Villanova Gets Win on Senior Night, Defeats DePaul, 73-64


Courtesy of Graydon Paul/Villanovan Photography

Lucy Olsen (above) scored 17 points in the win.

Meghann Morhardt, Co-Sports Editor

When Villanova has entered big games this season, all eyes have been on Maddy Siegrist: The redshirt junior currently ranked second nationally in points per game with 26.3, but when Siegrist had just eight points in the opening half of Sunday’s game, the Wildcats had to turn to other players like Lucy Olsen to get the job done. The freshman point guard finished with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists to propel the ‘Cats to a 73-64 defeat of DePaul on Senior Night.  

“We know she’s capable of scoring the ball,” Villanova head coach Denise Dillon said. “What she is quickly learning is to take what the defense gives her. Sometimes you can get lost in our continuity offense, where can I get my looks, but she recognizes the space. She’s just getting a better feel for the game, and experience will do that.” 

With a near 2.5 assist to turnover ratio for the season, in a high pressure game, Olsen was able to run the Wildcat offense without recording a single turnover. She has been a key all season for the ‘Cats and has continued to come up in crucial moments such as her 22-point performance at Lehigh and her 11-point game against UConn. 

“Lucy is capable of doing a lot,” Dillon said. “We’ve asked her from the beginning of the year to take care of the basketball and play defense and she’s never wavered on those two roles… She’s played a lot of minutes in her young career and [we’re] really excited about what she has to offer as we move forward.” 

After a slow start, Siegrist came alive in the second half, finishing with 25 points, seven rebounds and three steals. With her performance, Siegrist has officially entered the top-five on Villanova’s all-time scoring list, passing 1988 graduate Lisa Angelotti for the fifth spot. 

The third Wildcat to score in double figures was sophomore guard Lior Garzon, who finished with 12 points and four assists. 

Graduate forward Brianna Herlihy and senior guard Kenzie Gardler were both honored before the game in the team’s Senior Day ceremony. Herlihy finished with 12 points, four rebounds and a game-high seven assists. Herlihy and Gardler are two of just four upperclassmen and have led the team both on and off the floor all season. 

“You know, people look at numbers and they think ‘Oh they’re only graduating two’, not a significant number,” Dillon said. “You have no idea their intangibles and how much they do for this team and this program. So, [I’m] really proud of them.” 

The opening quarter saw a hot start from both teams with Villanova shooting 66.7% from the field to DePaul’s 56.3%. The two squads traded baskets and small scoring runs and DePaul led by six with just under a minute in the period, but back-to-back threes from Garzon tied the game at 22 entering the second.  

Despite not making a three-pointer, and Siegrist being held to two points in the second quarter, the Wildcats found themselves trailing by only one at the halftime break as DePaul led 36-35. 

The back and forth trends continued resulting in a 40-40 tie game 2:30 into the second half, but a 7-0 run from Olsen and fellow freshman Kaitlyn Orihel gave the Wildcats a 47-40 lead at the official timeout. The Blue Demons fought back and made run attempts of their own, but Villanova was able to keep them at a distance, leading 55-49 entering the final 10 minutes of play. 

DePaul would cut the lead to three, but Siegrist and the Wildcats were able to make consecutive stops and convert on the offensive end to close out the game and secure the win. 

Sunday’s game was the first the team had played in a week after previously playing five games in 10 days, a stretch that ended in a tough loss to Seton Hall on the road. 

“We ran out of steam a little bit,” Dillon said of the loss last weekend. “As we explained to the players, that’s not how it works, we can’t run out of steam this time of year, you gotta find a way. We regrouped, recharged, took advantage of having a home game and the emotions of it being Senior Day, and did what was necessary to get a huge win.” 

The ‘Cats will have the opportunity to complete three season sweeps this week as they first face Georgetown on Tuesday night, followed by Butler on Friday and closing out the regular season with Xavier next Sunday. With a 3-0 week and the help of a Creighton loss along the way, the Wildcats could clinch second place in the Big East and the two seed in the conference tournament. 

Three road wins during midterms week will require a team effort and a determined mindset, but for a team who has won 15 of its last 17 games and has beaten every other Big East team at least once this season, no challenge seems too great.