On Wednesday night, Head Coach Harry Perretta earned his final Big 5 win, as the Wildcats beat the University of Pennsylvania, 70-58. The win brings the team to an overall record of 10-7, and 3-1 in the Big Five.
The first half of play featured an influx of scoring on each side. Senior Bridget Herlihy led all scorers with 13 points, going 3-5 from beyond the arc. Freshman star Kayla Padilla had nine first-half points for the Quakers. She finished the night with a team-high 23 points. Both teams shot over 40% from the floor, but it was Penn that capitalized on Villanova’s mistakes in the first half, totaling nine points off of ‘Nova’s 11 turnovers. Penn held the lead at halftime, 36-32.
From there, according to Perretta, the ‘Cats played their best second half of basketball that they have played all year. With just over five minutes remaining in the third quarter, senior Mary Gedaka stole the ball and passed to redshirt freshman Madison Siegrist, who hit a three to tie the game at 40. That basket capped an 8-0 run for the Wildcats.
Two minutes later, an offensive rebound by Gedaka led to a second-chance jumper by Siegrist, which gave the ‘Cats a 45-44 lead, a lead which they never relinquished.
“I said at halftime, I don’t think we can win high-scoring games, we’re just not built that way,” said Perretta. “The defense was the key to the game.”
After Penn committed four turnovers in the first half, the ‘Cats forced nine in the second half, also outrebounding the Quakers 13-9.
The team went on a 10-0 run midway through the fourth quarter, led by baskets from sophomore Sam Carangi, Gedaka, and Siegrist. The ‘Cats gained their largest lead of the game at just under the two-minute mark in the fourth quarter when Siegrist hit her fifth three-point shot on the night to extend the score to 68-52.
Siegrist, who finished the night with a team-high 27 points, going 5-8 from three, and Gedaka, who finished with 21 points and nine rebounds, scored the last 12 points of the game for the Wildcats. Junior Cameron Onken had a team-high 12 rebounds. The team converted eight of their last nine field goals and outscored Penn 38-22 in the second half.
With the win, Villanova now earns at least a part of the Big 5 title.
“It was so much fun,” said Siegrist. “They’re a really good team. For the Big 5, now we get to share the title no matter what, so we knew we had to bring it.”
Up next, the ‘Cats return to Big East play on Saturday to face Georgetown at the Finneran Pavilion. Tip-off is set for 6:00 p.m.