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Villanova Defeats Richmond, 67-57, Behind 30 From Olsen

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Ryan Sarbello/Villanovan Photography
Junior guard Lucy Olsen scored 30 points against Richmond on 12-25 shooting.

Junior guard Lucy Olsen continued a stellar start to her season, scoring 30 points on 12-25 shooting, to lift Villanova over Richmond on Thursday night, 67-57. The win moves the ‘Cats to 5-2 and snaps a six-game winning streak for the Spiders, who are now 6-2. 

Early on, the ‘Cats and Spiders battled, with the two teams exchanging leads. Villanova then went on a nearly three-minute stretch without a basket. The stretch was broken by a basket from Olsen. She had eight points in the first quarter alone. The first quarter ended deadlocked at 11.

In the second quarter, Olsen and senior guard Maddie Burke hit back-to-back threes to give the ‘Cats some breathing room. The threes caused Richmond coach Aaron Roussell to call a timeout with Villanova up five.

Despite the early barrage, no team could gain a true foothold. The lead changed eight times in the first half.

“I think we started off pretty strong with the ball movement, and then we got a little stagnant,” Olsen said. “But we adjusted after [head coach Denise Dillon] talked about it and she was right, we just had to trust each other, keep moving, set screens for each other.”

Olsen showed off her offensive firepower with her fifth 20-plus point game of the campaign to lead Villanova to victory. Olsen is averaging 27 points in home games. On the young season, she’s averaging 24.8 points per game, the best among all Big East players and third in the nation in per game scoring. 

With the half winding down, the ‘Cats took off. They went on an 11-0 run to close the first 20 minutes of action and headed to halftime up nine. Olsen scored 18 points in the half.

Coming off a double-double against Wake Forest, Dalce continued to impress against Richmond. She finished with her second straight double-double with 15 rebounds and 12 points, matching her season-high.

Burke played most of the first half but struggled to stay on the floor in the last 20 minutes with foul trouble after picking up two early in the third quarter. She finished with six points, going 2-5 from three-point range. 

Even in the back and forth affair, Villanova’s defense was stout from end to end, forcing 15 turnovers and holding the Spiders to 41% shooting (22-54), and 30% from three-point range (6-20). The ‘Cats slowed down a typically high-scoring offense, limiting the Spiders to just 57 points.

“They have nice pieces, a great system, they were averaging 78 [points] coming into the game,” Dillon said. “[They] put a real challenge in front of our team with 58 being the goal, and they rose to the challenge.”

The ‘Cats were without two players in freshman starting guard Maddie Webber, who has a ‘week-to-week’ ankle injury, and sophomore forward Megan Olbrys, who underwent foot surgery a week ago and has no timetable for a return. Missing two key cogs did lead to some cracks in the Wildcat foundation as Richmond were able to cut the lead to as few as six late in the fourth quarter. 

However, Villanova was able to stay ahead. Olsen continued to find a way to score, senior guard Bella Runyan set up key buckets and junior guard Kaitlyn Orihel made big plays.

“Stringing together [the] two, that’s what we’re looking for,” said Dillon of Orihel. “The reliability, the consistent scoring.”

Junior guard Zanai Jones sealed the win with a dagger three-point shot from the corner with under two minutes remaining. She then made two free throws to put Villanova up 10. Jones finished with seven points and two assists. 

Dillon praised the team adapting to the new offense post-game.

“With this group, it’s more perimeter which spaces it out nicely and gives a chance for shots or drives to dishes,” Dillon said. “I thought Bella Runyan did a heck of a job driving in, seeing the help and dumping it off. We need to become more comfortable with that, but it’s really the same read and react offense, just playing to the strengths of the individual players out there now.”

Despite the offensive success, three-point shooting continues to be an overall struggle for the ‘Cats, as they were unable to match their season average of 31.6% against the Spiders, shooting just 5-18 (27.8%) from beyond the arc.

Now with four straight wins, the ‘Cats will look to make it five in a row. They travel to New York City to face Columbia (4-4). Tip-off is set for 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2.

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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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