November 25, 2020 –
For the first time in 42 years the Villanova Women’s Basketball team started with a new coach at the helm. Denise Dillon, a heralded Villanova player, took over as Coach and begins her era with a 70 – 37 win over the Rider Broncs at the Finneran Pavilion. The meaning was very special for Dillon.
“It was an amazing day for us to be able to play the game first and foremost,” said Dillon. “But the realization of being back at Villanova and taking the position after 42 years of Harry (Perretta) being at the helm, it hit me when the game was about to start. I said once the games rolled around I would realize the position I was in and what we were to embark on.”
It was a good start and effort for the Wildcats on this journey who were led by sophomore forward Maddy Siegrist who had a game-high 28 points and 10 rebounds. She made 13 of 19 and was 2 of 5 from beyond the arc. It was her 12th career double-double.
“We’re happy to have a game, and we’re grateful for every opportunity,” said Siegrist.
As a team Nova made over half of their shots (53%), and assisted 24 times on 30 made field goals. Seven Villanova players scored and eleven recorded an assist. Raven James handed out 6 in the game.
“We did a really great job of sharing the ball,” Siegrist said. “After the first quarter we got a lot of the jitters out, and we were able to go from there, and pick it up offensively and defensively as well.”
The Wildcats broke away in the second quarter where they converted 9 of 12 from the floor. In a stretch the team converted six straight field goals to go in front 29 – 15. Siegrist had 9 points in the quarter and Brooke Mullin had her 5 points during that time. Eight assists on the nine baskets were recorded.
“They’re a selfless group,” Dillon said. “Once they settled in and recognized pace instead of making something happen individually, allowed the offense to work for themselves, and the ball movement got some open looks for us.”
In the third quarter the defense took over and held Rider scoreless for over five and a half minutes to grow the advantage to 45 – 29. Over the game the defense limited the Broncs to 12 of 48 from the floor (25%), and the Wildcats scored 25 points off 20 turnovers by the visitors.
“I was pleased with the connection,” said Dillon. “They worked to play together on both ends of the floor. We emphasized it on defense, the communication, not assuming that someone knows something, talking through things, because that has to be a habit. I was pleased with their buy in.”
Freshman forward Lior Garzon scored 11 points and Brianna Herlihy pulled down 8 rebounds to go along with 8 points.
Amanda Mobley led Rider with 14 points making 5 of her 8 shots and converting all four free throws.
Villanova prepares for a Saturday game at Manhattan. The Wildcats go in at 1 – 0, a start they wanted.
“I was so happy that the team got to be on the floor playing against someone other than themselves,” Dillon said. “It was nice to see them and the vision of what we can do and be about, learning and working.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian