‘Nova prevails in overtime

Paul Martucci

With about 16-and-a-half minutes showing on the game clock in South Bend, In., the Wildcats seemed to have a momentum-swinging Big East win in the bag. A look at the scoreboard showed a 43-22 rout in favor of Villanova.

That rout, however, quickly disintegrated, and over a stretch of nine minutes and fifteen seconds, the Fighting Irish outscored the ‘Cats 30-9, tying the score at 52.

‘Nova would trail by as much as two, as the teams traded baskets late, but as the final horn blew, the scoreboard revealed a game knotted at 60. Into overtime the two teams went.

The Wildcats, behind 22 points from their leading scorer, senior Jenna Viani, never trailed in the extra play. At the expiration of overtime, ‘Nova had won by a score of 69-65.

“We really needed this win,” Viani said. “It was frustrating that we blew a 21-point lead, but it showed an improvement that we didn’t give up and kept fighting and pulled out the win.”

In addition to the win, senior Liad Suez-Karni had a special night. With 14 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, Suez-Karni became the first athlete in the history of Villanova women’s basketball to record a triple double.

“I was happy,” Suez-Karni said. “It doesn’t happen every day or even in every career. It’s pretty special.”

Despite the phenomenal individual performance, Suez-Karni keyed in on the importance of the team.

“It wouldn’t have meant anything if we had lost [against Notre Dame],” she said. “The team comes first before any individual performance.”

The win pulls the ‘Cats up to 4-6 in Big East play, and although they are currently on the outside looking in for the upcoming conference tournament, the team still maintains a high level of optimism.

“The win was a huge burst of emotion for us,” Viani said. We were starting to get down on ourselves coming into the last stretch of the season and this helped refocus us and put us on the right track. It gave us a lot more confidence in ourselves.”

In addition to confidence, logistics also provide an argument for the Wildcats’ potential run into the tournament.

“We still have got a shot,” Suez-Karni said. “The league has been so crazy this year that maybe you never know. We’re just trying to take it one game at a time and really just trying to focus on the next game.”

Losing three out of its last four before the match-up with Notre Dame, the ‘Cats will now look to use the win as a springboard to provide a much-needed boost of momentum.

“We were kind of disappointed from the last few games,” Suez-Karni said, “but now we’re just really trying to do our best and hopefully get enough wins.”