December 13, 2020 –
The story lines were all written. Villanova Coach Denise Dillon would be facing her former team, assistant coach, and friend Amy Mallon on the court. Former Drexel assistants were on the Villanova bench while former Wildcats assistants were on the Dragons bench. Preparations were in place. The ball went up and then it was up to the players. It was an expected hard fought game that showed the determination of each side.
The issue was decided in the last 26 seconds when Villanova senior guard Raven James made a layup to break a tie, then a potential game-winning three-pointer by Drexel junior guard Keishana Washington bounced off the rim as the horn sounded. The Wildcats come away with a 48 – 46 win at the Pavilion to extend the winning streak to six games.
“At that point I had to be ready to take that shot,” said James about the eventual game-winner. “I remember explaining to the team we all have to be an option.”
“That shows a bit of her grit,” Villanova Coach Denise Dillon said about James. “She recognized today that we were struggling on the perimeter. The layup was remarkable. She got it to drop.”
In the first quarter Drexel had the better of it. Villanova topped the second quarter. Fittingly, the game was tied at 21 at halftime. Neither team was able to pull away in the second half. The largest lead by wither side was 5 points. In the fourth quarter 4 points was the largest margin, and was by Drexel twice.
With just over two and a half minutes to go and Drexel leading by four, Siegrist nailed a three-pointer to cut the gap to a single point. Her basket were the first points scored in three minutes by either side. James made her impact on the game popping out for a three with just under a minute and a half on the clock giving Nova a 46 – 44 lead.
Drexel tied on a Kate Connolly layup that broke a five minute scoreless stretch for her team. Villanova answered on the game-winning drive by James then survived the final shot.
“It seemed like a typical game between city teams down to the last minute, the last play,” said Drexel Coach Amy Mallon. “Unfortunately, we didn’t get that last shot to fall. We worked so hard to put ourselves in a position to take that shot at the end.”
Both teams struggled on offense, a testimonial to the defenses. Wildcats leading scorer Maddy Siegrist was held below her scoring average finishing the game with 11 points. The Dragons defense forced the the Cats into 33% shooting (19 of 57) from the field. Drexel did not fare any better sinking 18 of 62 shots (29%) and went 4 of 18 from three-point land.
Brianna Herlihy was the leading Nova scorer getting 13 points, 9 of which came in the first half. Herlihy recorded a game-high in rebounds with 12 and assists handing out 4. Lior Garzon added 10 points.
“I thought it would be an ugly one, a game of possessions, and it was just that,” said Dillon.
Washington scored a game-high 16 points. She made 3 of 6 from distance and had 9 rebounds and 3 assists, tops in each category for the Dragons. Hannah Nihill contributed 13 points while Connolly added 11 points.
A more emotional game would be hard to find. Each team had an opportunity to win. The game tilted to Villanova. Then each staff would sincerely congratulate one another.
“You hate to see for anyone to come out on the losing end the way Drexel played,” Dillon said.
Written By: Glenn Papazian