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.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Guru D-I Report: Princeton Clinches Ivy But Setback City Elsewhere

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – Princeton earned the right to raise regular season Ivy banners again, this time without a share as opposed to a year ago, but for the rest of the four Guru D-1 teams in action, it was not the greatest of times.

It wasn’t the worst of times, depending how you describe the slaughter Drexel took at James Madison, because there were still some things salvageable despite losses suffered by those Dragons, Penn, Villanova, and in a sense, Delaware.

So, let’s get into it.

Princeton Streak Continues as Tigers Claim Regular Season Crown

After what happened in Central New Jersey Friday night and what happened at the same time a little to the south at Penn’s Palestra, the human condition will be in play for the Quakers, as a result of what happened in Jadwin Gym.

While the Guru was in Philadelphia seeing how Penn might respond after its blowout loss to the Ivy leaders Tuesday night, Princeton was by comparison, making it look like the win over the Quakers was small potatoes compared how Brown was handled.

Late in the game a tweet came in from Jadwin Gym saying the Tigers were on the way to their 19th straight win on the season.

Truth be told, considering how fast Brown was put away heading to Princeton’s 81-39 victory, the note could have been sent during both teams’ shoot-arounds.

When it was over, Princeton (23-1, 11-0 Ivy) had its victory streak alive – the only loss came last December at Iowa by two points in overtime – and a clinched shared title that became outright within the hour when the Yale 71-54 upset of Penn hit the standings.

The No. 23 Tigers have won eight crowns of regular season variety since 2010 – winning just six titles beforehand – and the last two of three attainable Ivy tournament titles.

Under previous coach Courtney Banghart, who is now at North Carolina after building the operation into a powerhouse, and new coach Carla Berube, Princeton is the only Ivy member to gain the Associated Press women’s poll, having achieved that distinction now in separate seasons.

The other night two-time reigning Ivy player of the year Bella Alarie was asked if the lack of a competitive opponent could be a problem down the road, not at all, came the reply.

“We want to crush everybody and show the Ivies and the NCAA what we’re made of,” she said.

Good luck to the next one in line, Yale heading north for Saturday’s visit after feeling the joy of what went down at Penn.

As for the numbers that came with plenty of rest for all on Princeton to be ready for the Bulldogs and all the celebrations on Saturday with seniors Alarie and Taylor Bauer to be feted, they went like this.

Alarie had 18 points along with four blocks, three assists and two steals. Freshman Ellie Mitchell, who had a bit of a coming out party on Tuesday, had 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Julia Cunningham had 14 points and Carlie Littlefield had 13 against the Bears (8-16, 2-9).

The Tigers forced 28 turnovers and had 16 steals in being the top low defensive scoring yield in the nation.

It’s the 14th victory by more than 20 points and tenth wire-to-wire and the Guru might add there is an anonymous virtual bookmaker with former Ivy ties, now living in Chapel Hill, who has named nearly every outcome.

The Yale game at Jadwin tips at 5 p.m. Saturday and there will be scoreboard watching, for sure, by two others now involved in a three-way tie for second, though they are four games behind the frontrunner, they are two ahead of Harvard.

Since the Tigers are still trying to make an NCAA safety-valve and at the same time muscle presentation for a high seed, they are not likely to be loading the lineup with freshmen in the remaining pre-Ivy Madness weekend.

By the way, there is an irony that the Crimson may not make it at least on the women’s side to the four-team playoff it is hosting in a few weeks at Lavietes Pavilion, the first of the shoebox-size venues meant for equality as opposed to showcasing the action in The Palestra.

Penn Felled by Yale

For the past decade, the Quakers have stole a few titles from the Princeton monopoly and managed to be the best Ivy team not named Princeton and definitely for a while at this stage of the race, holding the also-ran spot with a solid grip and never losing in The Palestra to Ivy teams not named Princeton.

Yale, worried that Penn might be ready to take out the damage done by the Tigers on the visiting Bulldogs, managed to put those fears aside and take a 71-54 victory to climb into the three way second-place tie with the Quakers and later joined by the new kids on the block – those Columbia Lions, who executed a season-sweep by winning up in Boston.

For the first time this season, no one on Penn (17-7, 7-4 Ivy) scored in double figures. The Quakers had 23 offensive rebounds, of which many went for naught against Yale (17-7, 7-4).

After losing two Ivy games early, though separated by two Philadelphia Big Five losses, Penn has now lost two straight Ivy games back-to-back though each has had Princeton as part of the component.

Compounding all this, Tori Crawford went down with an undetermined knee injury.

It’s the first time since 2017 and only second since 2014 that Penn has lost to Yale and first time since 2015 that the Quakers lost in The Palestra to an Ivy team (Cornell) not named Princeton.

On the Yale side of things, it’s the first Bulldogs win here since March 9, 2013.

“This is a tough place to play because of what (Penn coach) Mike (McLaughlin) has built here, their championship culture,” said Yale coach Allison Guth, a former assistant to Father Judge grad Joe McKeown at Northwestern.

“To get a win like this on the road speaks volumes about or players and their commitment to playing together.”

Roxy Barahman had 29  points for Yale, while Megan Gorman had 13 rebounds, and Camilla Emsbo scored 10.

Yale’s overall and Ivy mark is now identical to Penn at 17-7, and 7-4 in the league, tying the 1979-80 squad for second most wins in program history, which was last achieved in the pre-NCAA era. The 2017-18 squad had an overall win mark of 19.

“It was both ends of the floor,” McLaughlin said, offering the autopsy of his team’s failure to shake off the loss to Princeton. “I don’t think we created anything off our defense. We were stuck in the half court. We weren’t efficient, offensively. We didn’t generate anything.”

Of how the timeline of the game proceeded, he offered, “I thought we were fortunate to get to the halftime down six. At the start of the second half, we had a good look early and missed it and it opened up from there.

“Then we had to change who we are and how we play. It was an uphill struggle. I give them credit. They came on our court and outplayed us.”

So the human condition spoken to way above is, the break for Penn is getting a Brown team coming down here off the pasting from Princeton.

Getting to the tournament is still a strong possibility. And finishing second, considering Yale and Columbia still have a Princeton game ahead, is still do-able. And Penn finishes head-to-head with Columbia next Saturday night.

It’s just not going to be a glide to a two seed as it has been in recent years.

“Don’t give me the math, I don’t understand all that stuff,” he smiled. “I just know one thing – win.

“Our backs are against the wall a little bit. We’re trying to get a bid to the Ivy playoffs. What I was saying in there was let’s respond (Saturday). It’s all about the response tomorrow.”

The game tips at 6 p.m. at The Palestra, not seven, in the final home game. Seniors Emily Anderson, Kendall Grasela, Liz Satter, and Phoebe Sterba will be honored.

Meanwhile, the other component in all this is the rise of longtime doormat Columbia under alumna and former assistant Meghan Griffith out of King of Prussia.

On Friday night, the Lions rallied in Boston to stun Harvard 62-57 at Lavietes Pavilion for a sweep, that’s right, sweep of the Crimson (14-10, 5-6) while Columbia (16-8, 7-4) joined the gridlock.

Technically, they don’t need Penn and Yale to fade, they just don’t need to be bypassed by Harvard. 

But they could get swept next weekend by Penn and Princeton, though if the Crimson gain, they have the tie-break. Columbia is at Dartmouth Saturday night.

Harvard, by the way, has lost four straight Ivy games, at least this was competitive, for he first time since a four-game season-ender in 1993-94.

Hannah Pratt had a career high 17 points as Columbia’s win streak grew to five, the longest in program history involving league games. It’s their first ever season sweep of Harvard (14-10, 5-6), and first win in Boston since 2009.

Drexel Blasted by James Madison

The deepest of Drexel fan, you had to see this coming after the way the Dragons tore the Dukes apart in the Daskalakis Athletic Center last month.

JMU gave the visitors the Princeton treatment Friday night in Harrisonburg, Va., jumping to a 38-12 halftime lead and keeping the pedal down for a 69-39 win in the Colonial Athletic Association that brought the Dragons (20-7, 13-2 CAA), besides ending their 13-game win streak, back to a first-place tie with the Dukes (22-4, 13-2).

Home team coach Sean O’Regan picked up his 100th win while Philadelphia’s Kamiah Smalls and Kiki Jefferson each scored 15 points, and Jackie Benitez scored 14.

Drexel got hammered on the boards, 52-24.

Keishana Washington had 10 points for the Dragons while Aubree Brown became the first in the program to reach 500 points, 500 rebounds, and 500 assists in a career. She needed to hit the rebound mark, which she did.

So, what happens next?

So, like Rider in its tie with Marist, and Penn in its triple deadlock just spoken to, good things can still happen by winning, like right away, like Sunday at Towson in the game that tips at 2 p.m. in suburban Baltimore.

A win over the Tigers, who rallied to beat Drexel in last season’s CAA title game, becomes a sweep and that is the tie-break for the number one seed because JMU had a split. Of course, business must still be taken care of next week back home against UNCW on Thursday at 7 and Charleston on Saturday at 1 p.m.

The CAA tourney is at Elon in North Carolina beginning March 11.

Meanwhile Delaware, the other Guru team in the CAA, fell at Towson, Friday night, losing 76-66, though some milestones happened.

Nicole Enobasi had her 50th double double with 17 points and 12 rebounds for the Blue Hens (10-16, 6-9 CAA), who are in seventh but could get to sixth. Enabosi is also the new Delaware career rebounding leader with 1,066, two ahead of Danielle Parker’s previous mark.

Samone DeFrese had 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Jasmine Dickey had 10 rebounds against Towson (14-12, 9-6), which is in fourth behind William & Mary (20-7, 11-5).

Delaware is at James Madison, Sunday

Villanova Downed by Creighton

When the night began on the final Big East regular season road trip, also the final of retiring coach Harry Perretta, the Wildcats off the upsets last weekend of Marquette and DePaul were looking at a range of second to seventh in the final standings before next week’s tournament in Chicago.

Forget the upside following Friday’s 67-47 loss at Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska to give the Bluejays a sweep.

Raven James had 15 point for the Wildcats (16-12, 10-7 Big East), who are tied for fourth with three other teams, while Maddy Siegrist and Mary Gedaka each scored 10 with Siegrist getting nine rebounds. 

Jaylyn Agnew had 20 points to lead Creighton (18-10, 10-7).

Villanova finishes Sunday at 1 p.m. at Providence in Rhode Island.

Nationally Noted: Stanford Jolted at Arizona While Oregon Wraps Up Regular Season Pac-12 Title

In the Friday night wars out West No. 13 Arizona came back from an earlier nine-point deficit to beat No. Stanford 73-72 in overtime at home in Tucson for a first-ever win over a Top  5 squad.

Aari McDonald scored with 8.5 seconds left in the period and finished with 20 points for the Wildcats (23-5, 13-5 PAC-12).

What a great, gutsy win,” said Arizona coach Adia Barnes. “We made a lot of mistakes down the stretch, but we gutted it out. First time upset over a top-five team. 

“We continued to say leave a legacy, and that’s what we do.”

Hall of Fame Stanford coach, after her team (24-5, 13-4) fell into a second-place tie with UCLA, noted, “We made a lot of bonehead plays.”

No. 3 Oregon, meanwhile, clinched the Ducks’ third straight outright PAC-12 but the first time it did so at home.

And that’s the report.




The Guru’s Small College Report: Rowan Rallies to Win NJAC

(Guru note: With locals doing well, at this time of year, the report splits into two separates)

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

When the NCAA Division III women’s basketball selection show rolls out Monday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. to introduce this year’s field, for the first time in 21 seasons, the only things Rowan in South Jersey will need to know is the matchup, where it is, what’s the seed, and nothing more.

The Profs got rid of the suspense Friday night of wondering if they would even be taken, thanks to a second half comeback at home in Esby Gym to beat Montclair State 64-54 with a breakaway finish to win the New Jersey Athletic Conference for the first time since 1999.

The victory in Glassboro provides Rowan (24-3) with the perk of an automatic bid to the Division III version of the Big Dance, thus not the antsy waiting of still needing confirmation to learn if an at-large bid would be granted for the way the Profs excelled in the regulation, finishing with the No. 1 seed.

Over the last two decades, that’s what the Profs had to endure, though this is now the seventh NJAC trophy heading for the display case.

Down 39-33 at the half to second-seed Montclair State (21-6), whom the Profs split in their two conference games, Rowan came to life over the next two quarters, outscoring the Red Hawks 31-15, though it took until the closing stages of the fourth quarter to head into victory lane.

“I told the team at halftime that execution, offensively, was not the greatest,” said head coach Demetrius Poles. “We all had to get on the same page. I told them we were still in it, even if we did not play well.

“We were only down six points at the half,” Poles said. “We had 20 minutes to win and we did it.”

The Profs website still lists Poles, who has coached a bunch internationally, as interim, which if it hasn’t been changed, perhaps soon it will be.

 He had been an assistant for three seasons to longtime head coach Gabby Lisella, who retired last September.

“I am certain that Demetrius will be an excellent recruiter, teacher and mentor, who will bring much success to our women’s basketball program,” said interim athletic director Dr. John Giannini, a former La Salle men’s head coach, at the time of the appointment.

“Demetrius bleeds brown and gold,” said Lisella, who had been in charge for 19 seasons, dating to a year after the last championship. “I couldn’t leave the program in better hands and I am excited to see where he takes it.”

Poles was a member of the Rowan 1996 national championship men’s team as a starting center and leading rebounder. He also played for Saint Joseph’s as a freshman, landing on the Atlantic 10 Conference all-rookie team in 1992.

As for Friday’s tale of the tape, guard Nicole Mallard had a game-high 22 points, fueled by shooting 10-for-13 from the line. Guard Kennedy Brown scored 13 points, and guard Grace Marshall scored 10.

Ayanna Johnson had 10 rebounds and broke the school season mark now with 354, two more than the 352 from Takiyah Bowen in 1997-98.

It looked like the game might get away in the third when Montclair State, the alma mater of legendary scoring star Carol Blazejowski, bolted from the half with an 11-3 run, building a 12-point lead at 48-36.

But then the Profs came to life with a 12-0 run to tie it at 48-48 at the end of the period. Mallard, who had 15 points in the second half, had the last eight in the run and 10 in the period.

“I knew I had to get it going offensively,” Mallard said. “The team and coaches kind of rely on me to get to the basket and get to the line. 

“I knew we were down, and I was trying to do my best because everyone wanted this so bad. We have been talking about this for weeks and everyone was so nervous and excited today. I wanted to do everything to make my teammates, coaches, and everyone happy.”

The road to that joy began on the next possession.

Kennedy Brown gave Rowan the lead at 50-48 with 8:11 left in regulation. Savannah Holt added one more making 1- of 2 from the line but Montclair’s Nickie Carter tied it with a triple at 51-51 with 7:45 left.

Then Kennedy Brown on separate trips to the line went 1-for-2 each time for a 53-51 lead with 6:33 left.

Mallard’s layup extended it to 55-51 with 5:40 left before Taylor Brown brought Montclair State close again within a point by nailing a shot beyond the arc with 3:59 left.

But that was the highwater mark of the Red Hawks’ last effort yielding to a 9-0 run by the Profs the rest of the way. 

Mallard had two foul shots, Johnson went 1-for-2, then Marshall scored inside to make it 60-54 with 2:48 left.

A Carter turnover and two foul shots from Alexis Kriley made it an eight-point lead at 62-54 with 2:32 left. 

The Profs continued to shut out the Red Hawks on the defense end while Mallard and Kennedy Brown each went 1-for-2 from the line in the last minute for the final score.

Carter, who had eight of the 11 points in the Montclair opening run in the third, scored 17, while Taylor Brown had 13, and Alex McKinnon had 10. Cerys MacLelland had 13 rebounds and eight assists.

“Just coming from where I have been the last three years, it has been amazing,” Kriley said. “There is no other team I’d rather be doing this. Every single girl on this team put in so much work every single day. We do everything together and we do each thing as a team.”

During the season, Rowan was sailing along until the Profs were blunted by Montclair in their first game, 70-59, up in North Jersey, but the Profs pulled out a thrilling 67-65 win a few weeks later back home in Glassboro to regain the top seed.

Rowan went 16-2 in NJAC games, the other loss being at home in a split with The College of New Jersey. But the Profs avenged that loss this week beating the Lions at home in the semifinals.

This week Rowan jumped to 20th in the Coaches national Division III poll and are ranked second in the NCAA Atlantic Region.

The way these things have been paired in the past, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rowan meeting someone from Pennsylvania’s near side. 

On Monday, the Profs will know who, but they can enjoy the rest of the weekend, no longer having to worry over being omitted.

Haverford Heads to Centennial Championship

It will be top seeded Haverford and second-seed Gettysburg playing in the Fords’ Gooding Arena at 4 p.m. Saturday for a repeat in the Centennial Conference championship and another trip via automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.

Haverford also went in recent years as an at-large pick.

The field and draw will be announced Monday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. on the web at NCAA.com.

Haverford advanced in the semifinals Friday night at Gooding by ousting No. 4 seed Dickinson 67-57 while No. 2 Gettysburg eliminated No. 3 Johns Hopkins 63-49. The losing Blue Jays (14-6, 17-9 CC) had beaten the Fords a week ago in Baltimore in the final game of the regular season.

It’s the third straight year Haverford (22-4, 18-2) and the Bullets (22-4, 17-3) have met, while this season the two teams split their games, winning on each other’s court by narrow outcomes.

 Gettysburg took the first game 69-64 in early January and early this month the Ford forced a payback 54-51.

Against Dickinson (16-11, 13-7), Anna-Sophia Capizzi had 24 points for Haverford, while Julianna Clark scored 17, and Megan Furch scored 14. Cortlyn Morris helped the defensive effort with nine rebounds and five blocked shots.

Haverford has beaten Dickinson in all three meetings, including Friday’s semifinal when coach Bobbi Morgan’s squad got 16 points off turnovers and limited Dickinson to just one three-pointer in 10 attempts.

It’s the fourth straight season Gettysburg has advanced to the title round. 

Ashley Gehrin had 14 points, eight rebounds, and a pair of assists, while Tori Yantsos had 11 points, Meredith Brown had nine points and nine rebounds with pairs of blocked shots and assists, and Emma Hahner had nine rebounds.

Diarra Oden had 17 points for the Blue Jays, while Erin Walsh scored 12, and Emily Howie had 10 rebounds.

This is Gettysburg’s fourth straight year in the Centennial championship, the first for any team with that string since Muhlenberg went five straight times from 2008-12.

Cabrini Takes on Marymount for the Atlantic East Crown

The Cavaliers (19-7) will be the underdogs Saturday when they face top-seeded Marymount as the No. 2 seed for the Atlantic East crown at noon in Arlington, Va. 

A Berth in the NCAA Division III tournament is also on the line here to the winner of the championship.

Cabrini advanced by beating Gwynedd Mercy earlier this week while Marymount ousted Marywood.

During the season, Cabrini topped Marymount 76-67 at home in Nerney Field House but lost on the road 68-45.

There’s no immediate local in the D-III Colonial State Athletic Conference title game playing for an automatic bid with Rosemont having gone from last season’s breakthrough to a rebuild mode.

The championship game will feature Keystone College (20-6) out of La Plume, Pa., out of the Northeastern part of the state for the second straight year in the CSAC title game playing St. Elizabeth at home Saturday in Ace Spaulding Arena.

Keystone swept St. Elizabeth in their two games. 

The Giants beat Centenary 68-47 in a semifinal Wednesday at home to advance while St. Elizabeth out of Morristown, N.J., ousted Notre Dame of Maryland 76-51.

CACC: Going for Landmarks and one More Win

Basically, it’s tune up Saturday for the four South Division teams in next week’s Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference leading to a berth in the NCAA Division II tournament.

The teams and seeds are all set and actually playing each other.

USciences (24-3, 17-1), the top seed, will be going for a program-record 19 straight wins when it travels to Chestnut Hill (11-16, 10-8), the fourth seed, at 1 p.m., while third-seed Jefferson (16-11, 12-6), on an eight-game win streak, will finish up at the Gallagher Center in East Falls, hosting second-seed Holy Family (16-9, 14-4) at 2 p.m.

Jefferson coach Tom Shirley, in his 31st season with the Rams, is going for his 794th overall victory.

The bracket will be revealed once Saturday’s games are over.

In the north, Nyack and Concordia are fighting for the fourth and final seed behind Post, Dominican, and Caldwell, with Concordia needing a win and Nyack loss to land a berth.

And that is your small college report.
















Friday, February 28, 2020

The Guru Report: Rider Returns to First While Rutgers’ Stringer Gains Milestone

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Rider is back in the driver’s seat moving forward. Another notable achievement is in the resume of Hall of Fame Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer. Penn State is still struggling.

 And in small colleges, Lincoln got stung in the quarterfinals of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) tournament. 

That was all there was on a lite but important slate from Thursday’s docket involving three of the Guru’s local Division I teams and the area small colleges. There was also a national note or two.

Friday night, however, has some important stuff among several of the five Guru teams who will see action.

So, let’s get started.

Rider Deadlocks Marist at the Top of the MAAC

It was easy at the outset up in Connecticut where Rider visited Fairfield, then it became another grinder in their two-game series in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. But when it ended, Rider had 68-60 victory at the Stags’ Alumni Hall.

What the Broncs (22-4, 15-2 MAAC) also had was a first-place deadlock with Marist, the preseason favorite, with three games left on the regular season slate, and if they finish toe-to-toe, by virtual of sweeping Fairfield (13-13, 10-7) they also possess the tie-break for the number one seed in next month’s MAAC tourney.

Rider has also swept long-time ruling MAAC champion Quinnipiac, which Marist plays Saturday for the second time.

In many respects, the regular season championship, either  outright or shared finish, is more about continuing accomplishment these past four years in terms of the Broncs.

Baring upsets to the Red Foxes, if Rider stays on its game the next two weeks it is going to have to deal with Marist in the championship, which has moved from a long stay in Albany, N.Y., to Jim Whalen Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.

The Broncs can finish no worse than second and if not the NCAA, which is the goal, they are virtually assured of landing a berth in the WNIT for the third time in four seasons.

As for dealing with the Stags, to run the current overall win streak as well as series win streak to five straight, after the Broncs went zipping to a 22-7 lead through the opening quarter, Fairfield came right back leaving the visitors just a point ahead at the break.

The third became a closely fought affair but the Broncs went up 47-46 before the buzzer courtesy of Tracey Goodman’s three-point shot from the wing.

Rider then relied on its defense the rest of the way, holding Fairfield to 26 percent shooting from the field to eke out the victory.

“Solid February road win against a really good team,” said veteran coach Lynn Milligan, who recently became the winningest coach in the program’s history. “Our defense came through again and kept us in flow. I’m proud of our effort and how we had a lot of different players make big plays.”

Stella Johnson, the nation’s leading scorer, had 20 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. 

It was her 20th game this season scoring 20 or more points, bringing her all-time program-leading career total to 2,061 points.

Amanda Mobley scored 18, Lea Favre scored 13, and Goodman off the bench for the Broncs scored eight. Amari Johnson had seven points and seven rebounds.

Rider is back home Saturday in Alumni Gymnasium at 4 p.m. in Lawrenceville, N.J, hosting Canisius.

The Broncs finish up next  week hosting Saint Peter’s, Thursday, looking for a split after their upset loss earlier this season, and then travel to Monmouth, next Saturday.

Rutgers Routs Wisconsin in Landmark Win for Stringer

Twenty seemed to be a magic number Thursday night. 

Besides Stella Johnson on Rider getting at least 20 points for the 20th time, Rutgers (20-8,10-7 BigTen) at home in Piscataway, N.J., made it a 20-point victory, 63-43, over Wisconsin in a Big Ten game that brought the overall win total to 20.

That became the 37th time Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer in combined three programs, including Cheyney and Iowa, has had a minimal 20-win season, breaking a tie with the late and legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt for an all-time high in women’s basketball.

“This was a Rutgers win, a true Scarlet Knight victory,” Stringer said. “I love Pat dearly, so it’s great company to be in. In the end, it’s a milestone. The important thing, we took care of business tonight in a whole-team and defensive win, beating a team by 20 that we only beat by three early this season.

“We needed this.”

It was another big night for Arella Guirantes on the heels of her 36-point performance last time out.

 She scored 26 and set a Knights record shooting 14-for-14 from the line, for most free throws made in a perfect game shooting them without a miss. Rutgers was 20-for-23 as a unit.

Mael Gilles scored 13, while Jordan Wallace scored 12.

Rutgers remains in a three-way tie for fifth with just a home game Sunday at noon against No. 18 Iowa on the schedule. 

If the Scarlet Knights, Michigan, and Ohio State are still tied at the finish, then Rutgers will have the fifth seed for the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis next month.

Penn State Downed on Frazier’s Career Night

Siyeh Frazier had a career-high 28 points, shooting 12-for-17, on Penn State’s final home game of the season at the Bryce Jordan Center in State College but the Lady Lions fell to Michigan 80-66 in a Big Ten game that kept the visiting Wolverines (19-9, 10-7 Big Ten) in a three-way tie for fifth with Rutgers and Ohio State.

Kamaria McDaniel had 16 points, while freshman Makenna Marisa scored 10 for the Lady Lions (7-21, 1-16). Frazier’s performance came in her final home game, which was on senior night.

“We didn’t get the ‘W’ for her but what a transformation she’s made this season not only as a player, but as a leader,” said first-year coach Carolyn Keiger, formerly with Marquette, of Frazier. ”Hopefully, that’s one for her to remember.

“As a team, we have to keep chipping away, and we have to keep getting better,” Kieger said. “We have to learn to play 40 minutes as hard as we can. I’ll say this, I thought it was a drastic better difference, huge difference from the first time we played them at their place, and we can tell our team is getting better.

“We don’t have the wins that we want, but I can tell we’re chipping away.”

Nationally Noticed: Tide Swamps Another Top 15 Team

In the Southeastern Conference, Alabama upset No. 12 Texas A&M 76-63 on the road in College Station, Texas, making it the first time the Crimson Tide (17-11, 7-8 SEC) women have beaten Top 15 opponents back-to-back.

It’s also the first time Alabama has beaten the Aggies (22-6, 10-5) in their 10-game series.

Jasmine Walker had 24 points for the Tide.

In other news, seeds were set for the Mountain West Conference tournament, which begins Sunday and for the first time in conference history Fresno State will be the top seed. Also getting byes are No. 2 Boise State, No. 3 Wyoming, No. 4 San Jose State and No. 5 UNLV.  

Small Colleges: Lincoln Upset in CIAA Quarterfinals by Winston-Salem State

After getting a bye, No. 2 Lincoln, which had lost its last two following attaining a record 23 wins on the season, was upset by Winston-Salem State 63-59 in overtime in a quarterfinal of the Division-II Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) tournament in Charlotte, N.C.

The winning Rams (14-15) were the No. 3 seed from the South behind the Lions (23-6).

Despite the loss, there’s still a chance Lincoln could get an at-large bid to the Division II NCAA tournament.

Lincoln’s Kwanza Murray was the only Lion in double figures with a game-high 16 points, while Brandi Segars had 15 points and 12 rebounds as the only Rams player to score likewise.

Lincoln could have won it at the end of regulation, but Kenzie Spencer made just one of two foul shots, but still good enough to force the overtime to remain briefly alive.

The Lions were held to just three foul shots, however, in the extended five-minute period.

Championship Weekend: Centenial, Atlantic East, and NJAC Determine D-III NCAA Qualifiers

Friday night, top-seed Rowan (23-3) will be hosting No. 2 Montclair State (21-5) in Esby Gym at 7 p.m. in Glassboro for the New Jersey State Athletic Conference championship.

The two teams split their series during the season with the Red Hawks winning big over the Profs 70-59 in their first meeting in North Jersey and then Rowan taking a close one 67-65 down here later to go ahead in first again.

Rowan advanced Tuesday at home beating The College of New Jersey, 82-62, while the Red Hawks downed New Jersey City University 57-45.

Should the Profs lose, it’s possible they could still gain an at-large bid.

Rowan last won the title in 1998-99. The Profs are ranked second in the NCAA Atlantic Region.

Meanwhile, top-seeded Haverford will be at home in Gooding ’84 Arena when the Centennial Conference semifinals get under way Friday night with the Fords (21-4) meeting fourth-seeded Dickinson (16-10) at 6 p.m. before No. 2 Gettysburg (21-4) meets No. 3 Johns Hopkins (17-8) at 8 p.m.

The championship will be at the same site on Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m.

In the first Atlantic East championship, No. 2 Cabrini will be at No. 1 Marymount Saturday at noon in Arlington, Va.

The D-II Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference pairings for next week will be announced after Saturday’s regular season wraps up.

The four slots and seeds out of the South have been determined.

 USciences, which is 16th in the coaches’  poll and third in the NCAA East Region rankings, is the top seed, Holy Family is second, Jefferson is third, and Chestnut Hill is fourth.

USciences is on a record-tying 18-game win streak heading into Saturday’s 1 p.m. final at Chestnut Hill.

Jefferson is hosting Holy Family at 2 p.m. in the Gallagher Center. Jefferson coach Tom Shirley is going after career win number 794 and 645 coaching the Rams..

Looking Ahead: Showdown Friday in Separate Places for Penn, Princeton, Drexel and Villanova

Drexel can virtually clinch top seed in next month’s Colonial Athletic Association tournament at Elon but the Dragons, on a 13-game win streak, have a tall order Friday night, visiting preseason favorite James Madison in Harrisonburg, Va.

The Dragons ripped the Dukes in their first meeting at the Daskalakis Athletic Center and are holding a one-game lead so standings-wise a loss Friday brings them to a tie. The Guru is not sure of the tie-break off the top of his head, but if Drexel wins at Towson, Sunday, that could be the determining team, unless another system is in play.

JMU’s other loss is to Towson. 

Delaware is making the same trip in reverse, visiting Towson in suburban Baltimore, Friday night, and then JMU on Sunday.

Penn, trying to shake off Tuesday’s demolition, is still in second a game in front of Yale and Columbia, heading into hosting Yale, Friday, at 7, at The Palestra, and then Brown at 6 on Saturday.

The Quakers can clinch a berth in next month’s Ivy tourney at Harvard by winning this weekend.

Princeton, which hosts Brown at 6 in Jadwin Gym Friday, and Yale at 5 p.m. Saturday, just needs one win to clinch another regular season title.

In the middle of all this, making strides, is Columbia, a game ahead of Harvard in a third-place tie with Yale, and playing Harvard, going for a sweep, on the road Friday night. The Lions then head to Dartmouth Saturday.

Villanova, meanwhile, which can place anywhere from second to seventh in the Big East tourney, finishes by playing at difficult Creighton Friday night in Omaha, Neb., and then on Sunday in Providence, R.I.

Nationally, a sellout crowd will be at No.  3 Oregon, Friday night, when Washington State visits as the Ducks go for clinching a third-straight outright Pac-12 crown.

As for the other Guru D-1 locals not mentioned above, on Saturday, Temple finishes the home schedule hosting Tulsa at 2 p.m. in McGonigle Hall, trying to snap a two-game losing streak in the American Athletic Conference.

La Salle, on the road, finishes the A-10 schedule visiting George Mason, Saturday, at 2 p.m., in Fairfax, Va., while the same goes for Saint Joseph’s on Saturday, as the Hawks wrap their A-10 business at Fordham at 2 p.m. in Rose Hill Gym in the Bronx.

And that’s the report.





Thursday, February 27, 2020

The Guru Report: Temple, La Salle and Saint Joseph’s Swept Away in Narrow Losses

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA – From a bunch of sweeps or near-sweeps nights recently, the pendulum swung over to swept night for the three Guru’s D-1 teams that played Wednesday.

Beginning in the morning, La Salle at it’s annual Kids Day Game in Tom Gola Arena let a late lead vanish and the Explorers fell to Davidson, 70-61 in overtime in an Atlantic 10 game turning the occasion into the final regular season home game per schedule and final home game, period, per the conference tournament.

Likewise, the other Guru local in the A-10, Saint Joseph’s, which had no chance to be back here in Hagan Arena next week, fell 51-47 to Massachusetts to close out the home season slate. 

For the first time in the campus opening round games format in the conference, the Hawks will not have the word host associated with their matchup.

And down south another close one got by Temple, losing to UCF 67-64 at the Knights’ Addition Financial Arena in Orlando, Fla., in the American Athletic Conference.

The news is better among teams that were idle and the small colleges, which the Guru will get to shortly in the report.

La Salle Falls in Overtime as Davidson Rallies

The Explorers in the second year under Mountain MacGillivray certainly have earned a grade of forward progress, but to get to the next evaluation will now take a little more work.

When Wednesday began, they were a capable two-game win streak away from finishing high enough in the A-10 standings to earn an opening home game when the conference tournament begins on campus sites next week. 

The six winners will join the two bye teams later in the weekend for the quarterfinal, semifinal, and championship rounds at UD Arena on the University of Dayton campus in Ohio.

However, holding a 55-51 lead with 2 minutes, 33 seconds left in regulation, La Salle went cold, overtaken by a 7-3 run from Davidson to force overtime.

 When the fourth quarter began, the La Salle lead was nine points.

In the overtime, the Explorers got it going with a basket to begin the extra five-minute session, only to succumb on the spot as the Wildcats used a 12-0 surge to wrap up the visit 70-61.

 La Salle (12-16, 6-9 A-10) will finish on the road Saturday at 2 p.m. against host George Mason in the Patriots’ EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Va.

Davidson (15-13, 8-7) will host VCU at 1 p.m. in North Carolina.

The Explorers are currently in a 10th place tie in the 10th seed and would need to get to the eighth seed, which, with George Washington playing Richmond, which beat La Salle twice, is not possible.

However, it is not out of the question that if the Explorers win Saturday and steal an opener on the road, they can earn a next grade even a little more positive.

In the tale of the individual tape, La Salle rookie Claire Jacobs from Australia had 18 points and mark her down on any area all-newcomer team. 

Kayla Spruill, an area most improved candidate, had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Shalina Miller said farewell to Gola Arena with six points, 12 rebounds, and three more blocks to her program career record.

Saint Joseph’s Rally Dies at the Finish

The Hawks have been below the waterline for some time now lying on the seabed of the 14-team Atlantic 10 standings.

Conference-wise, it’s gruesome considering the Hawks’ proud history, especially once they got to conference competition.

So when longtime coach Cindy Griffin, who becomes the Philadelphia Big 5 women’s dean – this is her 19th season, once Harry Perretta officially becomes retired at Villanova – claims “one more scorer,” a look at the ship’s log shows that could have been worth eight more wins and the more normal third place to find the program neighborhood placing annually.

And they had that scorer, in fact two, at the beginning when freshman Claire Melia from Ireland impressed early before departing, citing homesickness, and the fact that Imogen Ayliffe, a prized player from Australia, never suited up.

But a season must go forward, nevertheless, though it has meant one more go-round with inexperience.

In Wednesday’s game, UMass, a program on the rise under fourth-year coach Tory Verdi, never led by much until starting a run near the end of the third and continuing to a 51-40 advantage with 1:35 left in regulation.

The Hawks (9-18, 3-12) then came to life, got within six with 42 seconds left, but didn’t score again until Mary Sheehan nailed an outside shot at the buzzer for the 51-47 final.

Katie Jekot scored 16 points for Saint Joseph’s, while Katie Mayock scored 10. Vashnie Perry had 18 points for UMass (18-10, 8-7), while Sam Breen had a double double of 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Hawks finish at Fordham at Rose Hilll Gym in the Bronx on Saturday at 2 p.m. and right now it’s looking like they could be right up there next Tuesday again playing the Rams in an A-10 opener.

Temple Drops Second Straight

This ain’t the regular season finish Owls coach Tonya Cardoza had in mind, considering many view Temple of being a contender in the American Athletic Conference after No. 6 UConn has departed for the Big East.

It became two straight narrow setbacks Wednesday night following the weekend’s 56-50 loss at ECU, as Temple fell again, this time at UCF 67-64 in Orlando, Fla, which enabled the Knights (17-9, 9-5 AAC) to come back and earn a split on the season series.

The Owls (15-12, 7-7) are in a three-way tie for fifth with Wichita State, which swept them, and Tulane, which they visit for their one-time matchup Monday night in New Orleans, the home of this year’s Women’s Final Four at the beginning of April.

Mia Davis had 23 points and 14 rebounds with six assists for her 16th double-double on the season for the visitors, while Ashley Jones had 16 points, and Emani Mayo scored 11. Shannen Atkinson had seven points and 10 rebounds.

Though Temple owned the boards, 43-29, the Owls gave up 19 points through 14 turnovers.

Saturday’s final home game, against Tulsa, is at 2 p.m. in McGonigle Hall.

Nationally Noted: Hartford’s First Win Comes Against America East Leader Stony Brook

Call it a trap game or what you will but if betting existed on a wide scale in women’s basketball, anyone laying money on Hartford, poised to become the 60th NCAA Division I program to go through a whole season without a victory, would take down America East frontrunner Stony Brook, one of the nation’s top mid-major teams, they’d be flashing a large smile right now.

The final was 70-67 at the Reich Family Pavilion in West Hartford, Conn.

Even UConn coach Geno Aurienna reacted in postgame astonishment after his Huskies’ win over Cincinnati when informed of the news. 

Morgan Valley, one of his former players, is in her first season coaching the squad.

In fact, at the beginning of the year Diana Taurasi had sent her a bottle of champagne to open when the occasion was right and earning her first victory was good enough for Valley.

Jada Lucas had 20 points for the hometown Hawks (1-28, 1-15 AEC), while Carmen Villalobos had 16 and six rebounds. Hartford used an early 17-5 run to stun the Seawolves (25-3, 13-2).

A 6-0 run gave Stony Brook a 56-49 lead early in the fourth quarter and then Hartford exploded again with 20-6 attack for a seven-point lead under two minutes remaining which the Hawks spent hanging on to grab the contest.

Small Colleges: Matthews Leads D-III Cabrini to Atlantic East Championship Contest

A career night from Meghan Matthews with 29 points and 22 rebounds led second-seed Cabrini to a 93-87 victory over third-seed Gwynedd Mercy in the semifinal.

Cabrini (29-7) advances to top seed Marymount (22-4) Saturday in Arlington, Va., at a time to be determined for the first Atlantic East title.

Marymount advanced with a semifinal home win over fifth-seeded Marywood 70-47 to end the visitors’ season at 9-16. They had upset 4th-seeded Immaculata to advance.

Lexi Edwards had 24 points for Cabrini while Ashley Tutzauer had 20 points and Kirsten Searcy scored 10. 

Sydney Thompson had 19 points for Gwynedd Mercy (15-12)

CACC: Jefferson Tops Goldey-Beacom for Third Seed

The late season run by D-II Jefferson University continued with the Rams winning at Goldey-Beacom 79-52 in Wilmington, Del., to lock up third place out of the South in next week’s Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference tournament as Chestnut Hill fell at Holy Family 64-61.

The Griffins had clinched the other Southern spot but were contending for the third seed with Jefferson.

It was the eighth straight win for the Rams (16-11, 12-6 CACC), who got 28 points from Alynna Williams while Haley Meinel, a freshman, had 15 points and eight steals. Maeve McCann had 11 points off the bench against Goldey-Beacom (8-118, 8-10).

Jefferson will open at Dominican out of the North on Tuesday after finishing the season hosting Holy Family Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Gallagher Center.

Rams coach Tom Shirley now has 793 career wins, of which 644 have come at Jefferson.

Holy Family (16-9, 14-4) had already locked up the second seed behind top-seeded USciences, on an 18-win streak but idle Wednesday before finishing with Chestnut Hill (11-16, 10-8) Saturday.

In the Tigers’ win against the Griffins at Campus Center Gymnasium in Northeast Philadelphia, the home team held firm despite a closing rally by the visitors.

Elizabeth Radley had 20 points for Holy Family, while Mia Ehling scored 12 points and Moe Moore had 11 rebounds.

Chestnut Hill’s Cassie Sebold had 16 points, Lauren Crimm scored 15, and Leah Miller scored 14.

In the North in the playoffs, Post has the No. 1 seed, Dominican is second, Caldwell is third, while fourth is up for grabs on the final day between Concordia, which needs to win and Nyack to lose its game to get the last spot.

CIAA: Lincoln Gets Under Way

After sitting out the two-day opening rounds in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association playoffs in Charlotte, N.C., D-II Lincoln, the second seed, gets under way at 1 p.m. in Spectrum Center Thursday against Winston-Salem, the third seed out of the South, which advanced Tuesday, beating Clafflin.

Virginia Union, the top seed out of the North which had a bye, on Wednesday ousted Virginia State, 83-43 in the quarterfinals, while Fayetteville State, the top seed out of the South beat No. 4 Elizabeth City State, 64-52.

In another quarterfinal Thursday after Lincoln plays, Bowie State, the third seed out of the North, meets Johnson C. Smith, the second seed out of the South.

The semifinals are on Friday at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. with the championship Saturday at 2 p.m., all in the Spectrum Center.

Looking Ahead: Rider Goes for Tying Marist and More

Thursday has a slim schedule in Guru nation, but a big one is Rider is at Fairfield at 7 in Connecticut going for a sweep of the difficult-to-play Stags.

A win makes the Broncs even across the board with preseason favorite Marist at the top of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference again.

Each has three games remaining and both are assured if they don’t land in the NCAA tourney, whichever doesn’t, will go land in the WNIT, though if a dark horse wins the MAAC, both would go.

But in terms of seed and honor if both win out, Rider gets the top seed for next month’s tournament at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, off a sweep by winning Thursday because Marist split with Fairfield.

On Saturday, Marist is at Quinnipiac, which Rider has already swept, so that’s another potential gain if the Red Foxes stumble against the Bobcats.

The only other two games involving Guru teams Thursday are in the Big Ten, where Rutgers, gunning for a sixth seed in next month’s tournament, is hosting Wisconsin at 7:30 in Piscataway, N.J., while Penn State, which has won only one conference game, is hosting Michigan at 7 p.m.

Both teams finish Sunday.

With a few number of results to chronicle Thursday, the Guru will wait till the next report to preview the weekend.

And that’s the report.