In the sixth edition of our memorable moments series we look back at the Women’s Big Five season that resulted in Temple and Villanova earning a share of the Big Five Championship. Let’s look back at a recap of the season.
The Big Five women’s basketball season ended with the Villanova Wildcats and the Temple Owls sharing the championship each with a 3 – 1 record. Villanova coach Harry Perretta retired after 42 seasons on the bench and capped it winning the 18th Big Five title. For Temple it was their 3rd City Series crown in the past decade, the last since 2016-17, under Tonya Cardoza. Each team posted a city win this season, and as usual there was a lot to look back upon.
The Big Five schedule began on November 11th when Temple visited Saint Joseph’s. The Hawks were a bit inexperienced, but defeated the Owls 67 – 63. It was a Philly game, but Saint Joe’s won it behind the efforts of Lula Roig from Spain and Claire Melia of Australia with 13 points each. The Hawks Katie Jekot made 8 consecutive free throws down the stretch. Hawks go 1 – 0 in the Big Five. It would be the only loss for the Cherry and White.
November closed with the University of Pennsylvania making a visit to Hawk Hill and won it 55 – 45. Penn was the most experienced team in the city, but would have to win the City Series crown playing four away games. Not an easy task. Penn overcame an old nemesis winning at La Salle in early December to post a 2 – 0 record halfway through their city schedule. The Quakers won five straight Big 5 road contests, a program record, and 8 of their last 10 city games. Villanova began their pursuit of another Big Five crown winning 66 – 40 at Saint Joseph’s.
The game which had an impact on the final standing was a December 10th game between Villanova and Temple at McGonigle Hall. The Owls won it 73 – 69. The Wildcats trailed by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, but rallied to cut the deficit to one-point late in the fourth quarter. The Owls got key baskets and made their free throws to win.
Villanova went to 10th and Olney just before Christmas break and beat La Salle 77 – 69. Wildcats forward Maddy Siegrist set a record scoring 41 points, the most points scored by a freshman in program history, and were the most made by a freshman in Division I this season. Siegrist made 13 of 18 from the field and was good on 6 of 10 three-point shots. She converted 9 of 10 free throws.
The Cherry and White closed calendar year 2019 winning 72-69 at La Salle. With just three more Big Five games to play Penn was in first place with a 2 – 0 record. Villanova and Temple followed at 2 wins and 1 loss. Saint Joe’s fourth at 1 – 2, and La Salle was 0 – 3. It was quite interesting that the two games in January were between those three teams, and those would decide the championship.
The Quakers visited the Finn to play the Wildcats. Prior to the game Penn Coach Mike McLaughlin presented Harry Perretta was a piece of the Palestra floor as a gift. Perretta was deeply touched by the gesture as the Big Five and the Palestra represented a huge part of his coaching life.
Now to the game. Villanova won it 70 – 58 and clinched a share of the crown. The Quakers led at halftime. The Wildcats took control of the game in the fourth quarter with a 12 – 1 run to lead 58 – 49 with 5 minutes to play. During a 9:26 stretch Nova held the Red and Blue without a field goal. This contest also gave us a glimpse into the future. Freshman players Siegrist and Penn’s Kayla Padilla had outstanding seasons. They both scored twenty-plus points in the matchup.
Eight days later Penn and Temple would decide who would share the championship with Villanova at McGonigle Hall. It would be the Owls winning 76 – 72 on a huge fourth quarter comeback. The Quakers held a 13-point lead going into the fourth quarter, then won the last 10 minutes by a 29 – 12 margin. Temple used an 18 – 3 run to get the lead. Penn came back to get a one-point edge with just over two minutes remaining. The Owls locked it up with a 7 – 2 run.
The City Series ended with La Salle playing at Saint Joseph’s. This was also an Atlantic 10 game. La Salle won at home earlier in the season. A big win, but the win at 54th and City Line for Explorers coach Mountain MacGillivray was more meaningful as he got his first Big Five win 59 – 53. It was the first ever regular season sweep for the Explorers in their series with the Hawks, and the first win on Hawk Hill since 1998. The Jacobs sisters, Claire and Amy from Australia, led the way with Claire scoring 18 points and Amy getting 11 points.
The teams finished with Temple and Villanova tied for the top at 3 – 1. Penn was third at 2 – 2 while La Salle and Saint Joseph’s went 1 – 3.
For four of the schools, they did play in their conference tournaments. The co-titlists posted a postseason victory. Temple won an American Athletic Conference Tournament first round game defeating ECU 67 – 59 before falling to eventual league champion Connecticut 94 – 61 in the quarterfinal. Villanova got past Xavier 64 – 56 in overtime in the Big East first round. The Wildcats could not get past the Marquette Warriors in the quarterfinal losing 72 – 59. La Salle and Saint Joe’s were ousted in their A10 opening round game. The Explorers lost 67 – 63 to the Davidson Wildcats while the Hawks fell 59 – 36 to Fordham. Both games were on the road. There was more disappointment for the Quakers. They earned the second seed in the Ivy League Tournament, only to have the league cancel it three days earlier due to COVID-19.
The Big Five honored Harry Perretta as its Coach of the Year. The team was 18 -13 and 11 – 7 in the Big East. Mia Davis from Temple was the Player of the Year. Davis averaged a team-best average of 18.8 and 10.2 rebounds. She had 18 double-doubles, sixth-best in the country. Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist was named the Rookie of the Year. She averaged 18.8 points and 8.9 rebounds per game which led the team. She holds the program record for most points scored by a freshman with 583 points.
The year saw outstanding performances, memorable games, and was fun to watch. Each win was earned. Enjoy this season and hope for the best in 2020-21.
Written By: Glenn Papazian