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 27, 2021

Guru’s WBB Report: Delaware and Drexel Get CAA Triumphs: Bueckers Sets a UConn Record Doing it to Butler; No. 13 South Florida Upset By Houston

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Delaware topped second-place Towson 80-54 and the Blue Hens claimed their first Colonial Athletic Association regular season title at home Saturday afternoon in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark since running the table all the way to the 2013 conference crown in 2013, the senior season of all-time program great Elena Delle Donne.

Drexel, meanwhile, rallied at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center from a 17-point deficit to emerge with a 51-48 triumph over preseason favorite James Madison and slip past the Dukes into third place on the conference.

Life, meanwhile, wasn’t as good for the other two locals in action, though Villanova’s Maddy Segrist made it into the history books, the Wildcats had to settle for a season-split losing to Seton Hall 67-55 and switching to a 4-5 seeding finish with the Pirates for next weekend’s Big East tournament at the Mohegan Sun.

Temple fell at UCF, 61-37, on the road in the American Athletic Conference in Orlando, Fla., enabling the winners to move into a first-place tie with No. 13 South Florida, which was shocked host Houston 67-49.

Freshman sensation Paige Bueckers added to her on-growing lore at No. 1 Connecticut, dealing a program-record 14 assists to lead the Huskies to a lopsided 97-68 win at Butler and move within Marquette’s Monday night visit to finishing the Big East with a perfect record in the regular season in their return to the conference after a seven-year absence.

No one else among the Top 25 in the Associated Press women’s poll who played Saturday suffered setbacks except in a head-to-head match where second-place and No. 11 Indiana in the Big Ten took a road win at No. 15 Ohio State, 87-75, in the Buckeyes’ Value City Arena in Columbus.

Delaware Earns CAA Regular Season Crown: The 2012-13 Blue Hens edition had scoring sensation and future WNBA/Olympic star Elena Delle Donne when they ran the table all the way through the regular season to the Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship title and ultimate appearance in the NCAA Sweet 16.

The current group has Jasmine Dickey, who have been dominant enough, if not perfect to date, as the Blue Hens romped over second-place Towson 80-54 paced by Dickey’s thunderous double double of 29 points and 18 rebounds to clinch the regular season title a game ahead of Sunday’s encore hosting of the Tigers at 1 p.m. on the Flohoops streaming network. The rebound total tied a career-high for the Delaware junior.

“Today was special for our players, coaches, support staff, families, fans, and university,” said Delaware coach Natasha Adair, who previously coached at Georgetown. “Our players have worked hard and today was a testament of it playing off.

“CAA Regular Season Champions isn’t a small feat. We’re glad to return that regular season trophy back to Newark, DE., We will enjoy this tonight and be back to work tomorrow. We’re not done yet. Go Hens!!”

The game featured the top two scorers in the conference, with tip-off time leader Kionna Jeter averaging 23.4 points with the Tigers (12-6, 7-4 CAA) but held to 17 points on 7-of-22 shooting from the field in this one. And just like a narrow election when Saturday’s returns were factored, Dickey moved in front 23.3 to 23.1 while being fifth in rebounding with an 8.7 average.

It was Dickey’s sixth double double and 15th 20-point game of the season for Delaware (18-3, 15-2), which has swept six of the eight special back-to-back weekend series to date with Sunday’s remaining set up by the CAA in the format of several other conferences to contend with combating the coronavirus and getting through the season.

Lizze Oleary tied a career-high with 14 points for the home team, while defensively grabbing six rebounds and rejecting three shots. Ty Battle, a redshirt junior, up her CAA-leading double double count to 15 with 10 points and 15 rebounds, along with three blocks. Ty Skinner had another productive day with 13 points, propelled by three-of-six from deep.

The board work on the part of the Blue Hens was massive, 63-38, including 28 on the offensive glass, the overall total second best in program history behind the 71 pulled in the season-opening triumph over Salem.

With all this, it was still a competitive game with a Delaware 42-35 lead midway into the third period when the Blue Hens then put distance on the visitors with a 9-0 run followed by a 13-0 dash at the outset of the fourth and final quarter.

Drexel Rally Dooms James Madison: A year ago in what became an ill-fated finish with the cancellation of the CAA tourney at the start of the quarterfinals at Elon, which will host the event again next week, the Dragons crushed the preseason-favorite Dukes in the first of two minutes, ending in a tie for the first but the No. 1 seed, which made them briefly the NCAA qualifier until the national tourney went down along with virtually everything else in sports across the globe.

On Saturday, Drexel caught JMU again, this time rallying from a 17-point deficit to slip past the Dukes at the end for a 51-48 victory to for the moment move past the visitors into third place with a chance to reach second, though being one or the other seed is academic, but Drexel (11-7,  8-5) could land in a less arduous bracket path to the championship game in the tournament.

The Dragons completed the rally when Keishana Washington scored on a driving layup on the Dukes (12-9, 8-6) for the lead with 1:11 left in regulation. They then got a stop in the other direction and increased the lead to three on a Washington score off a bounce pass from Hannah Nihill. JMU had two chances to tie with a three and force overtime but came up empty sending the thrilling weekend finish to Sunday’s 1 p.m. tip on the Flohoops streaming service.

“We had a rough start missing shots and not getting stops,” said first-year Drexel coach Amy Mallon, promoted in the offseason from her long stint as an associate under Denise Dillon, who returned to her alma mater at Villanova in the wake of longtimer Harry Perretta’s retirement after 42 seasons on the Main Line. “We proved we can make adjustments and continue to fight and play Drexel basketball, which is always finding a way to win.”

Washington and Nilhill were a 1-2 act in this one for a combined 38 of the 51 points collected by Drexel, with Nihill playing her final home games in the DAC scoring 20 points, helped by a personal-best five three-pointers while dishing five assists and grabbing five steals. Washington did heavyweight work in the comeback scoring 16 of her 18 points in the second half off 7-for-11 from the field.

Kayla Bacon, another senior, fried the opposition for eight points and five rebounds while grad student Mariah Leonard also grabbed five rebounds.

JMU’s Anne Diouf had nine points and a game-high 16 rebounds.

Early in the third Drexel seemed headed for defeat when the Dragons came to life with a 15-0 run sparked by a pair of three-balls from Nihill. Bacon’s shot with 21 seconds in the third tied it heading into the decisive fourth quarter.

Another traditional Dragons defensive stand at the close held the Dukes scoreless over the final 3:13, the visitors missing five shots in that stretch.

Seton Hall Too Much for Villanova: The Wildcats had the record-breaker in sophomore Maddy Siegrist but Seton Hall had the wreckers in a 67-55 victory that wrapped up the regular season for Villanova (14-5, 9-5 Big East) at home in Finneran Pavilion while the Pirates (13-6, 11-5) will play one more Monday night against St. John’s on the road in Queens.

But what the outcome did do after the outcome became a series split with Villanova having won their visit to Seton Hall back in December is flip both teams in the standings sending the Wildcats to fifth and Seton Hall up a notch to fourth.

Academically, it’s virtually moot in that it becomes the same game from either side this Saturday when the two face each other with a first-round bye into the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., near New London.

The virtually is that there is a long shot that a Butler upset of DePaul Monday coupled with a Pirates win over St. John’s zips Seton Hall to third and the Blue Demons to fourth.

That 4-5 Saturday quarterfinal winner gets the worst poison in Sunday’s semifinal in that teams is likely to face No. 1 UConn, who will be in familiar settings having been the perfect winner in seven straight seasons in the American Athletic Conference at the venue prior to the Huskies’ return to the Big East this season. 

With UConn gone, so is the American, which still has Temple, and will open play March 8 a week from Monday in Fort Worth, Texas.

On Saturday night, Siegrist, who finished with 27 points, had her big moment early, connecting on two foul shots to become the fastest in program history to reach 1,000 career-points in 50 games, edging the immortal Shelly Pennefather, who didn’t play three-pointers in the rules, by two followed by Laura Kurz, who is now an assistant at Drexel after having been on Perretta’s staff at her alma mater in recent season.

Siegrist had 10 rebounds for her 11th double-double of the season and now has scored 20 or more points in 13 games.

Even with the return of UConn, Siegrist is on track to be only the third person to lead the conference in scoring and rebounding, the other two being future WNBA stars Rebekkah Brunson at Georgetown and Angel McCoughtry, who did it three straight times when Louisville, now in the Atlantic Coast Conference, was a Big East member.

“Maddy accomplishes such a great milestone,” said first-year coach Denise Dillon, who inherited the star from the regime of her former coach Harry Perretta, who retired at the end of last season. “It’s so impressive and you saw why she accomplished it so early in her career.

“She’s relentless, she continues to work at every level to help her team succeed, and put her name in the history books.”

However, while there was a lot of the native of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who spurned nearby Marist for the Wildcats, there wasn’t much of anyone else in this one, with the normally reliable Wildcats hounded into a myriad of turnovers.

It was still close at the half, but a 9-0 run in the third by the visitors enabled Seton Hall off a balanced attack to break away.

“Give them credit for knocking us off our mark,” Dillon said. “They pressured the basketball a great bit, and not only were they pressuring the basketball, they were playing the passing lanes. They dared us to put the ball on the floor, and that’s not something we want to do. It fueled the fire.

“I didn’t feel that offensively we got into any rhythm,” she continued. “It went back to us just looking for Maddy to bail us out every possession. We did hold them below their average, which was great. But it was tough for us to play both ends of the floor for 40 minutes.”

Dillon noted the improvement of the Pirates, having seen them when they weren’t as good in the win back in December, and now when they are playing at their best. Along the way with a bunch of Big East teams, the two have gone through extended shutdowns with Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella himself catching the coronavirus and missing games.

The Pirates’ Desire Elmore had 21 points and 16 rebounds, while Lauren Park-Lane had 20, and Andra Espinoza-Hunter, who played previously at UConn, scored 16.

Behind Siegrist, Villanova’s Sarah Mortensen scored 11.

Off Saturday’s outcome, at least the Wildcats will know what’s ahead if the two meet at Mohegan.

“A little reminder is a good thing, and there won’t be any letup,” Dillon said.

UConn and DePaul Both Win: At the high end of the Big East Conference, both No. 1 Connecticut and No. 24 DePaul turned in victories, though the Blue Demons off their previous upset loss at home to Marquette, the second of a two-game losing streak, snapped Saturday with the 75-49 win at Providence in Alumni Hall in Rhode Island, could be in great jeopardy, depending on what happened elsewhere, when the next AP Poll is released Monday afternoon.

UConn finished its five-game road trip with a 97-68 win at Butler in the Bulldogs’ Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis none-the-worse for wear considering the first stop at Georgetown came at the end of as compacted series of games. But then the Huskies (20-1, 17-0 Big East) got some rest and decent practice time in and continued their merry way, having clinched the regular season outright at Creighton Thursday and remaining unbeaten in league play with just the Marquette visit remaining Monday night at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs on campus.

Paige Bueckers, the freshman disc jockey who keeps spinning program records, flipped two more in this one, setting an overall assist game record with 14 and a freshman season assist mark with 130.

She had already set a do-it-yourself overall program mark with three-straight 30-plus scoring games, though another freshman sensation, Caitlin Clark at Iowa has already done better with nine on the season and a string slightly more.

The native of suburban Minneapolis did get her share of points, also, with 20, shooting 8-for-21 from the field.

“Paige is a past-first-guard,” said Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma, whose overall career mark in second among Division I women’s coaches reached 1,111 behind Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer, who is the record leader at 1,115 going into Sunday’s PAC-12 regular-season final against Bay Area rival California. The late Tennessee legend Pat Sumitt, is third at 1,098, which was the record at the time of her retirement battling Alzheimer’s Disease when she retired at the end of the 2012 season.

VanDerveer took the record in early December and Auriemma moved into second in the middle of last month.

Continuing on Bueckers, the team scoring leader whose exploits are making it harder for him to make negative quips as he so easily did at times in Diana Taura’s collegiate career, Auriemma said, “If you can’t score, you can’t pass.

“I love when these people say, that kid’s a great passer. Well, can they shoot? No.

“Well, how many passes do you think she’s going to be able to complete if nobody’s guarding her? If you can score and people have to guard you, now all of the sudden you have the opportunity to find people,” Auriemma said.

Of the 20 points in the same outing, he noted, “That’s a lot for her, a lot for anybody on our team, really. But they were shots you’re supposed to take. I guarantee you, those 14 assists, I bet you 10 of them she was more open than the person she passed to and just decided not to shoot.

“The biggest part is the mindset. The next biggest is, I can score. And then, I have the ability to make the play I want to make. It’s rare. Very rare. Rare when you’re a senior or a freshman, high school, college pros. Doesn’t matter. It’s just a rare quality to have.”

Said Bueckers, “I couldn’t make a shot (at the outset). I had no choice but to get everybody involved and get other people open shots because I wasn’t making any. That was my mindset.”

Auriemma noting some of the greats of the past who are among the program leaders such as Renee Montgomery, who last week in the wake of her WNBA retirement became a co-owner of the Atlanta Dream, said of Bueckers, “If somebody told you she’s a senior, you wouldn’t be surprised. She plays like one. She handles the ball like one. She sees the floor like one.”

Of course, Bueckers is not the only newcomer in a bounty of freshman on the squad.

Aaliyah Edwards, the recipient of the pass she scored that gave Bueckers the game record, had a personal-best 24 points and 14 rebounds as a substitute.

“She just plays the game the way big guys are supposed to play,” said Auriemma. “She plays big. Paige and Nika (Muhl) have done a great job with the ball. Obviously, we got a great game out of Paige.

“If you’re saying every night, ‘We’re going to get a game like this from Aaliyah, then I would say we’re going to be really, really hard to beat.”

Additionally, Tennessee transfer Evina Westbrook had 16 points, while Christyn Williams scored 15 with six rebounds, and Olivia Nelson-Ododa had 11 and nine rebounds.

Butler (2-16, 2-15), which only had 35 points in the first meeting last month, had the most points on the Huskies by a Big East foe in this one, courtesy of some nifty long-range 10-for-21 shooting in the first half.

“Monday night, our defense against Marquette is going to have to be a lot better than it was today,” Auriemma said.  

UConn has now gone 28 seasons, consecutively, with 20 wins, which this time is remarkable, considering the COVID-19 protocol disruptions to erveryone’s schedules, nationwide, had Auriemma in early January just wanting to get to the 13-game played minimal requirement to formally qualify for NCAA tournament eligibility.

“That used to be the standard,” Auriemma said of the 20-win mark. “You were a hell of a team if you won 20 games. And if you could win 20 games consistently, you were a great program. So the consistency over the 30-something years is what’s most remarkable to me, especially in a pandemic year like this year when so much was upside down.”

DePaul (14-6, 11-4 Big East), meanwhile, got 21 points, five assists and three steals from Lexi Held, who was 5-for-7 from deep to match a career high. Deja Church set a career mark with four treys on the way to 16 points, while Darrione Rogers scored 13, and Sonya Morris had 10 points and 11 rebounds against the Friars (6-13, 4-10).

Coach Doug Bruno, as mentioned earlier, needs a win or a Seton Hall loss Monday to finish third off the visit from Butler to Wintrust Arena in Chicago at 5 p.m. on the Big East Digital Network.

The win over Providence was the 18th straight in the series.

Temple Loss Factors American Showdown: The Owls unwittingly have set up an even tighter finish at the top of the American Athletic Conference that as of Saturday with UConn having left for the Big East will not have an unbeaten team in conference play as the No. 1 seed when tournament opens a week from Monday at the Dickey Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Temple got rocked at UCF, 61-37, at Addition Financial Arena in Orlando, that with the stunning Houston 67-49 upset of No. 13 South Florida has the losing Bulls and winning Knights virtually tied for first in the standings ahead of a home-and-home finish in Tampa at USF on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN+ and then back in Orlando on Thursday at 5 p.m. on ESPNU.

Technically, within the AAC, USF is 12-2, having been awarded a forfeit win on Memphis for standings purposes, but not affecting the overall record, while UCF is 11-1.

The Owls (9-10, 9-7 AAC), who will finish with two home games Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. and a makeup on Thursday at noon both with Memphis, both on ESPN+, are locked into the fifth seed no matter how the week plays out. 

They could catch Tulane, which has two games left, but the Green Wave would get the fourth seed off a sweep at the end of last month in New Orleans. However, like Villanova-Seton Hall in the Big East, the 4-5 pairing either side is the same game in the quarterfinals.

Temple had edged UCF 61-58 in early January in Philadelphia.

In this one against the Knights (13-2, 11-1), the Owls did have a piece of the record book rewritten as Mia Davis, with 2:38 left in regulation, connected on two attempts from the charity stripe to become the all-time career leader in made foul shots with 404, eclipsing the mark set by Feyonda Fitzgerald at 402.

Other than that, it was not a great day across the board, particularly the boards for Temple, which got out-rebounded 47-34, including 15 on the offensive glass leading to 20 second-chance points.

It was worse on the offensive end in Temple’s lowest scoring output since an 80-36 loss to then-No. 1 Connecticut seven seasons ago on Jan. 11, 2014.

Furthermore, if they fed the Owls’ shooting percentage into the local crime statistics, there would be a major decline off Temple’s 22.2 percentage from the field, the lowest of the season.

Rookie Jasha Clinton had 10 points, while Davis scored eight and Alexa Williamson had seven.

Emani Mayo had seven rebounds, while Williamson grabbed six.

On the UCF side, Courtajia Sanders had 22 points and eight boards, while Destiny Thomas had 11 points and also eight boards, and Alisha Lewis dealt eight assists.

Considering that Temple was in the game through three quarters with South Florida on Wednesday and that the Owls played better against UCF in their first meeting, should the squad get to the semifinals a potential upset if they meet is not out of the question, though one doesn’t know if the Saturday disaster was an anomaly.

Meanwhile, as UCF took the step up, South Florida (14-2, 12-1) took a step down to set up the two-game showdown, though they could meet once more after this week for the conference championship, with the loser hoping to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tourney, though they likely at worst could also land in the WNIT.

Jose Fernandez’s squad had been on a program-record 13-game win streak until the Cougars (15-5, 12-4) struck in its Fertitta Center.

Elaine Tsineke had a game-high 24 points for the visitors.

The Bulls’ state seemed ok with a 14-10 lead in the second quarter off a 9-0 run at the outset of the period until the offense died in a limited four-point scoring drought that put the home team ahead 29-18 at the break and worse at 53-33 with the fourth quarter remaining.

USF also committed 24 turnovers.

“I thought Houston played with a great deal of emotion, energy, and enthusiasm,” said USF coach Jose Fernandez. “We have to give them a great deal of credit on this win.”

Freshman guard Laila Blair had 15 points and three steals in Houston’s first win over a ranked team since downing then-No. 21 Nebraska on on Dec. 18, 2010, ten seasons ago, and win over the highest ranked opponent since a 76-71 win over No. 13 TCU on Feb. 27, 2004, 17 seasons ago.

Houston, in getting its seventh straight win, got 26 points off the 24 miscues by the Bulls.

Dymon Gladney added 11 points for the Cougars, while Britney Onyeje had eight points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

Houston finishes Tuesday at 7 p.m. hosting Cincinnati (6-15, 5-12), which won 71-58 at Tulsa, Saturday, to drop the home team to 5-12 overall and 4-12 in the conference.

This gets a mention because the winning Bearcats’ Llmar’l Thomas scored 28 one game after her 51-points in the previous 76-61 win at ECU in Greenville, N.C. 

That was the first 50-point game in the eight-year history of the AAC and also set Cincy records for points and the 20-made field goals, besides being an individual season high across the NCAA in Division I.

The only Cincy player male or female to have a 50-point game was the Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson, who the 50-mark six times, the last against North Texas on Feb. 22, 1960.

No. 11 Indiana Stays in Big Ten Title Hunt With Win at No. 15 Ohio State: The Hoosiers kept the pressure on first-place Maryland in the Big Ten by ruining No. 15 Ohio State’s perfect home record with an 87-75 win over the Buckeyes inside the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Indiana (16-4, 14-2 Big Ten), a game behind the explosive No. eight Terrapins, got their first win at Ohio State (13-6, 9-6) since 2002, which is 19 seasons ago, and first win overall in the series since 2010.

The triumph eclipses the coach Teri Moren era record set last season by one, reaching 14 wins in Big Ten competition.

Grace Berger scored 20 points for the visitors, while Ali Patberg scored 19 with seven rebounds, and Mackenzie Holmes had 17 points, eight rebounds, and four blocked shots.

Shooting a season-high 41 foul shots, Indiana connected with 31.

Nicole Cardano-Hillary, a former George Mason player, had a career-high 11 rebounds to go with 16 points, while also scoring in double figures was Aleksa Gulbe with 10 points.

Braxtin Miller had 23 for the home team, while Kateri Poole had 17 points, and Jay Sheldon and Dorka Juhasz with 11 each and Juhasz produced a double double adding 12 rebounds.

“Terrific win for our program and obviously one we had to fight hard for,” Moren said afterwards. “We’re smart enough as players and coaches to know they were not going to go away. They made a run at us. Give our kids credit for grinding it out on a day which we didn’t have any offensive flow, but I did think we did down the stretch, we showed great composure. I don’t think we panicked. We obviously got the line, we hit free throws and we guarded like we needed to down the stretch.

“To have our five starters in double digits, really happy for those guys. We’ve ever not had that kind of quit in our program. We didn’t blink. We kept telling our kids, let’s just keep doing what we’re doing.

“Winning on the road in the Big Ten is hard. You have to have a different mindset and different toughness, which we have done. We want to end our season playing our best basketball.”

Indiana, which lost narrowly to Maryland 84-80 early in the season, finishes up hosting Iowa Wednesday in a rescheduled game from Feb. 21 on the Big Ten network and then Saturday hosting Purdue at at a time to be announced for telecast on the Big Ten plus network.

Meanwhile, Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff, whose team has opted out of postseason play, said of the Indiana finishing run, “We had a great third quarter. We had a great defense. Rebounded the ball. Took care of the ball. At the end, we didn’t make a stop. Too many turnovers. They’re defense is very good. We didn’t make a lot of good decisions.”

Baylor Takes 12th Big 12 Regular Season Crown: The No. 7 Lady Bears downed Kansas State 85-49 at home in the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, to win their 12th Big 12 crown and 11th consecutive one as Queen Ebo scored 19 points for Baylor (19-2, 14-1 Big 12), NaLyssa Smith scored 16, and Moon Ursin scored 15.

Kansas State (7-15, 2-13) did not have anyone score in double figures, Rachel Ranke led the team with nine points and Ayoka Lee was held to eight.

In terms of consecutive regular season titles active and all-time Green Bay won 20 from 1999 through last season, Louisiana Tech won 15 as member of both the Sun Belt and WAC across a stretch from 2003 until 2014, Old Dominion won 12 from 1993 when it joined the CAA in. 1993 through 2004, though the Lady Monarchs kept win conference tourney titles until Drexel ended the run, and then Baylor is active at 11 and joins previous other runs of 11 at the Big East by Connecticut (1994-2004), UCSB in the Big West (1996-2006), Chattanooga in the Southern Conference (2000-2010), Marist in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (2004-2014), and Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference (2005-2015).

“It just hits you in the moment,” said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey if the title being won on Senior Day. “It’s just a simplistic statement, Dolly Parton said, `If you’re going to have to enjoy the rainbow, you’re going to have to go through the rain.’ In 35 years, I’ve never coached under these circumstances, it’s scary, it’s frustrating, yet I think of those kids that were in that corner over there with their championship hats on.

“They just kept playing. Whatever was asked of them, they just kept playing, COVID-19 quarantining. Imagine telling, 18, 19, 20-year-old college students, `You can’t socialize anymore.’ Think about that. You go to bars to hang out. You go to clubs to dance, you go to friends’ homes to celebrate. They can’t do that. So we forget out all those rules. They have no life once they leave the gym. And they continue to focus on basketball and win another championship. Very, very special.”

In another Big 12 game involving a ranked team, No. 18 West Virginia topped host Kansas 72-68 in Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence in s game that got close at the finish after the Mountaineers (18-4, 12-4 Big 12) had led the Jayhawks (7-15, 3-13) by double digits most of the afternoon.

Kysre Gondrezick had 25 points for the visitors, while Esmery Martinez had 14 points and 24 rebounds, and Kirsten Dean scored 12. The 24 rebounds were the most in a game for West Virginia since Lanay Montgomery grabbed 24 against Temple in 2015.

Kansas got 19 points from Anjya Thomas, while Holly Kersgieter scored 12,

“Once again the team showed a lot of heart,” said Mountaineers coach Mike Carey. “Still didn’t shoot the ball well, we let them dribble drive us all night, but we found a way to win. Needless to say Emery, 24 rebounds, was big for us. We just got to get a little more balance.”

West Virginia next is at Kansas State at Bramlage Coliseum on Wednesday in Manhattan at 7:30 p.m. on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

In an upset of sorts in the conference, Oklahoma, which recently downed the Mountaineers, topped Texas 68-63 in overtime, in a Big 12 clash in the Longhorns’ Frank Erwin Center in Austin.

Carli Collier had 23 points and seven rebounds for Texas (16-7, 10-6 Big 12), while getting a career-high four steals. Audrey Warren added 13 points off 5-for-10 from the field, and Celeste Taylor and Joanne Allen-Taylor each scored 10 points, with Taylor getting a double double off a career-high 12 rebounds as well as a personal best six assists to go with four steals.

Gabby Gregory had 19 points for the visiting Sooners (10-10, 7-8), while Taylor Robertson scored 14, Skylar Vann scored 13, and Tot Nevaeh scored 10.

Oklahoma had trailed by 12 in the fourth quarter when the Sooners, than in foul trouble, rallied to force overtime and kept the momentum going on a game-ending 8-0 run for the visitors’ first win at Texas in eight seasons since 2013.

“What a privilege it is to coach this basketball team,” said Hall of Fame Sooners coach Sherri Coale. “These seven players just play their tails off, and they play for each other, they believe and they’re connected - they’re just extraordinary. It’s just a fun journey to be part of right now.”

Texas will try to avoid a season sweep when Baylor visits at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

No. 21 Gonzaga and No. 22 South Dakota State Claim Conference Regular Season Titles: The Zags celebrated Senior Day clinching the West Coast Conference with a 77-39 win over Loyola Marymount in the McCarthey Athletic Center at home in Spokane, Wash. while also paying tribute to seniors Gillian Barfield, Louise Forsyth, LeAnne and Jenn Wirth, and Jill Townsend.

“I’m just really happy for our team and our seniors to be able to celebrate like this,” said coach Lisa Fortier. “I thought we put together another great game against a very physical team. It’s a fun way; that’s how you want Senior Night to go.”

Jenn Wirth had 19 points, shooting 9-for-12 from the field for the Zags (21-3, 16-1 WCC) while Townsend scored 18, and Kayleigh Truong had five assists against LMU (5-18, 4-14). 

The Bulldogs hounded the opposition into 22 turnovers. 

“I thought we did a really nice job with our presses; we were getting trapsin the right spot,” Fortier said.

In another WCC game, San Francisco, which has been beating teams on the back end of the season that had gotten the Dons first time around, topped BYU 86-72 at home against a squad that had dealt Gonzaga its only setback in conference competition.

San Francisco (14-9, 10-7), which has won nine of its last 10, is now 4-1 against teams it lost to in the front end of the conference season.

Joanna Krimili, a redshirt freshman standout from Greece, continued her scoring spree, collecting 27 points for the Dons.

“I thought it was a great win for USF,” said coach Molly Goodenbour, a former member of Stanford’s NCAA championship teams in the early 1990s.

“I think the girls were obviously really excited to play because we are a different team than the last time we played them in December. We were really looking forward to the challenge of playing league teams that were ranked higher than us and testing ourselves against the best teams in the league. To come out and get a good win on our home court against these guys makes me really happy for our team,” she continued.

“They’ve truly taken ownership of their team. Now we are looking forward to playing in the WCC tournament.”

The league will announce its bracket Sunday at midnight in the East.

No. 22 South Dakota State also claimed a crown, going unbeaten at home and in the Summitt League after completing a weekend sweep of UMKC, 72-66, Saturday in the second of the two games.

“What a way to finish off a long grind of a conference season,” said Jackrabbits coach Aaron Johnston. “It kind of felt like that was kind of like how our season has gone.

“We’ve had to fight pretty hard to be in this position and to go undefeated through the Summit League regular season is a accomplishment for the team. This is probably the first time I’ve talked about it,” he continued. “We’re certainly a different team today than we were two weeks ago, four weeks ago. There’s been a lot of changes we’ve had to overcome and then some people have played to a really high level.”

Paiton Burckhard had 24 points for South Dakota State (21-2, 14-0 Summit League), while Tylee Irwin collected 17 points, and Madysen Vlastuin had a personal high 11 points.

After increasing the series domination to 15-1 on UMKC, the unbeaten run through the conference is a first for the Jackrabbits, whose current 18-game win streak is fourth in Division I.

The Summit tourney runs Saturday through the following Tuesday at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D. Times and seeding will be announced after all the league games are completed by Sunday.

In the other ranked team that played, No. 23 Missouri State, which clinched the Missouri Valley Conference regular season crown on Wednesday, beat Loyola Chicago 64-50 at home in JQH Arena in Springfield to reach 17-2 overall and a first-ever 13-0 in the league.

Jasmine Franklin scored a career-high 25 points for the Lady. Bears, who have won 16 straight MVC games across two seasons with the 13-game overall total the longest in two seasons, when the program also was 13-0.

Franklin teamed with Abby Hipp to score 18 straight for Missouri State from the second quarter across the break to the third.

The two teams meet again Sunday for Senior Day at 6 p.m.

Looking Ahead: Next NCAA Tournament Committee Reveal Moved Up To 5 p.m. Sunday: Originally set to be trotted out quickly Monday night at halftime of a collegiate basketball game, the second and final of the two Reveals of the NCAA tournament committee with its current assessment of the top 16 seeds will air on ESPN at 5 p.m. Sunday following several key games whose outcomes will impact.

There’s been upsets since the last one two weeks ago and the presentation will now be a half-hour show. The real overall draw of the 64-team field with seedings will be Selection Monday, March 15, at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

Looking Local: No. 25 Rutgers will try to solidify a double bye in the Big Ten Tourney Sunday when the Scarlet Knights visit longtime geographical rival Penn State at 12:30 p.m. in the Bryce Jordan Center in State College on the Big Ten Network. The Scarlet Knights have won six straight since emerging from a six-week pause. A recent make-up from games lost during the shutdown will have the two teams then head East to the Rutgers Athletic Center on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

Saint Joseph’s and La Salle complete their regular seasons in the Atlantic 10 with senior days and looking to finish with a winning note ahead of next week’s tourney in Richmond, Va., at host VCU’s Siegel Center. The Hawks will host Duquesne at 2 p.m. seeking to complete a weekend sweep while the Explorers will try to gain a split hosting St. Bonaventure at the same time. Both games will air on ESPN+.

As mentioned, way back at the top, Delaware, which clinched the regular season CAA crown, will be seeking another weekend sweep, hosting Towson at 1 p.m. in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, while at the same time Drexel at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center will look for a sweep of James Madison, which had been the preseason favorite, and that would clinch at least third seed in next week’s tournament at Elon. Both games will air on the Floophoops streaming network.

Rider finished its Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference slate earlier and remains idle ahead of the conference tourney next week returning to Atlantic City following the cancellation last year that occurred after the first quarterfinal of the day was completed.

Looking National: Besides Rutgers, which is both, the featured attraction in a conference full of ranked teams can be found in the Southeastern where No. 5 South Carolina visits No. 3 Texas A&M for the regular season crown at 2 p.m. in the Aggies’ Reed Arena in College Station on ESPN2. As teams line up for the start of the SEC tourney later this week, No. 17 Georgia is hosting Florida at noon on ESPN2, while at the same time No. 19 Kentucky is hosting Ole Miss. No. 20 Tennessee is hosting Auburn at 2 p.m. in Knoxville’s Thompson-Bolling Arena. 

Mississippi State will be looking for its third straight win, hosting Missouri at 4 p.m. on the SEC Network, while No. 16 Arkansas will be hosting Alabama at 6 p.m. on the SEC Network.

In the Big Ten, No. 8 Maryland seeking to close in on another regular season grown visits Northwestern, which got bumped out of the poll last week, at 4 p.m. on ESPN2. 

The  PAC-12, which saw No. 4 Stanford clinch the regular season crown last Monday, finishes up ahead of its tourney in Las Vegas with a series of rivalry games, excluding No. 10 UCLA, which played its Southern Cal matchup on Friday night. On Sunday, No. 4 Stanford hosts California at 4 p.m., Arizona State hosts No. 9 Arizona at 2 p.m., the same time Utah hosts Colorado, while Washington State hosts Washington at 4 p.m., and No. 14 Oregon hosting Oregon State at 6 p.m., all on the PAC-12 network.

In the Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 2 North Carolina State visits Syracuse at noon, while No. 6 Louisville visits Notre Dame at 3 p.m. on ESPN. Everything else is on the ACC network. Teams jockeying for conference tourney seeding ahead of next weekend’s event in Greensboro, N.C., have Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech at 2 p.m., Wake Forest at Florida State at noon, North Carolina at Virginia Tech at 2 p.m., and Miami at Clemson at 2 p.m.

Previously mentioned, the only other ranked team playing Sunday is No. 23 Missouri State finishing out at 6 p.m. on ESPN+ hosting Loyola Chicago.

And that is the report.  









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