Late Lead Slips Away as Women’s Basketball Downed by JMU


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

Late Lead Slips Away as Women’s Basketball Downed by JMU

Emma Houghton

The Wildcats lost their second straight home game on Saturday night, dropping their season record to 0-2 after falling to James Madison, 56-52.

Despite only shooting 30% from the floor and 24% from the three-point line as a team, ‘Nova made a second half surge to gain their first lead of the game going into the fourth quarter. From there, the team was limited by fouls and turnovers. 

The James Madison Dukes, coming off a 40-point win against Longwood in their season opener, started off strong. They outscored the Cats 17-3 in the first eight minutes of the first quarter with efforts from seniors Kamiah Smalls and Lexie Barrier. Smalls had a team-high total of 22 points, and Barrier finished with 20 and seven rebounds. Only one of Villanova’s first ten shots was successful.

In the second half, Villanova forced turnovers on the first two JMU possessions, swinging the momentum of the game in their favor for the final 20 minutes. A three pointer from redshirt freshman Maddie Siegrist tied the game at 41 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter. Just a few minutes later, a buzzer beater three from Siegrist ended the quarter and put the ‘Cats on top for the first time in the game, 44-41. Siegrist finished with 14 points, going 4-8 from downtown.

However, foul trouble tainted the final quarter for the Wildcats, as senior Mary Gedaka, junior Cameron Onken, and Siegrist all finished with four fouls. JMU’s Smalls and Barrier were 3-4 from the free throw line in the final minute of the game. With less than 30 seconds remaining, Smalls missed her last free throw, but Barrier secured the rebound, and therefore the game, for the Dukes. 

“We played much better than we did the first game, but we’re still at the point where we make errors at crucial moments,” head coach Harry Perretta said.

The Wildcats finished with 14 turnovers, 22 personal fouls and were out-rebounded 46-37. 

In the final seconds of the third quarter, junior Brianna Herlihy went down while scrambling for a loose ball, clutching her knee. She had to be helped off the court, and was seen later on the bench with crutches.

“She was able to move around and walk out,” Perretta said, “So I’m hoping it’s just a bruise, but we’ll have to wait and see.”

In only 20 minutes of play, Herlihy scored three points and led the team in assists with five. 

Now at 0-2 on the season, the team goes on a two-game road stretch where they will face American University of Nov. 14 and Fordham University on Nov. 17.