PHILADELPHIA, December 4, 2011 – The Villanova Wildcats got off to an early lead behind the inside scoring of Junior Forward Laura Sweeny to earn a 67 – 51 win over the La Salle Explorers at the Gola Arena. Sweeney scored a game-high tying 24 points, 14 in the first half to pace the Wildcats. Junior Guard Brittany Wilson also scored 24 for the Explorers. Sweeney felt the good start was important for her team.
“It (the start) gave us the momentum to keep going and to keep going after them and find some mismatches,” Sweeney said. When we couldn’t take it to the middle we were able to get the ball out and be on point. When people are hitting shots it helps you on defense. When you get stops on defense it helps you on offense. Everything was working for us.”
The offense and defense were clicking early in the game for the Wildcats. Villanova held a 20 – 4 lead with 7:38 to play in the half as the Blue and White effectively moved the ball around the perimeter finding their leading scorer for 14 early points. It was a crisp 15 minutes for Villanova. La Salle would mount a charge in the half scoring 12 unanswered point to pull to within 20 – 16 with 3:49 remaining in the half. Wilson led the run with 6 consecutive points. Villanova needed an answer and found it in Junior Forward Emily Suhey. She would hit two 3-point shots, a long one with almost no time remaining. Along with Senior Guard Lindsay Kimmel the long ball gave Villanova a 30 – 21 lead at halftime.
The second half saw La Salle trying to get back early as Wilson was going to the basket cutting the gap to 35 – 28 at the 15:58 mark. Wilson and La Salle made their jumper while Villanova was in the zone, then take the ball to the basket when the Wildcats played in a man to man defense. Again, Suhey answered a three-ball to put Villanova in front 43 – 30. Later in the half she would nail another three-pointer to put Villanova ahead by 16 at 50 – 34 10:51 to play. Villanova found room underneath and went on an 8 – 0 run to take their largest lead of 58 – 39 at the 7:18 mark. The Wildcats played the clock to earn the victory. It was a game of runs, and according to Villanova Coach Harry Perretta, his team had the better streaks.
“It was one of those games where you have to make shots to win,” said Villanova Coach Harry Perretta. “It was a game of spurts, and fortunately for us we did things better than they did in our spurts.”
“We’ve been getting off to slow starts offensively,” said La Salle Coach Jeff Williams. “We’ve been having problems scoring the basketball. Villanova is a good basketball team. They get open shots, and it takes a lot out of you to play catchup. We got back into the game, we just weren’t deep enough to close.”
Sweeney also grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds in addition to her scoring. This was her third 20 point plus performance this season, and her second straight double-double.
Villanova had two other double-figure scorers in Freshman Forward Taylor Holeman who had 11 points and 7 rebounds. Suhey scored 12 points on four well-timed three-point shots.
“Assistant Coach Joe Mullaney said to me that Emily Suhey is a good three-point specialist and to put her in the game,” Perretta said. “I did and she made three’s. In the second half she made two three’s which broke the game open. ‘
Wilson pulled down a team-high 8 rebounds for the Explorers.
Villanova out-rebounded La Salle by a 34 – 25 margin. 13 rebounds for the Wildcats were on the offensive glass that led to a 17 – 5 edge in Second Chance Points.
With the win Villanova improves to 6 – 2, and the Wildcats win their initial Big Five game. They will travel to Providence for their Big East opener on December 7 before coming home to meet city-rival Saint Joseph’s in what will be a very interesting and entertaining game.
La Salle evens their Big Five record at 1 – 1, but falls to 2 – 7 for the season as they have lost four straight. The Explorers travel to Loyola of Illinois on December 8 as their next chance to break the streak.
Written By: Glenn Papazian