Four Wildcats To Compete In USA Basketball 3x Nationals


Graydon Paul/Villanovan Photography

Maddie Burke, Christina Dalce, Lucy Olsen, and Zanai Jones will represent Villanova.

Elijah McDow, Staff Writer

On March 24th, 2023, Villanova’s women’s basketball team saw its season come to a heartbreaking end in Greenville, South Carolina at the hands of the Miami Hurricanes.  

After the final buzzer sounded, one of the biggest questions to arise was whether Maddy Siegrist would return to Villanova or go professional. 

That question has since been answered. Forty-two days after playing her final game as a Wildcat, Siegrist is now a member of the Dallas Wings of the WNBA.

Without an all-America on the squad, head coach Denise Dillion will now rely on other players to step up in the 2023-2024 season.

Fortunately for Dillion, four of her returning players will find themselves back on the court sooner than expected.

On Wednesday, April 26th, it was announced that junior guard Maddie Burke, sophomore forward Christina Dalce and sophomore guards Lucy Olsen and Zanai Jones will be traveling to Colorado Springs, Colorado to compete in USA Basketball’s 3X Nationals.  

According to Dalce, playing in 3X nationals is something that has been in the works since the NCAA tournament.

“I kind of knew during March Madness,” Dalce said. “In my meeting [Coach Dillion] was like you, [Zanai], Maddie and Lucy are going to USA basketball so I kind of had the inside scoop before the other girls did.”

  Per USA Basketball’s office website, “3X Nationals will serve as an evaluation for selection to various 2023 USA Basketball 3×3 men’s and women’s national teams, including the 2023 FIBA 3×3 World Cup, set for May 30-June 4 in Vienna, Austria and roster spots for USA Basketball World Tour, Women’s Series and U21 and U23 Nations League teams.” 

The competition, which runs from May 5th to 7th, will feature 16 women’s teams, highlighted by Duke, Indiana, Maryland, Tennessee, UCLA and Big East rivals Creighton, Seton Hall and St. John’s. 

While some of these teams have previously played in this competition, this will be the Wildcats’ inaugural trip to 3X Nationals.  

“Honestly I’m going into my senior year, and this has never happened before” Burke said. “Being able to go out to Colorado is a great opportunity and really exciting.”

Dalce echoed Burke’s statement and gave credit to Maddy Siegrist for putting the team in this position.

“It’s very exciting being able to put my name out and put the University’s name out,” Dalce said. “I think after this season Maddy Siegrist did a great job of putting us on the map and I feel this is just going to be a continuation of elevating us for the upcoming year.”

The last time that Burke, Dalce, Jones and Olsen laced up, it was for a spot in the “Elite Eight.” This time, however, the rules, vibe and pressure will be different.

Instead of the normal 24-second shot clock or full-court play, the Wildcats will find themselves playing half-court with a 10-minute clock and a 12-second shot clock. To win the game, the Wildcats or their opponents must be leading at the end of regulation or be the first team to score 21 points.

“The different rules are going to be a little bit difficult but I’m okay with that,” Dalce said. “So far in practice, [the different rules] have been forcing me to move faster but I also think they are helping me learn how to be more controlled.”

Despite the rule changes 3X nationals is an invaluable opportunity for four key players to work on their game and get closer as teammates.

“For off the court on the court bonding, it’s a great opportunity to fly out there in smaller groups and spend some quality time together,” Burke said. “Going to Colorado is awesome. It’s beautiful there and I’m sure it will be a good trip overall on the court and off the court.”

As of Tuesday, May 2nd, USA Basketball has yet to announce the time of games, matchups, or brackets. Once times and opponents are confirmed, all games will be available to stream on + YouTube. While their opponents are TBD, the Wildcats can travel to Colorado knowing they will most likely be facing a team from the ACC, SEC, PAC-12 and potentially one from their own conference.