Saturday, November 13, 2021

The Guru Report: Drexel Domination of Saint Joseph’s Continues While Princeton Keeps Rolling and No. 22 Arizona Upsets No. 6 Louisville

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

PHILADELPHIA — In the City of Brotherly Love it was a case of sisterly love and opposition Friday night amidst Drexel holding off a Saint Joseph’s rally for the fifth straight win in the series, this time 63-55 over the Hawks (1-1).

Meanwhile Ivy favorite Princeton kept the nation’s longest win streak alive with No. 24, a conquest at Delaware 76-56, while Villanova held its own on the road at the No. 4 Terrapins’ Xfinity Center in College Park in the second quarter before getting crushed 88-67. 

Up north in central New Jersey, Rutgers whomped another non-conference foe inside the Scarlet Knights’ Jersey Mike’s Center, this time upending visiting South Alabama, 64-45, while Temple fell on the road 70-53 at tthe hands of Florida Gulf Coast U. In Fort Meyers. 

On the national scene among ranked teams, No. 22 Arizona edged No. 6 Louisville 61-59 up in South Dakota, while No. 5 N.C. State in the preseason WNIT at home whiffed Wofford, 90-57, No. 15 Tennessee won its second straighgt, beating host UCF 49-41 on the road in Orlando, top-ranked South Carolina made it 2-0 rolling over host South Dakota 72-41, and No. 14 Oregon State blitzed visiting Loyols Marymount 82-52.

An upset of sorts saw Big Ten Minnesota top Pac-12 host Arizona State 66-59 in overtime in Tempe.

Duke, looking for a comeback season after only playing four as a consequence of the pandemic last time around, won at Atlantic 10 pick Dayton, 70-56, in Ohio.

Kansas State hosting one half of the preseason WNIT edged UT Martin 44-30 at home in Manhattan, where other PWNIT results in that sector had Western Kentucky an 86-76 winner over North Carolina A&T, while in the Raleigh sector in North Carolina, Towson took down Florida 87-70.

Mississippi State at home edged South Dakota State 76-61, C-USA contender Middle Tennessee got past host and Atlantic 10 contender VCU 54-46 in Richmond, while another non-conference game of note saw Western Athletic contender Stephen F. Austin rule American Athletic Conference contender Houston 73-52.

On Saturday, the lone Guru local two of his 11 has another head-to-head, this one La Salle looking to bounce back from an opening loss  to top visiting Rider, which suffered an opening loss at Penn State on Thursday.

Drexel Hangs Banners and Saint Joseph’s: Alumni were in the house in pre-game ceremonial action as the Dragons in their Daskalakis Athletic Center added to the banner collections of the men’s and women’s teams, raising a second one for its Colonial Athletic Association crown last spring, an achievement also won by the men, and one for the participation in the NCAA tournament.

Then it was off to a hot start and then holding on during a Saint Joseph’s rally in the fourth quarter to win 63-55 as Bucknell graduate transfer Tessa Brugler scored 19 points to get the home team to 1-1 following a narrow home loss in Tuesday’s opener to MAAC contender Marist.

Brugler also for the first time as fates evolved off the transfer portal got to play against her sister, freshman Talya Brugler of Saint Joseph’s.

The elder Brugler on Drexel had 15 of her points in the second quarter, while Msariah Leonard had 14 points and was a co-rebound leader with seven.

Keishana Washington, now a senior and MVP of the CAA tourney, had 12 points, while fifth-year star Hannah Nihill scored 10.

Kate Connolly also grabbed seven rebounds.

“I’m just really excited about this win for our team,” said second year coach Amy Mallon, who moved up last season in the wake of longtime coach Denise Dillon returning to here alma mater atd Villanova following the retirement of 40-year veteran coach Harry Perretta.

“You look at the stat sheet and see four players in double figures, as a coach, that’s exactly what you want to see.”

Meanwhile, the elder Brugler talked about fitting in with a veteran group that tied for first with nearby rival Delaware, the regular season champs, in the preseason voting by the CAA coaches.

“I think my teammates hsave done a good job and the coaches have done a good job of making me feel welcome, throwing me in there, and realizing that I can catch on to things pretty fast.”

As for the family match up, Brugler said, “It was awesome, it was pretty exciting playing against her, I had a bunch of family and friends I hadn’t seen in a while.”

Like everywhere else, Mallon noted the joy the players feel once again playing before fans outside the limited allowance of family under last season’s protocols.

Drexel has another Philly 6 matchup Wednesday hosting La Salle at 7 p.m., the game airing on the local NBC Sports Philadelphia besides the regular Flohoops subscription tie from the CAA.

On the Saint Joseph’s side, Kaliah Henderson matched a career high with 20 points, while graduate star Alayna Gribble scored 15 points.

A Hawks rally in the fourth quarter saw the visitors get the differential down to single digits but time and four foul shots at the finish by Drexel ruined the progress and the visiting record following a lopsided win at home earlier in the week saw Saint Joseph’s drop to 1-1.

“You got to give Drexel a lot of credit, they came out on fire,” said Saint Joseph’s Cindy Griffin, now in the second year as the dean of area coaches in the wake of Perretta’s retirement.

“It was tough to recover from that. We had a good game plan going in, obviously Brugler went off, you knew she was a great player, but we were concentrating on their returning leading scorers (Washington and Nihill),” she continued.

“We battled, with a couple of breaks it could have been a different outcome.”

As for how the younger Brugler played against her older sister, Griffin said, “I thought she played great.”

“I call her an old soul because she handles things like a mature, experienced player.”

It will be a battle of Hawks next time out as Saint Joseph’s travels Wednesday to play at Monmouth at 7 p.m.

Princeton Wins Battle of Streaks: Having won opening night at Villanova after being idle all last year, the Tigers’ reactivated win streak grew to 24 in snapping the 14-game home win streak by Delaware (1-1) in the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.

Julia Cunningham had a career-high 26 points along with five rebounds for the Ivy favorites.

Carla Berube’s Tigers were overwhelming enough in the first half to withstand a Blue Hens rally in the third period before Princeton finally stopped the surge and rebuilt the dominant lead.

Also reaching double figures for the visitors were Abby Meyers, who had the hot hand at Villanova, this time scoring 16 points, while Grace Stone scored 15, and Kaitlyn Chen scored 12.

Princeton will field its home opener at Jadwin Gym Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPN+

“What I was most proud of was our fight,” said Delaware coach Natasha Adair. “You saw it in the second sand third quarter but we dug ourselves a big hole. 

“We scheduled these games because we are preparing to be that team in March. (Princeton) is no slouch, it’s a team that two years ago that went 26-1 so my hat goes out to them. “

On Monday, the Blue Hens will visit America East power Maine in Orono at 7 p.m. on ESPN+.

Ty Battle had 15 points for the home team, while Tyi Skinner scored 14, reigning CAA player of the year Jasmine Dickey scored 10 behind 12 from Lizzie O’Leary.

Rutgers Romps Over South Alabama: After winning a second straight game by a wide margin at the outset of the season, the renaming of the former Rutgers Athletic Center to Jersey Mike’s Arena might be appropriate if the Scarlet Knights continue to eat visiting teams alive in Piscataway, N.J.

This time it was South Alabama (1-1) which got chewed up 64-45.

Stephanie Guihon scored 12 points while Sakima Walker scored 10.

“I thought our players played with great spirit tonight,” said acting head coach Timothy Eatman, who will get credit for all the wins and losses and potential ranking appearances in the wake of Hall of Fame coach C. Vivian Stringer’s decision to stay away as a precaution from being affected by the Covid-19 virus.

“In the second half, we played with a lot of energy and a lot of effort out there. Overall, it was a great team win, we’re still finding our way and if we learn how to share the basketball a little bit more, we have a chance to be a pretty good basketball team.”

The Rutgers bench scored 48 points.

Fairfield, a MAAC contender, comes visiting on Sunday at 2 p.m., the game aired on the auxiliary subscription B1G+ network.

Lehigh Defense Shines Again: The Mountain Hawks (2-0)  forced 25 turnovers in beating Saint Peter’s 84-68 in Stabler Arena at home in Bethlehem. Frannie Hottinger had 22 points, Emma Grothaus had 16, Megan Walker scored 14, and Mackenzie Kramer scored 12.

Despite the outcome, veteran coach Sue Troyan wasn’t totally pleased with the performance of the defending Patriot League champions.

“I don’t think we were great, honestly,” she said. “We turned the ball over 25 times. We need to take care of the turnovers. But it’s a potent offense and have a lot of different kids that are capable of scoring and tons of different weapons that can produce on any given night.

Next up is a trip across New Jersey to Seton Hall on Tuesday.

“We’re going to be tested defensively,” Troyan said. “It’ll challenge us in many ways, but that’s what the non-league schedule is all about for us.”

Villanova Decimated by No. 4 Maryland: Coaches this time of year will speak of non-conference foes as ones that will help prepare for conference play. If that’s the case, then consider the win by the No. 4 Terrapins (2-0) as a way to prepare for similar beatings that might come in the Big East at the hands of No. 2 Connecticut.

Early on, however, Villanova (0-2), which fell to Princeton Wednesday night at home, was playing competitively with a tease that one of the big early upsets of the season might be triggered.

But a 10-0 Maryland run in the second quarter thrashed that thought, and a 20-0 rout in the third widened the differential to as many as 32 points.

Brianna Herlihy had 16 points and Lior Garzon had 15 points, for the Wildcats, who next head for their first Big Five encounter, visiting Saint Joseph’s at 3 p.m. on Hawk Hill at Hagan Arena.

Maryland’s Angel Reese had had a career high 23 points, the first Terp star to top 20 in the first two games of a season since current WNBA player Shatori Kimbrough-Walker did so in 2015-16.

Mimi Collins added 17 points for the Terps, Ashley Owusu scored 13, Katie Benzan had 12, Shyanne Sellers scored 12, and Chloe Bibby had 11, including her 1,0000th career score.

“They had no answer for Reese inside,” Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. “I thought Ashley was extremely aggressive. I liked how we were able to share the basketball on offense and really work on some things, defensively with where we need to be.

“Anytime we can play inside out is to our advantage.”

The two schools met just once before with the Wildcats winning 74-61 on Dec. 19, 1981, elsewhere on camps at Cole Field House.

Maryland visits James Madison Sunday at 2 in Harrisonburg, Va.

Temple Whipped By FGCU: The Owls were very much alive in the visit to the ASun reigning champions until the third quarter where they sank off an 18-8 run by the home team.

Alexa Williamson had 23 points for the visitors, 17 in the first half, while Mia Davis scored 16, and Jasha Clinton dealt 10 assists.

Kierstan Bell had 26 and nine rebounds for the home team and Kendall Spray scored 15.

Temple returns home for a three-game span beginning Wednesday night when Saint Johns visits at 7 in McGonigle Hall followed by Bucknell on Saturday and Princeton the following week.

National Highlights: Cate Reese had 21 points for the NCAA Runnersup Arizona Wildcats, ranked 22nd, and Bendu Yeaney scored the game winner with 1:45 left in overtime, becoming the last points in the game decided 61-59. Hailey Van Lith had 19 for the sixth-ranked Louisville squad in the game played in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

Top-ranked South Carolina was also there and in the 72-41 win over South Dakota the Gamecocks (2-0) got four three-balls and 15 points overall from Destanni Henderson.

Aleah Nelson scored a career-high 39 for Towson in the Tigers’ 87-70 win over Florida in the opening of the Preseason WNIT, setting a building record at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, N.C. It’s Towson’s third all-time win over a Power 5 opponent and first in 16 seasons.

Up in Connecticut Sunday within an hour of each other No. 2 UConn tips off against Arkansas while Penn ends its season-long game drought from the Ivy shutdown when the Quakers visit Hartford.

And that’s the report.

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