WBB: Second-half rally falls short vs. Cincy

Tim Richer

Saturday’s showdown with the No. 23 Rutgers Scarlet Knights appeared to be a mismatch from the start. The women’s basketball team entered the game looking for a victory to end its 10-game losing streak. Unfortunately for the ‘Cats, the Scarlet Knights rolled to a 62-32 victory at the Pavilion.

With the win, Rutgers (18-7, 11-3 Big East) won its third straight game and put the team into sole possession of second place in the Big East.

Junior forward Stacie Witman was the lone bright spot for the Wildcats (7-20, 1-13 Big East), as she contributed 14 points, nearly half their total score. The next highest scorer for Villanova was freshman guard Tia Grant, who tallied six points.

The Wildcats encountered trouble in the first half, as Rutgers pulled ahead to a 27-15 lead. Poor shooting made it tough for ‘Nova, as it made only 2-of-21 attempted shots in the first half, averaging 22 percent from the field. The final score was the Wildcats’ season-low point total. Their previous low had been 45 points at West Virginia on Jan. 20.

The Wildcats hoped to have better luck on Tuesday when they traveled to Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats. The team was not able to steal the road win, as it dropped its 12th straight game, 60-50.

‘Nova trailed by double digits most of the game; however, a run late in the second half cut the Bearcats’ lead to just eight points with over a minute and a half left. Cincinnati held the lady Wildcats scoreless the rest of the game to secure the win.

Witman and senior forward Jackie Adamshick led the Wildcats in scoring, racking up 12 and 11 points, respectively. Karen Twehues fueled the Bearcats with 15 in the winning effort.

Much like their male counterparts in recent losses to Georgetown and Marquette, a long scoring drought in the second half proved to be costly for the Wildcats. ‘Nova squandered an opportunity to come back by going scoreless for over five minutes in the middle of the half.

Villanova played tough defense during the game; it forced Cincinnati into 17 turnovers, including 11 steals. Sophomore forward Lisa Karcic had three steals. Grant and sophomore forward Briana Weiss had two steals a piece.

The win was crucial for Cincinnati (14-12, 5-9 Big East) as it remains in the hunt to gain a berth in the Big East tournament in March.

Despite the lack of recent team success, Witman has been a key contributor to the team. She led Villanova with 14 points against Rutgers and has averaged over 17 points per game this season.

The Wildcats hope to break its 12-game losing streak on Saturday when they travel to Storrs, Conn. to face the No. 3 Connecticut Huskies. The game will be the Big East’s ultimate David vs. Goliath matchup, with the Huskies coming into the game winning 11 games in a rowand the Wildcats having dropped their last 12 games. A victory in Connecticut, however, could be the standout highlight in a difficult and frustrating season seriously in need of one.