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, November 23, 2017

Guru’s Local Report: Tanaya Atkinson and Board Work Lead Temple to Big 5 Opening Win at La Salle

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — Temple opened its defense of last season’s 4-0 sweep to a Big Five title in a Wednesday afternoon pre-Thanksgiving matinee by holding off host La Salle most of the way and then closing out with a 21-9 fourth quarter to defeat the Explorers 69-52 at Tom Gola Arena.

There was much for the Owls (4-1, 1-0 Big Five) to take away from the outcome as they continue to re-tool their attack in the wake of Alliya Butt’s preseason knee injury that will keep her sideline all year.

Tanaya Atkinson, though struggling on the foul line shooting 8-for-16, was on top of her game in every other phase as the reigning American Athletic Conference player of the week scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds.

Coach Tonya Cardoza could also be pleased with contributions from her newcomers, particularly Emani Mayo who also scored in double figures and kept Temple alive to key a spurt in the second half when the Explorers (1-3, 0-1 Big Five) attempted to rally.

 Mayo finished with 10 points and six rebounds while Mia Davis had seven points and nine rebounds.

Desiree Oliver had seven points and dealt five assists off the bench off the bench while Shannen Atkinson off the bench, a player who did not see a lot of minutes as a freshman, had six points and eight rebounds.

Shantay Taylor with four points and five rebounds was another substitute who helped Temple with depth that gave the Owls bench a 24-4 advantage over La Salle reserves in extending the win streak in the series to five games.

Then there was the board work, 48-28 overall and 23-7 on the offensive boards leading to a 16-8 advantage on second-chance points while on the inside the under-sized Owls outscored La Salle 34-22 in the paint.

“If it weren’t for our post players I don’t feel we would be as successful as we are,” said Tanaya Atkinson afterwards. “So today was a good day for us.

“It’s a big step up for me,” she said of having to assume more of a leadership role due to the absence of Butts. “I feel my teammates have my back for anything I do. Even if I take a bad shot, they’re like, ‘That’s ok, you’re going to hit the next one.’ They’re encouraging me to lead on the floor. I feel like that gives me a lot of confidence to do what I do.”

La Salle’s Adreanna Miller had 16 points while Sofilia Ngwafang scored 10 but Amy Griffin, averaging 16 points and last season’s top scorer in the Atlantic 10, was held to eight points and eventually fouled out.

“This is a big win for us to open Big Five on the road,” said Cardoza, though that local road trip is but a few miles away up Broad Street. “Anytime you can win that first Big Five game it means a lot and this was their first game at home.”

La Salle won at Lafayette but then dropped games at American U, across town at Drexel and now to Temple in the Explorers’ home opener.

“I told them (the team) this was the best we’ve played defensively in the sense of paying attention to what was going on,” Cardoza said.

“They started a big lineup, that’s not the lineup they usually start, so we knew we had to do something a little differently on defense with their two bigs out there and I felt we handled ourselves well,” Cardoza said. “And not to give up second chance opportunities, and we did a pretty good job handling the basketball and we were pretty efficient when we got out in transition.

“We just finished a Big Five game – a road game with two freshmen guards — that’s really promising. They’re showing every day they should be out there and this is really encouraging to see them excel in that environment.”

Temple will now be back on campus for the Owls’ next seven games all in McGonigle Hall except the last in the group when former Temple coach Dawn Staley brings her NCAA defending champion South Carolina team to town on Dec. 21 when the contest will be held in the larger Liacouras Center.

After a day off for the holiday, it’s back to practice Friday and a visit from Mississippi of the Southeastern Conference Saturday at 2 p.m.

On Wednesday Saint Joseph’s will visit at 7 for the Hawks’ first City Series game and Temple’s second.

At the same time here La Salle will be hosting Penn in the Quakers’ first Big Five game of the season.

In between, the Explorers head to Lehigh’s tournament Saturday to play New Hampshire and then on Sunday, depending on the outcomes, the winner or loser between the host Mountain Hawks and Fairfield.

Catching Up With The Rest

It’s a lite week ahead of the holiday among the Guru’s locals but to get what’s happened into the roundup, recapping, we went up to Lafayette with Rider on Tuesday in a game between two winless teams and the host Leopards prevailed 60-45 as the visiting Broncs (0-4) struggled from the floor shooting 23.2 percent.

Following Rider’s magical run last season, the Broncs are having to retool with a bunch of newcomers and things don’t get easier this weekend opening with the host Pirates at Seton Hall’s tournament.

Anna Ptasinski had 14 points for Lafayette (1-3), while Bishop Eustace grad Alexis Santarelli had 11 points. She also is a graduate of the powerful Philadelphia Belles AAU program.

The win was the first for new coach Kia Damon, her first-ever running a program after serving previously as an assistant at Cincinnati last season and then a long stint before that as an aide to Penn State coach Coquese Washington.

“I thought we played well at Penn,” said Damon of the Leopards’ previous game, a visit to the Quakers who had their home opener last Saturday at the Palestra. “We just didn’t have the ball go into the basket in the fourth quarter.

“We trying to play man to man against Rider and switch some of the stuff and the guards were attacking and our bigs got into foul trouble and we had to go to a zone.”

Lafayette has a stop early next month at Drexel.

Meanwhile, on Monday Penn State easily handled Central Connecticut 83-66 to stay unbeaten at 5-0 after the non-conference win in the Bryce Jordan Center.

It’s the first 5-0 start in five seasons for Washington.

Alisia Smith had career marks, scoring 14, grabbing six rebounds, dealing a pair of assists and blocking three shots.

Amari Carter had 20 points for PSU while De’Janae Boykin scored 10 and freshman Kamaria McDaniel had 17 points.

Andi Lyon had a game high 25 points for Central Connecticut (0-4), which left still looking for its first win on the season.

Looking Ahead

Penn (1-1) will have a plate full of hoops before dining on any turkey Thursday, playing Georgia Tech at 5:15 p.m. in the opener of the Junkanoo Jam in Bimini in the Bahamas.

A win will likely send the Quakers Friday against No. 8 Baylor, which plays Missouri State in the other game Thursday. Otherwise Penn would probably see Missouri State.

On Friday in other tournaments not mentioned, Rutgers gets its first test of the season meeting South Carolina in a battle of unbeatens in Estero, Fla., in the Gulf South Showcase. The field also has Notre Dame, USF and St. John’s among the eight teams in the three-day matchup.

Villanova, fresh off its upset of then-No. 11 Duke, will be meeting James Madison Friday in Vermont’s tourney and then either the host Catamounts or American U. depending on the outcomes.

Drexel Thursday meets Virginia Tech in the first of three pre-determined games in Florida in a tourney moved out of the Virgin Islands because of damage from last summer’s hurricanes.

On Friday the Dragons meet defending Big 12 champion West Virginia, followed by Butler on Saturday.

Penn State meets Louisiana Tech in Las Vegas on Friday and then Kansas State on Saturday.

Saint Joseph’s opens its Hawk Classic Saturday against Eastern Illinois while Delaware meets St. Peter’s in the first Hawks game of the season at home in Hagan Arena with the winners and losers meeting Sunday. Times are 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day.

Princeton on Saturday is at Davidson in a single game.

After Rider meets Seton Hall Saturday, it will be either East Carolina or Jacksonville State on Sunday.

And that’s the report. 

Monday, November 20, 2017

Mike Siroky’s SEC Report: A Select Six For Now

By Mike Siroky

The Southeastern Conference of women’s basketball  – those ranked by the Associated Press – grew to six after one week of the season, with Kentucky sliding in at No. 25.

For the week, five remained unbeaten with one losing to a higher-ranked team.
No. 4 South Carolina

Leading national player-of-the-year candidate A’ja Wilson is on the Wooden watch list. She is one of six SEC players on the glutted 30-player initial look. 

The Wooden is the most prestigious women’s award, though the Wade Trophy carries the weight of history, coming from the time before the NCAA accepted the women’s game.

The only lockdown bet this season is she is the SEC player of the year. In fact, they oughta designate her as such right now and then have a senior scramble for runnerup. She is, of course, the first weekly winner in the league competition.

SC declined an invitation to the White House, delayed for inexplicable reasons and coming after the season is under way. Coach Dawn Staley will not let anything detract from the season at hand.

The national game of the week arrived quickly, at co-Big Ten favorite No. 14 Maryland, a 94-86 SC win.

Each side won two quarters with Maryland’s 32-21 fourth the best anyone not named UConn, Tennessee or Mississippi State has done against the Gamecocks in several seasons. They drew 8,677.

They had 16 points off turnovers mirrored by 16 fast break points.

With senior Bianca Cuevas still recovering from a sprained knee and a sophomore transfer not yet playing, Wilson still has plenty to surround herself with. Wilson scored a career-best 32 with 12 rebounds.

Tyasha Harris scored her career-best 20 with three 3s. A 26-point lead had been cut to three when her final 3 at 23 seconds to go sealed the deal. 

Two of the one-and-done transfers played big. Senior Alexis Jennings had her first big Gamecock game, a dozen points and nine defensive rebounds among her 13. Senior point guard Lindsey Spann scored 15, also with three 3s. 

 Tennessee transfer Te’a Cooper has not yet played, so maybe her reconditioned knee is not so well.

“I’m just so glad we got the win,” said Wilson “At the start of the season Coach Dawn Staley is not surprised by Wilson’s big plays.

“She was A’ja Wilson,” Staley said. “She is the country’s best player. I am more surprised 32 is her career high. They actually lulled us to sleep, I think we got a little fatigued and took some ill-advised shots.”

“It’s coming together very well,” Wilson said of her newly formulated team. “This was the first college road game (with this lineup). It was letting them get a feel for it and know there will be games like this.”

The road warriors continued their week with in-state rival Clemson, then Wofford came in for the rare three-game week.

There were single-digit opening quarters and 18 percent shooting by Clemson at halftime so the ACC representative was as inept as any team yet, down 37-11

The SC starters played as many or as few minutes as they wished.

Wilson had 10 points and seven defensive rebounds at the break. Spann hit 4-of-5 3s and had 14. 

By the end, it was 66-36. In theory, they had enough points to win without scoring in the second half.

In reality, Spann hit 6-of-7 3s and finished with 20 points in 24 minutes. Wilson had 19 points and 11 rebounds in 26 minutes.

“I’m open so I’m shooting,” said Spann. “They’re doing a great job finding me. Now, I have treat players around me.”

“It was not our best effort,” Said Wilson. ‘I don’t think we had a great performance But we came out with a win so we’ll take it. We were not patient. It is all about communication when you come down to it and I think coach is about to fix that.

“We had a good understanding on what we were doing. We just have to communicate.

“When I was on the bench, I thought, ‘This is my last time playing Clemson.’ It is always good to get a win over Clemson.”

They got win  No. 4 at home vs. Wofford, another not surprising in-state devastation. They were easily ahead at the end of three quarters, 74-46.  Wilson, Jennings and Harris each had 13, Wilson with her double/double, 13 rebounds, nine defensive. 

Spann scored a dozen with three 3s. She is hitting 65 percent from behind the arc, the national leader. So the fourth was a coast, Wilson still averaging a double/double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. The best women’s draw in the world had 12,471 in attendance.

Staley chose to comment on Kentucky transfer Alexis Jennings’ return after the a season of working on the opposition practice squad.

“Alexis is knocking off the rust ,” said Staley. “But (she) has been very, very solid for us. We know she has sure hands. We know she’s going to get up a good shot, and we know she’s going to pin her player in the paint. She’s very efficient out there, so we’re looking for some of our young ones to adhere to what she’s doing.”

This weekend is the Gulf Coast Showdown in Florida. SC opens with maybe no longer fast-fading Rutgers, another Big Ten team. 

Washington, Notre Dame,  ETSU, Western Michigan, South Florida and St. John’s are also in the mix. SC oughta get to seven wins before December.
No. 7 Mississippi State

Victoria Vivians and Morgan William are also on the early Wooden list.

Vivians leads the league in minutes played.

State had two home wins as they got off to a 4-0 start. With a majority of road games to start last season, many of these are the return gifts.

First in was Georgia State, like SC. a walkover/low minute game for the starters who made the most of their court time in the 106-50 win. They drew 4,584 They also won every quarter.

Teaira McCowan scored 19 in 15 minutes, 9-of-10 from the field. Vivians was one of three others in double figures, with 19 in 24 minutes, 5-of-6 from the line, 7-of-10 from the field. The team held the foe to 31 percent from the field, more than doubling that their ownselves.

The 65.6 from the floor is a program best.

“I was really proud of the way we came out in the first half and shared the ball,” coach Vic Schaefer said. “I thought our execution was really good. I thought our transition was good. These are my notes at halftime. We had 30 points in the paint. We really set the tempo pushing the ball. Tori was good out in the open floor. She's a different matchup when she's at the four. I played her at the four tonight quite a bit.”
They cleared 100 with the reserves at 3:23 to go.
“We made the extra pass,” Schaefer said. “When you make that extra pass, and you take up two before you make that extra pass, somebody is wide open. 

“Now you have to make shots. I was really pleased with the extra passing. I was pleased with our shooters having their feet ready. I thought that was something that we've been doing. We do it in practice a lot. We didn't make shots the last game as well as we did tonight.”
Southern Mississippi visited in a matinee to close the work week. Blair Schaefer hit for nine first-quarter points, all 3s. State was already in cruise control, 31-8 at the first stop.  Another one of those single-digit quarter defensive markers had been posted. No team has lost yet after earning one of those.

It was much the same in the second, a 48-26 difference.

By  the third, McCowan had her double/double,  17 points and 10 rebounds and was done for the day. State has begun dedicating home games to each senior, so Roshunda Johnson had 20 points with four 3s on her afternoon. Maybe they will all feed the senior on her game. Johnson spent part of the post-game signing the 760 posters issued in her honor. They drew 5,321.

Vivians had risen to 15 with two 3s. and was also done for the day. Nothing spectacular was needed in the fourth. They entered it with a 26-point lead and 11 3s. Johnson finished with a career-best 29 points and five 3s. 

“Our point guard play is really special right now,” Schaefer said. “We had 10 turnovers and forced 26 turnovers. When you have point guards not turning the ball over, you will always have a chance to win.

“Proud of our team and the crowd today. Our fans were great today. They were into it. It is great to watch this team share the basketball. When we make shots like we made shots today, it’s not only fun to watch, but it’s fun to coach.

“Our chemistry is just spreading to our team. This team can share the ball make shots.”

With Baylor losing ahead of them in the rankings, State has a chance to move to a higher slot this week.
              The ‘Dawgs head off to a Thanksgiving weekend tournament in Cancun where they open with Arizona State of the Pac 12. SC eliminated the Sun Devils on their way to last season’s title. They are an NCAA tournament regular.
No. 13 Tennessee

Seniors Jamie Nared and Mercedes Russell are on the early Wooden list.

Nared is the league leader in defensive rebounds.

And they led the Vols in their work week win, 89-60 over James Madison. They won every quarter and eased into this one. Nared had 25 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

There is already a consistency missed in the previous season. The rookies show more poise, each outing led by Anastasia Hayes’ eight assists.

“It was good to see us grow in this game -- and (to see) us keep growing,” Nared said. “I'm excited to where we can go.”

The Lady Vols showed strong ball movement by assisting on 21 of their 33 baskets. An 11-2 run to close the half put them in front by 20. They maintain the second-best league attendance of the week, 7,553

Freshman Rennia Davis had 17 points and eight rebounds. Russell had 14 points and eight rebounds. Cheridene Green, a redshirt junior from England, added 10 points.

“This team is a very unselfish basketball team,”  coach Holly Warlick said. “They're happy for each other's successes. And it makes me happy. It makes me smile.”

Nared said, “I think it's getting better, which is what you want to see especially at this time of the year. The first game I thought we showed little points where we played well defensively, but as a game, we didn't play how we wanted to play defensively. We are gradually getting better. I think the first half we played pretty good defense. We have little spurts that we go on, which when we start playing top teams, we can't have those spurts. 

“We have to play defense and stay locked-in the entire game. We are getting better at it, but we're not where we need to be. We are going to get better.
“You have one game where you don't shoot well, but you don't hang your head. We still won the game, you just find other aspects that you can improve on in your game and move on to the next one.

What I liked about us was a lot of our defense transferred over to offense. We had a lot of fast break points. We had a lot of deflections, a lot steals. That helps us because when we are playing hard defensively and really working together, that just translates over to offense. Especially when you are playing tough games, you need fast break points. 

“You need a lot of offense to come from your defense. It was nice to see. I think when we were in the half court we were running things well. Sometimes we got a little stagnant, but it was just good to see us growing this game and us keep growing. I'm excited to where we can go.”
Davis is working on the speed of the game, knowing her team is dependent on her remining in play and avoiding early fouls. She is working on one foul in each first half. 

But . . .  “I still picked it up (a second first-half foul) though. It was just later in the first half. I was just getting cold on the bench the last game and sleepy. I don't like sitting over there, so I was trying to be alert on defense and more attentive.

“I learned that I still have a lot to work on, which I already knew. I feel like these first two games showed me a lot, especially the first game because I was sitting out for so long (after the second foul). It taught to cheer on my teammates and be more of a team player. Tonight, I was just able to stay locked in on defense a little bit longer.”
 Hayes is working on the speed without errors.
“Well, I knew that we had a lot of turnovers the first game. My thing was to just try not to make crazy passes and try to find my teammates when they were open.”

 “We started the game with great intensity. I'm really proud of our group,” said Warlick. “We took excellent shots. We shared the basketball. We had 21 assists on 32 makes. Our defensive presence was solid. The one beef I have is making free throws. We almost shot better from the floor than we did from the free throw line. That's a little scary. (We had) 40 points in the paint, 24 points off of turnovers, and 30 fast break points. I thought we played hard, smart and with great intensity.”

 She praised her senior leadership.

“She was awesome. Jaime took great shots. She just was a workhorse for us. She played great defense, she rebounded and brought the ball up the floor. She just took great shots. She took makeable shots and that is a result of her getting in the gym and getting extra shots up. It doesn't happen by chance for Jaime. She has worked at it, and tonight was the result of her putting in the extra work.”

Hayes, she said, seems to have no issues with conversion to the college game

 I love her attacking. You want to pull them back; you don't want to push them downhill. Annie just has a knack for attacking the basket. She will understand as the game goes on when she can and can't. I'm not going to hold her back. She is great at attacking the basket. She attracts a lot of people. She is a great passer. I just love her energy.”

Hayes and Westbrook understand the idea is to feed the monster.

“I don't know her (Russell) shooting percentage right now, but she was seven-of-eight tonight. She is shooting the ball well. I think they understand that we have to play. We love to play inside out. Get the ball inside, if they collapse, we're going to kick it out. I think they understand the high percentage shot and getting Mercedes the ball, and they're both great passers. They're willing to give the ball up. Those two kids are not selfish. They can score, but they also love to pass.”

 Green also represents a new beginning.

“There is not (a ceiling)  for her,” Warlick said.
“ She is coming off a knee injury and hasn't played in a year. She is finding her rhythm. Tonight before the game I visited with her. I just want her to play the game and play hard. I want her to focus on defense and rebounding. One play she came out of nowhere and got a great rebound and put it up. Each game builds her confidence. We are going to need her down the stretch. We are going to need her effort, her ability to get the ball and chase down rebounds. She rebounds out of her area, not too many people do that. I'm really proud of Cheridene tonight. 

“We cut in gaps. We didn't force things. We got shooters the ball. We didn't have to force a pass to a shooter. We just played within ourselves. We had great fast break points. We really took care of the ball well. We got it to people who needed the ball.”

“Coming in here, I knew it would take an A-plus effort for us, and we just didn't bring that exactly. Tennessee has earned the right to be in the top 10,” JMU coach Sean O'Regan said. “They've got everything. They've got leadership. They've got balance. They've got talent. I love Hayes. I think she's going to be a great point guard for them.”

Warlick is displaying less focus on the now-gone team drama queen and more on being a coach and enjoying her game, more than she has in previous seasons.

“When you have a team like this, who are playing well together and have the ability to score and defend—probably the best thing is that this team is an unselfish basketball team,” Warlick said. 

“We're kicking their butts in practice. Some days they respond, some days they don't. At the end of the day, they come together and say, ‘We needed it, we have to stick together.’

“I love this basketball team. Times are going to get tough, yeah. I have confidence in them. I have tremendous amount of confidence in them because I see what they do and how hard they practice. We're not there yet, but we're getting there.”

This week, Wichita State visits.
 No. 20 Texas A&M

The Aggies had three games in the NIT. They lost their semifinal to a high-ranked team, No. 11 Oregon. That earned them five days off.
Rookie Chennedy Carter stayed in double figures for the third game of her career, 

The first ranked SEC team to lose did so at home, allowing Oregon a 55-34 advantage in the second half. The 29-15 third quarter was especially effective. The quarter closed with a 11-4 run for the visitors.

The Aggies did close it down to five within the final four minutes, but that only spurred a 12-2 run that ended any mystery.

Carter is the first rookie to lead an Aggie team in scoring in her first three games. Sher had 23, each opportunity in double digits.  Danni Williams scored 17, Khaali Hillsman 10 and Anriel Howard had her third straight double/double , 10 points and 13 rebounds.

“The better team was Oregon,” said coach Gary Blair, “and they showed their experience with five starters back. We made the game chaotic in the first half.

“We overcame some foul problems and we had all of the momentum and the ball to start the second half but you cannot win a ballgame at this level unless you have an inside game. Tonight we had no inside game. When we had a chance to build that lead in the first half, we didn’t stretch it out like we could have.

“I’ve got all the trust in the world of Danni, but we cannot just be a two-guard team with Chennedy  driving and scoring and Danni shooting the outside shots. We’ve got to be a complete team, and tonight we weren’t.”

 Williams saw a double-team most of the way and said it threw her off.

“But a lot of my shots were just short because I think I was rushing,” she said. “I was just trying to get that one to get in a rhythm but it happens.

“I think first half we did a really great (defensive) job. I think they are just used to playing in a transition game the whole time, they said they weren’t tired so I do think that some it got into us. They played really well, we just got to focus more and be more concentrated on the defensive end.”

 Carter battled against fouls all night.

I got two fouls quick in the first quarter,” she said, “and coach sat me on the bench for a little bit and he trusted me and told me just to go in and play solid and not to get a third foul before half time so that is what I did. Just was trying to compete and be a little less aggressive.”

They drew 3,315, among the lowest for nationally ranked teams.

 No. 25 Kentucky

The Kats slide into national prominence again after two easy home wins.

They started their work week far from home, at Montana.

Three guards are building the offense which lost its two best players to graduation.

Coach Matthew Mitchell’s rookies combined for 57 points in the opening games, led by Tatyana Wyatt and Dorie Harrison, a starter at center.

So off the went on a program first trip to Montana. They won, 71-54. They drew 2,808 as the first ranked team to visit in 13 seasons. Montana coach Shannon Schweyen. "It was awesome they came here and played us in an environment like this," she said. "The crowd was great."

The Kats opened on a 9-2 run, but   Montana counterpunched, opening the second quarter  11-0 over 5:10 to seize a 22-20 lead. It was tied at 27 at the break. UK made adjustments and skied away for good with a13-2 run coming off intermission.

The M&M junior guard connection led the charge. Taylor Murray scored 18 with 12 rebounds. Maci Morris finished with 16, 11 after intermission.

Schweyen  was impressed, especially with Mitchell’s focus on defense.

"I didn't know if we'd be able to run much (offense) against these guys with their pressure, but I thought we executed well and got good shots. I think I can count on one hand the number of bad shots we took tonight.

"They were frustrated the first half. They weren't making shots, and it wasn't the tempo they necessarily wanted, and that played into our hands," said Schweyen.

 "I didn't know what to think going into this game. I didn't know what we were going to get," she said. "The first half was great. I just want that third quarter over.

"We executed and got some looks, but it's hard to stick with a team like that when you're not matching them point for point," said Schweyen.

 "Lots of kids had a chance to be a hero tonight, because we got a lot of really good looks. I'm proud of the team and the way we hung in there. It's just unfortunate we didn't knock some of them down.

 "We did a great job of sticking to the game plan. They have a couple of good shooters. We were trying to locate them and make the rest of them take outside shots," said Schweyen. "That was going to be what had to beat us tonight. We weren't going to let fast-breaks be what they won on.

 "We did such a good job in the first half. Then we hit a big dry spell.

 "It's frustrating when you don't score. I felt like we were getting good shots, but they just weren't going," said Schweyen.
 "You watch them on video and they're stealing it and laying it up left and right on people. I thought we did a good job taking care of it for the most part. We met our passes. That was a big emphasis today," said Schweyeyn.

 It was off to Washington State of the Pac 12. The Kats started in an early deficit but settled in for a 73-68 win and so held onto the last spot in the Top 25. 

A 20-3 sprint linking the end of the half and the start of the second sealed the deal. They had trailed by 11 and cut it to one at intermission. They had 14 fast break points and allowed only four. When the home team threatened late, UK had a 12-1 run and then a 7-0 to close it, cooly hitting 5-of-6 free throws in the final 66 seconds.
A different M&M Connection led. Morris scored 20. Senior guard Mackenzie Cann hit a first career double/double, 15 with  10 rebounds. Amanda Paschal rallied the bench. The junior college incomer had eight points in support of the starters.

“They played like the No. 25 team in the country,” said WSU coach June Daugherty. “We had a lot of improvement. They were plus 16 in the second half rebounding alone and that is not gonna get it done.”

UK won seven of eight to start hot last season as well. They have two home games this week, starting Wednesday with Morehead State.
nTrend: A real coach at Arkansas influenced home attendance to jump to an average 3,229, ahead of A&M , for instance.

For the second straight season, Missouri has declined to participate in our coverage.

The Guru Report: Saint Joseph’s and Temple Win on the Road While Rutgers Still Unbeaten After Home Opener

(Guru note: The Villanova upset of No. 11 Duke is covered separately under this post).

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Overall the Guru’s women’s basketball locals had quite the day Sunday to make it overall quite the weekend with just 10 days into the current season.

Besides Villanova’s upset of No. 11 Duke at Jake Nevin Field House, which is filed separately under this report, Saint Joseph’s completed its opening road sweep winning at Colonial Athletic Association favorite James Madison, 73-66, while Temple rallied on its first road stop of the season to win at Iona, 59-54, and Rutgers routed Wake Forest 65-51 in its home opener.

A year ago, the entire way was a path of misery for Rutgers in the worst season ever for Hall of Fame Coach C. Vivian Stringer, while Villanova and Saint Joseph’s never got righted until they reached the conference phases of their respective schedules in the Big East and Atlantic 10 after the New Year.

In two other games to complete the weekend action, tough setbacks were suffered by Delaware, which fell at home in overtime to Boston University 85-79, and Princeton, which was edged at home by Georgia Tech 67-56.

“My that’s certainly a long time, a lot has happened since then,” Saint Joseph’s coach Cindy Griffin said of her team’s 3-0 start for the first time in seven seasons which was reached with the win at the JMU Convocation Center in Harrisonburg, Va.

The Hawks opened a week ago beating Niagara and then won at Patriot League favorite Bucknell on Wednesday before playing the Dukes.

Junior Sarah Veilleux had a career-high 25 points and Chelsea Woods scored 23 as the Hawks dropped JMU to 1-3, which includes a loss to Rutgers with a game at Vermont against Villanova coming Friday and home-and-home games later on in the CAA against Drexel and Delaware.

Saint Joseph’s fell behind 4-0 and then used a 13-2 run to forge ahead.

The Dukes weren’t ready to roll over, using a 9-2 run to tie the game at 15 all but Saint Joseph’s regained the advantage until JMU briefly erased it before the Hawks closed out strong to stay unbeaten.

Saint Joseph’s sizzled from the field, shooting 50.9. Junior Alyssa Monaghan dealt seven assists, grabbed seven rebounds and scored five points.

James Madison’s Kamiah Smalls, a sophomore out of Neumann Goretti in Philadelphia, had 22 points.

Saint Joseph’s will make its first home appearance at Hagan Arena on Saturday playing Eastern Illinois at 2 p.m. in the opener of the Hawk Classic that in the past has been held during Christmas week. Delaware, under new coach Natasha Adair, will meet Saint Peter’s, coached by West Catholic/Rutgers grad Pat Coyle, a former WNBA New York Liberty coach and past Saint Joseph’s assistant during the Jim Foster era,  in the 4 p.m. contest.

The winners and losers will meet for third and the championship on Sunday.

Temple Rallies For Road Win at Iona

Falling behind early, Temple (3-1) regained its shooting touch to blaze away at 50 percent over the final three quarters to down the Gaels (0-2) of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in New Rochelle, N.Y.

The Owls, who scored just seven points in the first quarter, trailed by as many as 11 points before regaining their footing.

Senior Tanaya Atkinson, the reigning sixth player of the year in the American Athletic Conference, kept her double double streak going in all four games after scoring 18 points and grabbing 12 rebounds while freshman Emani Mayo has another high early in her Temple career with 15 points.

Two other newcomers, Desiree Oliver and Mia Davis, each scored nine points.

Temple returns to the city, but not at home on Wednesday in a pre-matinee 1 p.m. game at La Salle for the first overall Big Five battle of the season. The Owls then come out of Thanksgiving to play Mississippi back in McGonigle Hall Saturday at 2 p.m.

Rutgers Continues Season Reversal

After opening with three straight road wins at James Madison, Temple, and Charlotte, the Scarlet Knights showed their new look to the home folks in the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center by handling Wake Forest to improve to 4-0.

Tyler Scaife, a WNBA prospect who missed what would have been her final season a year ago due to an injury, had 19 points. The visiting Deacons (2-2) of the Atlantic Coast Conference got a game-high 25 points from Ariel Stephenson.

The Scarlet Knights never trailed and Stringer’s career record at a combination of Cheyney, Iowa, and Rutgers is now 981-390 placing her within 19 of gaining the distinguished 1,000-win milestone.

The late Pat Summitt at Tennessee and Stanford coach Tara VaDerveer have crossed the milestone on the women’s side and Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma is likely to reach it sometime next month.

Rutgers next travels to a tournament in Florida and will open on Friday against defending champion South Carolina.

Delaware and Princeton Suffer Tough Setbacks

Following a win in Natasha Adair’s home debut last week, Delaware’s triumph was short-lived as Boston U. of America East prevailed in overtime at the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del.

The loss by the Blue Hens (2-2) ruined a career day from Samone DeFreese who had personal highs of 24 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Nicole Enabosi had 19 points and tied her career high with 17 rebounds.

Bailey Kargo and Makeda Nicholas scored 12 and 11 points, respectively, and Abby Gonzalez dealt 10 assists.

The last Blue Hens player to reach 10 assists was  Christine (nee Koren) Motta, who had that number at Lafayette at the start of the 1999-2000 season.

 She now works at her alma mater in career development for Blue Hens athletes and is the broadcast analyst on Delaware women’s radio and TV broadcasts.

The Terriers (2-1) were led by Katie Nelson, who had 25 points and seven assists to top three other Boston U. players in double figures.

“This is a game that we should have won as we were in the best position to win,” Adair said. “When it’s winning time, you have to value the ball, make your free throws, rebound and make stops. Down the stretch, and especially in overtime, we were exposed in those areas.”

Delaware next travels to Philadelphia Saturday to open against Saint Peter’s in Saint’s Joseph’s tournament in which the host Hawks play Eastern Illinois in the first round. Winners and losers meet for third and first place Sunday at Hagan Arena.

Meanwhile, at Jadwin Gym in Princeton, the Tigers cut a 16-point deficit to Georgia Tech in the third period to five near the end of the game but the Yellowjackets stopped the rally short to defeat the Ivy team picked second before heading to a tournament in the Bahamas where next they will meet Ivy preseason favorite Penn on Thanksgiving on Thursday.

Sophomore Bella Alarie had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Princeton (2-1), which dropped its first game after wins at home over George Washington and at Seton Hall.

Chanin Scott had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Georgia Tech (4-0), which stayed unbeaten, while Francesca Pan had 13 points, and Elo Edeferioka scored 10.

Princeton next travels south for a single event contest at Davidson.

Nationally Speaking

Besides the Villanova upset of Duke, pulling the win from the unranked level, there were other games of note such as in the near South where Asia Durr scored 26 points to lead No. 5 Louisville (5-0) at home to a 74-61 over No. 10 Oregon (3-1) in the title game of the preseason WNIT in the Cardinal’s Yum Arena.

Louisville’s Myisha Hines-Allen had 17 points and 12 rebounds to earn tournament MVP honors.
Ruthie Hebard had 14 points for the Ducks.

Despite the absence of Katie Lou Samuelson due to a sprained left foot suffered in Friday’s home opener against Cal, top-ranked Connecticut (3-0) still had no trouble at home beating No. 15 Maryland 97-72 in its off-campus second arena in Hartford.

Kia Nurse topped five other teammates who scored in double figures, getting 21 points. Gabby Williams had 15 points and 11 rebounds and also committed 10 turnovers, which does not make it an otherwise odd triple double; Duke transfer Azura Stevenson had 18 points and 12 rebounds and started in place of Samuelson while  Napheesa Collier had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Connecticut next goes to UCLA on Tuesday night.

Kalia Charles had 29 points and 12 rebounds for the Terrapins (2-2), who previously lost at home to defending NCAA champion South Carolina.

UCLA is ranked eighth but likely to move up after beating No. 3 Baylor on Saturday. Maryland hosts Howard on Tuesday night.

No. 6 Notre Dame also has been missing players with injuries but survived a road test visiting No. 18 Oregon State and winning 72-67 as Jackie Young had a career-high 21 points for the Irish (3-0).

Mikayla Pivec had 19 points, eight rebounds and six assists for Oregon State (2-1). 

South Carolina’s A’ja Wilson had 16 points and 13 rebounds as the Gamecocks (4-0) produced a 94-60 win at home against Wofford (1-2).

Roshunda Johnson had a career-high 29 points for  No. 7 Mississippi State (3-0) at home in Starkville in a 91-56 win over Southern Mississippi (3-1).

Big East preseason favorite Marquette evened its start with a home opening 83-63 win over Loyola of Maryland (1-3) in Milwaukee as Allazia Bockton, the preseason player of the year in the conference, had 19 points for the No. 16 Warriors, who were edged by a point to New Mexico in the season opener.

No. 20 Cal came off its loss at UConn Friday to beat Brown 89-79 in Providence, R.I., as Kristine Anigwe had 28 points and 25 rebounds, a career high, for the Golden Bears (1-1).

Brown (2-1), an Ivy school that is the alma mater of Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb, got a career-high 33 points from Shayna Mehta.

Kelsey Mitchell had 27 points while Stephanie Mavunga had 17 points and 12 rebounds as No. 9 Ohio State topped Washington at home 85-67 in Columbus to go to 4-1.

When the game with the Huskies (1-2) was scheduled, the coach was Mike Neighbors, who had been an assistant to OSU coach Kevin McGuff at Xavier and Washington and then was promoted to head coach at the Pac-12 school when McGuff moved to Midwest.

But in the offseason, Neighbors was hired at Arkansas, his alma mater.

And that’s the report.