Following two tough Big East losses last weekend, Villanova women's basketball bounced back with two straight wins, beating James Madison on the road, 76-67, on Thursday night and upsetting No.23 ranked Oregon State, 56-52, at home on Sunday.
The ‘Cats were led by junior Maddy Siegrist, who made her return to the court on Thursday after missing six games due to a wrist injury. The star forward scored 65 points in the two games, bumping her season average up to 21.3 points per game over four games played.
Siegrist recorded a double-double on Thursday, finishing with 37 points and 17 rebounds. This is the eighth time Siegrist has scored 30 points in her career, and she now has 25 career double-doubles in 58 games.
Siegrist was one of two ‘Cats to score in double figures, with sophomore guard Lior Garzon adding 16 points, four rebounds and four steals.
The difference in gameplans was evident as Coach Denise Dillon’s team oriented motion offense proved to be more effective. The ‘Cats recorded an assist on 21 of their 27 field goals, led by freshman guard Lucy Olsen and junior guard Brooke Mullin, who finished with seven and six assists, respectively. The Dukes finished with just four assists on 23 field goals in the game.
Villanova struck first, with two free throws coming from Siegrist in the first 20 seconds. The Dukes would tie the game three times in the first quarter, but the ‘Cats continued to ward them off, never trailing over the 40 minutes.
The ‘Cats led 22-15 after the first quarter behind nine points from Siegrist. James Madison improved offensively in the second, but the ‘Cats strong defense and team offense persevered, never allowing the Dukes within five. Siegrist scored a layup and came up with two key defensive rebounds in the final minute to give Villanova a nine-point lead at the break.
Siegrist and Garzon combined for 29 of the team’s 42 points in the first half. The ‘Cats shot 47.2% from the field, including 37.5% from beyond the arc in the first half.
JMU made some adjustments at the half, scoring two quick baskets and cutting the lead to five in the first minute of the third quarter. The ‘Cats extended the lead back to eight behind two baskets from Siegrist and a three-pointer from Olsen.
Holding a 10-point lead entering the fourth quarter, the ‘Cats did not slow down, scoring five straight points to extend the lead to 15. The Dukes responded with a 9-0 run of their own to cut the lead to six, but Villanova weathered the storm, outscoring JMU 15-12 over the last five minutes to close the game.
Villanova finished shooting 44.3% from the field, 34.6% from deep while holding the Dukes to just 37.7% and 14.3% in the respective categories.
The ‘Cats held onto this momentum as they returned home to face Oregon State on Sunday. The victory over No.23 ranked Oregon State is Villanova’s first against a ranked opponent since its dominant 76-58 victory over No.13 DePaul in Harry Perretta’s last home game on Feb. 23, 2020.
Siegrist led the ‘Cats again with 26 points and nine rebounds. Senior forward Brianna Herlihy recorded her fifth career double-double with ten points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Garzon was the third Wildcat to score in double figures, finishing with 11 points on 3-8 shooting.
The ‘Cats stunned the Beavers, opening the game on a 10-2 run in the first five minutes. Oregon State responded with back-to-back threes to cut the lead to two with 2:42 remaining in the period. Each team would score two more points before a scoreless final minute, giving Villanova a two point lead entering the second.
Oregon State bounced back in the second, scoring four straight points to take the lead one minute into the quarter. The two teams traded baskets back and forth for the remainder of the half, with neither team leading by more than one basket.
Siegrist hit a three with 25 seconds remaining in the half, but junior forward Taya Corosdale responded with a three for Oregon State as time expired to tie the game heading into halftime.
The ‘Cats opened the second half with a 9-0 run, consisting of back-to-back threes from Garzon and a three-point play from Siegrist. Oregon State responded with a 6-0 run of its own to cut the lead back to three. Villanova was unphased, going on another 12-4 run to take its largest lead of the night, holding a 48-37 lead with 2:14 left in the third quarter.
Oregon State scored four points to close out the third, but the ‘Cats led by seven entering the final quarter. Villanova relied on strong team defense in the fourth to secure the win despite scoring just two field goals and four free throws in the period.
Oregon State cut the Villanova lead to one, but the ‘Cats went 3-4 from the line and held the Beavers scoreless over the final 1:29 to secure the victory.
Villanova finished the game shooting just 29% from the field and 25% from three. The ‘Cats recorded a season low three turnovers while forcing 15 from the Beavers.
Villanova improved to 5-5 on the season. The ‘Cats return to action on Dec. 21 as they face their final Big Five opponent LaSalle on the road. Villanova is 2-1 in Big Five on the season, and a victory against LaSalle would secure it at least part of the season title. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m.