Villanova defeated Saint Joseph’s, 60-44, on Saturday afternoon to even its record at 4-4 on the season.
After a heartbreaking overtime loss to Drexel earlier in the week, the ‘Cats returned to the Finneran Pavilion for a dominant second half performance against the 4-5 Hawks.
An equipment problem before the game led to a technical foul on Villanova, awarding St. Joe’s two free throws before tip-off. Sophomore Katie Jekot, sister of Villanova’s Kelly Jekot, sunk both, giving the Hawks an early 2-0 lead. That turned into a 20-11 lead at the end of the first quarter, courtesy of nine points from freshman Claire Melia. Melia finished the game with a team high 22 points and 15 rebounds.
That was the only quarter in which St. Joe’s outscored the ‘Cats. In the second quarter, the team’s strong defense held St. Joe’s scoreless for four minutes.
“I thought that our defense was good for the whole game,” Head Coach Harry Perretta said. “We just needed to make a couple shots.”
Those shots finally started to fall in the second half of play. Down 26-22 at the start of the third quarter, redshirt freshman Madison Siegrist and senior Mary Gedaka scored the first six points for the ‘Cats. Siegrist finished with a team high 23 points and eight rebounds, and Gedaka had 19 points and five rebounds.
Siegrist secured an offensive rebound and finished with a lay-up to give the team its first lead of the game, 33-32, with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. A minute later, freshman Brooke Mullin hit a jumper to extend Villanova’s lead to three, 35-32. Mullin’s basket capped a 9-0 run by the ‘Cats.
Junior Cameron Onken, who finished with eight points, a team high 13 rebounds and seven assists, hit a three to break the 36-36 tie at the 1:30 mark in the third.
“I had already missed a few and it was in my head, but I was like, you know what, I need to do it for the team,” Onken said about her three-point shot. “Stepping up there with some confidence on that shot that went in felt great.”
Following a block on the defensive end by senior Bridget Herlihy, her fourth of the game, Mullin hit another three, putting Villanova on top 42-36. In the last possession of the third quarter, Onken sunk a buzzer-beater three to give the ‘Cats a seven-point lead, 45-38, going into the final quarter.
“I think the game was won when Cameron Onken’s made those two threes,” Perretta said.
Perretta was right, as the team led for the rest of the game. The ‘Cats finished the game on a 9-0 run, holding St. Joe’s scoreless for the last three minutes of play. In the second half, Villanova shot 52% from the floor, limiting the Hawks to only 17%.
“We really picked it up as the game went on,” Onken said. “I think we found our roll and played really well. It was a great team win.”
Up next, the team continues its stretch in the Big 5 by traveling to Temple on Dec. 10 for a 5 p.m. start.