VILLANOVA, January 3, 2012 – The Villanova Wildcats women’s team was looking for a bounce-back win to open their 2012 part of their schedule. The Wildcats closed out 2011 losing to Monmouth 49 – 48. The team did bounce-back earning a 70-62 Big East win over the Pitt Panthers to even their conference record at 1 – 1.
The Blue and White got off to a quick start raining threes on the visiting Pitt Panthers, and they would need that. Villanova made 8 of 16 first half shots from beyond the arc to take a 32 – 20 halftime lead. Villanova Coach Harry Perretta felt the good start and early threes was big for the team.
“It was huge because in our last game we were 4 – 27 shooting threes,” said Perretta. “Lauren Burford got us off to a good start making threes. Then other kids came in. For us to win in the Big East we have to play defense and shoot threes.”
Four of the 3-point field goals in the first half came from Redshirt Freshman forward Lauren Burford who scored a career-high 19 points, 16 in the first half. In addition to Burford Sophomore guard Devon Kane made 3 from distance and contributed 17 in the game.
“We worked a lot on shooting the threes at practice since after the last game we were missing them, so we worked on it a lot in practice,” said Burford.
Pitt would not go away. The threes did not come as often for Villanova, but the turnovers did. The Wildcats has 12 for the game, and 9 came in the second half. Pitt began their comeback. The Panthers cut the deficit to 4 at 49 – 45 with 7:21 to play. Villanova responded with a 9 – 2 run to apparently regain control at 58 – 47 4:26 on the clock. Pitt scored the next 9, 7 by their leading scorer Brianna Kiesel, to get to within 58 – 56 with 2:05 to play. A three by Junior guard Rachel Roberts put Villanova ahead by 5. Junior forward Laura Sweeney made a layup and followed that with a steal and score that gave the Wildcats a 65 – 56 advantage with 40 seconds left.
“Our aggressiveness dwindled as the game went on,” said Perretta. “We have a team that when they get ahead, they get extremely nervous. We were tentative. They had 4 steals for breakaways in the second half. In the second half we were tentative in passing the ball.”
Both teams committed 12 turnovers. Pitt got 13 points of the turnovers while Villanova got 11.
Villanova got two other double-figures scorers. Sweeney and Junior forward Megan Pearson each scored 10 points and grabbed 6 rebounds. In addition to 9 points Roberts dished out a game-high 4 assists. Kiesel scored a game-high 24 points, 18 in the second half, and added 3 assists. Guard Asia Logan added 12 points and a game-high 7 rebounds. Guard Marquel Davis scored 13 points.
Villanova made 13 from beyond the arc compared to just 3 for Pitt. This was the fourth game this season where the Wildcats had double-digit made threes.
“We had to beat them from the perimeter, and luckily, made enough shots to win,” Perretta said.
The Wildcats improve to 11 -3 for the season. This was the first of four straight Big East games for Villanova. The team goes on the road to West Virginia and Marquette before returning home to meet Connecticut.
Written By: Glenn Papazian