‘Nova downs WVU at home

Kate McAvey

A rally from behind drove the women’s basketball team to victory in a close match last weekend against the West Virginia Mountaineers. The ‘Cats found themselves trailing by 13 points in the second half, but with five seconds remaining, senior Laura Kurz calmly sunk two free throws, giving ‘Nova an improbable 54-52 comeback win on Alumnae Weekend.

In the first half, West Virginia started off with a bang, scoring 11 straight points in just over a minute and a half and jumping to a 16-8 lead at the 12:42 mark. A thirty second timeout helped the ‘Cats find their composure as they fought back with a 12-4 run, highlighted by a long 3-pointer by freshman guard Sarah Jones that tied the score at 20. West Virginia ended the half with a 14-4 run which left Villanova trailing at halftime.

The second half was a hard-fought battle. Although Villanova trailed by 13 with 16:26 to play, they took advantage when West Virginia could not seem to find the hoop. Junior guard Tia Grant ignited the comeback with a graceful lay-up and Kurz followed with an impressive 3-pointer. Senior forward Lisa Karcic and Jones also sunk baskets from behind the arc on the ‘Cats comeback run.

West Virginia tried to stop ‘Nova in their tracks by sinking a field goal and extending the lead to five, but ‘Nova responded with an 8-2 run. The ‘Cats were finally able to take the lead on a 3-pointer by junior Maria Getty, making the score 47-46.

It was a back-and-forth battle as both teams traded baskets. A 3-point basket by Karcic put the ‘Cats ahead by two, but a lay-up by the Mountaineers tied the game at 50 with 3:30 to play. Each team sank two foul shots to bring the score to 52 apiece with 1:48 remaining.

During the final 25 seconds, Villanova executed the win. After Getty rebounded a missed West Virginia shot, Villanova ran the clock down and called a timeout with 5.9 seconds left. After the time out, Kurz was fouled. Kurz coolly sank both shots from the line. Getty secured the victory with a steal of a Mountaineers’ pass. The steal would prove to be a pivotal play.

Kurz ended the day with a game-high 17 points as well as seven rebounds. Getty had seven points and nine rebounds and Jones added seven points as well. The Wildcats made nine of 19 from 3-point range and 11 out of 15 free throws.

Also playing a strong game for Villanova was senior guard Siobhan O’Connor. She contibuted in a variety of ways as she notched six points, five rebounds and three assists. Her leadership clearly had an impact down the stretch for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats take on Notre Dame this Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Pavilion. The Fighting Irish have gotten off to a very strong start in the Big East, winning four of their first five conference games. Villanova’s win against West Virginia could be the beginning of some much needed momentum going into what will be a very challenging game. A win over Notre Dame would allow the Wildcats to climb up the Big East rankings, while also give them some attention from other teams around the country.