Women prepare to dance

Anne Boyd

Less than a week after once again beating Wildcat rival UConn, the ‘Nova women’s basketball team ended their regular season, and their eight game winning streak with a 58-47 loss to West Virginia on March 7.

The Mountaineers earned their first ever Big East tournament semifinal position with the victory.

The third-seeded Wildcats (22-6) led by three at halftime, but had a dry streak in the second half when they missed 13 shots over an eight-minute time span. West Virginia took advantage and pulled away with a 12-0 run. ‘Nova shot only 23 percent in the second half. Betsy McManus led the ‘Cats in scoring with 14 points. West Virginia also managed to out-rebound ‘Nova 45-25.

The loss marked the first time since 1995 the ‘Cats did not win more than one game in the tournament. “They’re a good opposite team,” said ‘Nova’s head coach, Harry Perretta. “They spread you out with a lot of 3-point shooters on the perimeter. They are a bad match-up for a lot of teams.”

Before the West Virginia game ‘Nova had a successful run over the spring break. March 2 the women defeated Pittsburgh 56-45 to grab the third seed in the Big East tournament. Senior Kelly Nash led the ‘Cat’s with 14 points; senior Courtney Mix and sophomore Liad Suez both had 11 points each.

Feb. 28 brought another landmark win for the Cats as they defeated No. 1 UConn for the second consecutive time. “We played unbelievably well,” Perretta said. “We played the best we could play.”

The women played in front of their first sellout crowd at The Pavilion and celebrated Senior Night with a 59-56 victory. Suez sealed the victory with a quick basket at the minute mark. The ‘Cats were down by eight at the half but came back. The team work of Suez and Jackie Adamshick, who had 13 points, pulled the ‘Cats ahead for good. “We’re a team that when we play the right pace, we can hang around,” Perretta said. “If you hang around at home, now you get the ball to bounce your way.”

All-star Huskie Diana Taurasi had only eight points compared to her normal average of 16. UConn shot 39 percent in the second half and missed seven of 15 foul shots. “We thought we could just show up,” Taurasi said. “We didn’t do the things we needed down the stretch.”

Over spring break, the ‘Cats also defeated Seton Hall 63-58. The Seton Hall game gave the women their fourth consecutive 20-win season. The women finished the season with a 22-6 record.

Based on their play this season, senior Courtney Mix and Suez both received All-Big East Post Season honors. Mix was named to the All-Big East second team and Suez earned All-Conference third team honors. Suez led the Wildcats in scoring this season with 13.7 points per game and averaged 3.7 rebounds per game. She was second in assists with 63.

Mix finished the season with one of the lowest turn over ratios in the nation at 5.4 to 1, committing just 23 turnovers in 27 games. She led the team in rebounding with 6.9 per game, steals with 45 total, and 123 assists this season.

She was second on the team in points per game with eight and season blocks, with 40. Mix was also named the Big East/Aeropostale Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the year, the first Villanova women’s basketball player to ever receive this award since it began in 1985.

The women will be awaiting the news of their seed and where they are headed in the brackets. The selection committee makes the announcement on Sunday. With 22-6 record the ‘Cats will most likely be in the top eight of one of the four Brackets.

The Big East this year has many teams worthy for a NCAA berth. The ‘Cats will most likely be joined by UConn, Boston College, Miami, Notre Dame, West Virginia, Virginia Tech and Rutgers. All the teams have at least 20 wins, except Notre Dame, who has 19.