Villanova Trounces Xavier, 82-57


Courtesy of Maggie Mengel/Villanovan Photography

Bella Runyan set the tone for the Wildcats’ defense in Sunday’s win.

Aphrodite Dimopoulos, Staff Writer

To close out a successful month of basketball, Villanova hosted Xavier at home on Sunday, beating the Musketeers, 82-57. The Wildcats showed strong efforts both offensively and defensively, coming out hot from the start. 

From winning the tip-off to a tight and consistent man-to-man defense, the team didn’t allow Xavier any room to breathe. This early control of the game brought the team to a fast 13-4 lead. Junior forward Maddy Siegrist dominated the court offensively, scoring eight of the initial 13 points for the ‘Cats. Villanova forced multiple Xavier turnovers, the first quarter ending with the Wildcats leading 17-9. 

Sophomore guard Bella Runyan set the tone for hustle and aggression in the second quarter, diving for every loose ball and finding her way under the basket for rebounds left and right. Freshman guard Kaitlyn Orihel followed Runyan’s lead by sacrificing her body early on in the quarter, taking a tough charge. At nearly the halfway point in the second quarter, the three-point line became home for the Wildcats. Leading 28-18, the team drained three straight three-pointers, the first two from Siegrist and third from Garzon, to extend their lead to 19. Closing out the second quarter with a layup from Siegrist, Villanova closed out the half up 38-19. Siegrist alone had 20 points, more than the entire Xavier roster.

Coming out just as strong as they left, Villanova outscored Xavier 11-6 in the first three and half minutes of the third quarter. Garzon continued to dominate the court, connecting with a three-pointer, a fifteen-foot jumper and a lay-up in the third quarter.

Closing out the third frame with a score of 65-43, the Wildcats entered the fourth with a more than comfortable lead.

Siegrist ended the game with 30 points, topping her average of 24.1 points per game this season. This game marked Siegrist’s twelfth career game scoring 30 points or more, four of those games coming from this season. Siegrist’s standout performance brought her into ninth place on Villanova’s all-time scoring list, surpassing 2018 graduate Alex Louin’s total of 1,432. 

Beyond her offensive action, Siegrist grabbed nine rebounds to go along with four blocks and two steals. 

 The Wildcats showed a team effort on the offensive end as Garzon followed behind Siegrist with 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including 5-of-10  from deep. Mullin put up another seven points as Herlihy and Runyan finished with five each. 

Head coach Denise Dillon has mentioned in the past what it means to her to put in her whole squad and, at the end of today’s game, she confirmed the power in playing the whole bench. 

“Nothing is better than playing everyone,” said Dillon. “When you have games like this it just shows the importance of the team. Maddy and Brianna recognize that if they do their job and set the tone early, then everybody gets a chance to get in there and work on their game. Practice is demanding and grueling, but the eyes are on you and the film is on you in a game to really see if you are doing what’s necessary in order to continue to move forward and earn some minutes.” 

Dillon mentioned that she was certainly pleased with today’s offensive performance, as the 82 point win was the highest point total for Villanova of the 2021-22 season. The offensive outburst came after the Wildcats scored just 59 points on Friday against a Butler team who currently has a 1-17 record.

“[The team] talked about Friday,” Dillon said. “I think it was a little bit stale at that game and we came out yesterday practice to prepare and we did a good job of moving the ball and sharing the ball and knocking down the shots early. I thought defensively we did a really good job setting that tone and it gave us a chance to get everybody in the action and work on a lot of the different offenses for us.” 

This matchup brought Villanova its fifth consecutive win and eighth in a row at home. This brings the Wildcats’ record to 16-1 against Xavier over the last 17 games, continuing consistent dominance from years past. The Wildcats shot 45.2% from the field and 40.6% from the three-point line, and the Wildcats were efficient on the glass as well, as Villanova outrebounded Xavier, 41-27. 

Closing off the month of January with a 6-1 record, Villanova has an important stretch coming up with the second half of Big East play. The Wildcats will travel to New York on Friday, Feb. 4, to face off against St. John’s (6-14, 2-8 Big East) before hosting Georgetown (7-10, 2-7) at home on Feb. 6. The Wildcats wrap up the stretch by visiting UConn (13-4, 8-0) on Feb. 9.