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Villanova Bounces Back Against Providence, 68–58

Brian Luppy
Senior guard Bella Runyan recorded seven assists, just one shy of her career high, in Villanova’s 68–58 win over Providence on Wednesday, Feb. 21.

After a 55–52 upset loss to Butler on Saturday, Feb. 17, Villanova had three days to regroup before returning to the Finn for its next matchup on Wednesday night.

Villanova (17–9 overall, 10–5 Big East) emerged with a 68–58 victory over Providence (12–16, 6–9).

It was also a turnaround from the Wildcats’ previous matchup against the Friars on Jan. 24, in which they surrendered 82–76 in overtime.

“I was definitely happy with getting that game back after a tough one up at their place,” head coach Denise Dillon said. “Getting a win here was really huge for this group.”

Junior guard Lucy Olsen marked her eighth 30-point game of the season. 

Two other starting Wildcats reached double-digits on the scoreboard. Junior forward Christina Dalce put up 11 points and eight rebounds. Junior guard Kaitlyn Orihel also recorded ten points and three rebounds.

“Everyone stepped up tonight,” Olsen said. “When everyone’s a threat, it’s hard to guard all five of us.”

Freshman guard Maddie Webber scored five points for Villanova in the opening two minutes. Webber finished the night with seven points and four rebounds.

While the score remained close throughout most of the first period, the ‘Cats kept the Friars back.

In the last three minutes of the period, the lead stretched to 18–10 with an and-one from Dalce and three-pointer from Orihel.

Senior guard Bella Runyan knocked down another shot from behind the arc to finish the first period with Villanova ahead by 12 points. While Runyan would only score two more points on the night, she recorded seven assists, just one shy of her career high.

Halfway through the second quarter, the Wildcats took advantage of a Friar turnover as Orihel made a fastbreak layup assisted by Olsen to make the score 30–17. The play prompted Providence to call its first timeout.

Both teams entered a scoring drought later in the second quarter, with the only points coming from free-throws for a nearly five-minute period. Providence generated eight of its 12 points in the second period from the foul line.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats shot just 5–16 from the field in the second quarter.

While the offense slowed, the defense locked in to keep Providence far behind. Villanova recorded seven steals in the first half compared to Providence’s one.

Turnovers also plagued the Friars, with the ‘Cats scoring 17 points off turnovers in the first half.

The opening twenty minutes ended with Villanova ahead 37–24.

The Wildcats turned their offense back on following the halftime break. 

After staying silent in the second quarter, Olsen scored 13 points on 6–7 shooting in the third quarter.

The Wildcats reached a 21-point advantage, their largest lead of the game, late in the third period.

“Our guards especially did a really nice job of balancing out their scoring, recognizing different presses, moving the basketball and taking advantage,” Dillon said.

The Wildcats went into the last ten minutes in ahead 56–37.

Providence chipped away at the Villanova lead in the fourth quarter, coming within 10 points with just three minutes left in the game.

Nevertheless, the second matchup against Providence had a much different ending from the first, as the ‘Cats were able to run out the clock for the win.

On Saturday, Feb. 24, Villanova will next travel to Omaha, Nebraska for a road game against No. 20 Creighton (12–3 Big East, 21–4 overall). 

The game will be broadcast on FOX. Tip-off is set for 11 a.m.

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About the Contributor
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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