Wildcats Come Back From 13 Down to Defeat Lehigh, 65-60

Junior guard Brooke Mullin added 16 points in the victory.

On Wednesday, Dec. 1, the Villanova women’s basketball team came from behind to beat Lehigh University 65-60 to improve to 3-2 on the season. 

The top scorer for the Wildcats was freshman guard Lucy Olsen, who scored a career-high 22 points. Olsen was 7-of-14 from the floor, 6-of-7 on foul shots, and 2-for-3 from the three-point line. The next leading scorer was junior guard Brooke Mullin, who joined Olsen with a new career-high of 16 points for the Wildcats, knocking down important shots including several three-pointers towards the end of the game. Mullin also finished the game with five rebounds and a career-best five steals. Forwards Lior Garzon and Brianna Herlihy also helped the Wildcats, with the sophomore Garzon providing 11 and graduate student Herlihy adding eight. Herlihy finished the game with a career-high of 12 rebounds. 

 The Wildcats and the Mountain Hawks went back and forth for most of the first half of the game but it was clear that the Wildcats were the ones lacking on both sides of the floor, as they heavily relied on Olsen to score the points. The half ended with a score of 34-28 in favor of the Mountain Hawks. 

The Wildcats were missing their star player junior forward Maddie Siegrist who was out with a wrist injury.

“Other players are starting to step up knowing it won’t be too long until Maddy gets back,” Villanova head coach Denise Dillon said. “We’re counting on them to continue to do what they can do and then just add that other element that takes us to another level.” One of such players was the young Olsen. 

 “She came in ready to go and took what the defense gave her,” Dillon said of Olsen’s performance. “I think one area of Lucy’s that hasn’t been recognized yet is her defensive presence. She’s got really good length and gets a lot of touches. I think Lucy has a great future and she’s doing some good things early.”

However, going into the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, it was clear that the energy had shifted in favor of the Wildcats.

“We talked about it at halftime like how this is a team sport like one person cannot do it but I have to say Brooke Mullin at least led the charge,” Dillon said. “She was on a mission and she was doing it on both ends of the floor. Just aggressive loose ball action and getting rebounds and then knocking down some big shots and I think that settled everybody else in so I was really pleased with her and everybody who rallied around her was feeling it as well.” 

With seven minutes left in the game, Mullin knocked down an important three-pointer which cut the lead to 51-46 after the Wildcats had trailed by double digits for a majority of the game. The Wildcats started trapping in the backcourt, stalling Lehigh’s offense and allowing Villanova to continue cutting the lead. Mullin hit another three less than a minute later to get the Wildcats within two points.

Just when things were looking up for the Wildcats, Lehigh matched Mullin’s three with one of their own giving them a 54-49 lead with six minutes left. 

However, the Wildcats were able to regain the momentum quickly with help from the enthusiasm of players on the bench. At the 3:16 minute mark, the Wildcats took their first lead of the second half 56-54 with a layup by sophomore guard Bella Runyan and a three-pointer and a driving layup from Garzon. 

With 47 seconds left, Lehigh’s Mackenzie Kramer made one of two free throws, tying the game 60-60. The Wildcats called a timeout which consequently produced a set play for Garzon to make a difficult driving lay-up to give the team back the lead. 

In their last attempt to tie the game the Mountain Hawks turned the ball over with 10 seconds left, and their only strategy next was to foul the Wildcats. Villanova made three of four foul shots to seal the win.  

“Well they were fired up and I’m excited for them,” Dillon said. “They used every ounce of energy they had to get that win so you know. We were down, looked a little bit out but battled back and certainly didn't quit. I liked their energy together out on the floor.”