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Villanova Takes Down Seton Hall, 69–41

Gabi Frank
Junior guard Zanai Jones contributed 10 points and career-high eight rebounds to Villanova’s 69–41 win over Seton Hall on Saturday afternoon.

One thing is nearly guaranteed for Villanova women’s basketball: junior guard Lucy Olsen is going to score.

Saturday afternoon’s win over Seton Hall (13–9 overall, 5–6 Big East) featured a hot-handed Olsen. She scored 15 of her 21 points in the first quarter. It was her first double-double of the season.

Villanova settled and did not look back. In a lopsided game from the start, they took down Seton Hall, 69-41, on Alumni Day. After the win, the Wildcats improved to 14–8 on the season and 7–4 in the Big East.

Villanova had a few notable players missing from their starting lineup, including junior forward Christina Dalce and freshman guard Maddie Webber who was last week’s Big East Rookie of the Week.

In their place, junior guard Kaitlyn Orihel and sophomore forward Megan Olbrys got their first career starts. Head coach Denise Dillon made the decision based on players’ health.

“It was just some medical issues,” Dillon said, “I commended the team on [playing without the normal lineup]. It is the next-player-up mentality.”

Four Wildcats had 10 or more points. Olsen led the team with 21. Junior guard Zanai Jones and Dalce each contributed 10. Senior guard Bella Runyan had 11.

“Being so close off the court really helps on the court,” Runyan said. “As the season goes on you really feel it. It is great momentum. We really felt it in the third quarter.”

Villanova shot 50 percent from the field. It was a complete flip of the script from their earlier season meeting with Seton Hall on Jan. 3. In the tough back-and-forth previous matchup, the Wildcats won 50–45 on less than 30 percent shooting.

Junior guard Lucy Olsen led the Wildcats in posting 21 points and 10 assists against the Pirates. It was her first double-double of the season. (Gabi Frank)

“The ball movement. Finding the open player,” Dillon said. “We cannot be unpredictable. When we move the ball like that it is really hard to guard [us].”

Jones, a North Jersey native, was not satisfied with her performance earlier this season against Seton Hall. She hit a three to score the first points of the game. It gave Villanova the lead, which they held for the entire game. At only five foot six, Jones posted a career-high eight rebounds. 

It was just one shy of Dalce’s team-leading nine rebounds.

Olsen kept her poise throughout the game. Her ease at scoring was shut down when she began to draw upwards of four defenders. After Olsen’s scoring run in the first quarter, she turned into a playmaker. Olsen had 10 assists in the victory.

“[Olsen] drew about four defenders every time she penetrated,” said Runyan. “She then kicked [the ball] out to find the open shots. When we hit those shots it really helps.”

Villanova would enter the half with a 34–24 lead.

The Wildcats went on a 13–2 run to open the second half. Jones led a fast-paced offense that relied on the entire lineup to score points. Meanwhile, the Pirates struggled to replicate their first half of play.

Seton Hall scored a mere 17 points throughout the second half, in which Villanova outscored them with 35.

The win provided the ‘Cats with a much-needed confidence boost after losing three of their last four games.

“We just want to continue to build on [the win],” Dillon said. “We need to work on these little things in practice. Every game is a tough one, but the next one [against Marquette] is going to be really tough.”

Villanova goes on the road for their next game against Marquette on Feb. 10. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m.

The Golden Eagles are 17–5 overall and 6–5 in the Big East. In their prior meeting this season on Jan. 17, Villanova upset Marquette, 66–63.

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