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 14, 2019

The Guru Report: Saint Joseph’s and D3 Rosemont Win

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — Redshirt freshman Redshirt freshman Katie Jekot prevented Saint Joseph’s from dissolving into a heartbreaking loss on Valentine’s Eve by giving Hawks fans a long-range three-point shot to love with nine seconds left in regulation to become the minute 55-54 game winner over the Massachusetts Minutewomen Wednesday night in an Atlantic 10 contest at home on Hagan Arena.

Jekot’s missile provided the Hawks (9-15, 5-6 Atlantic 10) with just enough points to withstand a lethal meltdown from an 18-point 47-29 lead with 1 minute, 4 seconds left in the third period and Hailey Ledel’s three-ball for UMass (13-12, 5-6) as regulation time expired.

Jekot’s score broke the Hawks’ 0-for-9 drought from the field in the entire fourth period.

The result enabled Saint Joseph’s to extend its current win streak, longest of the season, to three games heading into Sunday’s second matchup at La Salle 2 p.m. at Tom Gola Arena.

Back in November, the home team had cobbled a two-game run over Loyola of Maryland to recover from Rider’s upset in the first round of the Hawk Classic here and then a 68-61 overtime triumph, also here, over Columbia.

Thus, after sitting in 11th place earlier this month, the Hawks have jumped to seventh by rallying over Davidson, then a half-game out of first, and at George Washington to strengthen their chance to be one of six first-round hosts when the A-10 tournament opens March 5 on a Tuesday.

The top two teams get a bye and then get joined by the six first-round winners the following weekend for the quarters, semis, and championship at Duquesne in Pittsburgh for the A-10’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

“What a game,” said Saint Joseph’s veteran coach Cindy Griffin. “There’s a lot of ebbs and flows. Obviously, we had a great first half, we had a great third quarter, and UMass, give them credit, they just never went away.

“Certainly it was about making plays at the end, both defensively and offensively, Katie makes a huge three to get us up four, Alyssa (Monaghan) gets us two free throws, really proud of the way our kids defended, we need to clean up some things, really just happy to come out with a win.”

The contest was the only one on the Guru’s local D-1 slate for the night.

Monaghan had a game-high 20 points, shooting 6-for-17 from the field, including 5-for-9 three-balls, half of the Hawks’ 10 long-range connects, and was the only Hawk scoring in double figures.

Jekot had eight points, Katie Mayock had seven points and eight rebounds, while Whisper Fisher had six points and six rebounds, and Lula Roig and Kristalyn Baisden also scored six points.

Destiny Philoxy had 15 points for the Minutewomen, while Jessica George scored 11, Leidel scored 10, and Jessica Nelson scored 10.

The loss was the seventh by four or less points endured by UMass, which had won two straight heading to here, including a 69-66 win over preseason favorite Duquesne at home last Thursday in Amherst.

Saint Joseph’s is now 50-10 in the series between the two.

But number 50 became endangered as the visitors took advantage of the Hawks’ shooting drought to pull within a point on George’s three-point play with 1:16 left in regulation.

Monaghan then drew a foul and sank two from the line to boost the differential to three but Bre Hampton-Bey went inside to get it back to one and the Hawks called time.

Monaghan then found Jekot for the game-winner as the shot clock wound down to a tick.

Jekot, whose sister Kelly plays for Villanova, described her timely score.

“So, we’re up one and I knew I had to get it off because the clock was winding down,” she said. “Alyssa tried to penetrate and they were playing good defense, so she kicked it out, and it was counting down, so I just let it go, so I was hoping it went in.”

As to where the A-10 race is bunched up below the front-runners, three of whom are in their own gridlock two games behind first-place VCU, Griffin said, “We’ve been eyeing up where we are, we feel we are in control of our own destiny in trying to host a home game, we are trying to take it one game at a time, focusing big, but at the same time just getting better.”

In that regard, she said of the current run, “We hadn’t put together back-to-back games before the other night, so certainly we’re very proud of the kids, we’re very proud of where we are, we have to just be plugging.

“We’re not perfect, but I don’t think the league is perfect, so there’s an opportunity for anybody to keep climbing up the ladder, so why not us?”

Catching up: Rider Continues to Drive for Postseason Play

Your Guru was at the only local D-1 game Tuesday night but didn’t get a chance to note Rider’s 75-64 victory over Iona at home in a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference at Alumni Gymnasium In Lawrenceville, N.J.

The Broncs (14-9, 10-2 MAAC) jumped to a 17-7 lead in the first quarter and continued to make it six straight and three straight seasons sweeping the Gaels (1-23, 0-13).

More important, the win keeps Rider in a comfortable spot in second, two games behind dominating Quinnipiac but 2.5 in front of third-place Marist, which Rider has already swept to own the tie-break if the two finished the regular season knotted.

That’s important because while the NCAA tournament is possible unless elimination in the MAAC tourney next month in Albany, N.Y., occurs, the runners up in regular season get the automatic MAAC bid to the WNIIT, which Rider earned for the first time two seasons ago when the Broncs set all kind of program records.

Nevertheless, as of now, the 10-2 MAAC start is one better than that 8-3 liftoff in both the Lynn Milligan era and overall program mark.

In Tuesday’s win, Amari Johnson had 19 points and 17 rebounds along with a pair of blocks while Lea Favre also scored 19 points, with both shooting 7-for-15 from the field. Mia Farmer tied a career high with 11 points, propelled by three three-balls, while Lexi Posset also scored 11 points.

Freshman Amanda Mobley had a career high 11 assists.

"We were able to play a lot of players tonight because of our foul trouble and I think they stepped up,” Milligan said of Tuesday’s win. “It wasn't our best effort and Iona played really well.  It wasn't our A-game tonight, but we'll get back to the drawing board tomorrow and get back to work.
"It's always nice to get a win on your home floor. We struggled a little bit tonight. We never really found our flow, but when we needed to come together and make some plays on both ends of the floor we were able to do that."

Milligan agreed that though the won-loss record doesn’t show it through the early phase of the schedule, the non-conference diet fed the Broncs helped them handle this year’s MAAC rivals to date.

The next game is Friday night at 7 at St. Peter’s in Jersey City before hosting Manhattan Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPN+.

Nationally Noted: Local Talent Sends Maine into First

Tanesha Sutton, a Neumann-Goretti graduate, had 24 points to lead a balanced attack giving Maine a 78-58 win over Hartford and first place in the America East Conference after winning the regular season a year ago.

The Black Bears (18-7, 7-1 America East) have won seven straight and getting the No. 1 seed is important in terms of tournament format because the conference playoffs determining the NCAA bid will this year be held on home court of higher seeds all the way through.

The showdown with the Hawks knocked Hartford (16-9, 9-2) into second place.

Small Colleges: Rosemont Wins Big Over Centenary on Senior Night

The Division III Ravens continued their historic season in dominating fashion to come within a victory of becoming the second school and third team to go unbeaten through the Colonial States Athletic Conference.

Geographically and time-start possible prior to getting to Saint Joseph’s, the Guru dropped into Alumnae Hall to see Rosemont continue its historic act as the UConn of the CSAC on senior night and jumping to a 27-6 lead and cruise to an 85-42 victory.

The only time the Ravens (21-3, 15-0 CSAC) were stopped at their final regular season home game was of their own celebratory doing when in the first two minutes Ayanna Thompson fed Ashley Murray to become the sixth person in CSAC history to dish 500 career assists. She has seven assists on the night.

Rosemont has already recorded its best-ever overall victories topping the 17 and also is on a program best 16 game win streak. Following the win over Centenary of New Jersey (8-7, 9-15), the Ravens head to Allentown, Pa., about an hour north, Saturday at 1 p.m. to face Cedar Crest (6-18, 5-10) where a win would enable them to join two Cabrini contingents to go unbeaten in league play.

Jayme Byers had 18 points, shooting 6-for-8, while Murray had 14 points and eight rebounds in in 21 minutes, Shirle Brown scored 11 off the bench, and Ka’Rhyne Benson scored 15 points.

Rosemont will open play as the top seed in the CSAC playoffs against an opponent to be determined for next Wednesday at home and then with a win get to play for the championship at home a week from Saturday on Feb. 23.

D2 Jefferson and USciences Still Hot

A week ago they played each other so somebody had to lose. But against the rest of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference for the second straight night since USciences got even with Jefferson the duo returned to being unbeaten.

Jefferson University, which dropped to ninth in the WBCA D2 Poll and D2SIDA poll after its sole loss,  at home in the Gallagher Center Wednesday ripped Goldey Beacom 94-52.

Despite the Rams’ opponents nickname, it was Caitlyn Cunningham who launched a one-woman lightning attack with a perfect 13-for-13 from the field, two short of the NCAA D2 record 15-for-15, and finished with 31 points to drop Goldey Beacom to 12-11 and 8-6 in the CACC.

Jefferson is now 22-1 and 13-1 in the CSAC. 

Cunningham wasn’t the only hot shooter as Jessica Kaminski scored 19 points off 8-for-10 from the field and Beverly Kum had 23 points and 13 rebounds, shooting 10-for-14.

The Rams jumped to a 27-7 lead in the first quarter and just kept striking the rest of the way.

Next up on Saturday is a visit to Concordia (N.Y.) at 1 p.m.

Meanwhile, USciences, which jumped to fifth in the WBCA poll and tied for fifth with Union in the D2SIDA poll, is now streaking at 12 which is one better on the season than the start which got short-circuited in the Devils’ first meeting at Jefferson.

The latest victim fell at home in Northeast Philadelphia as USciences beat Holy Family 65-52 as Alex Thomas had a career-high 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for the Devils (23-1, 14-1).

She was 13-for-17 from the field, including 4-of-7 three-pointers.

The Tigers fell to 7-15 overall and 5-9 in the CSAC.

The Devils return home Saturday to host Nyack at 1 p.m. in the Bobby Morgan Arena in Southwest Philadelphia near Penn’s Palestra.

Looking Ahead: Rutgers Looks to Shake Off Maryland Loss

A light schedule Thursday shows La Salle heading to George Mason for an Atlantic 10 contest in Fairfax, Va., while Rutgers hosts Ohio State at 7 in the Big Ten after being knocked to third by Maryland on Sunday. And the other game also involves Big Ten action as Penn State is also coming off a loss heading to Northwestern at 8.

Meanwhile, Friday night involves locals fighting to stay high up in their respective league standings.

Drexel, holding second in the Colonial Athletic Association and  on a run, hosts Hofstra at 7, while at the same time Delaware in 5th place in the CAA hosts Northeastern. On Sunday they swap with Northeastern visiting the Dragons at 2 while Hofstra visits Delaware at 2.

Penn, holding a two-game lead and unbeaten in the Ivy League visits Dartmouth at 7 while Princeton heads to third-place Harvard at 7. On Saturday, Penn comes down to Harvard at 5 while Princeton heads to Dartmouth. At the same time.

If you’re a Quakers fan looking for your team to get to the No. 1 seed quickly for the third annual Ivy tourney, you would want Harvard to beat Princeton and then back Penn executing a sweep to increase the lead to three games as the first half of the league schedule concludes.

If you’re a Princeton fan, you want Penn to lose twice and the Tigers to win twice to move everyone closer together.

A big national game in the Pac-12 Friday night has No. 3 Oregon unbeaten in the conference hosting No. 9 Oregon State at 9.

On Saturday the other local game is Villanova hosting Georgetown at 1 p.m. in the Finneran Pavilion.

Other games not mentioned above on Sunday has Temple, which has been idle since losing at Connecticut last Saturday, hosting a tough Cincinnati squad at 2 in the American Athletic Conference in McGonigle Hall.

The Owls had won four straight prior to meeting the Huskies.

Penn State is at Minnesota at 2 p.m.

And that’s the report.


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