WBB Celebrates Senior Night


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

Brianna Herlihy (above) is finishing her sixth season at Villanova.

Tyler Moore, Staff Writer

On Sunday afternoon, the Villanova women’s basketball team took the court for its final home game of the season, in which the Wildcats got revenge and took down the DePaul Blue Demons, 73-64. While for a majority of the team, it was just another end to the season’s home slate, it was a bit different for the seniors, guard Kenzie Gardler and forward Brianna Herlihy, who walked out of the Finn for the last time.

While Gardler and Herlihy have not been stars on the stat sheet, they have brought great leadership to the team for their respective time in the program. Head coach Denise Dillon emphasized their impacts and what the future holds.

“People look at numbers and they think, ‘Oh, okay, they’re graduating and [they are] not significant numbers,’” Dillon said. “You have no idea, their intangibles and [for] how much they do for this team and this program, [I am] really proud of them.”

Gardler, who has spent four years at guard for Villanova, began as a redshirt in 2018. She put up a career high 11 points in 2020 against La Salle. Gardler was crucial in moments when her team needed her the most, like the team’s first matchup against Creighton this season where she stepped up in junior forward Maddy Siegrist’s absence and registered a season high in points, rebounds and minutes played. 

Herlihy has spent six years with the Wildcats, the first being a redshirt, and has proven why she is one of the go-to starters each game. The forward has gathered numerous honors throughout her career, including several Big East Weekly Honor Rolls, 2020-21 Big Five Most Improved Player, 2020-21 Big Five First Team and 2020-21 Second Team All-Big East. 

Averaging 10.9 points per game this season, Herlihy has been a dominant starter and, like Gardler, has stepped up when needed. Her career-high of 24 points came against La Salle in 2020 as well. Her dominance is crucial to the team’s success as she serves as one of the leaders of the pack.

When asked what she will miss most from Herlihy in the coming years, Dillon pointed out her drive.

“Without [her motor] she wouldn’t be able to accomplish all the great things on the defensive end,” Dillon said. “She is a worker and she’s relentless, and I just think her development of her offensive game has been nice to watch.”

Herlihy played on Sunday for 31 minutes, and while nine minutes missed may not seem like a big deal, Dillon emphasized her desire to get her back on the court as quickly as she could.

“I was like, ‘We gotta get her back in just to keep us going,’” Dillon said. “I felt we had pretty good rotation, but it was nice [and] we got her back in there— everybody felt a little bit more of that spark. She will be greatly missed, and so I’m trying to get every bit out of her this year and make it her best year.”

With the seniors leaving, there are questions of who will step up to the plate. Dillon cited that Gardler, Herlihy, Siegrist and junior guard Brooke Mullin are the only upperclassmen on the team this year and how important they have been as leaders.

“They realized they can really impact the game, whether on the floor or not,” Dillon said of the upperclassmen development overall. “I think they’ve taken that role very seriously.”

The future of Villanova women’s basketball is surely bright. Thanks to the two graduating seniors, the Wildcats have achieved one NCAA tournament berth and four NIT berths, not including a strong case to be made for a Villanova NCAA tournament run this season as well. As Gardler looks to attend Villanova’s Second Degree Accelerated BSN program, and Herlihy looks to play basketball overseas, the future is not only bright for the program but for the graduating seniors as well.