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, March 04, 2021

Guru’s WBB Report: No. 10 Indiana Completes First Iowa Sweep in 27 Years; Conference Play Under Way

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Two days after reaching the Top 10 in The Associated Press Women’s Poll for the first time in the weekly ranking’s 45-year history No. 10 Indiana completed its first sweep of Iowa since 1994 Wednesday afternoon with a home court 89-80 victory over the Hawkeyes (14-8, 10-8 Big Ten) in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.

The win kept the Hoosiers (17-4, 15-2) right behind first-place Maryland in the regular season race in the Big Ten, though time is running out to overtake the Terrapins before the seeds are set this weekend for the conference tournament next week in Indianapolis.

To achieve the triumph Indiana had to within another explosive performance from freshman sensation Caitlin Clark, who was 5-for-7 from deep and collected 32 points, her 10th 30-point game this season. Monika Czinano added 20 points for the Hawkeyes.

The Hoosiers countered with a trio of players each scoring 22 points from Mackenzie Holmes, Ali Patberg, and Grace Berger while Holmes gained a double double with 11 rebounds. Additionally, George Mason transfer Nicole Cardano-Hillary scored 13 to run the current win streak to eight games.

Indiana had a 56-38 advantage in the paint and 21-10 on second-chance points.

“What a great talent Caitlin Clark is going to be in this league,” Indiana coach Teri Moren paid tribute to the opposition. “She is difficult to guard.

“The things I am pleased with are having four kids in double digits today. But probably the stat and the number that jumps off the page for me is our second chance points.that we had from getting those 13 offensive rebounds. I am really happy and pleased that we continue to keep our head down and keep showing up and finding ways to win games.”

Indiana finishes at home Saturday hosting Purdue at 1 p.m. on the Big Ten Plus network.

West Virginia Tops Kansas State:  In the only other game involving a ranked team ahead of the floodgates opening Thursday deeper into conference tourney play, the No. 20 Mountaineers took a 72-64 road win over Kansas State in a Big 12 affair in Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan.

Coach Mike Carey’s squad (19-4, 13-4 Big 12) now with 13 has the most conference triumphs since collecting 16 seven seasons ago in 2013-14.

Esmery Martinez had a career high with 23 points and grabbed 12 rebounds vor her 13th double double. Kysre Gondrezick added 14 points, Kirsten Deans scored 13, and Jasmine Carson scored 11.

Kansas State (8-16, 3-14) got a double double 26 points and 14 rebounds from Ayoka Lee while Christianna Carr scored 15.

“We had four in double figures, which was good,” Carey said. “We had people playing out of position the whole game. Our girls played hard and we secured the two seed for the Big 12 tournament. We played 2-3 (defense) today more than we played the last two-three years.)

The Mountaineers finish up Monday night at 8 p.m. on ESPN+with a game previously postponed off weather conditions as they travel to No. 6 Baylor, which could be a preview of the Big 12 title game.

Conference Tourney Roundups

PAC-12: Washington State, picked last in the preseason poll by the conference coaches, and Oregon State, which was on the higher end of the membership dealing with COVID-19 challenges, both grabbed opening day wins, as did Southern Cal and Washington in first-round action in Las Vegas.

By seed, the biggest upset was No. 11 Washington topping No. 6 Colorado 68-54, the last of the four games to be played on Wednesday inside Michelob ULTRA Arena.

The losing Buffs (10-10) are now 0-3 since the tourney moved to Las Vegas.

“I’m disappointed with the outcome, clearly,” Colorado coach JR Payne said. “I thought Washington outplayed us today. Our preparation had been really strong. Our team had been very focused. We were ready to play.”

Just over a month ago, the unranked Buffs pulled one of the shockers of the season at home knocking then No. 1 Stanford  off and sending the Cardinal on what became a two-game losing streak after which they have been winning ever since.

Mya Hollingshed and Frida Formann each scored 16 points for Colorado.

Washington (7-13) got 18 points each from Tameiya Sadler and Haley Van Dyke.

Considering the PAC-12 could send as many five at-large teams with the tournament champion on to Texas and the NCAAs, Colorado could end up landing in the reduced 32-team field WNIT.

Meanwhile No. 8 Southern Cal topped No. 9 Arizona State 71-65 as the Trojans (11-11) shot a season-best 65.2 percent from the field, third best in program history and best since the record was set at 67.8 in 1987, which was 34 seasons ago.

Jordyn Jenkins scored a game-high 16 points for USC, while Endyia Rogers turned in here first double double with 15 points and a career-best 11 assists. Jordan Sanders added 14 points and Alissa Pili scored 12.

Taya Hanson scored 15 for the Sun Devils (11-10), making five shots from deep, while Maggie Besselink had 13 points and 10 boards for a double double. Arizona State’s Eboni Walker scored 11.

Seventh-seeded Washington State eliminated 10th-seeded Utah 57-48, giving the Cougars (12-10) their first tournament win over coach and former Texas star Kamie Ethridge. It’s also first in four seasons for the program.

Charlisse Leger-Walker, announced earlier in the week as the PAC-12 freshman of the year, had 15 points for the winners, while Bella Murkatete had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Leger-Waker’s sister Krystal scored 12.

Brynna Maxwell had 15 points for Utah (5-16), while Kemery Martin scored 13.

“I’m really thrilled for our team getting this win,” Ethridge said. “You don’t want to play anyone that you recently played. Utah played really hard and they had a great plan for us. It’s a big step for us. We didn’t play great offensively, but I thought we were good on the defensive end tonight. That’s a big statement that we had multiple players help us win tonight.”

In the other game, fifth-seeded Oregon State beat 12th-seeded California 71-63.

“Really pleased with the win today,” said Beavers coach Scott Rueck, “Impressed with Cal, and what Charmin (Smith) and her staff have done with a lot of young people — we can certainly relate.

“At one point I looked out and we had six freshmen on the floor between the two teams, and two of them are high schoolers. Pretty amazing.

“I was proud of our team for making the plays down the stretch. It didn’t feel like we shot the way we are capable of. Certainly, that will need to change going forward. But we survived it, defended well enough, got the stops we needed down the stretch, made some big shots.”

Talia von Oelhoffen had a career-high 20 points, shooting 7-for-11 from the field for Oregon State (10-6). Taylor Jones had 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Aleah Goodman had 12 points and five assists, and Sasha Goforth scored 11.

Leilani McIntosh scored 14 for the Golden Bears (1-16), while Evelien Lutje Schipholt had 13 points and 10 rebounds, Ugonne Onyiah also scored 13, and Dalayah Daniels had 10 points.

Atlantic Coast: With Virginia and Duke having shut down their seasons coping with the coronavirus earlier, the ACC tournament field at the Greensboro Coliseum in North Carolina is reduced so just one game was played Wednesday with 13th-seeded Boston College knocking out 12th-seeded Pittsburgh 67-56.

Cameron Swartz scored 33, setting a team record, for the winning Eagles (7-11) and Makayla Dickens scored 11. Swartz also got a tournament first-round record with her point total.

“This is what, survive and advance,” said Boston College coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee. “That’s what they say, this time of year we’re in. With that being said, ugly survive is better than not surviving, so I thought it was pretty much an ugly game.

“Thank goodness Cameron Swartz came up big time after time in our offense.  I’m proud of the team. We’vc gone through some adversity this year, so them getting a win here today I think is a great job ands now we’ve got to focus and be ready for tomorrow.”

Pitt (5-14) got 22 from Jayla Everett, while Amber Brown scored 15.

I think overall, it was a year of growth,” said Panthers coach Lance White. “I think we’re a much better basketball team than we were a year ago. But at the same time, we still have a long way to go. I think we got some respect in how we played, but now we have to learn how to win. It’s the hardest part of going from a team that’s never won in this conference to a team that can compete in this conference.”

The meeting was the first in the ACC but as former Big East rivals there’s a long history and BC now has a 31-19 lead in the series between the two schools from the Northeast.

Southeastern:  Likewise, with Vanderbilt having earlier pulled out of the season, just one game in the SEC tourney in Greenville, N.C., was played and 12th-seeded Florida beat 13th-seeded Auburn 69-62.

Kiara Smith had 19 points for the Gators (11-12), while Danielle Rainey had 13 points, and Kristina Moore scored 11.

Auburn (5-19), which went 0-16 within the SEC plus Wednesday’s game, got 15 points from Alaina Rice, a double double of 14 points and 10 rebounds from Unique Thompson, and 12 from Honesty Scott-Grayson.

Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy, a former Penn State star who previously coached at Georgetown, afterwards spoke of the wayward season.

“We had 10 newcomers coming in with not many returning,” she said. “And COVID really hurt us because when you have 10 newcomers coming in, you need to be able to get into the gym, you need to be able to get everything, your offense in.

“They’re learning a whole new system, whether they’re junior college players, sophomores, rising up. You had Jala and Honesty coming in, who were out last year. We really needed to get into the gym,” she continued. “Missing practices. You look at Alaina Rice, our starting point guard. She was in contact tracing three times. That’s 24 days of practice, she’s missing. That’s tough for a starting point guard in the SEC. 

“But the future’s bright. The future’s very bright. With Unique Thompson as our only senior, you saw a lot of bright spots. We have so many people coming back that it’s just going to be amazing.”

Florida coach Cam Newbauer praised the performance of Smith.

“It’s what she does. She takes over when we need her most. Missed some shots that she normally hits today, but really took over big when we needed her to, especially defensively. That’s the one part where — we don’t give her enough credit for what she does defensively, her ability out there to disrupt things. She spearheads that for us.

“Such a competitive warrior heart. Just so proud of her. Glad she got the thousand points. Glad we get to fight another day.”

Looking Ahead: Locally, teams not yet in tournaments, falls just to Temple, which will wrap up the regular season at home in McGonigle Hall at noon with a second game in 48 hours, playing Memphis again on ESPN+ and looking to head to next week’s American Athletic Conference tournament at Dickey’s Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, riding a two-game win streak.

No. 15 South Florida wrapped up the AAC regular season at home on Tuesday in Tampa, beating UCF, but the two meet a second time, at 5 p.m. on ESPNU, this time at the Golden Knight’s home on Orlando.

Rider, which finished two weeks ago ahead of the rest of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, is waiting to see which seed it falls between sixth and seventh, which impacts another extra day’s rest, ahead of the conference tourney return next week to Atlantic City’s James Whelan Boardwalk Hall.

Conference Tourneys Ahead: 

 Atlantic Coast: No local or ranked team is playing outside conference competition on Thursday, except for South Florida, as mentioned, and, in fact, no local is playing period, so let’s head into the conference breakdowns.

At noon in the second round, Wake Forest meets a hot North Carolina squad at noon on the ACCNX network in Greensboro, N.C.

Boston College coming off Wednesday’s win meets No. 5 seed Syracuse at 3:30 p.m. on ACCNX, while Miami and Virginia Tech play at 6 p.m. on ACCNX, and then Clemson and Notre Dame meet at 8:30 p.m. on ACCNX.

SEC: In the SEC, Mississippi State and LSU meet at 11 a.m. on the SEC Network as do the other three pairs on Thursday. 17th-ranked Kentucky meets Florida at 1 p.m., followed by Missouri and Alabama at 6 p.m., followed by Ole Miss and  13th-ranked Arkansas at 8 p.m., all games in Greenville, S.C., in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

PAC-12: Heading into the quarterfinals in Las Vegas, No, 19th ranked and fourth-seed Oregon opens against its border rival, fifth-seeded Oregon State at 2 p.m., also games Thursday on the PAC-12 network. 8th-seeded USC meets fourth-ranked and No. 1 seeded Stanford at 5 p.m., followed by seventh-seeded Washington State meeting 11th-ranked and second-seeded Arizona at 8 p.m., and wrapped up with 11th-seeded Washington and ninth-ranked and third-seeded UCLA at 11 p.m.

Southern Conference: A quarterfinals game at noon has ETSU and Samford meeting noon on ESPN+, followed by UNC Greensboro and Wofford atr 2:15 p.m. on ESPN+, followed by Western Carolina and Mercer at 6 p.m. on ESPN+, and Furman. And Chattanooga at 7:15 p.m. on ESPN+.All games at Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, N.C.

Ohio Valley Conference: Two rounds Thursday both on ESPN+ have Tennessee Tech and Jacksonville State meeting at 2 p.m., while Murray State and SE Missouri playing at 4:30 p.m.at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind.

West Coast Conference: One game Thursday in the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas has Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount meeting at 3:30 p.m. The San Diego-Saint Mary’s game is listed as cancelled. 

And that is the report. 




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