A Not So Sweet Ending: Villanova Falls to Miami, Concluding Historic Season


Graydon Paul/Villanovan Photography

Wildcats end historic season in Sweet 16 loss to No. 9 Miami

Brooke Ackerman, Co-Sports Editor

GREENVILLE, S.C — Every fairy tale must have an ending, and for the 2022-23 Villanova women’s basketball team, this was one hell of a story.   

After dominating first and second round wins in the NCAA Division I Tournament, No. 4 Villanova headed to Greenville, South Carolina where it fell, 70-65, to No. 9 Miami in the Sweet Sixteen. 

After trailing by 21 points early on in the third quarter, the Wildcats got hot in the second half, clawing their way back into the game. It wasn’t until the final minute of play that two missed jumpers from ‘Nova and a few Miami foul shots solidified the Hurricane win. 

With this loss, the Wildcats head back home to Villanova having gone 30-7 on the season, ranking tenth in the Associated Press Top 25, and recording their 22nd season of 20 or more wins in program history. 

By now, it’s no secret that the Wildcats were led by All-American Maddy Siegrist. Siegrist finished the season with 1315 minutes played, 1,081 points and 341 boards. 

“Sometimes I forget that one of my friends is like an All-American,” teammate and junior guard Bella Runyan said. “I’m just so honored I’ve been able to play on the same team as her, learn from her. She’s just been [an] amazing role model, not just as a player, as a person off the court.” 

In Friday’s matchup against Miami, Siegrist finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds. 

But against a Hurricane lineup that came out with high intensity and full court press, Siegrist struggled offensively, going 8-29 from the field and 1-6 from behind the arc. 

In the first quarter of play, the ‘Canes shot 66.7% from the field, setting and maintaining a pace to the game that the Wildcats couldn’t keep up with. 

Villanova also struggled to adapt to Miami’s pick and roll offensive strategy throughout the first ten minutes of play. The Wildcats ended the quarter down six points. 

The ‘Canes were in full control heading into the second quarter, beating Villanova down low. They scored 16 points in the paint in the first ten minutes, allowing the ‘Canes to take a 13 point lead into halftime. 

​​”Everyone got so caught up in who [they had] — again, our strength is playing as a group, as a team on both ends of the floor,” head coach Denise Dillon said.  

With the first half of play behind them, Miami was on track to drop 92 points on the ‘Cats — and the first sequence of events in the second half looked as if the ‘Canes might accomplish that goal. 

Right out of the locker room, the Hurricanes went on an 8-0 run just 41 seconds into the third quarter. 

But, in true Villanova fashion, the Wildcats refused to be sent back up north without a fight. 

“The message, and it’s been our message from day one, is you’re going to battle until the end no matter what the outcome is,” Dillon said. “You’re going to fight. This team has always responded to that.” 

And the Wildcats did exactly that — they fought.

A stunning 18-3 run over the course of roughly six minutes put Villanova right back in the game, virtually eliminating a 21 point Miami lead. 

In the third quarter, ‘Nova forced nine turnovers. The Wildcats capitalized on the offensive end, scoring 15 of their 18 points off of turnovers alone.

This run allowed Villanova to head into the final quarter of play down, 57-51.  

The duration of the final quarter was a matter of ‘Nova clawing its way back. 

A three pointer from senior forward Brooke Mullin at the 7:15 mark, one of just two Villanova threes in the game, brought the score back to a one possession game. 

Less than two minutes later, two free throws from Siegrist gave the Wildcats a 60-59 lead, their first lead since the first minute of the game. 

With five lead changes over the course of the final five minutes of play, the game came down to foul shots. 

Miami went 4-5 in the last minute of play to secure its 70-65 win, punching itself a ticket to the Elite Eight and sending the Wildcats home empty-handed. 

With the Wildcats’ season officially coming to an end, all eyes are on Siegrist. The senior forward can enter the WNBA or come back for a fifth year, or even use her final year of eligibility elsewhere. Regardless, her impact on Villanova thus far has been monumental. 

“I think that is by far the greatest accomplishment as a student-athlete where you can be recognized just as being an authentic person as opposed to just a great athlete,” Dillon said when asked about Siegrist’s legacy. “She’ll continue to impact the world in whatever she does.” 

While Siegrist’s future plans are uncertain as of now, one thing is clear: for her, Villanova was much more than just basketball.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for the opportunity to have played here. So many good people, and it’s really about the people,” Siegrist said. “Take the basketball part out of it…the memories and the people are something that I’m going to cherish forever.”