavilion in Cambridge, Mass., for the team’s third straight win to hold third behind Princeton as Madeline Raster tied a career-high with 24 points and became the 21st player in the Crimson program to reach 1,000 career points.

Tori Andrew had 23 for Yale.

So just the league record has the standings as follows:

1. Penn 8-1 — 5 G remain
2. Princeton 7-2 1.0 —  5 G remain
3. Harvard 7-3 1.5 — 4 G remain
4. Yale 5-5 3.5 — 4 G remain
5. Dartmouth 5-5 3.5 — 4 G remain
6. Cornell 3-7 5.5 — 4 G remain
7. Columbia 3-7 5.5 — 4 G remain
8. Brown 1-9 7.5 — 4 G remain

Yale and Dartmouth split their series though Yale playing Columbia and Cornell next weekend could move two in front of Dartmouth if the Big Green gets swept at Penn and Princeton.

Temple Falls at UCF

The Owls, the only other Guru local D-1 team in action Saturday, initially shook off Wednesday’s tough last-second loss at SMU until a cold-shooting second half of 30.8 percent led to their demise, a 62-54 loss to second place UCF in Orlando, Fla., in an American Athletic Conference game.

Temple (9-17, 5-8 AAC) was just a point off UCF at 50-49 after three periods but scored just five points in the final period against the home team (22-5, 11-3).

Alliya Butts had 14 points for the Owls and Mia Davis had 12 points and six rebounds.

They return home Wednesday hosting Tulsa at 7 p.m. in McGonigle Hall followed by hosting Wichita State Saturday at 2 p.m. in McGonigle Hall.

Looking Ahead: Villanova Shoots For Fourth Place Tie On Senior Day

The local slate is heavier as well as some key national games are coming on Sunday.

With Creighton having beaten Providence on Saturday, Villanova can move closer to the Friars in fourth in the Big East in the Wildcats’ final home game of the season hosting Seton Hall at 1 p.m. in Finneran Pavilion on Senior Day.

In the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Quinnipiac beat Marist Saturday to stay perfect already having won the top seed but if Rider wins at Niagara at 2 p.m. the Broncs will be back in front of the Red Foxes by a game, meaning they then need to either beat Siena at home on Thursday or Fairfield on the road Saturday, barring safety valve help from Marist’s foes to take second and the automatic bid to the WNIIT.

In the Atlantic 10 on Saturday, Duquesne at home beat first place VCU in overtime at home and since the Dukes will be hosting the tourney’s last three rounds next month, it shows anything can happen.

Meanwhile the local duo in the A-10 are on the road Sunday with Saint Joseph’s at Rhode Island at 2 p.m. in pursuit of landing one of six first-round hosting slots. The Hawks finish this week visiting George Mason Wednesday and hosting Fordham Saturday.

La Salle will be at Richmond Sunday at 2 p.m.

In the Colonial Athletic Association, Drexel will look for another weekend sweep and stay at least a game behind James Madison in second as the Dragons at 1 p.m. will be at Charleston looking for their 12th straight overall win since dropping the first two conference home games last month. They have also won 13 straight true road games to lead the nation.

Delaware, which moved into fourth ahead of UNCW can enhance the space apart from the Seahawks when the Blue Hens visit them Sunday at 2 p.m.

Penn State, down in 12th place in the Big Ten, visits last place Illinois at 4 p.m. while Rutgers holding third hosts Wisconsin at 7 p.m. Monday in the only local D-1 game.

Nationally, South Carolina is at Tennessee with the visiting Gamecocks trying to bounce back from an upset loss to Kentucky and unranked Tennessee off a loss to Texas A&M desperately needing to pull an upset to get off the NCAA tournament bubble.

In the Pac-12 UCLA after a huge upset rally over No. 2 Oregon will try to nail Oregon State, which is a game behind Oregon tied with Stanford as the conference slate goes into its final week. Oregon hosts Southern Cal and Stanford hosts Arizona State.

Stony Brooks, having a landmark season, is at first-place Maine in the America East.

Small Colleges: Rosemont and Haverford Take Conference Titles

First here’s sports information director Kevin Cooney’s account of Rosemont’s home win in Alumnae Hall over Keystone to win the Colonial States Athletic Conference for the first time.

ROSEMONT - The first recruit that Rayne Reber was able to land as Rosemont head coach stood at the top of the ladder with scissors in her hand.

It has been a long climb for Ayanna Thompson to this point. And yet, she was the one with scissors in her hand and the final pieces of the north basket wrapped around her neck. 

"There is no words that could describe the feeling that I have right now," Reber said. "I knew that if I could get the pieces around Ayanna, we could make an NCAA Tournament. And this year, we had all the pieces around her and we had all the players working together to win a championship."

It may have felt like a foregone conclusion for a long time now. After all, when a team doesn't lose a game between Christmas and the beginning of March, there is a certain air of invincibility that is generated.  

And yet, it was the fact that the Ravens finished the job emphatically, winning the program's first Colonial States Athletic Conference title with a 80-55 win over Keystone College Saturday evening to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament as the conference's automatic bid recipient.

"We deserved this," said Thompson, who was named the CSAC Tournament's Most Valuable Player after her 15 point, six rebound and seven assist performance in the championship game "We worked hard this entire year. We had set a goal early in the year and it was to just go out and win."

"We've been working towards this since October," said junior forward Ke'alohilani Naone-Carter, who finished on Saturday with 15 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals on Saturday. "We had to go through a lot of things through the year. But this feels great."

In that sense, the Ravens championship game was similar to a lot of other evenings during this 24-3 season that continues to feature a school record winning streak that reached 19 games on Saturday. It was defense early and jumping out to a huge lead that ended up building the mountain too high for the Giants to climb.

Rosemont held Keystone to 1-for-16 shooting in the first quarter and 0-for-7 from beyond the 3-point arc in the first quarter. The end result was the Ravens grabbing a 19-4 cushion after a quarter.  Keystone would play it close for most of the night, getting within 12 at one point in the 2nd half before the game was put on ice in the fourth quarter.

Ashley Murray was the leading scorer for the Ravens with 19 points and 14 rebounds. Jayme Byers scored 15 points and added 12 rebounds coming off the bench.

The Ravens will find out their tournament path in the NCAA Tournament on Monday when they gather at Cardinal Hall for the Division III selection show, which will start at 2:30. (The show can also be watched on NCAA.com at that time.)

"It is important that we all keep playing together as a team," Reber said. "Everyone on this team has a job and a role. And when we work together as a team, we know that we are capable of doing some incredible things."

The next step was taken on Saturday. It is a moment that had been building for a long time. And it was a view they will never forget.


And now from Haverford, the account of the Centennial Win

GETTYSBURG, Pa. – The third-seeded Haverford College women's basketball (21-6) team captured the Centennial Conference Championship in resounding fashion on Saturday afternoon at Bream Gym in Gettysburg, taking a 62-40 victory over the host and top-seeded Bullets (22-5) to return to the pinnacle of the conference for the first time since the 2013-14 campaign.

 Haverford has now secured an NCAA postseason berth for the second consecutive season. 

Macy Goldbach was named the most outstanding player of the conference tournament after finishing the championship game with 22 points, including four three-pointers. 

Anna-Sophia Capizzi also tallied in double figures, pouring in 17 points. Megan Furch and Katie Cook each had eight rebounds while Cook added a game-best five assists. 

Maddie Gallic added a career-best three blocks, as the Haverford defense provided five in total. The visitors owned a 36-32 rebounding advantage, and grabbed eight steals on the afternoon. 

The Fords scored on their first three possessions, but the two squads were mainly deadlocked in the early goings in a game that looked destined to come down to the wire from the start. 

Julianna Clark buried a three-pointer to hand Haverford an 11-8 advantage with 3:23 left in the first, and Gettysburg answered to equal at 11-11, eventually taking a 16-11 lead into the second quarter.

From that point, Gettysburg added just one point at the free-throw line before Haverford began to kick its offensive attack and defensive intensity up a notch.

The lead hit double digits at 31-21 as Goldbach again connected from distance, and a Hannah Zoll scoop-and-score put the Fords up 12 with 2:17 remaining. 

 Haverford took a 35-24 lead into the halftime intermission, outscoring Gettysburg by a 24-8 margin in the second quarter. 

Goldbach led all scorers at the halftime break with 10, while Capizzi had nine on 1-3 from beyond the arc in the first half.

Goldbach scored the first points of the second half, connecting on a transition layup as Haverford quickly turned rebounding into offense on the other end of the floor. Capizzi then knocked down a trey on the following Haverford possession, as the Fords saw their lead balloon to 40-24 with 8:56 left in the third.

 he Fords were able to cruise in the fourth quarter, with the lead never falling below 15 points. 

With 22 seconds left, Head Coach Bobbi Morgan called timeout and removed the captains, Goldbach and Cook, setting off a celebration on the bench that ultimately spilled out onto the court after the final buzzer. 

Haverford will now await its destination in the 64-team NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Tournament, with the selection show streamed live on NCAA.com at 2:30 p.m. ET on Monday afternoon. 

Last season, Haverford earned an at-large berth to the conference tournament, and competed on the campus of Randolph-Macon College in a first-round contest against Christopher Newport.

D3 Stunner in New England

The account


THE LEAD: Junior guard Yuleska Ramirez-Tejeda (Cambridge, Mass.) scored a game-high 24 points including the 1,000th of her career to propel the Emmanuel College women's basketball team past No. 8/10 Saint Joseph's College (ME), 65-64, to capture the 2019 Great Northeast Athletic Conference women's basketball championship.

The squad is coached by Andy Yosinoff who earlier in the season became the winningest coach in Division III


Both squads struggled from the field early resulting in a low 6-3 score midway through the first quarter in favor of the Monks
Senior Madison McLaughlin (Westerly, R.I.) and junior Kayla Weaver (West Haven, Conn.) connected on back-to-back threes before a jumper by junior Caitlin Cipriano (Waterbury, Conn.) tied the score at 13-13 late in the first quarter.

Junior Yuleska Ramirez-Tejeda (Cambridge, Mass.) gave EC its first lead of the day with a fast break layup on Emmanuel's final offensive possession of the quarter to make it 17-15 at the end of one.

A 4-0 spurt to open the second quarter moved Emmanuel ahead 21-15 forcing Saint Joseph's to burn its first timeout of the afternoon at the 9:21 marker.

Out of the timeout, the Monks put together a 6-0 run with triples by seniors Hannah Marks (Waldoboro, Maine) and Julia Champagne (Brunswick, Maine) to even the score at 21-21 before a Weaver bucket put Emmanuel back on top 23-21 with 5:45 to play in the half.

Saint Joseph's responded with a 6-0 flurry to build a two-possession lead at 27-23 but Emmanuel answered with two consecutive scores to even the game at 27-27 with 2:49 in the quarter.

The Monks benefited from an Emmanuel tip-in in their own hoop to take a 34-31 lead into the break.
Ramirez-Tejeda led all scorers at the intermission with 12 while Champagne led the Monks with 11 points.

Despite turning the ball over on the first three offensive possessions of the half, the Saints used a 5-0 run to open the third quarter capped by an old-fashion three point play by Cipriano to retake a 36-34 lead early on.

A pull-up three by senior Kelsie McNamara (West Newbury, Mass.) gave the Monks a 40-38 cushion but the Saints answered with a Weaver layup in transition to tie the score at 40-all midway through the third quarter.

Back-to-back buckets by Ramirez-Tejeda made it 44-40 and the Saints extended the lead to 47-40 for the largest cushion of the action before the Monks closed out the quarter with eight straight points capped by a three from Marks to give Saint Joseph's a 48-47 advantage heading into the fourth.

On the first offensive possession of the fourth, McNamara drained a deep triple to extend the Monks lead to 51-47 but McLaughlin got two back on the Saints' next trip down to keep it tight at 51-49, SJM.

With 7:30 to play in regulation, McLaughlin gave Emmanuel a brief 52-51 lead with a three but McNamara answered with another deep three to bump the Monks back up 54-52.

Weaver used back-to-back layup to give the Saints a 56-54 advantage and Ramirez-Tejeda added to it at the 5:17 marker with two free throws to account for a 58-54 score.

Ramirez-Tejeda scored her 1,000th career point with the Saints to keep the lead at four, 62-58, with 3:39 left in the action.

A pair of free throws from Julia Quinn (Fryeberg, Maine) with 1:46 to play made it a two point game (62-60).

Cipriano connected on one of two from the stripe to give Emmanuel a 63-60 lead before Marks made it a one point game with a SJM layup at 63-62 with under a minute to play.

After the Saints missed two from the line with 41 seconds to play, the Monks gained possession and used a timeout down one with 40 seconds remaining. Out of the timeout, Benway made a layup to give the Monks a 64-63 lead with 22 seconds to play.

McLaughlin was fouled with 8.6 tics left in regulation and drained both to give Emmanuel a 65-64 lead.

Following a SJM timeout, Weaver was able come up with the most important steal of her career, intercepting a pass at the top of the key with four seconds to play in regulation before getting fouled with under two seconds on the clock. She was unable to connect on either bonus free throw but the Monks were unable to get a shot off before time expired to send the Saints to the 2019 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball tournament.


Ramirez-Tejeda becomes the 24th player in Emmanuel's storied history to score her 1,000th career point and also added 11 rebounds to notch her 19th double-double of the season to rank fifth in the nation for double-doubles.

Weaver finished the afternoon with 17 points on 8-for-12 shooting from the field while McLaughlin added 10 points and a game-high eight assists.

McNamara, Champagne and Marks all finished in double-figures for the Monks with 18, 16 and 12 respectively.

Emmanuel held the Monks to a season-low 34.3 shooting percentage from the field and just five free throws made, also a season-low.


The top-seeded Monks came into the game with a  perfect 27-0 record, a 51-game home winning streak at the Alfond Center and a perfect 17-0 record at home in GNAC postseason play.

The win marks the 16th GNAC Championship in Emmanuel program-history and the first since 2013.
EC is now 59-8 (.881) all-time in the GNAC tournament.


Emmanuel advances to the 2019 NCAA Division III Women's Basketball tournament for the first time in five seasons and will wait to find out their first round opponent on Monday's NCAA selection show at 2:30 PM.

D2 Action: Jefferson and USciences Get Easy Wins

After Tuesday’s Georgian Court last second upset of Jefferson took the Rams a spot below USciences, both teams won Saturday so it comes down to the last game for each this week to see if Jefferson and USciences go back to a tie in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference needing a coin flip or the Devils hold first and get to host.

On Saturday,  Jefferson, ranked 8th and 9th in the two polls after being ranked 2nd before the recent loss at USciences, rolled over host Bloomfield 97-52 to improve to 24-2 and 15-2 as Caitlyn Cunningham topped five over teammates in double figures with 19 points.

Bloomfield fell to 5-21 and 4-13.

Meanwhile, the Devils, ranked fifth in both polls, cruised over Goldey Beacom in Wilmington 70-49 to go to 26-1, setting a regular season mark of overall wins, one better than last season’s record, and go to 17-1 in the CACC, clinching at least a share of first finishing on top for the third straight year in the Southern Division.

Alex Thomas had 16 points for USciences in routing the home team (12-14, 8-9).

Chestnut Hill will have final say of how the standings at the finish look at the top by visiting Jefferson at the Gallagher Center Wednesday at 6 p.m. and then the Devils at the Bobby Morgan Arena in Southwest Philly Saturday at 1 p.m.

USciences was ranked No. 1 in the first NCAA East Regional this week for Division II so if the Devils go on and win the conference they likely will get to host the eight-team event.

And that is the report.