VILLANOVA, PA. 1/15/2020 – The Villanova Wildcats clinched a share of the Big Five Women’s Championship with a 70 – 58 win over the University of Pennsylvania in the final season for Coach Harry Perretta. Winning a part of the title has meaning for Perretta and the Wildcats.
“This is unbelievable for me,” said Perretta. “I’m a Philly guy. He (Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin) gave me a piece of the Palestra floor. That was the greatest gift ever. Maybe I will sleep with it tonight. It’s big. I’m from Philly. It means a lot to us.”
It was fitting that senior captain Mary Gedaka was a leader on the squad that gave Coach one more accolade. Her mother, Lisa, played for Perretta from 1983-33. It was the final city series game for Gedaka as well.
“It is really surreal,” said Gedaka who scored 21 points and took down 9 rebounds. “Coming out and clinching a title for Coach Perretta has been a dream of ours. We always have that goal coming into the season and winning the title. Even though we didn’t win it outright this year, it has been an amazing accomplishment each year because the Big Five is such a competitive league that we are always excited to play in. It was Harry’s last year and with my mom I’ve had this tradition in my life, so I understand the significance of how exciting and awesome this league is. Being able to win it for him has been such a dream come true for all of us.”
Fellow Wildcat Sam Carangi’s mother, Jen, also played at Villanova for Coach from 1991-96. Carangi had 3 points in the game. Families can share the joy.
Under Perretta Villanova will claim 17 Big Five titles, 10 of those with a perfect record.
Penn could have put themselves in position to win the title outright by winning this game and at Temple. Still, the Quakers can share the top spot with Villanova if they emerge victorious next week on North Broad Street.
“We have to become a better basketball team practice by practice,” said Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin. “When we are in these situations again we’ll find a way. This is a group that wants to get better, learn, and we have to a better job in the third and fourth quarter.”
Villanova trailed at halftime 36 – 32. The second half turned around with the Wildcats playing better defense holding the Quakers to 22 third and fourth quarter points. Penn made 8 of 26 shots in the second half. Perretta felt the game turned the game around was Nova playing better defense. Conversely, Villanova made shots draining 14 of 28 from the floor with 5 of 11 from beyond the arc.
As much as this game had meaning for the present, it also spotlighted the future of the Big Five. Villanova redshirt freshman Maddy Siegrist lead all scorers with 27 points draining 5 of 8 from three-point land. Kayla Padilla scored a team-high 23 for the Red and Blue. It will be interesting to see those players grow and develop over the next three years.
The city series winds up next week with Penn playing at Temple. The winner of that game with be the co-champions with Villanova. Next year will be different as it will be the first in 42 years where Perretta, who has a city record of 122 – 40, will not be patrolling the Wildcats sidelines.
“I’ll miss Harry, period,” McLaughlin said. “I’m going to miss the man on the sidelines. I love to see him out there energized. He meant a lot to the women’s game nationally. I consider him a friend and always will. He is a special guy, unique in his own way. I’m going to miss hearing him yelling at his players and shooting a couple of words towards me. I have a great deal of respect for a really good man.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian