The Student News Site of Villanova University

The Villanovan

The Villanovan

The Villanovan

WBB Preview: Portland and Oregon State

Brian Luppy/Villanovan Photography
Lucy Olsen will lead the Wildcats in their first two regular season games this week.

The Wildcats will open the 2023–2024 regular season on the road against Portland. The game will take place on Friday, Nov. 10 and tip-off is scheduled for 9 p.m. EST. 

In their second game of the regular season, the Wildcats will compete in another away matchup against Oregon State. The game is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 12 at 4 p.m. EST.

While the Wildcats will go into the contest with the Pilots with a clean slate, Portland will be entering their second game of the season after opening against San Diego State.

The Pilots are riding the momentum of a 2022–2023 season full of victories, including claiming the West Coast Conference championship. The team finished with a 23–9 overall record, ending its season in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament.

However, this year’s Pilots will be missing star forward Alex Fowler, who returned to her home country of Australia to play for the University of Canberra. Portland also lost its second-leading scorer, Haylee Andrews, who graduated.

Nevertheless, the Pilots have high expectations for returning players, especially junior guards Maisie Burnham and Emme Shearer. 

The preseason poll predicted Portland to finish second place in the WCC.

The Wildcats gave ‘Nova Nation its first look at the 2023–2024 team last week, claiming their first win of the season in an exhibition game against Jefferson.

The team’s highest performers against Jefferson were junior guard Lucy Olsen, who led the team with 22 points, and junior forward Christina Dalce, who led the team with 10 rebounds.

Both players were featured in Villanova’s starting five, along with senior guards Maddie Burke and Bella Runyan and junior guard Zanai Jones.

While head coach Denise Dillon has alluded that the starting five will vary from game to game, fans can expect to see Olsen and Dalce leading the Wildcats once again against Portland.

The Wildcats are competing against the Pilots for the first time in women’s basketball school history. Portland also did not face any Big East opponents last season.

As for the Oregon State matchup, the Beavers struggled in the 2022–2023 season, ending their last run in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals and second-to-last in the conference.

Going into the new campaign, the Beavers will lose star center Jelena Mitrovic, a primary defensive player who chose not to return for a fifth season.

However, this upcoming season, Oregon State is led by young players.

Last season’s top scorer was forward Raegan Beers, who will be entering her second season with the Beavers after being named the 2023 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and Sixth Player of the Year. 

Junior guard Talia von Oelhoffen, the team’s second-highest scorer, and sophomore forward Timea Gardiner are also top returning players for the Beavers.

The team has similar overall expectations to last season and was picked to finish tenth in the Pac-12 preseason poll.

While the Wildcats are establishing a strong foundation from their starting five, some of the team’s youngest players are also rising up to earn more playing time.

Freshman guard Maddie Webber will be a player to watch this upcoming season. Webber appeared on the court in all four quarters during Villanova’s preseason test against Jefferson, ending the night as Villanova’s third-leading scorer.

As the Wildcats will need to bring a dynamic offense against the Beavers, fans can expect to see a combination of seasoned players and new faces on Sunday. These first few games have the potential to be decisive for how the Wildcats’ lineup will look as the season progresses and the team develops as a unit.

Villanova’s last matchup against Oregon State was in December of 2021. The Wildcats won a close one at the Finn, upsetting the then-No. 23 Beavers, 56–52.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Villanovan
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of The Villanovan with technological needs, training, etc!

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis, Co-Sports Editor
Katie Lewis is a sophomore from Miami, FL in her first year as Co-Sports Editor in 2024. From covering games to writing features and profiles, she loves to find the story behind Villanova sports. Pursuing her enthusiasm for writing and journalism in her studies at Villanova, Katie is double-majoring in English and Communication with concentrations in Journalism and Writing & Rhetoric. When Katie isn’t at Holy Grounds working on her next article, she enjoys playing tennis with Villanova’s club team.
Donate to The Villanovan
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Villanovan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *