Villanova Defeats Xavier 86 – 45 for First Big East Win, Olsen Reaches 1,000 Career-Point Mark
VILLANOVA, PA. 12/30/2023 –
“Our defense has been wavering, so we wanted to come out and establish defense early,” said Villanova guard Lucy Olsen. “I think we did a great job of getting deflections and everyone was involved. It helps the offense when the defense is good.”
The Villanova Wildcats women’s basketball team took to the court for the first time in nine days. The idea was to establish the tone on defense early, and they did. The game flowed in the direction of Nova from the start in an 86 – 45 win over the Xavier Musketeers at the Finneran Pavilion.
“We talked about the importance of getting these guys focused on what needs to happen, and it did show, and our full court press works for us,” observed Villanova Coach Denise Dillon. “Lucy (Olsen) and Z (Zanai Jones) are doing a nice job of being disruptive with all of our defenses. We need to to continue to find that consistency in all of our players.”
Defense, Defense, Defense
In a game where Villanova scored 86 points, their second most points scored this season, and the story is about the defense. Xavier was limited to 12 first half points, the least points allowed by Villanova in a half. And the 3 second quarter points by the Musketeers represents the lowest number of points in a quarter given up by the Wildcats. The score at halftime was 49 – 12.
Xavier was making less than 30% from the floor in the first half. It was the turnovers that gave Villanova the momentum they needed. For the game Xavier had 32 miscues, the most this season. The Wildcats scored 40 points off turnovers.
The activity of the Cats defense resulted in 18 steals, the highest number of swipes this year. Olsen had 5, a season-high, and one shy of her career-high. Seven other players had a steal with Christina Dalce and Zanai Jones getting three each.
Xavier guard Daniela Lopez scored a team-high 12 points.
Defense Creates Offense
On the offensive end the Wildcats made 45% from the field (32 – 70) and 12 of 32 from beyond the arc. Olsen led the way with 31 points making 12 of 27 shots, and was a perfect 5 for 5 from the line. Nine of twelve Villanova players scored. Nova assisted 19 times on 32 baskets. The 49 first half points is the highest number of points scored by Nova this season.
Dalce and Maddie Webber each scored 11 points to be the only other Wildcats scoring in double figures.
The total turnovers for the Cats was 9, less than one below their average which was second in the nation coming into the game in taking care of the basketball.
“Defense created offense and we got into a flow,” said Dillon.
Olsen Reaches a Milestone
Olsen scored her 1,000th career-point. A milestone that left an overall sense of accomplishment with the junior guard. She now stands at 1,001 collegiate points.
“I put a lot of hard work over my whole life,” said Olsen. “I’m glad it’s paying off right now. And I wouldn’t have gotten it without my teammates. They were looking for me. Everyone was hitting shots. It was a fun game.”
The plateau points came with 3:36 remaining in the fourth quarter on a fast break layup. Olsen was celebrated by her teammates as she was coming off the court. To her that meant as much as the milestone.
“These are my best friends,” Olsen exclaimed. “It’s awesome to celebrate it with everyone.”
Xavier falls to 1 – 10 on the season, 0 – 2 in the Big East. They will start the new year at Marquette.
Villanova won their 15th straight game over Xavier. The Cats got their initial Big East win this season. Seton Hall is next on January 3rd. The Wildcats (8 – 5, 1 – 1 BIG EAST) evened their conference record. The biggest takeaway was the team is on the winning side of the ledger in the league. Something to build upon.
“It was a tough one in Madison Square Garden, and you can’t get it back,” said Dillon about bouncing back from the league loss to St. John’s. “That’s what this group has to realize. There aren’t any do-overs. They’re learning that you’ve got to be ready against every team in the Big East.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian