VILLANOVA, Pa. (1/24/12) – The Villanova University Wildcats women’s basketball team used the three-point basket effectively in the first half, but had to hold off a surge by the Cincinnati Bearcats earning a 62 – 53 victory in a Big East contest at the Pavilion. Villanova made 10 three-point baskets in the game. The Wildcats were led by Redshirt Freshman forward with 4 three-point field goals and had 16 points overall. The solid first half play was critical for Villanova according to Coach Harry Perretta.
In the first half Villanova got off to a good start making 7 of 14 shots from beyond the arc. Burford made 3 of 4 from distance leading Villanova to a 33 – 18 halftime lead. Burford and Senior guard Lindsay Kimmel made shots from outside. Senior forward Laura Sweeney made shots from inside. Villanova was playing effective offense.
“We were hitting threes and it got them down a bit, so we kept pushing it,” said Burford.
“We’re an inconsistent offensive team,” Perretta said. “We have to get better at being consistent. When we are consistent, we look pretty good.”
The three-pointers did not fall as often in the second half. Villanova made just 3 of 9 from distance. Cincinnati put pressure on the ball making it hard to get that long shot. Sweeney was on the bench with 3 personal fouls. Villanova led 40 – 24 with 15:13 to play. Cincinnati began their charge. A 15 – 6 run by the Bearcats keyed by the play of guard Bjonee Reaves who scored 13 points in that span. Villanova got a three from Senior guard Rachel Roberts to get the lead back to 10 at 49 – 39. After a basket by guard Dayeesha Hollins Junior forward Megan Pearson hit a three to give Villanova a 52 – 41 lead at the 7:39 mark. That would be the last three of the game for the Wildcats.
Cincinnati kept the pressure on out front. An 8 – 0 by the Bearcats cut the lead to 52 – 49 with 5:04 to play. Sweeney took the ball to the basket making a layup at the 4:12 mark. The next basket of the game came at 2:11 when Sweeney made a short jumper giving her team 7 point edge. Another layup at 1:13 by Sweeney answered a Cincinnati basket Hollins. Four free throws by Sophomore guard Devon Kane gave Villanova their final margin of victory.
“Even though they (Cincinnati) were making a charge, they still had to make up 15 points,” Perretta said. “They missed a couple of shots down the stretch, and Laura Sweeney made three huge baskets. She was able to score to put is up 5 which was crucial.”
Sweeney scored 14 points and took down 6 rebounds. Kane scored 9 points and handed out 4 assists. Reaves scored a game-high 20 points for the Bearcats. Hollins added 17 points and 6 rebounds.
Villanova improves to 3 – 4 in the Big East matching their total from the previous season. 13 wins for the Wildcats exceeds the total from last year’s campaign. The Wildcats broke a three game losing streak in conference. It was also an important bounce back win after the loss at Notre Dame as Villanova enters another phase of their schedule.
“This is huge and sets the momentum for us going into what we call another season for us,” said Kimmel. We played UConn and Notre Dame. When those games are done we look at it like a whole new season. This is huge for us to get off to a good start.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian