December 22, 2020 –
The Connecticut Huskies are back in the Big East. Their first trip to the Main Line as a conference foe was successful for them as #3 UConn handed the Villanova Wildcats their initial loss of the season 90 – 52.
Connecticut adjusted on both sides of the floor were the reasons for the victory.
The first fifteen minutes showed a competitive game. Then UConn made a defensive adjustment and switched to a zone defense which caused offensive difficulty for Nova.
“Against the man we were getting natural looks focusing on the inside – out,” said Villanova Coach Denise Dillon. “We were getting looks we were comfortable taking.”
After the switch the Wildcats went cold in the second and especially the third quarter in which they posted 8 points shooting 18% (3 of 17). The defense took away the top three Nova inside scorers which forced getting offense from outside. Those shots did not fall. For the game the Wildcats connected on 20 of 69 from the floor and 11 of 39 three-pointers. The leading scorers for the Cats got their points, but it was a struggle. Maddy Siegrist scored 15, Sarah Mortensen added a team-high 17 points, and Brianna Herlihy contributed 9 with 11 rebounds. Only three other Villanova players got points.
The Huskies started to generate offense as the defense kicked it into gear. UConn was not hitting three-point shots, then adjusted on that end of the floor to get inside baskets. Of the Connecticut 35 baskets, only 5 were from deep which caused a 56 – 14 disparity on points in the paint, advantage Huskies.
“They weren’t making the threes so the emphasis was to get the drives, the pull up jumpers, and driving it to the post which is a tough matchup in general,” Dillon observed. “On the drives we weren’t helping. The defense I wasn’t pleased with and that goes hand in hand in missing shots and getting frustrated.”
Four Huskies scored in double figures led by Paige Bueckers and Olivia Nelson-Ododa with each player getting 19 points. Christyn Williams added 18 points and Evina Westbrook contributed 17 points.
Villanova stands at 7 – 1 on the season (2 – 1 Big East), and will look back at loss number one as a big lesson learned.
“You have to learn from the wins, but you certainly learning more from the losses, this one especially,” Dillon said. “You have to feel this one and see how far we need to go and what needs to be done.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian