January 25, 2021 –
It was the first game for the Villanova women’s basketball team in 19 days pausing the season due to COVID-19 issues. No one really knew what to expect, and Coach Denise Dillon said they were not looking for extra minutes. But that is what they got, and held off the Red Storm of St. John’s to get an 81 – 78 overtime win in the return.
Villanova played well in spots, and not so well in others. Coming down the stretch the team lost an 11-point lead to send the game into overtime. But found a way to take back control, and learn from winning.
“We have a lot of young kids and games like this gives them experience,” said Villanova forward Maddy Siegrist. “You practice situations like this, and at practice usually they go smoothly. Then you’re in a game and it’s very different. Everyone takes a little bit from games like this. Everybody steps up and shows that every possession matters.”
Seniors, first year players, and everyone in between all earned the chance and contributed in clutch situations.
The Wildcats held a 40 – 27 lead at halftime. Nova made shots, caused turnovers, and scored off those turnovers. The fourth quarter was a reversal. St. John’s hit shots winning the quarter 22 – 9, and caused turnovers. The Red Storm came all the way back and tied it with 3 seconds left in regulation on a layup by Kadaja Bailey.
In the extra period Villanova got the lead back on the first possession when freshman Lior Garzon sank a three-pointer. Later she would break another tie sinking one from beyond the arc with 2:34 on the clock.
“It was huge,” Dillon said about the Garzon three-pointer to start the overtime. “I felt after giving up that lead they had the momentum. It wasn’t looking in our favor going into overtime. We looked at the lineup and I said let’s keep Lior out there because she is an offensive threat, and sure enough it worked in our favor in that first possession.”
The game would come down to the free throw line, and the Cats put it away making 6 straight foul shots, 4 by senior Brianna Herlihy and 2 by freshman Bella Runyan.
“Those foul shots were crucial,” Dillon said. “Players are in that position at practice regularly, but it’s a whole different story when the game is on the line. Brianna stepping up there and knocking down some big ones. Bella Runyan as well. I was really pleased with them making it a two possession game because St. John’s can score fast and often.”
Siegrist scored 24 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. It was her eighth game scoring 20 or more points and the 7th double-double this season and number 18 in her career. Herlihy had 14 points, tied her career-high in rebounds with 12 and set a collegiate-mark with 6 assists.
Garzon recorded a career-high scoring 16 points. Runyan set her scoring high with 15 points.
St. John’s (4 – 9, 1 – 7) played minus their leading scorer Qadashah Hoppie. Lelani Correa led the way with a game-high 29 points. Unique Drake added 21 for the Red Storm. Bailey had a game-best 14 boards and added 19 points.
Villanova (9 – 2, 4 – 2) got the win on the scoreboard. And a true win by just simply playing the game.
“I was so glad to be back on the floor especially after the pause,” said Siegrist. “You can’t wait to have a game. We were fortunate to have this game. Just to be back makes you feel normal.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian