After leading Villanova to five straight victories, Maddy Siegrist’s double-double was not enough to overcome the nation’s leading scoring team in DePaul as the Blue Demons defeated the Wildcats 75-63 on Friday night.
Siegrist scored a game high 31 points, 20 in the first half, and added 14 rebounds. The junior forward has averaged 28.3 points since returning from a wrist injury that sidelined her for six games. Friday was Villanova’s first loss since her return.
Sophomore guard Lior Garzon also recorded a double-double with 12 points, including five free throws, and 10 rebounds. Garzon, a 40% shooter on the season, went just 3-11 from the field and 1-5 from distance in the game.
The ‘Cats were without three players, including graduate forward Brianna Herlihy, due to COVID-19 protocols. Herlihy is averaging 11.7 points and 8.6 rebounds on the season and has recorded four straight double-doubles.
DePaul was led by senior guard Sonya Morris, with 25 points, and freshman forward Aneesah Morrow, who finished with a 18 point, 11 rebound double-double.
Villanova head coach Denise Dillon and the Wildcats came in with a strong defensive game plan and executed it as well as they could have, tallying 15 steals and forcing 19 turnovers. Villanova held the Blue Demons 17 points below their season average of 92 points per game, but could not muster enough offense to finish the job.
The ‘Cats struggled with 19 turnovers of their own which DePaul was able to convert into 25 points while Villanova earned just 16 points off of their defensive efforts. Villanova tried to balance this with offensive rebounding, recording 17 points off of 13 offensive rebounds while DePaul earned just eight second chance points.
The Blue Demons put the pressure on Villanova, setting up in a full court press from the first made basket. Villanova managed the pressure well in the first half, but the fast paced style of play proved to be too much for the short-handed ‘Cats.
Both teams came out hot, trading baskets back and forth with neither team leading by more than three in the first period. Siegrist made her first three shots, scoring seven straight points to open the game for Villanova. Morris and Morrow combined for 10 in the opening period, giving the Blue Demons an 18-15 lead after the first.
Behind seven more from Siegrist, the ‘Cats regained the lead 22-20. Villanova was able to slow down the Blue Demons, holding them to just 12 points in the second quarter on 5-17 shooting. The ‘Cats outscored DePaul 18-12 in the period, giving them a 33-30 lead entering halftime.
DePaul stormed back in the second half, opening the third quarter on an 8-2 run to take their first lead since the 9:30 mark of the second quarter. Siegrist and the ‘Cats cooled off, scoring just 11 points in the third quarter, allowing DePaul to take a seven point lead into the final period.
Junior guard Kierra Collier extended the Blue Demons’ lead to ten, drilling a three on DePaul’s first possession in the fourth. Garzon and Siegrist led Villanova on a 7-0 response, cutting the lead to three and forcing a DePaul timeout.
Talking it over was all it took, as the Blue Demons came out of the timeout and went on a 7-0 run of their own to regain their double digit lead. Villanova had open looks and chances down the stretch, but DePaul was able to close out the game on 5-5 shooting over the last three minutes.
Villanova falls to 8-5 on the season, 2-3 in Big East play, while DePaul improves to 13-4, 5-1 in the conference. The ‘Cats will look to bounce back on Sunday as they travel to Milwaukee to face Marquette, who beat DePaul on Wednesday night.
Villanova will return home to the Finneran Pavilion next weekend when they host two Big East rivals, Providence on Friday and Creighton on Sunday.