Villanova Continues to Play in WBIT

Villanova Advances to the Quarterfinal Round With a 73 – 55 Win Over Virginia

VILLANOVA, PA. 3/24/2024 –

Villanova moves on in the WBIT. Behind 30 points from Lucy Olsen and a solid defensive effort the Wildcats eliminated the Virginia Cavaliers 73 – 59 at the Finneran Pavilion. Olsen provided the offensive spark scoring 30 points, her tenth 30-point or more scoring performance this season. The junior guard made 12 of 23 field goal attempts and made 2 of 6 three-point shots. But the important thing to her is that Nova has another game.

“Every game could be our last,” said Olsen. “So we are coming out every day, hoping to play one more and especially having home games. It’s been super fun because we don’t want it to end and the environment is awesome. We just want to keep going.”

She was tough to contain for the Virginia defense, and drew compliments from Cavaliers coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton.

“She’s a great player, a three level scorer,” said Virginia Coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton. “She got really hot from three. When we started closing out on her further, she got to her mid range, which is really what she wants to do. Great players show up at times and she really showed up. We just had a hard time guarding her.”

Defense, Defense, Defense

Virginia averaged 73 points per game. They were held well under that number and made 32.3% (20 of 62) of their shots. From the three-point line the Cavaliers hit on 4 of 16 from the floor. In the second quarter the Wildcats surrendered just 6 points to take a 36 – 20 lead into intermission. Nova wants the defense to set the tone.

“We always put a huge emphasis in the defensive end,” Villanova junior guard Zanai Jones. “It’s essential to us. We knew they were going to come out and try to go to the basket. We were just bringing it up front and keep containing everyone. I think we did an excellent job of that.”

The Early Part Tilted the Game Towards the Host

Villanova started out with a 13 – 4 lead in the first five and a half minutes of the game. Olsen scored 10 of those points. Virginia closed to within 17 – 14 after one quarter, and to within a point at the start of the second stanza. Then Nova went on a 17 – 2 run to open a 16-point lead. Freshman forward Brynn McCurry contributed 8 of her 10 points in that run. Her minutes increased due to an injury by Maddie Webber.

A good start led to a good finish.

“That was very important,” Jones said. “Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen for us all of the time. But when it does, it’s awesome. Your momentum just keeps building and you play off that.”

What the Numbers Say

Senior guard Bella Runyan contributed 15 points in the contest. She also added 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Christina Dalce took down 15 rebounds. It is key for the Wildcats to have contributions in addition to Olsen from their starters. It happened in this game.

“It’s our best basketball when the ball is moving, everyone is ready and willing to take shots,” said Villanova Coach Denise Dillon. “They work so hard on the defensive end together, you’d like to see them get rewarded on the offensive end as well. We talked about that versatility being so important for us. When shots fall, that becomes contagious.”

Villanova had the better of the rebounds by a 42 – 28 margin.

“I thought the biggest thing was the rebounding, we won the battle of the boards, and that was a collective effort.” Dillon said. “Everyone had that mentality of getting after the boards so it was a one and done mentality.”

Virginia forward Camryn Taylor and guard Kymora Johnson led their team with 12 points each. Alexa Smith added 10 points.

Philly flavor in the WBIT

The top-seeded Wildcats face the #3 Saint Joseph’s Hawks in the quarterfinal round. The game will be on Thursday at Villanova. A Big Five game and a rematch. St. Joe’s beat California 63 – 61 to set up this game. The Hawks defeated the Wildcats 73 – 67 at the Hagan Arena. A trip to the semifinals of the WBIT at Hinkle Fieldhouse is on the line.


Written By: Glenn Papazian


Lucy Olsen Shooting a Short Jumper

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