Women’s basketball defeats Old Dominion, advances to second weekend of WNIT

Mitchell Berrang

The women’s basketball (20-13) hosted the Old Dominion Lady Monarchs (21-12) in the second round of the WNIT on Sunday afternoon at the Pavilion. The Wildcats were able to successfully hold off a late game comeback by the Lady Monarchs, and were victorious with a final score of 71 – 66.

The first half was fairly streaky as both teams went on scoring runs at different times. Old Dominion beganthe game on a 5 – 0 scoring run within the first two minutes, before Villanova answered with a scoringrun of their own. This five point lead was Old Dominion’s largest lead of the game.

Senior center Emily Leer and senior forward Lauren Burford each had five points respectively in the Wildcats’ 14 – 4 scoring run that shifted the five point lead in Villanova’s direction, and put the score 14 – 9 Wildcats with 14:09 left in the half.

The rest of the first half was even, until the closing five minutes. Each team ran their offenses, and the both teams were able to get to the basket. Sophomore forward Jennie Simms was the focal point of the Lady Monarchs’ offense.

Villanova Head Coach Henry Perretta made a bold decision by having junior guard Katherine Coyer faceguard Jennie Simms on the majority of Old Dominion’s offensive possessions. This gamble paid-off for Perretta because Simms’ game was undoubtedly interrupted in the closing minutes of the first half.

At the 7:02 mark, Villanova was in front of the Old Dominion 29 – 26. The Wildcats went on an impressive 12 – 2 scoring run to close out the first half. This lengthy run can be attributed to 3-pointers made by four different Wildcats, including freshman guard Alex Louin’s buzzer beating triple to end the half.

Villanova played tenacious defense that held the Lady Monarchs to only two points in the final seven minutes of the half. These factors combined gave Villanova the 41 – 28 halftime lead.

The second half began in favor of the Lady Monarchs as Jennie Simms penetrated the lane, and scored over two Wildcat defenders. This specific play symbolized much of Old Dominion’s offense which was to get the ball to Simms and let her drive. Meanwhile, the Wildcats spread out their second half offensive attack showing off their bench’s depth.

Villanova mostly maintained a double-digit lead over Old Dominion throughout 15 minutes of the second half, and even had a game high 15 point lead at the 12:12 mark. However, Simms and her Lady Monarchs would not go down without a fight.

In a role reversal of Villanova’s last seven minutes of thefirst half, Old Dominion dominated the last five minutes of the second half. In the last five minutes of the game, Simms knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to get her monarchs to within seven points, but the Wildcats held the lead 65 – 58 with 2:55 left on the game clock.

Villanova’s Emily Leer responded to Simms’ effort with a mid-range jumper that netted her tenth made field goal of the game, and gave her a team high 23 points. Villanova maintained their seven point lead with the score now 67 – 60 advantage Villanova.

Lady Monarchs’ senior forward Tiffany Minor quickly answered back with her fourth made three-pointer of the game, and cut the score to 67 – 63.

Down by four, the Old Dominion looked to capitalize, but Villanova’s junior guard Caroline Coyer came up with a crucial steal, and her twin Katherine displayed tremendous hustle by diving for the loose ball and getting fouled in the process.

Katherine Coyer made the best of her opportunity at the charity stripe, by calmly sinking both free throws of the one and one opportunity. These sedulous efforts put forth by the Coyer sisters gave the Wildcats a 69 – 63 lead with 46 seconds left in the game.

Old Dominion’s Simms dropped in a three-pointer, and tallied her 29th point of game, to get the game back to within three, 69 – 66 Villanova. The Wildcats wisely ran precious seconds off of the clock, before calling a timeout with two seconds left on the shot clock, and six seconds left on the game clock.

Perretta drew up a beautiful play that gave senior forward Taylor Holeman a great look at a baseline mid-range jumper that swished through the net and solidified Villanova’s victory 71 – 66.

Leer led Villanova’s scoring attack with 23 points going 10-for-14 from the field, and 3-for-7 from the 3-point line. The Coyer sisters both scored over ten points each with Katherine scoring 13 and Caroline scoring 11 points and adding a team-high seven assists.  Junior forward Kavunaa Edwardsdid not score, but played tremendous defense and led the team with eight rebounds.

Meanwhile, for the Lady Monarchs, Simms led the team with 29 points, five assists, and tied the team high in rebounds with seven. Tiffany Minor chipped in 12 points, while junior guard Ashley Betz-White dropped in ten points.

Villanova held the edge in rebounding by grabbing 33 boards compared to Old Dominion’s 28 rebounds.

The Wildcats’ bench totaled 16 points, which is four times as many points as the Lady Monarchs’ four points off the bench.

With this victory Villanova advances to the round of 16 in the WNIT. The Wildcats’ next game will be against familiar Big East foe St. John’s. Tip-off for this matchup will be Thursday March 26th at 7:00 p.m. in the Pavilion.