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Wildcats Fall to St. John’s at Madison Square Garden, 51-46

Brian Luppy/Villanovan Photography
Senior guard Bella Runyan led the Wildcats with 16 points in the loss.

Villanova opened Big East play with an away matchup against St. John’s (6–6) on Saturday night in New York City.

The seesaw game did not go the Wildcats’ way, as they dropped the game, 51-46. The loss at Madison Square Garden puts Villanova’s record at 6-5.

Senior guard Bella Runyan was the leading scorer for the Wildcats, totaling 16 points on the night, including a pair of three-pointers. Junior guard Kaitlin Orihel also added 12 points and shot 5–7.

The Red Storm entered the contest with intensity, knocking in two second-chance layups before the Wildcats could get on the board.

Runyan was the first to score for the Wildcats. Runyan would lead the offense through the first quarter, tallying five points.

Junior forward Lucy Olsen, the Wildcats’ usual leading scorer, went 1–5 in the first ten minutes. The ‘Cats were down 15-9 and shooting just 22 percent from the field going into the second quarter.

The Wildcats began to look more like themselves in period two.

Orihel went 3–3 and converted two free throws to contribute eight of Villanova’s 13 points in the second quarter. Meanwhile, a tight Wildcat defense held the Red Storm to just four points.

The Wildcats entered halftime with a close, 22–19 lead.

The teams were evenly matched continuing into the second half, each adding 15 points in the third quarter. Improved shooting at 54 percent from the field kept the Wildcats ahead by a narrow margin.

The Red Storm began to climb back in the fourth quarter. The teams were eventually locked in a 42–42 standstill with just under six minutes to go.

A layup with just under four minutes remaining allowed the Red Storm to pull ahead, 45–44.

Both teams then entered a scoring drought for more than two minutes, until a St. John’s three-pointer advanced the score to 48–44.

The ‘Cats were unable to reclaim their lead despite two successful free throws by Olsen that closed the deficit to just two points in the final minute of the game.

Fouls on Olsen and junior forward Christina Dalce in the last twenty seconds awarded St. John’s three more points from free throws, putting the game out of Villanova’s reach.

The Wildcats will be on the road again next Thursday, Dec. 21 for their last non-conference game of the regular season as they take on La Salle. Tip-off is scheduled for noon.

Villanova’s next Big East opponent will be Xavier at home on Saturday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m.

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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.
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