Women’s basketball falls to Michigan in semifinals of WNIT



Dave Jarman

Despite rallying back from a 16-point deficit with eight and a half minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the women’s basketball team came up short against host Michigan last Wednesday in the semifinals of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT), 65-61.

The team was consistent from the field and behind the arc, shooting 40 percent, respectively, in each category. The Wolverines had the edge in field goal percentage (41.3 percent) and rebounds, giving them a 40-33 win.  

While the loss stings for the Wildcats, the latter part of the season was a success. After starting the season 4-8, Villanova had a strong second half of the season by finishing in fourth place in the BIG EAST.

This run included streak of winning seven of eight games in January and five consecutive wins in the month of February. After losing to Saint John’s in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament, the Wildcats were able to make their first ever appearance in the semifinals of the WNIT. Their toughness throughout the entire season is a credit to the entire coaching staff, starting with Head Coach Harry Perretta. 

“At the end of the day, you guys have to be positive,” Perretta said earlier this season. “That is what will keep you going and your time will come.”

And he was right. The Wildcats were able to come together as a team, find chemistry among each other and turn a disastrous start into a 20-win season.  

The consistent play of junior guard Alex Louin was a major factor to Villanova’s success this year. She averaged 13.1 points per game in the regular season, and turned up a notch in the WNIT scoring 17.8 points and 6.8 rebounds in Villanova’s last five games. Her versatility proved to be a valuable asset to the Wildcats this season.  

“She’s real valuable because she does more than just score,” Peretta said before the Michigan game.  

Louin’s ability to rebound, pass, defend and play point guard, convinced Perretta that she “does a little bit of everything.” She ended the season scoring over 1,000 points for her career, scoring in double digits in 25 games and moved to 22nd place on Villanova’s all-time scoring list.

In addition to Louin, point guard Adriannah Hahn showed a significant improvement from her freshman to sophomore year. She increased her scoring average from 10.6 to 12.6 points per game this season and was able to show her ability to take over a game when her team needs her the most, including scoring a career-high 33 points in a double overtime victory against Xavier in mid-February. 

“She can really create shots for herself really well, especially for her size, ” walk-on guard Karlie Crispin said. “She shoots the ball very consistently because she’s constantly on a scoring mindset, which there’s only a few of us on our team that are always thinking offensively. As the point guard she’s that leader, and she does what she’s supposed to day in and day out.”

In addition to Hahn, the Wildcats were able to get contributions from their freshman class this year. Coming off the bench, guard Kelly Jekot and forward Mary Gedaka were able to make great strides in their first seasons as Wildcats.  

Jekot’s versatility was able to add another dynamic to Perretta’s perimeter-shooting heavy offense, as she was able to play both the two and three, shooting 33 percent from the field and 29 percent from behind the arc and averaging 6.1 points per game off the bench. In Villanova’s win over Drexel in the second round of the WNIT, her eight straight made free throws along with Louin’s nine helped secure the victory.

Gedaka provided stability off the bench in her first season. In addition to Jekot, Gedaka played in all 35 games this season and was another scoring option off the bench, averaging five points a game and shooting 51 percent from the field.

Gedaka’s contributions included a 20-point, 10-rebound performance at Butler, a game in which Villanova overcame a 22-point deficit in the third quarter to beat the Bulldogs in overtime. In a stretch of three games, she was named USBWA Women’s Basketball National Freshman of the Week earlier this January.

“She outperformed almost everybody when we would practice,” Crispin said. “She has a lot of speed that most big girls don’t have, and she can finish. That’s the key. You can have all the speed in the world, but if you can’t finish at the basket, there’s no need for it. Her way to get offensive rebounds has been huge, giving us second chance points.”

“Although she’s a little undersized at center, she mismatches the big kids pretty well,” Perretta said.  

As Gedaka and Jekot head into their sophomore seasons, they will have the confidence to become even better contributors to Perretta’s program going forward.  

While the Wildcats will miss senior guard Jordan Dillard and starting forward Samantha Wilkes (who averaged four points and four rebounds a game this season), they will return four of their five starters for next year’s team: Louin, Hahn, transfer guard and forward Jannah Tucker and center Megan Quinn.

Tucker averaged nine points per game and shot 32 percent from the field this season while Quinn averaged 7.5 points per game and showed her ability to shoot the ball from the field (41 percent) and behind the arc (35 percent).

With Jekot and Gedaka in their sophomore seasons and the possible rise of redshirt freshman guard Grace Stant and sisters Bridget and Brianna Herlihy (who are 6’2” and 6’0” respectively), there is nowhere to look but up for next year’s Wildcats.