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Villanova Grounds Pilots in Season Opener, 64-42

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Brian Luppy/Villanovan Photography
Junior forward Christina Dalce finished with nine points and eight rebounds.

On Friday, Nov. 10, the Villanova women’s basketball team defeated Portland, 64-42, in its season opener. 

Under the leadership of head coach Denise Dillon, Villanova controlled the pace of the game from the start by jumping out to a 13-0 lead with six minutes still left in the quarter. 

Portland, under fourth-year head coach Michael Meek, looked unable to stop the offensive attack of the ‘Cats, calling a timeout just minutes into the action.

Scoring-wise, it was junior guard Lucy Olsen getting nine early points and senior guard Maddie Burke adding five points. With the departure of former scoring star Maddy Siegrist in the off-season, the early buckets from Olsen, expected to take over the lead scoring role for the ‘Cats, was a good sign of things to come. Olsen finished the night with 20 points, five assists and four steals. 

Junior forward Christina Dalce also had her typical two-way dominance, with nine points and a team-high eight rebounds.

For Portland, it was a different Lucy that was leading the team, in senior forward Lucy Cochrane. Against Villanova, Cochrane led the team in both scoring and rebounding, with 11 points and eight rebounds.

By the end of the first half, it was all Villanova. It had more than doubled Portland’s tally, 33-14, finishing on a senior guard Bella Runyan layup off a beautiful Olsen feed. Runyan also sparked a 9-0 Villanova run with back-to-back layups early in the second half.

The first half also showed off defensive efficiency as Portland had 13 turnovers. The Wildcats held the Pilots to six points in the first quarter and eight points in the second.

There were also two exciting freshmen additions to the Villanova rotation in freshman guard Maddie Webber and forward Brynn McCurry. In their Villanova debuts, McCurry racked up a few assists for the Wildcats and Webber was perfect from the free throw line.

The third quarter did show flashes for Portland, namely with five straight points for junior guard Maisie Burnham, who would go on to finish with 10. Burnham also had four rebounds, which highlighted a struggle Villanova had all night, as it was outrebounded despite the scoring dominance. 

With the departure of some taller players in Siegrist and forward Brooke Mullin, it will be a heavier rebounding load on Dalce, Runyan and McCurry. Defensively, however, Villanova was stout and key at capitalizing on Pilot mistakes, scoring 26 alone off opposition turnovers. 

While the scoring came in bunches for the ‘Cats, Villanova struggled to find success from deep. The Wildcats went just four for 18 from behind the arc, with Runyan going 0-3 and Burke going just two for seven. 

Looking ahead, Villanova will try to continue its momentum. It takes on Oregon State (1-0) in Corvallis on Sunday, Nov. 11 at 4:00 p.m.

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Finn Courtney, Co-News Editor
Finn Courtney is a freshman Communications and Political Science double major and is entering his first year as one of the Co-News editors for 2024. With a passion for politics and sports, Finn's been a writer for as long as he can remember, was a four-year editor and leader on his high school paper and as a freshman has covered a variety of stories for The Villanovan, City of Basketball Love, and has been reposted in the Philadelphia Inquirer. When he's not typing up a story or filming with Villanova Television, you can surely catch him procrastinating on something, watching a Mets game (it's their year!) or trying to just live life to the fullest.
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