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Olsen Propels Villanova to Victory Over No. 22 Marquette, 66-63

Ryan Sarbello/Villanovan Photography
Junior guard Lucy Olsen scored 37 in the win over the Golden Eagles.

A clutch layup from junior guard Lucy Olsen in the final thirty seconds earned Villanova the win in a nail-biter contest against No. 22 Marquette (15–3 overall, 4–3 Big East) on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats (12–5 overall, 5–1 Big East) defeated the Golden Eagles 66–63 in the friendly confines of the Finn to increase their winning streak to six.

Olsen led the team with 37 points and five assists. Junior forward Christina Dalce recorded a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. Senior guard Bella Runyan also contributed eleven points and three rebounds.

For Head Coach Denise Dilllon, the triumph displayed the progress the Wildcats have made throughout the season to take down the conference rival.

“I’m just really proud of our group for showing a lot of growth and resilience at this point in the season to pull out a huge win,” Head Coach Denise Dillon said.

The Wildcats came into the game struggling to find an offensive spark. The Golden Eagles surged ahead 7–0 in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the game. The early Marquette lead prompted Dillon to call a thirty-second timeout. 

Villanova began to climb back after the opportunity to reset. 

Runyan put the Wildcats on board with an instant three-pointer. The ‘Cats were soon back in the contest with an ensuing 8–2 run, which included five points scored by Runyan.

By the end of the first ten minutes, Marquette was ahead 19–16.

While Villanova stayed within a five-point margin throughout the second quarter on 46-percent shooting, they were kept at bay by an even more efficient Marquette offense, shooting 58 percent from the field.

The Wildcats continued to come just a basket away from breaking into the Golden Eagles’ advantage.

A defensive rebound by redshirt freshman guard Abby Jegede followed by an Olsen jumper tied the game 23–23 with six minutes left in the second period.

Villanova finished the first twenty minutes unable to take the lead and behind by a sliver, 35–34.

The Wildcats faced similar frustrations in the third quarter. According to Olsen, strong communication was key as the ‘Cats fought for a chance to pull ahead.

“We were keeping each other in check, not getting too overwhelmed, not looking too far ahead, but one play at a time and I think that really helped us,” Olsen said.

The Wildcats entered an intense final ten minutes down 55–54. 

Runyan opened the fourth period with a three-pointer that put Villanova behind by one.

However, a 6–0 run gave Marquette a seven-point lead with under four minutes remaining in regulation.

A suffocating defensive performance in the critical final minutes helped Villanova respond with a 10–0 run, with eight points scored by Olsen.

Despite trailing Marquette on the scoreboard for almost the entire forty minutes, Olsen found the long-awaited opportunity for a Villanova win with only 33 seconds left on the clock.

Grabbing a defensive rebound, Olsen brought the ball down the court to make a layup, pushing the Wildcats ahead 64–63.

Dillon emphasized how the pivotal moment demonstrated Villanova’s improved ability to take control in high-pressure situations.

“[Olsen] looked, she waited, she didn’t force something, and she got to the rim for that layup,” Dillon said. “That was a tough shot and to be honest, four weeks ago we would have either been taking a rushed shot or calling a time-out in order for us to get set. It’s really nice to see that growth and for them to be rewarded for it.”

As the ‘Cats prevented the Golden Eagles from regaining their lead, a foul allowed Olsen to add two more points from free-throws.

Dalce blocked two three-point attempts by Marquette in the final four seconds, sending the Wildcats to a hard-earned victory.

Villanova will be back in the Finn on Sunday to take on no. 21 Creighton (13–3 overall, 4–2 Big East). 

After the success against the Golden Eagles, the ‘Cats feel prepared to take on another challenging conference opponent.

“We put ourselves in the best position possible with a tough non-conference schedule and we know that every team in the Big East is going to be a battle,” Dillon said. “We have a bigger test coming on Sunday, so we need to learn from this one and give it all we have.”

Tip-off against the Bluejays is set for noon.

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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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