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.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Guru’s WBB Report: Rutgers Takes Seventh Straight; La Salle and Saint Joseph’s Get Senior Day Wins; No. 3 Texas A&M Wins SEC Over No. 5 South Carolina

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru
On a Sunday that the NCAA tournament committee took its final dress rehearsal with a second set of top 16 seeds Reveal ahead of Selection Monday on March 15 (ESPN, 7 p.m.),, conference tournament brackets began taking shape and there were upsets in what was for many the final day of the regular season.

The latest Number One Seeds in terms of overall placement has top ranked Connecticut leading the pack, followed by Stanford, Texas A&M and South Carolina, despite the loss to A&M that gave the Aggies their first regular season Southeastern Conference title.

The second seeds are (5) North Carolina State, (6) Maryland, (7) Arizona, and (8) Baylor while the third seeds are (9) Louisville, which was a No. 1 seed in the first reveal, (10) UCLA, (11) Georgia, and (12) Indiana, followed on the fourth line by (13) Tennessee, (14) Kentucky, (15) Oregon, and (16) Arkansas.

In that group, the SEC has six teams, the PAC-12 has four, the Big Ten has two, as does the Atlantic Coast, with 1 for the Big East in UConn, and 1 for the Big 12 in defending champion Baylor.

Furthermore, with the entire tournament be played in the San Antonio area of Texas, the normal geographic placement of regionals has ceded to names honoring the local area — Alamo, Hemisfair, Mercado, and River Walk.

The alignment top to bottom and one to four with the true S curve being used for the first time except when mutual conference teams had to be shuffled to avoid not meeting until the Elite Eight if they advance shakes out this way:

Alamo: 1. Connecticut, 2. Arizona, 3. Georgia, 4. Arkansas
River Walk: 1. Stanford, 2. Baylor, 3. Louisville, 4. Tennessee
Mercado: 1. Texas A&M, 2. Maryland, 3. UCLA, 4. Kentucky
Hemisfair: 1. South Carolina, 2. N.C. State, 3. Indiana, 4. Oregon

You should know, before raising questions, this latest exercise was completed before Sunday’s losses by South Carolina, Arizona, Kentucky, and Oregon.

Rutgers Takes Seventh Straight: Though the way the Big Ten outcome was achieved was not as pleasing as the previous six to Hall of Fame Scarlet Knights coach C. Vivian Stringer, she was happy enough to get the first of what will be two back-to-back contests with longtime regional rival Penn State, this one 60-55 at the Lady Lions’ Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pa.

On Tuesday, getting a makeup from the string of postponed games during the six-week pause under COVID-19 protocols before returning with the current streak, the two teams will be back at No. 25 Rutgers’ arena in Piscataway, N.J., at 5:3 p.m. on the Big Ten network with the chance that a win will result in a fourth or third seed for the upcoming Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis, which carry double byes for the holder.

The finish Friday hosting No. 16 Ohio State at the Rutgers Athletic Center at 8 p.m. on the network.

In Sunday’s game, the Scarlet Knights (12-3, 8-3 Big Ten) were facing a Penn State squad riding some momentum from its upset of Ohio State at home last week.

“It was another gutsy win because we weren’t playing our best,” Stringer said;. “Credit to Penn State, who was prepared and ran it down our throats. We had to stave them off.

“We didn’t have the performances that we would like on a consistent basis. We appreciate the composure we had to pull this one off.”

Mael Gilles had 16 points for the visitors, while Arella Guirantes scored 14 and dealt five assists, Tekia Mack had 12 points and six assists, Tyia Singleton had 10 rebounds, and Sakima Walker had seven rebounds in her ten minutes of action.

A key to the win was a 10-0 run in the final period after a 10-point halftime lead was erased and it became a one-possession game in the final minute before Rutgers emerged.

Shay Hagans had 15 points for the Lady Lions (9-12, 6-11), while Makenna Marisa scored 12, and Johnasia Cash had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

With Rutgers being explosive on offense this season, Penn State had the satisfaction of holding the opposition to its second lowest total besides 10 percent off of its 48.1 shooting. Percentage from the field.

“Very pleased with our third quarter and thought we showed a lot of fight and a lot of character there,” said Penn State second-year coach Carolyn Kieger, who previously coached at Marquette. 

“When we play with pace and share the basketball, we’re as very good offensive team, and when we don’t, we struggle.  Seeing some fight and I’m excited to make some adjustments and come back and see what we can do on Tuesday.

After Penn State visits the Scarlet Knights, the Lady Lions will finish traveling to conference frontrunner No. 8 Maryland on Saturday at the XFINITY Center in College Park.

The Big Ten tourney opens next Tuesday, March 9.

Saint Joseph’s and La Salle Take Senior Day Wins: For all the struggles along the way in the Atlantic 10, Saint Joseph’s finished with a home-weekend sweep beating Duquesne 60-52 in Hagan Arena after ending an eight-game slide Friday with the win over the Saint Bonaventure. Meanwhile the Explorers pulled out of their slide, beating the Bonnies 77-51, in the Tom Gola Arena.

The entire A-10 women’s tournament, moved out of its original first-round home sites format this week, will begin next Wednesday at VCU’s Siegel Center in Richmond, Va. 

In the Saint Joseph’s game, which was tied 32-32 at the half, the Hawks (7-9, 5-9 A-10) tossed a 9-0 shutout in the third quarter at the Dukes (5-10, 4-7), who made just one point back in the final period.

Coach Cindy Griffin’s squad got the 10th seed and will open  the second round of the A-10 Thursday next week at 5 p.m. on ESPN+ against seventh-seeded Massachusetts, whom the Hawks beat 76-69 in Amherst during the season.

“I thought the second half really set the tone,” she said. “We were obviously going back and forth in the first two quarters, tied at the half, Holding them to zero points in the third quarter was pretty impressive.

“Our defense stepped up. We executed when we needed to and got stops when we needed to.”

Pre-game ceremonies paid tribute to seniors Lula Roig from Spain, Mary Sheehan, and transfer graduate students Olivia Ramil and Alexis Santarelli.

Kaliah Henderson had a game-high 16 points for the Hawks, while Katie Jekot scored 13. Per tradition, the starting lineup contained all four seniors.

La Salle, meanwhile, who will be the eighth seed against 9th-seeded Duquesne, saluted seniors Kate Hill, Deja King, and Haleigh Hill in the pre-game and then went out and dealt the Bonnies (6-14, 5-12 A-10) the Explorers’ large opponent setback since beating UMass 78-41 seven seasons ago on Jan. 11, 2014.

Claire Jacobs had a game-high 20 points, shooting 6-for-8 from the field for the host Explorers (11-13, 7-10),  including making all four attempted from deep, while Kayla Spruill had 17 points, and Haleigh Hill had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Deja King and Molly Mosciantonio each scored eight points while King had four steals and four assists.

La Salle will play Duquesne in the second round at 11 a.m.

A-10 Pairs: The A-10 tourney bracket will exist as follows:

First Round (Wed., March 10): No. 12 Davidson vs. No. 13 St. Bonaventure, 1 p.m.; No. 11 George Washington vs. No. 14 George Mason, 4 p.m ., both games on ESPN.

Second Round (Thurs., March 11): No. 8 La Salle vs. No. 9 Duquesne, 11 a.m. No. 5 VCU vs. Davidson-St. Bonaventure winner, 2 p.m.; No. 7 UMass vs. No. 10 Saint Joseph’s, 5 p.m.; No. 6 Richmond vs. George Washington-George Mason winner, 8 p.m. All games on ESPN+

Quarterfinals (Fri., March 12): No. 1 Dayton vs. La Salle-Duquesne winner, 11 a.m.; No. 4 Rhode Island vs. VCU-Davidson-St. Bonaventure winner, 2 p.m.; No. 2 Fordham vs. UMass Saint Joseph’s winner, 5 p.m. No. 3 Saint Louis vs. Richmond-George Washington-George Mason winner, 8 p.m. All games on ESPN+

Semifinals (Sat., March 13): 1. Dayton side winner vs. No. 4 Rhode Island side winner, 1 p.m.; No. 2 Fordham side winner vs. No. 3 Saint Louis side winner, 4 p.m.. Both games on CBSSN.

Championship (Sunday,March 14): Semifinal winners, 12 p.m., ESPNU.

Delaware Perfect Home Finish While JMU Splits Drexel: In the Colonial Athletic Association, Delaware, which claimed No. 1 on Saturday, made it the seventh weekend sweep out of 10 and a perfect season at home in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, beating second-place Towson for the second day, 86-55. The Blue Hens had a bonus sweep on Northeastern, the two paired up in early January in Boston to replace previous opponents knocked from the schedule due to COVID-19 protocols.

Drexel, meanwhile, fell at home in the Daskalakis Athletic Center to preseason favorite James Madison, slipping back behind the Dukes to fourth place.

The Delaware game featured the top two scoring stars in the conference and the new order in the CAA, which flipped on Saturday, saw Jasmine Dickey of the Blue Hens (19-3, 16-2 CAA, 11-0 Home) get another double double with 30 points and 11 rebounds with four steals, while Kionna Jeter on Towson (11-7, 6-5) scored 24 points.

During the game out of an abundance of caution, head coach Diane Richardson was taken to a nearby hospital for observation and Tigers associate head coach Zach Kancher guided the team in the second half.

Delaware was the only team in the league to play a full schedule and Towson is getting to make up two games with UNCW on Thursday and Friday ahead of next week’s tournament.

Ty Battle added one more to her conference-leading double double collection, this one with 15 points and 10 rebounds, which also has gotten her to a second-place tie in the nation in NCAA Division I.

Texas’ Charli Collier, who plays Monday night when No. 6 Baylor visits, and Oklahoma State’s Natasha Mack also match Battle’s performances.

Chyna Latimer and Ty Skinner each scored nine for Delaware.

“What a statement to close out regular season against the No. 2 team in our conference,” said coach Natasha Adair, who previously had coached Georgetown in the Big East. “Un defeated at home! 

“We talked about putting together two back to back games and we did,” Adair said. “I’m proud of our growth and consistency. We have to feed off this momentum going into the CAA tournament. 

“Eyes forward because we’re not done yet!”

Drexel, meanwhile, was unable to follow Saturday’s big comeback on James Madison, in losing 61-51 to the Dukes in the regular season final.

Keishana Washington had 16 points for the host Dragons (11-8, 8-6 CAA), who now trail JMU (13-9, 9-6) by a half-game. However, Towson, which is tied with Drexel in the loss column, is now in third.

Mariah Leonard had 15 points for Drexel, while Kayla Bacon and Leonard each grabbed seven rebounds.

Claire Neff had 17 points for James Madison, while Peyton McDaniel scored 11.

Both teams are now off until the quarterfinals next week on Thursday at Elon in North Carolina, where it was set to continue a year ago with quarterfinals but called as the rest of the sports world began shutting down with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

With Towson having to play those two games, the exact placement pairings for the CAA tourney are undetermined but the event begins in the first round Wednesday and concludes Saturday.

Texas A&M Claims First SEC Crown: With Mike Siroky coming along with his in-depth Southeastern Conference weekly report we’ll avoid the reverse duplication and just give you the important stuff off the final day of the regular season heading to this week’s conference tournament in Greenville, S.C. At the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

In what became the penultimate showdown with No. 5 South Carolina holding one league loss in the upset to No. 20 Tennessee while No. 3 Texas A&M’s one setback was an upset at LSU, which was later atoned for, the fate of the schedule made the Sunday closeout at Reed Arena in College Station the winner-take-No. 1 seed but not yet all till next weekend.

Two other upsets within the league saw Ole Miss beat No. 19 Kentucky fall at home to Ole Miss, while Mississippi State’s brief two-game win streak got short-circuited by visiting Missouri 77-57.

The other ranked teams survived, easily, with No. 17 Georgia winning at Florida, 95-80, No. 10 Tennessee at home beating Auburn, 88-54, and No. 16 Arkansas beating Alabama, 94-76.

As mentioned high above, six SEC teams were in Sunday’s NCAA Reveal for Top 16 seeds but it was all moot since results came in after the pseudo mock bracket was set.

But here’s your set up with numerical references mentioned for seed, not ranking unless otherwise stated, considering a new poll comes out early Monday afternoon.

Opening Wednesday, No. 13 Auburn, which went winless in league play, meets No. 12 Florida at 4 p.m. on the SEC network.

On Thursday, with all games on the SEC channel, No. 8 LSU meets No. 9 Mississippi State at 11 a.m., while No. 5 Kentucky next plays Wednesday’s winner 25 minutes after the previous game ends, No. 7 Alabama meets No. 10 Missouri at 6 p.m., and No. 6 Arkansas meets No. 11 Ole Miss 25 minutes after the prior game ends.

In Friday’s quarterfinals, No. 1 Texas A&M meets the Mississippi State-LSU winner at 11; No. 4 Georgia meets the Kentucky winner 25 minutes after the previous game; No. 2 South Carolina meets the Missouri-Alabama winner at 6 p.m., and No. 3 Tennessee meets Arkansas-Ole Miss winner 25 minutes after the prior game ends and all four still televised on the SEC network.

Saturday’s semifinals, both televised on ESPN, has the Texas A&M-Georgia side of the bracket meeting at 4 p.m. and 25 minutes after that concludes the Tennessee-South Carolina side meets.

Sunday’s championship will be at 2 p.m. on ESPN2.

ACC Tourney Set:  The Atlantic Coast Conference Tourney is also this week and again with seed, not ranking, numbers, here’s the day-today setup at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina.

Though the heart of televising is the ACC network, the league says all games will be on the ESPN and FOX Sports Apps.

On. Wednesday, a first-round game between No. 12 Pittsburgh and No. 13 Boston College airs at 2 p.m.

On Thursday, the second round begin and continues with No. 8 North Carolina and No.  9 Wake Forest at noon followed by No. 5 Syracuse, which was ranked half the season, meeting the Pitt-B.C. Winner at 2:30 p.m., No. 7 Virginia Tech meeting No. 10 Miami at 6 p.m., and No. 6 Notre Dame meeting No. 11 Clemson at 8:30 p.m.

On Friday in the quarterfinals: No. 1 Louisville, which had been No;. 1 for several weeks, meets the UNC-Wake winner at 12 p.m., No. 4 Florida State meets the Syracuse winner at 2:30 p.m., No. 2 N.C. State, which has reached an all-time poll high at No. 2, meets the Virginia Tech winner at 6 p.m., and the No. 3 Georgia Tech winner meets the Notre Dame winner at 8:30 p.m.

On Saturday’s semifinals, the first is at noon, the second is at 2:30 p.m.

Finally, Sunday’s ACC championship is at noon on ESPN2.

PAC-12: The third of the Power-5 conferences holding tourneys this week, with the Big Ten and Big 12 next week, has set its field after a day of upsets to close out the regular season. No. 9 Arizona fell to host Arizona State 66-64 in overtime in Tempe, while Oregon State won at No. 14 Oregon State 88-77 in Eugene. No. 4 Stanford, which clinched the top spot a week ago, beat Cal 72-33 and Tara VanDerveer won her record 1,116 game ahead of UConn’s Geno Auriemma, who is at 1,111 and his No. 1 Huskies host Marquette Monday night to close out the regular season.

That and several other games Monday night are holding up the complete seed structure for this weekend at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville.

As for the PAC-12 event totally in Las Vegas, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, it all will air on the conference network, with the championship on ESPN2 

If teams have to opt out due to the virus, the bracket will be reseeded along the way for the games in the Michelob Ultra Arena.

On Wednesday, again beginning with the first round these are seed numbers, No. 5 Oregon State meets No. 12 California at 2 p.m. EDT followed by No. 8 Southern Cal meeting No.9 Arizona State at 5 p.m.; No. 7 Washington State meeting No. 10 Utah at 8 p.m., and No. 6 Colorado meeting No. 11 Washington at 11 p.m.

On Thursday, the quarterfinals feature N o. 4 Oregon meeting the Oregon State-California winner at 2 p.m.; No.1 Stanford meeting the USC-Arizona State winner at 5 p.m.; No. 2 Arizona meeting the No. Washington State-Utah winner at 8 p.m.; and No. 3 UCLA meeting the Washington-Colorado winner at 11 p.m.

On Friday, in the semifinals, the Stanford-Oregon side meets at 8 p.m. followed by the Arizona-UCLA side at 11 p.m.

Saturday will be a break added to the schedule followed by Sunday’s championship at 8 p.m.

Maryland Moves Close: Other than Rutgers-Penn State discussed way at the top there were two other Big Ten tests on Sunday.

Frontrunner No. 8 Maryland won 62-50 at Northwestern, which was bounced out of the rankings last week for the first time this season. In the other game, Iowa at home beat visiting Purdue.

The Terrapins (19-2, 15-1 Big Ten) didn’t explode all over the place in defeating the Wildcats (13-6, 11-6) on the road win at Welsh-Ryan Arena in Evanston, Ill., but they got their ‘W’ to start to crack open the door to another regular season crown.

“Road wins are precious,” said Maryland coach Brenda Frese. “I’m really proud of the fight, this game was not an easy one for us today. I loved their response, especially in the second half.”

Mimi Collins had 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Diamond Miller had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the visitors. Ashley Owusu added to the attack with 10 points and eight rebounds.

The visitors took the lead early and held it the rest of the way.

Northwestern’s Veronica Burton scored 15 and Lindsay Pulliam scored 13.

The Terrapins visit No. 12 Michigan Thursday and return home Saturday to finish out by hosting Penn State.

Meanwhile, Iowa beat Wisconsin 84-80 on the road in the Badgers’ Kohl Center in Madison, making it 24 straight in the series with the hosts.

Hawkeyes freshman star Caitlin Clark wasn’t offensively off the chart in this one but productive nonetheless with 18 points and dishing a career-high 14 assists, matching the total UConn rookie Paige Bueckers set for her program against Butler Saturday.

Like Bueckers, Clark also set the all-time freshman season assist record for her school with 149, just beating 148 from Kathleen Doyle in 2016-17.

In addition to Clark, Gabbie Marshall scored in double figures for Iowa (14-7, 10-7 Big Ten) with 19, while Monika Czinano scored 18, and McKenna Warnock scored 14 on Wisconsin (5-17, 2-17).

Iowa goes to No. 11 Indiana on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network.

America East Tourney:  Some conferences don’ wait for March Madness to arrive in March, the top four seeds at home played Sunday in the America East and escaped upset-free as No. 3 UMass-Lowell and No. 4 Albany emerged victorious.

The third seeded River Hawks of UMass Lowell (13-8) had four in double figures to eliminate No. 6 NJIT and closed out with a 19-5 run for a 72-52 triumph as senior Tiaha Sears scored 15, to top three other teammates in double figures to send the opposition home with a 4-15 record.  It was a little closer with the Great Danes of fourth-seeded Albany (7-10), who eliminated fifth-seed New Hampshire 49-43 and finish off the opposition at 5-15.

Kenna Squier and Kiana Brereton each scored 12 NJIT while Adara Groman had 13 for New Hampshire. Four players scored at least 11 for Albany.

Of course, two of the four teams were already advanced through byes setting up a semifinal Sunday when Albany visits No. 1 Maine at 1 p.m. in Orono, while UMass Lowell visits No. 2 Stony Brook on Lon g Island at 3 p.m. Both will air on ESPN+. 

The highest seed will host the championship a week from Friday, March 12 at 5 p.m.

West Coast Tourney Set: OK, here’s your West Coast Conference set up, which will be devoid of fans throughout when it tips on Thursday in Las Vegas.

On Thursday when it opens, No. 8 Loyola Marymount meets No. 9 Pepperdine at 3:30 EDT. No. 7 Saint Mary’s gets an automatic advance due to a withdrawal.

On Friday, in the second round, No. 5 Portland will meet the Loyola Marymount-Pepperdine winner at 2 p.m., while No. 6 Pacific and No. 7 Saint Mary’s will meet at 5.

On Saturday in the Quarterfinals, No. 4 Santa Clara meets the Portland winner at 2 p.m., followed by No. 3 San Francisco going against the the Pacific-Saint Mary’s winner at 5 p.m.

There are no games on Sunday.

On Monday, No. 1 Gonzaga meets Saint Mary’s game at 2 p.m., while No. 2 BYU meets the Pepperdine winner.

And next Tuesday, March 9. The West Coast Conference championship will air at 4 p.m. on ESPNU.

Looking Ahead: Monday night, No. 1 Connecticut looks to finish the regular Big East season with a clean sheet upon running the conference table in the Huskies’ return when they host Marquette at 8 p.m. on CBSSN. 

No. 24 DePaul hosts Butler in another key Big East game at 5 p.m. while No. 7 Baylor visits Texas at 7 p.m. on ESPN2 seeking to get an outright Big 12 regular season title.

And that’s the report:




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