Courtesy of Villanova Athletics
After three straight road games, the Villanova Wildcats returned home on Saturday afternoon to host Temple in their third Big Five matchup of the season. The Owls handed the Wildcats their first Big Five loss, winning 68-62 and outscoring Villanova 17-6 in the final minutes to clinch the victory.
Villanova’s lack of depth hurt them down the stretch, recording just six bench points to Temple’s 24. The ‘Cats have been without junior star forward Maddy Siegrist for the last few games, due to a wrist injury, and it showed in the final minutes.
Villanova dominated down low, scoring 40 of their 62 points in the paint, and outrebounded the Owls 35-30. The ‘Cats also tallied 18 points off turnovers and went 7-7 from the free throw line.
The teams were as evenly matched as they could be, with Villanova leading some categories and Temple leading others like second-chance points, a continued struggle for the ‘Cats this year. Despite outrebounding the Owls, the ‘Cats were unable to convert on those opportunities, recording 12 second chance points to Temple’s 15.
Villanova sophomore forward Lior Garzon led all scorers with 22 points, her third straight 20-point showing. Garzon currently leads the team in points per game and three pointers, averaging 18 points per game and making 14 three-pointers on the season.
Senior forward Brianna Herlihy was the second of three ‘Cats to score in double figures, adding 14 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Sophomore guard Bella Runyan, who has been starting in Siegrist’s absence, scored 13 points and recorded seven rebounds and five assists as well.
Temple was led by freshman guard Aniya Gourdine, who finished with 17 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Gourdine was one of four Owls to score in double figures, joined by junior forward Alexa Williamson, who added 16 points, three rebounds, and two blocks. Freshman guard Jasha Clinton and graduate forward Mia Davis added 11 and 10 points, respectively.
The ‘Cats jumped out to an early 8-0 lead, with four ‘Cats scoring in the first two and a half minutes. Temple responded quickly, taking an 11-10 lead with 3:19 remaining in the first quarter.
Garzon and Herlihy continued to trade baskets with the Temple offense, leading 19-16, until Gourdine tied the game with a three-pointer as the quarter came to a close.
The second quarter was no different. Villanova struck first, gaining a five point advantage at the 6:53 mark, but Temple would not go away, scoring six straight to retake the lead.
The ‘Cats were led by Runyan, who scored seven points in the quarter, including a three with 1:06 on the clock to give them a three point advantage. Temple came up with a big defensive stop and freshman guard Tiarra East converted on a second chance layup as the half ended to cut Villanova’s lead to one.
In the third quarter, it was the Owls’ turn to jump out to an early advantage, leading by seven after just over three minutes of play. Villanova outscored Temple 11-4 over the remaining seven minutes, capped off by a Garzon three with seven seconds left, to force a tie heading into the final quarter.
The ‘Cats took the momentum from the Garzon three and used it to their advantage, scoring six straight to start the fourth. Temple chipped away, but Villanova held their lead until the 4:12 mark when Williamson drilled two free throws, tying the game at 58.
Villanova had many chances offensively to regain their lead, but the Owls were strong and steady on both ends of the floor in crunch time. Temple secured two crucial defensive stops and went 6-of-6 from the charity stripe in the final 21 seconds of the game to seal the win.
The ‘Cats will host Lehigh on Wed. Dec. 1 in their last matchup before Big East play begins on Friday, when the team will travel to Providence. Tip-off Wednesday night is scheduled for 7 p.m.