By Mel Greenberg
Red-shirt freshman Elena made a quick impact into the Delaware record books in Game No. 2 but also experienced her first collegiate loss Saturday afternoon as the Blue Hens fell to host Princeton, 68-59.
The former star of Ursuline Academy at nearby Wilmington, Del., set a newcomer record with 35 points, including 21 in the second half, while also grabbing 10 rebounds in a line that also noted 1 blocked shot, 1 assist and 5 steals.
The previous Delaware freshman scoring record for a game was set on Feb. 19, 1998 by Danielle Leyfert.against Northeastern.
The Tigers (3-0) jumped off to a 13-0 lead though Delaware (1-1) got within a basket near the end of the half before Princeton regained a firm hand over the final 20 minutes.
"Princeton is good - they're tough," new Penn coach Mike NcLaughlin said earlier in the week of his new Ivy sister school. "It would not surprise me to see them win at this point in time."
"We're going to be much better next year," Tigers coach Courtney Banghart had told the Guru in April at the NCAA Women's Final Four in St. Louis during the Beth and Debbie shootaround after-pod cast party.
Apparently, she was right.
Addie Micir had 18 points for Princeton, while Lauren Edwards and Niveen Rasheed each scored 14 points, and Laura Johnson scored 11.
If Delle Donne is quickly shaking off the rust after being away from competitive basketball action since the end of her senior year in March 2008, Blue Hens coach Tina Martin was able to again point out the biggest hurdle she has been trying to get Delaware past since preseason practice began last month.
"Our defensive rotation is struggling," Martin said afterwards. "The name of the game tonight was defense and we did not defend like we should have. We have work to do."
A crowd of 525 watched the game in Jadwin Gym, the former haunt of Tigers men's star Bill Bradley, that was part of a doubleheader with the Princeton men.
Delaware has time to re-tool, since the next game isn't until after Thanksgiving against Houston in Colorado State's tournament where the Blue Hens will bring their 6-5 montain to the edge of the Rockies.
Temple's Roll Continues
They're starting to say "No Mel, No Loss" on North Broad Street, since the Guru has yet to see unbeaten Temple in person.
That absence will end Tuesday when Eastern Michigan visits the Owls at 5 p.m.on the front end of a doubleheader with the men in the Liacouras Center.
Vanderbilt will at St. Joseph's at 7 p.m.
The Owls made it 4-0 Saturday with a 65-55 non-conference win at Buffalo.
Ironically, Temple ran into a successful coach of the program's past from the 1980s in Bulls coach Linda Hill-MacDonald who took the Owls to their first NCAA tournament appearance in 1989 at a time in which the current players had either yet to be born or were newly-arrived on the planet.
Shaqwedia Wallace continues to be an early contender for most-improved player in the city after scoring 22 points for the Owls in Buffalo, including 4-of-10 three-pointers. Kristen McCarthy and LaKeisha Eaddy each scored 10 points and McCarthy, a sophomore, grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds.
With Illinois and Auburn already on the Owls' victims list, Temple could be in interesting shape by the time the Owls go visiting Rutgers on Dec.2.
"Shaqwedia was our spark off the bench last year, and this year being part of the starting lineup, we really need her to score more. She only took five shots at Dartmouth (on Tuesday) and I told her `sometimes you have to search for it,' and today she made sure she got shots. They didn't fall early, but she stuck with it."
Cardoza has a reunion of her own in the near future when Temple travels to Hartford, Saturday.
The Hawks are coached by Jennifer Rizzotti, the former UConn star guard Cardonza developed in the mid-1990s when she was an assistant coach to Geno Auriemma with the Huskies.
McConnell Puts Sentiment Aside As Duquesne Tops Penn
As a player, Duquesne coach Suzie McConnell-Serio had memorable moments competing as an all-American player with Penn State on visits to the Palestra in NCAA competition in the late 1980s.
As a successful high school coach at Pittsburgh's Oakland Catholic, she also had Penn's Sarah Bucar on her squads that won state championships.
But all of that was temporarily parked away from the banks of pleasant memories Saturday afternoon as she guided the Dukes (4-0) to a 65-58 win over the Quakers (0-3), who are still looking for their first win under new coach Mike McLaughlin.
Bucar did lead Penn with 12 points against her former coach. Kelly Britcher scored 18 points off the bench for Duquesne, which is becoming a rising power in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
"It's always great to come back because I've had some great memories here," McConnell-Serio said.
She also praised Penn which has been cited around town for the Quakers' effort, though a victory has yet to be achieved.
"Give them a lot of credit," she said. "They defend and they're a team that's going to get better and better.
"They work hard every possession, they don't take possessions off. I have a lot of respect for Sarah Bucar, who I had the opportunity to coach two years in high school and I think she's doing a great job and showing great leadership.
"We didn't play particularly well and I give Penn a lot of credit."
McLaughlin sees progress, if not victories.
"As we get better and we're competing against top notch teams, as a unit we're going to put ourselves in a position one day where hopefully we have a chance to win one of these games," he said.
"Obviously we came up short. But we competed from start to finish. We have to do so many little things to keep the game close, and every possession is so valuable to us. I like the way we gave ourselves a chance at the end."
St. Joseph's Launches New Arena With A Win
In a game the Guru attended before working Saturday night at the office, he watched St. Joseph's not let a rally go to waste in their third outing and first at home in their new Michael J.Hagan Arena, which had been Alumni Memorial Fieldhouse on Hawk Hill before last year's renovation.
Trailing 8-1 against Maryland-Baltimore County (1-2), St. Joseph's finally got untracked and went on to a 77-55 win.
Mariame Djouara scored 18 points for the Hawks (1-2), while St. Hubert's graduate Ashley Logue scored 15 points, a total equalled by fellow senior Brittany Ford.
In a touching ceremony, players from the Hawks' first team in 1973-74 and assistant athletic director Ellen Ryan, who was the coach, tossed the opening tip.
"I felt awesome, we knew we had to come out and win," said Logue, who got to see the Hawks' spacious ampitheatrical setting for postgame interviews for the first time. "We knew we had to come out and play big."
A crowd of 1,451 attended the game.
"That's the best crowd since I've been here," she said. "In the second half, we didn't let up and they (the shots) kept going in."
Coach Cindy Griffin was glad to finally get a win in the early going.
"As they said in the Wizard of Oz, there's no place like home, and our kids fed off the energy.
"Our kids wanted to be the first team to have a win in the Hagan Arena. We're not where we need to be yet shooting the ball, but we had some steps we can build on."
Incidentally, former Hawks star Katie Gardley (nee Curry). who once was a hot ticket as a player for St. Joseph's, is now selling them in her first season for her alma mater as director of women's basketball ticket sales.
Her father-in-law Buddy coached Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma, whose son Michael is a sophomore for Hawks men's coach Phil Martelli.
Midwest Drought Continues For Explorers
Tulsa overwhelmed La Salle, 62-39, as the Explorers could only shoot 21.7 percent from the field in their second loss in three days in Tulsa, Okla., after falling to Oral Roberts Friday afternoon.
The trip continues with a stop at Wichita State on Monday.
Morgan Robertson had 12 points for La Salle (1-2) as Tulsa continued off to a 2-0 start.
Tara Lapetina had the only three-pointer for the Explorers on a 1-for-10 effort from beyond the arc.
Three teams of local interest are on the road. Rutgers gets another test with a visit to No. 16 Georgia, while Penn State will help South Carolina launch the Gamecocks' home season.
South Carolina lost to Penn State in the season opener in Happy Valley a year ago, which was Dawn Staley's debut after having left Temple.
Villanova looks to be more consistent in a visit to Massachusetts.
(Special thanks for quotes supplied from Philly.com's Jonathan Tannenbaum, also a Guru team-member, who took time from celebrating an Ivy football title at his alma mater to get quotes from Penn. In that reguard, likewise to new Temple media contact Karen Auerbach (Aimee Cicero is with the new MLS team in town), and new Delaware contact Anna Cooper.)