Women’s Basketball Crushes Florida, Makes WNIT Quarterfinals


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Women’s Basketball Crushes Florida, Makes WNIT Quarterfinals

Meghann Morhardt, Staff Writer

After a strong first round win against UMass, Villanova women’s basketball continued their dominant performance with a 77-57 win over the University of Florida Gators. 

The Wildcats started building a lead with a 9-0 run in the second quarter to give them a 31-21 lead. The Gators continued to push back and cut into the lead, but freshman Bella Runyan and sophomore Maddy Siegrist led the Wildcats to a 41-30 lead at the half. 

Villanova was able to hold this lead and extend it even more in the second half. The Gators made every effort and adjustment in the second half, shooting 50 percent from the field in the third, but never got closer than nine. Runyan and Siegrist continued their hot streak in the third, scoring eight and nine points, respectively. 

The ‘Cats stretched the lead to as many as 20 in the fourth quarter and held the Gators to just five points in the first five minutes of the period. 

Siegrist finished the game with 26 points, marking her 16th 20-point game of the season. She also stuffed the stat sheet with 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and three blocks. This is Siegrist’s 13th double-double of the year and her 11 rebounds helped her surpass the 500 rebound mark for her career. She is one of only three Wildcats to have achieved this feat in their first two seasons of play. 

Runyan had a standout night off the bench, scoring a career-best 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting, 2-of-3 from behind the arc, and 6-7 from the charity stripe. 

Senior Brianna Herlihy bounced back after a tough game in the first round by scoring 15 points and adding seven rebounds and five assists. This is the 16th time that Herlihy has scored in double-figures this season. 

Senior Sarah Mortensen was also key for the ‘Cats in the victory, especially in the fourth when she scored two quick baskets to help the ‘Cats extend their lead and close out the game. Mortensen finished with 9 points, three rebounds, and a steal. 

Florida was led by their strong three guard starting line-up, each of the three scoring in double-figures. Redshirt seniors Kiara Smith and Danielle Rainey finished with 10 and 12 points respectively. Junior Kristina Moore led the Gators with 13 points, nine rebounds, and two steals. 

The Gators dominated the boards on a 44-29 advantage. This has been a weakness for the ‘Cats this season, but they often make up for it with steals and transition offense opportunities from turnovers. 

The Wildcats finished the game with a season-low four turnovers while the Gators had 22 in the game, Villanova using this advantage to outscore Florida in points off turnovers by a margin of 20-2. Villanova also forced 11 steals to the Gators’ two. 

One of the ‘Cats biggest strengths this year has been the number of assists per game, and this was no different. Villanova tallied 19 assists on 29 baskets, while the Gators only recorded two assists for the game. 

The ‘Cats were not as hot offensively compared to Friday, shooting 44.6 percent from the field and just 30 percent from long distance. Villanova did however continue their season-long strong shooting from the foul line, finishing at 76.5% in the victory. 

With this win, the ‘Cats advance to the quarterfinals, where they will face the Blue Hens of Delaware on Monday Mar. 22. The Blue Hens enter the game with a record of 23-4 and are coming off a 87-74 victory over Clemson in the second Round. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. on Monday night.