Resurgent ‘Cats extend win streak in overtime win against Butler



Greg Welsh

In a surprisingly tight affair on senior day, the Wildcats pulled out a 61-58 overtime win over Butler on Sunday, just two days after their double overtime victory against Xavier.

Key contributors included sophomore Jannah Tucker, who led the team with 14 points and 4 made three pointers, and junior Alex Louin, who turned in a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Freshman Kelly Jekot and Mary Gedaka each contributed nine points of their own to help the Wildcats improve their record to 16-11 overall and 11-5 in the BIG EAST. A monster 21 point, 16 rebound effort for Butler sophomore Tori Schickel went for naught as Butler fell to 5-22 and 2-14 in the conference. 

Going into the game, the ‘Cats sat in a tie for third in the BIG EAST Standings with Marquette, while Butler occupied the conference’s dweller along with Providence.

Because Butler lost its last 10 games, one might have expected them to get run over by the surging Wildcats, but this was not the case, as the Bulldogs fought hard and gave Villanova everything they had.

The three Wildcat seniors Jordan Dillard, Karlie Crispin and Samantha Wilkes were all given the start in the last home game of their careers. The special starting lineup did not fare well however, as a couple of early threes by Butler propelled it to a 12-5 with 3:36 to go in the first quarter.

Coming off the bench, junior center Megan Quinn stepped out to the perimeter to knock down a three and trimmed the lead to 12-8 as the first quarter came to a close. The ‘Cats used this momentum to start the 2nd quarter hot and tie the game at 16, just three and a half minutes into the period.

The game remained close for the remainder of the 1st half, although Butler spent the majority out in front, leading for 15:10, compared to just 1:22 for the Wildcats. It was Villanova, however, who had a two-point edge as the teams headed to the locker rooms, 26-24. 

As play resumed in the second half, a couple of smooth jumpers from Louin and Tucker gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the game at 31-26, but Butler fought back, knotting the game at 33 halfway through the third quarter following a three pointer by sophomore guard Taylor Buford. With neither team able to build much of a lead, the quarter ended with the ‘Cats up one at 41-40. 

Fueled by a pair of excellent post moves by Mary Gedaka, Villanova scored the first 6 points of the final quarter to build its largest lead at 47-40. Just when it looked like the Wildcats might finally pull away, Butler hit a pair of timely threes, the first by freshman Shae Brey, followed by another from junior Sydney Buck, to cut the Villanova lead to 49-48 with 4:45 left to play.

Just two minutes later, after sophomore Adrianna Hahn carelessly threw a pass off the side of the backboard, Butler’s Schickel hit a jump shot to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the second half, 53-52.

With their backs against the wall, the Wildcats turned to the hot hand, as Gedaka made a beautiful spin move into the lane and laid one up and in, putting the ‘Cats back in front with 1:30 left. With the game tied 54, and 12 second remaining, Villanova had the chance to win it. Surprisingly, instead of turning to their star, Hahn, or one of their hot shooters, Tucker or Gedaka, Coach Perretta put the ball in the hands of Alex Louin, who missed a three-pointer from the corner and sent the game to overtime. 

The extra session was close, much like the rest of the game. The contest was tied at 58 with just 35 seconds to play, when Louin drew a foul. She stepped up the line and calmly knocked down two huge free throws to put the ‘Cats ahead. After a missed three by the Bulldog’s Brey, Louin grabbed the rebound and was fouled again. This time, she hit one of two foul shots, making the score 61-58 with just 8 seconds to play.

After a Butler timeout, Bufford took a quick shot from the corner to try to tie the game but missed. Kelly Jekot grabbed the rebound and was fouled immediately but was unable to put the game away, missing two from the stripe. With time winding down, Buford caught a pass ahead of the defense and got a wide open look at three as the buzzer sounded but was unable to hit it, sealing the win for Villanova. 

The victory makes it five straight for the Wildcats, who have just two games remaining in regular season play. They will look to solidify a top seed in the conference tournament as they take on BIG EAST leaders DePaul in Chicago next Friday.