Women’s basketball falls short in conference semifinals



Mitchell Berrang

After a lopsided victory over Butler, Villanova advanced to the semifinals against a familiar foe DePaul. 

The season series was split with each game being decided by three points or less and sure enough this matchup went down to the wire as well. 

The Big East Tournament was held in Rosemont, Ill., which naturally gave DePaul a clear home court advantage. Nevertheless, this disadvantage did not discourage Villanova. 

Instead the No. 3 Wildcats competitively endured a classic Big East grind-it-out 40-minute battle with the No. 2 seed DePaul. 

Unfortunately, when the final buzzer sounded, Villanova fell just short of the upset, and the Blue Demons were victorious, 58-55.

The first half of the game was neck and neck. Villanova and DePaul traded baskets, back and forth, and the largest lead of the first half was held by DePaul with a lead of only five points. 

Behind Caroline Coyer’s 13 first half points, Villanova managed to reduce their deficit by halftime, although the Wildcats still trailed the Blue Demons 25-21. 

Caroline Coyer led all players in scoring at the half with 13 points, while DePaul’s Megan Podkowa and Chanise Jenkins had 10 points and nine points respectively. 

DePaul held the first half edge in both rebounds and assists over Villanova. In the first half the Blue Demons out rebounded the Wildcats 22-16 and had 8 assists to Villanova’s 2 assists. 

The second half began in favor of DePaul, but Villanova simply would not surrender. DePaul maintained a relative, yet consistent six to seven point lead until the 11:07 mark at which their lead was six, and about to be in jeopardy. 

Freshman guard Alex Louin scored five straight points to cut into the Blue Demons’ lead, and Caroline Coyer netted a clutch 3 pointer that tied the game at 42-42. Once having tied the game, Villanova and DePaul began exchanging baskets. 

However, DePaul made two timely buckets from beyond the arch that put them in the lead, but the 3-pointers did not solidify the game. 

The Wildcats battled back behind the resilient efforts of Caroline Coyer who perfectly executed two shots from the charity stripe, and a layup to get the Wildcats to a one possession game, 58-55 with :20 seconds left on the game clock. 

The Wildcats were forced to foul DePaul, which sent DePaul’s Brittany Hrynko to the foul line. 

Hrynko made her first shot, but rimmed out on her second attempt. With still only :20 seconds remaining in regulation, Villanova inbounded the ball and none other than Caroline Coyer put up a three pointer that failed to fall, but was rebounded by Taylor Holeman who dished the ball to Katherine Coyer, but she too missed her shot. 

Emily Leer grabbed the offensive board with six seconds left, and found Lauren Burford who hoisted up one final three pointer that bounced off the iron and out of the cylinder. 

Yet again the regular season trend continued, the game was decided by three points or less. 

The score remained 58-55.

DePaul had done it.

The Blue Demons held off the Wildcats’ impressive comeback effort and moved onto the Women’s Big East Championship game to take on the conference powerhouse: the Seton Hall Pirates.

Caroline Coyer recorded a game-high 26 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Senior center Emily Leer dropped in 12 points and grabbed 4 boards. 

Collectively, Villanova shot 42.3 percent (22-52 FG) from the floor and 25 percent (4-16 3-Pt.) from beyond the arch. 

Meanwhile, DePaul’s Megan Podkowa ended the night with an impressive double-double, 23 points and 10 rebounds. Her efforts were followed by Chanise Jenkin’s 11 points, six rebounds and four  assists, along with Brittany Hrynko’s 13 points and four assists. 

From the floor, the Blue Demons shot 38.3 percent (23-60 FG) and 25 percent (5-20 3-Pt.) from long-range. 

Additionally, DePaul out rebounded Villanova 37-32 and had six more assists than the Wildcats. 

No. 2 DePaul will face No. 1 seed Seton Hall in the upcoming Big East Championship game. 

Both teams are NCAA tournament bound, and from the looks of it will be the only two schools representing the Big East conference in the Women’s tournament (according to ESPN’s Women’s College Basketball Bracketology). 

DePaul is projected to be a 10 seed in the NCAA tournament and Seton Hall is projected to be a nine seed.

Nonetheless, Villanova should not hang their heads after their loss at the hands of DePaul

Sure, this season may have fallen short of where the Wildcats expected themselves to be in the end, but their season is far from over. 

Expect the Wildcats to receive an invitation to the WNIT tournament, which begins March 18 – 20.   It is more than likely that Villanova will make a deep run in the tournament. 

Yes, the regular season and the Big East Tournament have come to an end, but there is still plenty of madness in March that this Villanova Women’s Basketball team will surely create.