‘Nova Stifles Hartford in Season Opener


Courtesy of Villanova Athletics

‘Nova Stifles Hartford in Season Opener

Tyler Kemp

About 24 hours after the refurbished Finneran Pavilion’s debut for the Villanova Wildcats’ men’s team, the ‘Cats’ women’s basketball team had their home opener against the Hartford University Hawks. Similar to men, the women’s team used their homecourt advantage to earn a 59-41 victory. Junior forward Mary Gedaka led the way with 18 points and 6 rebounds while senior captain forward Jannah Tucker also contributed 12 points. Although the Wildcats pulled away late in the 4thperiod, the Hawks did not go down lightly.

Early on in the first period, Hartford jumped out to a 11-6 lead behind the scoring punch of junior Sierra DaCosta, a former America East Conference Rookie of the Year. With the combination of forcing turnovers with a suffocating press and DaCosta going on a personal run to open the game, Wildcats’ head coach Harry Perretta needed to make adjustments. The ‘Cats finally fixed their turnover problem and started to force the ball inside with Gedaka scoring 8 of her 18 in the first period. This helped to spark a 10-1 run to end the first period as the Wildcats ended the first quarter leading 16-11.

There was not much offense to speak of in the second quarter as both teams shot the ball poorly, leading to a halftime score of 25-18. The Wildcats shot less than 26% from the field in the half while the Hawks shot 23.5% from the floor. The offensive struggles were likely a combination of first game jitters as well as some solid defense played on both sides. 

Although Jannah Tucker finished the game with 12 points, she was blanked for the first 20 minutes of the game. She missed her first five shots until hitting a three to open up the scoring in the third period. On the next possession, Sierra DaCosta decided she wasn’t finished getting buckets as she got to the hoop and put in a difficult layup. This is when Coach Perretta had enough and made the executive decision to place Tucker on DaCosta. The move was much to the benefit of the ‘Cats as Hartford’s best player did not score again for the rest of the game. This allowed Ella Awobajo to get more involved for the Hawks as she scored 13 in the game. The score at the end of the third was 41-31, ‘Nova. 

In the 4thand final period, the ‘Cats finally played Villanova basketball and outscored Hartford 18-10 in the fourth period. After an Awobajo layup with 7:04 remaining, the Wildcats put together their longest run of the game by scoring 13 consecutive points over the next five minutes. This run included 6 points from Gedaka, layups from Tucker and junior guard Kelly Jekot, and a big three point shot by senior captain Adrianna Hahn. From that point, the ‘Cats never looked back and sealed the deal for good.

While this first game had its trials and tribulations from the start in terms of shooting, there are plenty of positives to take away from this game for Coach Perretta and his squad. The ‘Cats won the rebounding battle 51-37 with a big portion of those boards coming from junior forward Bridget Herlihy and senior guard Grace Stant, who finished with 10 and 9, respectively. Villanova was also able to block 7 of the Hawks’ shots which means Coach Perretta’s crew was very active on defense. The Wildcats will have nine days off until they hit the road for Bethlehem to play against Lehigh in an in-state showdown.