Women's Basketball Advances in NIT

After receiving a bid last Monday, the Villanova women’s basketball team traveled to Charlotte, NC to compete in the WNIT. The Wildcats faced the Minutewomen of UMass in the first round of the tournament on Friday night. Villanova dominated the entire game, winning 78-51 and advancing to the second round. 

Villanova jumped out to an early 20-point lead in the first half and led by at least 18 for the remainder of the game. 

The ‘Cats came out hot, shooting 56.3 percent from the field and 71.4 percent from beyond the arc in the opening quarter. A 23-8 run midway through the first into the second quarter, sparked by 20 first half points from sophomore Maddy Siegrist, helped the ‘Cats build their lead and put away the Minutewomen early. 

Siegrist led all scorers with 32 points on 13-of-18 shooting and went 5-of-6 from three point range. This is Siegrist's 6th 30-point game of the season, and 7th in her career. With these 32 points, Siegrist jumps five spots and moves to 20th on the all-time scoring list with 1,090 points. Siegrist also added 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 steals. 

Freshman Lior Garzon was the second Wildcat to score in double-digits, adding 13 points off the bench. Sophomore Brooke Mullin tied her career-high with 9 points and recorded a new career-best five assists. 

Seniors Raven James and Sarah Mortensen struggled on the scoring end, but James tallied seven assists to fuel the Villanova offense, while Mortensen grabbed a team-high seven rebounds, all defensive, to help the ‘Cats win the boards by a 43-37 margin. 

Freshman Taliyah Medina, who has seen very limited minutes this season, scored 8 points for the ‘Cats off the bench and added five rebounds, two assists and a steal. 

Senior Brianna Herlihy, who has been a stand out performer for Villanova this season, scored just five points in the win which bodes well for Villanova’s chances to advance in the tournament. If the team can win by 27 points with their second-leading scorer having an off day and going 2-of-5 from the field, they will be a tough opponent to beat.  

UMass was led by Sam Been who scored 14 points and recorded five rebounds and three steals. Destiny Philoxy added 10 points, two rebounds, and five assists for the Minutewomen. 

The Wildcats held an 18 point advantage at the half-time break after making seven threes, shooting 58.2 percent from long range in the half.

 This hot shooting streak continued into the second, where the ‘Cats went on to make five more threes and finish the game shooting 54.2 percent from three, while the Minutewomen went 0-11 from distance and shot just 26.9 percent from the field. 

Villanova stretched the lead to as many as 32 points in the second half and led by no less than 24 in the fourth quarter. 

With this win, the Wildcats move on to the second round to face the Gators of the University of Florida on Saturday night, tip-off is set for 8 p.m.

Florida defeated UNC Charlotte 66-65 in the first round. The Gators enter the game with an overall record of 12-13, while the ‘Cats sit at 16-6. This marks only the second time the two teams have met, the first in 1998, with Florida defeating Villanova 52-49. 

With every team in a survive and advance mindset, these postseason tournaments always bring great competition. A ‘Cats’ win on Saturday would advance them to the WNIT quarterfinals, farther than any previous Villanova women’s team, and would keep the 2021 season alive.