WBB: Wildcats end season at .500 with Big East loss to Pitt



Allison Venella

The women’s basketball team earned a bid to the Big East tournament after finishing the regular season in a three-way tie for 10th place in Big East conference play.

The team faced off against Pittsburgh in the first round. When the teams met earlier this season, Pitt was No. 14 in the nation, and Villanova lost a close game, 72-63. The No. 5 seed Pittsburgh was able to hold off the No. 12 seed Villanova at the Hartford Civic Center, 69-63, to finish the Wildcats’ season.

In the game against Pittsburgh, junior Laura Kurz led all scorers as she recorded 23 points, with fellow forwards junior Lisa Karcic and senior Stacie Witman each adding 10. Sophomore Maria Getty scored eight, and junior Siobhan O’Connor added five, but it was not enough to hold off the Panthers’ scoring attacks.

Villanova was down 41-22 early in the second half, as Marcedes Walker and Xenia Stewart scored 20 and 18, respectively. The Wildcats answered the 19-point deficit with an attack of their own. Kurz went on a shooting spree, making some good plays under the basket and making a 3-pointer. ‘Nova was able to bring it to within four points, but Pitt took over the lead.

Witman tallied nine rebounds, and she and Getty both notched seven assists.

The loss to Pitt marked the 10th game this season that Kurz scored over 20 points in the game. She was honored at the Big East Banquet with a Second-Team All Conference spot for her efforts this season. She led the team in rebounding, scoring and field-goal percentage. In the Feb. 12 game against Providence, Kurz scored 33 points and became only the seventh player in Villanova women’s basketball history to score more than 30 in a game.

Villanova ended the season at 15-15, with a Big East record of 5-11. Villanova ended the season second in the Big East in free-throw percentage with a .748 average, behind only Notre Dame at .753, and second behind UConn in 3-point shots made, with a .380 average.

It was a season of ups and downs for Villanova. The team started the season looking for a winning record and to qualify for the Big East tournament, two things that the young team did accomplish. Yet there were some close games that Villanova did not win that would have been huge in preparing to face tough competition in the Big East tournament.

Villanova had memorable wins against Georgetown, St. John’s and Providence, all of which helped to earn a bid to the Big East tournament. The forward trio of Karcic, Kurz and Witman turned in outstanding performances all season. The backcourt was also strong, with efforts from Getty, sophomore Tia Grant and O’Connor. Freshman newcomers Amanda Swiezynski and Shannon Elliot also made an immediate impact.

Karcic, Kurz and Witman combined for 1,242 points on the season. Getty, Karcic, Kurz and O’Connor were all leaders among the top 3-point percentage stats. Karcic and Witman also lead with 3-pointers made, scoring 77 and 62 on the season, respectively.

As was their specialty all season, the Wildcats’ main offensive threat was their ability to shoot and score with the 3-point shot. Villanova led the Big East with 301 made, with an average of 10.03 per game. Villanova far surpasses every other team in the Big East for 3-pointers made in a season and led the NCAA by averaging the most 3-pointers made per game this season.

Two of the main goals from the start of this season were to grow as a team and to work on keeping it together on the court. The Wildcats grew as a team enough to win 15 games, finish .500 in the final standings and to kept it together enough to play their hearts out for four months straight. Witman’s presence on the court will be missed next year, but there is no doubt that there are plenty of good things to come in the future for the women’s basketball team.