March 20, 2021 –
The Villanova Wildcats advance to the Charlotte Regional final of the Women’s NIT defeating the Florida Gators 77 – 57. Villanova will face Delaware for the Regional title and the opportunity to play in the WNIT Championship rounds. Maddy Siegrist led the Wildcats in scoring and rebounds getting 26 points and 11 caroms for her 13th double-double of the season. Siegrist made 9 of 20 from the field and 6 of 9 from the charity stripe while adding 5 assists. Freshman guard Bella Runyan set a collegiate-best contibuting16 points. The Wildcats move on, and another game is meaningful for this team. And they follow the lead of Siegrist.
“I focus on our group, watch them grow, and come together as a team, rewarding themselves by continuing to play,” said Villanova Coach Denise Dillon.
The Wildcats had a balanced effort. On the offensive end of the floor the team made 44.6% (29 of 65) and went 6 of 20 from distance. Nova did so while holding the Gators to 17 of 50 shooting (34%) and allowing only one three-pointer. But the most important factor was Villanova took great care of the basketball turning the ball over just 4 times, a season-low. The Wildcats handed out 19 assists for a 19 – 4 assists to turnover ratio (nearly 5 to 1). The Cats had a 20 – 2 edge in points off turnovers. A key factor in the win was the low number of mistakes
“You have no shot without execution,” said Dillon. “We valued every possession, and got more possessions. We allowed ourselves to get a shot. This group is growing in so many areas and this is a major factor.”
Villanova took control in the second quarter outscoring Florida 21 – 11 for a 41 – 30 advantage going into halftime, and held that lead throughout. The Gators got to within single digits only one time for the remainder of the game, that midway through the third quarter.
Brianna Herlihy added 15 points and 7 rebounds as the third double-digit scorer for the Cats. Herlihy and Siegrist handed out a team-high 5 assists each. Runyan made 4 of 5 field goal attempts, 2 of 3 from three-point land, and sank 6 of 7 free throws.
Florida had three scorers in double-figures led by Kristina Moore who had 13 points. Danielle Rainey scored 12 points and Kiara Smith added 10 points. As a team the Gators scored one-point above their season-low.
Villanova goes into the final against Delaware with a 17 – 6 record. The mindset is to focus, play the game, and advance.
“We have a big test, and that’s how it should be,” said Dillon.
Written By: Glenn Papazian