‘Nova gets fifth-straight win against Hall


In a back-and-forth matchup that saw a total of seven lead changes, the women’s basketball team defeated Seton Hall 54-51 in South Orange, N.J., last Saturday. The Wildcats took the lead for good with just over a minute left to play in the game. Senior guard Siobhan O’Connor iced the contest by making seven of eight free throws in the final 32 seconds. The victory against the Pirates pushed the Wildcats’ conference winning streak to six games, giving them a record of 7-2 in Big East play and 15-8 overall. Seton Hall, despite its identical 15-8 total record, fell to just 3-7 in conference play.

The Wildcats came out strong in the first half and maintained a lead from the 18:00 mark until the end of the half. Their greatest lead of the game came with 12:37 left in the half, following an 11-4 run that gave them a 19-11 advantage. However, Seton Hall chipped away until a jumper by Nicole Emery cut the Villanova lead to 30-29 with 37 seconds left in the first half. The score remained the same going into halftime.

Villanova maintained their slim lead for much of the second half until Shanai Heber’s jumper with 9:46 left in the game put Seton Hall on top, 40-39, for the first time since the opening minutes. Center Heather Scanlon regained the lead for the Wildcats less than a minute later, knocking down a 3-pointer to make the score 42-40.

Laura Kurz, who led all scorers with 18 points, sank a pair of free throws to put the Wildcats up by four with about eight minutes to go, but a six point Seton Hall run suddenly gave the Pirates a 46-44 advantage with just 3:20 remaining.

Following more than two minutes of scoreless basketball, Kurz made a layup and was fouled on the play, converting the 3-point opportunity to put Villanova ahead by one. From that point on, O’Connor sank shot after shot from the foul line to preserve the Wildcat win. Seton Hall struggled down the stretch, shooting a mere 1-of-4 and turning the ball over in the final minute of the game.

Kurz’s performance, with her 18 points and 9 rebounds, pushed her streak of scoring double digits to 19 consecutive games. Seton Hall, meanwhile, was led in scoring by Emery, who scored 10 of her 14 points from the free throw line, and Kandice Green, who contributed 11.

O’Connor’s clutch shooting from the foul line at the end of the contest was a continuation of what she has done for the Wildcats all year long, shooting an outstanding 92.5 percent from the stripe in the final two minutes of games.

The Villanova defense stepped up again as they held the Pirates to just 33.3 percent from the field. Defense has been one of the major reasons for the team’s recent success.

The Wildcats will be back in action Saturday when they host the DePaul Blue Demons at 2 p.m. at the Pavilion. They will be trying to win their seventh consecutive game.