Villanova Defensive Effort Gives a Bounce Back Win

Lucy Olsen Scored 30 Points in the Win over Providence

VILLANOVA, PA. 2/21/2024 –

The Villanova Wildcats women’s basketball team looked for a bounce back win losing to Butler in their last outing. And they needed to do so against a Providence Friars team that defeated them earlier in the season. To secure the victory Villanova wanted to come out strong on the defensive side of the floor, and established it early in a 68 – 58 victory at the Finneran Pavilion. And did so along with Lucy Olsen scoring 30 points.

“We never know how our scoring is going to go, so we have to play good defense all of the time,” said Olsen who provided the offense. “They are a tough team who scored a ton of points against us last game, so we had to buckle down. We were talking all week about playing good defense.”

Villanova had a 24 – 12 lead at the end of the first ten minutes.

Defensive Execution a Key

Providence struggled to maintain an offensive flow. Mainly due to the Villanova defense. Nova forced 17 turnovers by the Friars that led to a 21 – 5 points off turnovers advantage. Nine of the turnovers were via steals headed by guard Bella Runyan who had 3 swipes and Olsen two. Forward Christina Dalce blocked 3 shots to total a Big East best 64 this season. Providence shot 39.5% from the floor and made 6 of 14 three-pointers. In the second quarter the Friars went 2 for 10 scoring 12 points in the stanza.

“It was really great to see we stayed on point defensively, especially our guards,” said Villanova Coach Denise Dillon. “I think they did a really nice job of balancing out their scoring and then recognizing different presses, moving the basketball, and taking advantage.”

Olsen Provides the Scoring

Lucy Olsen led the team on offense and her effort is the eighth time this season she scored 30 or more points. The junior guard, who came into the game averaging 23.3 points per game, fifth-best in the nation, made 14 of 26 from the floor and was 2 of 4 from the free throw line, but missed her five three-point attempts. Olsen gives credit to her teammates and the game plan.

“When everyone’s a threat it’s tough to guard all five of us,” Olsen said. “They were making good passes to me. I got a few easy buckets. Everyone had their eyes up, looking at the basket, looking at the court.”

Olsen increased her season scoring average to 23.5 points per game, 612 total over 26 games. She now has 1,301 career-points, 16th best in program history.

Increased Contributions From Wildcats Players

Villanova continues to be short handed while guard Zanai Jones is out with an injury. The team needs to get increased numbers from those on the floor. While there was not another breakout scorer, there were assets in other categories, Runyan assisted times, one shy of her career-high. Olsen handed out 5 and Dalce had 3 assists. Nova assisted 20 times on 28 baskets.

“It was awesome that everyone stepped up and I feel like we’re gonna keep getting better every day, said Olsen.”

“I know Bella (Runyan) had seven assists, which is awesome. She really stepped up. I don’t think she had a turnover either. It’s nice to be playing with her.”

Nova committed 8 turnovers.

Choppy Pace of Play

When the game flowed, Nova stayed in charge. But the game did not always go quickly as Providence inched their way back from the foul line. For the game the Friars had 18 free throws and 17 baskets. In the second quarter Providence went 8 for 9 from the charity stripe in their 12 points. The team made 7 free throws in their largest run of the game in those ten minutes. The pace and style became what Providence wanted.

“We want the clock to keep running,” Dillon, making that point. “As I said where the growth has to be is recognizing. They are going to pound it into the post or put their head down and drive it at us. Then we had to remain disciplined and a number of possessions, we didn’t. Jumping for the ball, fearing they were going to score, and putting it right into their hands on the foul line. You’ve got to take that equation out of the official’s hands and stay within what needs to be done.”

Providing for Providence

Olivia Olsen recorded a double-double, the 14th of her career, for the Friars scoring 13 points and taking down 10 rebounds. Grace Efosa led the team with 14 points. Brynn Farrell contributed 11. From the line Farrell and Olsen totaled 12 of the14 awarded.

Up Next

Villanova (17 – 9, 10 – 5) remains in third place in the Big East a game ahead of Marquette and two games behind second place Creighton. It will be a tough road stretch over the next two games as the team goes to Creighton on Saturday, then playing at the league leaders Connecticut next week. The Huskies are unbeaten in the league.


Written By: Glenn Papazian


Lucy Olsen Who Scored 30 Points for Villanova

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