Women’s Basketball Drops First Two Big East Games

Freshman guard Zanai Jones scored 13 points against Providence.

After a hard fought comeback victory against LaSalle, Villanova opened its conference schedule with two road games against Providence and Creighton. On Friday night, the ‘Cats fell to Providence, 66-47, followed by another tough loss on Sunday, a 72-58 loss to Creighton. 

The ‘Cats were still without star junior forward Maddy Siegrist this weekend. Siegrist has missed six games with an injury. There has not been an update with an expected timeline of her return. 

In Friday’s loss, the Wildcats were led by graduate forward Brianna Herlihy who finished with 20 points and seven rebounds. Herlihy was the only Villanova player to score in double figures. 

Sophomore forward Lior Garzon, the ‘Cats leading scorer on the season, was held to just five points on two-of-nine shooting. Ten Wildcats saw the floor on Friday night, but only three scored more than five points.

The ‘Cats started the game strong, leading 13-8 at the end of the first quarter. The Friars fought back, taking the lead, 17-16, at the 7:06 mark in the second. Herlihy responded with two free-throws, regaining a one point advantage. 

Four quick points from Providence gave the team a 24-18 advantage with 2:20 remaining in the half. The ‘Cats demonstrated strong defensive efforts, holding the Friars scoreless for the remainder of the half and scoring four points to trail 24-22 at the break. 

The Wildcats scored quickly out of the locker room with a Herlihy jumper to tie the game at 24. Providence responded with two free throws off a second chance rebound and foul on Villanova freshman guard Lucy Olsen. Villanova tied the game once more at 26 with 7:28 left in the quarter before the Friars ultimately took the lead at the 7:14 mark. 

Providence went on a 15-6 run to close out the period, giving it a nine-point advantage entering the fourth quarter. 

The Wildcats had their best offensive quarter of the day, scoring 15 points in the fourth, but the Friars were able to respond, scoring 25 of their own points, extending the lead to 19 by the final buzzer. 

Villanova shot just 27.1% from the field and 15.4% from three while Providence recorded totals of 47.8% and 50% in the respective categories. The ‘Cats size disadvantage was clear, as the Friars out-rebounded Villanova by a 43-29 margin. 

The ‘Cats’ offensive performance on Sunday was more promising, but turnovers and rebounding struggles proved too much for them to overcome. 

Freshman guard Zanai Jones had a career day, leading the ‘Cats with 13 points on five-of-nine shooting, and five rebounds. Garzon and junior guard Brooke Mullin added 11 points each. Herlihy had a quieter day with just eight points, all coming in the first half, and two rebounds. 

Villanova and Creighton traded baskets for the first 6:26, with five lead changes over that time until the Bluejays took a 12-11 advantage at the 4:34 mark, a lead that they would hold onto for the remainder of the game. 

Creighton went on a 8-1 run to stretch the lead to 18-12 at the 2:29 mark. The ‘Cats responded with back-to-back threes from Garzon and Mullin, but the Bluejays remained steady, scoring with 30 seconds remaining to hold a 21-18 lead at the end of the quarter. 

Villanova struck first in the second on another three from Mullin, cutting the Bluejay lead to one. Missed free throws and turnovers from the ‘Cats allowed Creighton to go on a 14-1 run, leading by 14 with 3:00 remaining in the half. Two straight layups from Jones cut the lead to nine at the break. 

Creighton regained a double-digit lead 0:36 into the second half and continued to dominate, leading 50-35 midway through the quarter. The ‘Cats scored just six points in the quarter, while the Bluejays tallied 20, giving them a 23 point advantage entering the final quarter. 

The ‘Cats bounced back offensively in the fourth quarter, scoring 21 points, including nine from Jones, but the 23-point deficit was too large to overcome. 

Villanova’s shooting improved greatly from Friday to Sunday, finishing at 42% from the field and 33% from deep. The rebounding struggles continued however, with the Bluejays earning the advantage by a margin of 34-24. 

Villanova fell to 3-5 on the season and 0-2 in conference play, while Creighton improved to 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the conference. The Wildcats return to action with another road game against non-conference opponent James Madison on Thursday, Dec. 9. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.