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.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The Guru Report: Rider Rally Dies at Finish Against MAAC Favorite Marist

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru
LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. – In the only game involving a Guru local out of his D-1 group, Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference preseason favorite Marist came to Rider Tuesday night looking for revenge and while the Red Foxes achieved their goal, they had to withstand a fiery rally in the fourth quarter from the Broncs before leaving Alumni Gym here with a narrow 63-58 victory.
The outcome flipped Marist (18-4, 11-2 MAAC)  into first place a half game in the win column ahead of Rider (17-4, 10-2) and a split on the season series after the Broncs won the first meeting last month in overtime up at Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Despite giving up some insurance to land the top seed for next month’s conference tournament at Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall, though not yet worth getting into details, at the moment, Rider projects to gain the tiebreaker.
But that can easily change between now and the final of the regular season.
Things certainly changed for the Broncs in the last two weeks when at the outset they were riding an overall program-record 14-game win streak and were unbeaten in the MAAC with a two-game lead until last Thursday when they were stunned at lowly St. Peter’s, which is just one game above the basement in the 11-team conference.
Still, a win and series sweep Tuesday night would bring the home team back to a two-game advantage.
Those hopes fell apart quickly in the second quarter when the Red Foxes outscored the Broncs 15-2 extended to a 19-4 scoring run from the end of the first period and on to a 28-13 lead.
While credit Marist responsible for some of that, Rider also ran into one of those nights where they got the shots they wanted but they simply would not drop, making just one of 16 attempts from the field.
After the break, Marist continued to pour it on, growing the lead to 19 points with 9:49 left in the third.
From that moment, the Broncs regained their mojo, which in partial translation means Stella Johnson, the nation’s leading scorer, coincidentally got untracked and Rider tossed defensive pressure to renew hopes when pulling within a bucket at 57-55 with 1 minute,  41 seconds left in regulation.
Ironically, that was one of just two connections on a woeful 2-for-10 night from Lea Favre, the MAAC leader in field goal percentage shooting.
The momentum stopped there as Marist then hit eight straight foul shots down the closing stretch before Rider’s Amanda Mobley hit a triplet as time expired to set the final score.
Rebekah Hand, fueled by 10-for-11 from the line, scored 20 points, while Grace Vander grabbed 10 rebounds for the Red Foxes, who outscored the Broncs, 20-5, getting 16 more shots at the line. Alana Gilmer scored nine points, while Willow Duffell scored eight.
Rider’s Stella Johnson, who scored just seven in the first half, added 19 the rest of the way for a game-high 26 points with eight rebounds. But besides Favre’s woeful night, Amari Johnson grabbed 17 rebounds to tie a career high, but scored just eight points, after collecting a pile of double-doubles all season.
Mobley had 17 points.
“Obviously, not the result we wanted,” said Rider veteran coach Lynn Milligan. “I didn’t have a doubt that we would come back (from the second quarter deficiencies) and we would make that a game. We did some good stuff. I was proud of the effort and fight we showed in the second half. That’s who we are. We just need to be that for 40 minutes.”
Milligan cautioned about whether to assume the Broncs are in a slide off the two straight losses, the previous coming last Thursday.
“These two games are not connected at all,” she said. “Don’t write your storylines, ‘ooh, they’re on a two-game’ … we’re not on a slide. So, everybody, relax. We’re fine. These games are not connected even a little bit.
“These are two completely different games. We didn’t get the job done for different reasons. And all of those reasons and things we will correct – by Thursday, and we’ll be ready to move forward for the stretch and grind that’s coming up here in February.”
Rider heads to Siena Thursday near Albany, N.Y., and will continue on the road to Saturday and play at Manhattan College at 2 p.m. in suburban New York City. Then a week from Thursday the Broncs go for a sweep visiting Quinnipiac at 6 p.m. in Hamden, Conn., and then return here Sunday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. hosting Iona.
Looking Ahead: La Salle Seeking to End Losses at George Washington
There’s just one D-1 team of the Guru group, likewise, Wednesday with La Salle visiting the Colonials at 7 p.m. in the nation’s capital at the Smith Center in an Atlantic 10 game before being back to the city for Saturday’s return game with Saint Joseph’s, this one on Hawk Hill at Tom Hagan Arena.
The previous meeting last month at Tom Gola Arena also counted as the final Big Five game of the season and La Salle ended a seven-game overall losing streak to Saint Joseph’s.
Small Colleges: Key Night in Conference Races
Most of the small colleges have been doing well all season and we’ve kept some on our tracker. The 1-2 race in the Southern Division of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) continues Wednesday.
Front-runner USciences, with a one-game lead over D-II Holy Family and a 14-game overall win streak, visits Georgian Court at 6 p.m. in Lakewood, N.J. and then Saturday visits Felician at 1 p.m. before returning home to Bobby Morgan Arena in Southwest Philadelphia next Tuesday for the rematch with Holy Family, which upset the Devils in the CACC opener but then gave up the standings lead with a recent two-game slide.
USciences is now 23rd in the latest Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Division II Poll.
Holy Family, under first-year coach Bernadette Laukaitis, an alum and former associate head coach to Penn’s Mike McLaughlin, hosts Goldey-Beacon at 5:30 p.m. trying to keep pace, with the game being at the Tigers’ Campus Center in Northeast Philadelphuia.
Jefferson, which has struggled but coming off a nice upset at Post, the northern division leader, visits Wilmington in Delaware at 6 p.m.
D-II Lincoln, which has tied a season-win mark with 22, begins finishing out its regular season in the Central Intercollegiate Athletics Association (CIAA) on the road, beginning Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Virginia State and then continuing Saturday at Virginia Union at 2 p.m.
D-III Rowan, holding a one-game lead over Montclair State and The College of New Jersey, visits William Paterson Wednesday at 6 p.m. in Wayne, N.J. in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, and then Saturday heads to Rutgers-Newark upstate for a 6 p.m. contest.
The Profs finish the regular season next Wednesday at home in Glassoboro, N.J., hosting Kean University at 6 p.m.
The NJAC tourney opens Saturday, Feb., 22 at a place and time yet to be determined pending the final standings.
Back in the local Division I look ahead the next several days, on Thursday, already mentioned, Rider is at Siena, while in the Big Ten, Rutgers is at Michigan State at 7 p.m. while Penn State is at Nebraska at 8 p.m.
On Friday, just the two Ivy teams on a weekend road trip to near-New England with Penn visits Brown in Providence, R.I., at 7 p.m. while Princeton is at Yale in New Haven, Conn., at 6 p.m.
On Saturday, Penn visits Yale at 4 p.m., while Princeton visits Brown at 5 p.m.
Filling out that day, locally, as mentioned, Rider is at Manhattan College in the MAAC while Saint Joseph’s host La Salle. Temple after a week off from its pounding at South Florida is home hosting Houston in an American Athletic Conference game in McGonigle Hall at 2 p.m.
On Sunday, Villanova is at Georgetown at 2 p.m. in the Big East in the nation’s capital at McDonough Arena, while Drexel holding first in the CAA finishes its season series with travel partner Delaware, visiting the Blue Hens at 2 p.m.
In the Big Ten, Rutgers will host Michigan at noon, while Penn State will host Maryland at 2 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Nationally, Thursday in the Big Ten, Iowa is at Maryland at 6 p.m. in College Park, Md., and in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Louisville is at North Carolina State at 6 p.m.
Friday in the PAC-12, Oregon is at UCLA at 11 p.m., while on Monday, Oregon State is at UCLA.
On Sunday, back in the American Athletic Conference where it never lost Connecticut is at USF.
Nationally Noted: UConn Elite Poll Streak In Jeopardy.
UConn has been ranked in the AP Women’s Poll Top 5 for a period of 253 weeks since the arrival of February 5, 2007. That could end in the wake of the No. 5 Huskies route Monday night at the hands of top-ranked South Carolina.
But the first drop, baring a Sunday loss, could still have UConn residing in the Top 10, a streak that is 285 consecutive weeks dating to the final poll of 2004-05.
Both are among the many poll marks monopolized by the Huskies. 
While Tennessee does not hold any Top 10 marks, the Lady Vols missed the Top 10 one week in a period of 403/404 weeks while Louisiana Tech went 96 straight weeks in the Top 5 and 202 weeks in the Top 10.
And that’s the report on the Tuesday overnite.



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