VILLANOVA, PA. 1/17/2018 – The Big Five title was on the line. If Villanova won, they would be the outright champions. If the University of Pennsylvania won, they would be in position to tie for the city title. The decision goes to Penn in an exciting contest on a last second short jumper by guard Anna Ross to win 79 – 77 at the Jake Nevin Field House.
“Well they called a timeout we couldn’t change the play, but they changed their defense,” said Ross. “So, I said I want the ball, just give me the ball, I am going to go to the basket. As the game progressed confidence did as well which made me able to make the shot.”
The issue was in doubt until the end. The Wildcats mounted a come back that tied the game at 68 on a three-pointer by Jannah Tucker with 2:47 to play that capped an 8 – 0 run. Penn responded by scoring the next five, including a three-pointer by Lauren Whitlatch that bounced around the rim and fell through.
Villanova stayed in contention hitting three more from beyond the arc around a pair of Penn two-pointers to lead 77 – 74 on a Whitlatch jumper. The Wildcats got the ball with 18 seconds left, then Alex Louin would make a long three to tie the game with 5 seconds on the clock.
The Wildcats, who played three road games previous to this one, did not hit their three-pointers in the first half making 3 of 16. In the second half Nova made 9 of 15, a much better percentage that put them in position to play another five minutes.
“In the first half, we got behind and had to keep battling back,” said Villanova Coach Harry Perretta. “We started matching their twos with threes on the second which brought us back in the game. We made a three to tie and they made a great shot to win it.”
Freshman forward Eleah Parker led all scorers with 25 points, a new career-high and took down 9 rebounds. Michelle Nwokedi scored 17 points and had 8 boards. Ross had 11 points and a game-high 8 assists. The team is finding their stride on offense.
“Our team chemistry grown from sharing the ball and finding open players,” said Parker. “Just knowing where we should be, knowing what shots we are looking really helped us succeed.”
Villanova had four players in double-figures. Louin and Mary Gedaka each had 19 points. Gedaka took down 10 rebounds to record her second double-double of the season. Louin continues to fill the stat sheet as she had 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Kelly Jekot had 10 points, and contributed a season-high 8 rebounds and dished out 5 assists. Tucker scored 17 points making a game and season-best 5 three-pointers.
Villanova (14 – 4, 3 – 1 Big 5) clinches at least a share of the city women’s title. They will take the home court against DePaul on Friday.
Penn (9 – 5, 2 – 1 Big Five) has one more city series game to play next week. If they win at Temple, they will get a share of the Big Five title. Should Temple win, the Owls will tie for the crown with Villanova. A classic Big Five scenario. For Penn it is a chance to win part of a prestigious championship.
“I think that it’s cool now that we get to play for the Big Five title,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “I think having a chance to win the Big Five is special. Winning the Big Five would be special for this group because our four seniors would get to experience the incredible moment of winning such an important title.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian