Women’s Basketball advances to final four of WNIT



Dave Jarman

After a thrilling overtime victory over James Madison and a hard fought game in a hostile crowd against Indiana, coach Harry Perretta and Villanova’s Women’s basketball team are headed to the semi-finals of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) for the first time in school history. After the excitement coach Perretta is happy with his team’s success.

“Extremely happy”, Perretta said. “We are a young team, started out 4-8 at one point, and now we have 20 wins.”  

Despite the slow start, this season has been nothing short of successful.

“They are very excited,” Perretta said. “They are just happy to see their progression (since the beginning of the season) and happy to still be playing.”

One of the main reasons why Wildcats have had success of late is their guard play. Junior guard Alex Louin has played consistent basketball throughout the WNIT Louin has totaled 75 points, averaging 18.8 points per game, including a 15 point performance against James Madison and 18 at Indiana. After completing her 24th  game scoring in double figures this season, Coach Perretta loves they way she plays because she is a complete player.   

“She’s real valuable because she does more than just score”, Perretta said. “She rebounds, she passes, she defends. So she does a little bit of everything. She plays point guard, so we need her to do a little bit of everything.”  

Another top performer for the Wildcats on this run is sophomore Jannah Tucker, who has scored 41 points in the past two games, including a game-high 19 against Indiana. For a player that sat out two seasons, one due to a knee injury, she has played a major part in the team’s success.

“She’s getting healthier,” Perretta said. “She had a bad knee, so it gets better. As her knee gets better, she plays better. This is her first time playing in two years, so every game she plays, she hopefully gets to be a little more comfortable.”  

In addition to Tucker and Louin, the Wildcats have had contributions from their underclassmen. Freshman guard Kelly Jekot and forward Mary Gedaka have provided stability for the Wildcats off the bench and have contributed on both ends of the floor.

“Both Kelly and Mary have been able to give us points off the bench, something that we lack,” Perretta said. “Kelly gives us another guard. She’s a six-foot guard (who) can play the two (guard) and three, so she gives us a multi-positional player. She can also shoot the three.”

“Mary does a good job,” Perretta said. “She’s a little undersized at center, but she mismatches the big kids pretty well.”

One minor flaw the Wildcats have had during their run in the WNIT is their inconsistency shooting the basketball. In last Sunday’s win against Indiana, the Wildcats were on fire in the first half; They were 15/28 from the field, including 10/17 from behind the arc. In the third quarter of that game, Indiana held the Wildcats in check, as Villanova was a measly 3-18 shooting in the third quarter.

“It’s a little frustrating, (but) there’s nothing you can really do about it,” Perretta said. “You just have to live with it. We do have some extreme highs and lows; it’s amazing.”  

This is partially due to their offensive style, as Villanova plays with four guards out on the perimeter; living and dying by the outside shot. In order to keep his team’s confidence up, he continues to tell his players to have a shooter’s mentality, that shooters are going to keep on shooting.  

“I just tell them to keep shooting,” Perretta said. “You have to keep shooting your way out of it. Those were the same shots you made 10-15 minutes ago, so you keep shooting them until they start going in again.”  

One player in particular who is in a bit of a slump right now is point guard Adrianna Hahn. The sophomore from Ursuline Academy has totaled 19 points in the last two games, including a six-point performance against James Madison. Although this is rough for a player who can go on a scoring tear at any point in a game, including a 33-point performance in a double-overtime win against Xavier this season, she has matured from her freshman year to her sophomore season.  

“She (has) developed pretty well,” Perretta said. “She’s going through a little bit of a slump shooting the ball in the past two weeks, but overall she’s gotten better defensively. She’s gotten more of a grasp of the offense, so she’s improved more mentally than physically.”  

With their four-game winning streak heading into Wednesday night’s matchup against the Michigan Wolverines, the Wildcats have the confidence that they can go into any environment and win, and their coach agrees.

“Right now they do,” Perretta said. “They just played in front of 5,000 people at Indiana and then about 3,000 at JMU so they feel pretty confident.”   

Perretta credits the difficulty of playing in the Big East as a part of why these “road-warriors” have not been phased in any game.  

“Yeah I do,” Perretta said. “The Big East was pretty tough this year. We were 10-8 (in Big East Play), and we played a lot of tough teams in the league. It prepared us to play some of these tougher games”  

And even if they are in a shooting slump, the Wildcats will try to stick to their game plan, and add fast break opportunities and have their quicker guards drive to the basket.  

“That’s what you try to do, and then hope we have decent shooting games,” Perretta said. “We try to drive the ball a lot more recently, and we have been trying to fast break more recently to try and get some easier baskets. (But) If we can make 10 threes or more we have a chance to beat anybody.”  

Against the Wolverines at 7 pm Wednesday night, the Wildcat’s game plan won’t change a bit. Because they are a confident group that feels they can get the job done.

“We will try to do the same things we always try to do,” Perretta said. “Take the game under our control, score low, and try to make a lot of threes.”