Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Guru’s WBB Report: Upsets Triggered By Penn State and Marquette While Villanova and Rutgers Rally and Temple Fades

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

From the moment Villanova tipped at Providence in the Friars’ Alumni Hall in a Big East game early Wednesday afternoon in Rhode Island into the evening, the four locals who played and provided plenty of excitement with an additional surprise in another Big East game as Marquette pulled a Big East upset at No. 24 DePaul.

Another upset occurred in the Big 12 with host Iowa State downing No. 18 West Virginia 85-68.

Penn State provided the biggest stunner, rallying down the stretch to edge No. 15 Ohio State 67-65 in a Big Ten game at home in the Bryce Jordan Center in State College while in another key game, No. 25 Rutgers came from behind to top Michigan State with a 24-7 fourth quarter to pick up a 63-53 victory in the Big Ten, the Scarlet Knights’ sixth straight since returning from a six-week pause under COVID-19 protocol procedures.

Maddy Siegreist, the reigning player of the week in the Big East and Big Five and a national co-player of the week choice in the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA), carried Villanova into overtime and continued to take care of business for Villanova.

Temple seemed poised for an upset at home in McGonigle Hall of No. 13 South Florida, unbeaten in the American Athletic Conference, but the Bulls came back with a tenacious defense or the Owls faded, take your pick, and the visitors returned to the sunny south with a 56-47 victory.

Penn State Shocks Ohio State:  Second-year Lady Lions coach Carolyn Kieger, previously at Marquette, go the win she’s been looking for, knocking off a Big Ten heavyweight in the No. 15 Buckeyes, the first Penn State win over a Top 15 in the Associated Press women’s poll since 2016.

A layup from Makenna Marisa with 1 minute, 1 second left became the game-winner, the home team getting several stops during the closing stretch.

It’s also enabled the Lady Lions (9-11, 6-10) to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Buckeyes (13-5, 9-5).

Niya Beverly had a career-best 21 points, shooting 9-for-11 from the field, including a key shot from deep with the outcome still in the balance. Marisa was not much off the mark for a triple double with 17 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. Johnasia Cash got 12 of her 16 points in the second half.

Ohio State’s Dorka Juhasz had 21 points and 11 rebounds, her 11th double double, while Jay Sheldon scored 19 points, and Aaliyah Patty had 10 points and matched her career-high with four blocks.

“They played really hard and really competed tonight and certainly we weren’t as good as the first round,” said Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff on the growth of Penn State since meeting earlier in the season in Columbus.

“We got a lot of good shots early, but we didn’t finish. They made a couple of plays late, we had a couple good looks, we just didn’t finish.”

As for Kieger, who had built Marquette into a factor in the Big East, “I’m just proud of our team to finally get a Top 25 win. We’ve been working so hard. Ohio State is a phenomenal basketball team. They’re deep, they have an inside and outside presence. That was a huge win for our program.

“We’ve been chasing that Top 25 and those teams ahead of us in the conference,” she said. “It’s a testament to our defense tonight. We weathered the storm there with a not-so-great start. They had us by 13 early on, which is huge for our young squad to keep their composure and get that win. Just really proud of our defensive effort. We were scrambling and our rotations were great.”

Noted Beverly about snapping a four-game losing streak, “We’ve been going really hard in practice and ‘Coach has been on us about getting our first Top 25 win. We just went out there and played hard.

“It means everything to me. ‘Coach took a chance on me and brought me here. I’m just really grateful for that. I just want to do everything for this team, whether it’s scoring, whether it’s rebounding.”

The Lady Lions finish Sunday, hosting No. 25 Rutgers and then travel to conference leader No. 8 Maryland the following Saturday before heading to the Big Ten Tourney (March 9-13) in Indianapolis.

Rutgers Rally Gains Sixth Straight: After finally getting ranked for the first time in several seasons, Rutgers was not going to let go of the honor quickly. It took a 24-7 effort in the final quarter to get it done as the No. 25 Scarlet Knights picked up a key road win and sixth straight overall following the six-week shutdown by turning aside Michigan State 63-53 in East Lansing at the Breslin Center in the Big Ten.

The Knights (11-3, 7-3) have now rocketed into the top four in the Big Ten standings, which, if they remain, offers a double bye in the tournament. They finish Sunday at Penn State at 12:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network and then the following Friday host No. 15 Ohio State Friday or Saturday with the possibility that an makeup for one of the postponed games could be inserted midweek.

Freshman Diamond Johnson had 22 points, her third straight game in the 20s, and dealt four assists and grabbed four steals. Arella Guirantes was not a high scoring threat in this one, but still collected 11 points, nine rebounds and dealt eight assists. Tyia Singleton helped key the defense blocking a personal best five shots and grabbing six rebounds.

In the final period Rutgers used a 10-0 run at the outset against the Spartans (12-7, 7-7), who were ranked several weeks ago and in this one committed eight turnovers and shot 2-of-11 in that final quarter.

“There was a resolve and a mindset that we were going to find a way to get it done,” said Rutgers Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer. “We had to play in the 55 (pressure defense) quite a bit and it took a lot of guts. We were in great condition and it showed up.

“Michigan State was exhausted and we survived and stayed the course. It was gutsy play on our part and that’s what it took. This is championship-level play.”

Stringer’s group has now its fifth Big Ten opponent under 60 points, a defensive stretch last appeared with the 2012-13 contingent when they competed in the old Big East.

In another Big Ten game involving a ranked team No. 11 Indiana won at Wisconsin 77-49 in the Kohl Center in Madison dominating the boards with a 50-22 advantage on the Badgers (5-16, 2-16 Big Ten).

Mackenzie Holmes had 23 points for the visiting Hoosiers (15-4, 13-2), who are right behind Maryland in the standings. Former George Mason star Nicole Cardano-Hillary and Ali Patberg each scored 14.

Wisconsin’s Julie Pospisilova scored 16 points.

Indiana finishes visiting Ohio State, Saturday; hosting Iowa next Wednesday, and then hosting Purdue next Saturday.

Siegrist Carries Villanova: Down nine in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats rallied to tie the game, launching a 10-1 run a move within a point of the Friars 48-47 with 3:47 left in regulation as Siegrist scored six in the run. The home team still seemed to be eking out a triumph holding a slight advantage as Chanell Williams went to the line with 13 seconds left but split her attempts for a three-point lead.

Villanova then advanced the ball after a timeout and found Siegrist for the game-tying three-ball sending the game into overtime. She then hit the first basket to snap the deadlock and Providence got one back on a made foul shot by Kyra Spiwak.

A driving layup from Briana Herlihy made it 59-56 with 2:09 left. Both sides than failed to score until Brooke Mullin made one of two free throw attempts for a 60-56 lead with 23 seconds left in the extra period. Siegrist went on to seal it with 3-of-4 from the line to finish with 24 points and seven rebounds in the 63-58 win by the Wildcats (14-4, 9-4 Big East), who are in fourth place.

Bella Runyon had 11 points and Herlihy grabbed 12 rebounds.

Providence (6-12, 4-9) got 19 points and 12 rebounds from Mary Baskerville, while Alyssa Geary scored 11 and Spiwak scored 10.

First-year coach Denise Dillon’s group finish at home Saturday night at 8 in Finneran Pavillion hosting Seton Hall, which is in fifth and previously lost to the Wildcats at home in their first meeting at Walsh Gym in South Orange, N.J.

Meanwhile, Marquette upset No. 24 DePaul 85-71 on the road in the Blue Demon’s Wintrust Arena in Chicago to drop the home team to third after the second straight loss by the defending champs.

Lexi Held had 24 points for DePaul (13-6, 10-4), which is a half-game ahead of the Wildcats, while Sonya Morris scored 18.

Selena Lott had 25 points for the Golden Eagles (17-4, 4-3), who finish at No. 1 UConn Monday night ahead of next weekend’s conference tournament at the Mohegan Sun.

The Huskies visit Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska, the fourth stop of a five-game road trip, and poised to win the Big East regular season outright and then complete the schedule with Saturday’s game at Butler in Indianapolis and Monday’s Marquette visit to add another perfect conference run to the seven previous achieved in the American Athletic Conference.

Temple Upset Bid Foiled With Fourth Quarter Collapse:  With UConn gone, the American still has a team that to date has beaten everyone else in No. 13 South Florida, though the Bulls recently came off a long corona virus-caused shutdown. 

But coming into Temple, it looked like the Owls could apply the breaks, even though ultimately Mia Davis with 23 points and nine rebounds, and freshman Jasha Clinton with 20 accounted for all but four of the home team points in a 56-47 setback in McGonigle Hall. Emani Mayo had nine rebounds.

The damage came in the final quarter off a 21-7 effort by USF (14-1, 11-0 AAC).

Temple ( 9-9, 9-6 AAC) led 42-37 early in the fourth quarter and then the Bulls opened a 15-0 run.

“Very disappointing,” Davis said. “We could very clearly we were right there with them.”

Fouling again was a problem, donating 19 points from the charity spot by committing 20.

“To hold them to fifty six points, that was one of our better defensive efforts that we’ve had,” said Temple coach Tonya Cardoza. “But we gave them 19 points at the free throw line and if they’re scoring 19 points from the free throw line that means we’ve done a bad job in a sense we committed fouls.

“It was a lost opportunity. “I feel like we had them, we had an opportunity. We were in the game in a great position but we did a lot of things to ourselves.”

Shae Leveret scored 11 for USF and Bethy Mununga grabbed 20 rebounds with her eight points.

The Owls head to UCF Saturday at noon in Orlando, Fla., and then return to host Memphis Monday night ahead of the AAC tournament, which, with UConn gone, moves from the Mohegan Sun to Fort Worth, Texas.

Temple is in fifth, likely to see 4th place Tulane, which swept the Owls, if they play in the quarterfinals.

West Virginia Upset by Iowa State: The Big 12 regular season race has become a runaway down the stretch with No. 7 Baylor winning its 10th straight, a 70-51 triumph over Oklahoma State in the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas, while the second place No. 18 Mountaineers fell on the road 85-68 to Iowa State in the Cyclones’ Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kysre Gondrezick had 19 points for West Virginia (17-4, 11-4) Big 12, while Kirsten Deans scored 14 points, and Jayla Hemingway scored 12. Esmery Martinez had 10 rebounds for the visitors.

Iowa State (15-9, 11-6), which won at Baylor earlier in the season, got 20 points from Ashley Joens, 18 each from Lexi Donarski and Kristin Scott, and from the reserves Emily Ryan scored 13, and Kylie Feuerbach scored 10.

“Give Iowa State all the credit,” said veteran Mountaineers coach Mike Carey. “We had no legs, no energy, no nothing. We didn’t defend, so give Iowa State all the credit.”

In the win by Baylor (18-2, 13-1 Big 12), NaLyssa Smith had 20 points and nine rebounds for the Lady Bears, Queen Egbo had 13 points and nine rebounds, while DiJonai Carrington scored 12 off the bench, and Moon Ursin scored 11.

Natasha Mack had 18 points and 18 rebounds for Oklahoma State (17-7, 13-5) and Ja’Mee Asberry scored 15 p.m.

Texas on the road in the Big 12 won at Kansas 61-52 at the Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence as the Longhorns (16-6, 10-5 Big 12) completed a season sweep of the Jayhawks (7-14, 3-12). Charli Collier had 23 points and 14 rebounds for the visitors, who also got 12 points and 10 rebounds from Audrey Warren.

Holly Kergieter scored 15 points for Kansas.

In the only other game involving a ranked team, Wednesday, No. 23 Misouri State won 67-55 at Southern Illinois.

Looking Ahead: Most of Thursday’s action will be in the Southeastern Conference as No. 5 South Carolina hosts Mississippi at 1 p.m., No. 3 Texas A&M visits Alabama at 7 p.m., No. 19 Kentucky is at No. 17 Georgia at 7 p.m., No. 20 Tennessee is at Missouri at 8 p.m., and No. 16 Arkansas is at Auburn at 9 p.m.

In the Big Ten, No. 8 Maryland and Iowa coming out of Monday’s explosive 111-95 won by the host Terrapins, has Coach Brenda Frese’ squad headed to Purdue at 6 while Iowa hosts No. 12 Michigan at 4:30 p.m.

Already mentioned, in the Big East No. 1 Connecticut is at Creighton at at 5 p.m., in the Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 2 North Carolina State hosts Pittsburgh at 4 p.m., and No. 21 Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference hosts Pepperdine at 9 p.m.

On Friday, locally, in the Atlantic Ten, Saint Joseph’s hosts St. Bonaventure, while La Salle hosts Duquesne, both at 6 p.m. on ESPN+, which are the only games overall of consequence, so we’ll hold it right here and save Saturday and Sunday for the upcoming reports.

And that’s this report.




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