Women’s basketball to host Maine in first round of WNIT



Mitchell Berrang

Even though the Villanova Women’s team did not get asked to dance in the Women’s NCAA Tournament, the team did receive an automatic bid to the Women’s National Invitational Tournament. The automatic bid is given to each conference’s highest ranked team who did not make the Women’s NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats finished the year 19-13 and 12-6 in Big East conference play and they were ranked third in the Big East. The only two teams ranked ahead of Villanova in the Big East were DePaul (26-7) and Seton Hall (28-5); both of these teams received No. 9 seeds in the Women’s NCAA Tournament. 

In the first round of the WNIT tournament, Villanova will host Maine (23-8) on Friday at 7 p.m. in the Pavilion. The Black Bears received the automatic bid from the American East conference and finished the year tied for the regular season championship with fellow American East contender, Albany. Maine’s backcourt is led by sophomore guard Sigi Koziar, who averages 14.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.  The Black Bears’ frontcourt is led by junior forward Liz Wood, who averages 13.9 points 7.5 rebounds per game. 

Villanova is led by junior sensation Caroline Coyer, who leads the Wildcats in both points and assists with an average of 13.5 and 4.4. Senior forward Emily Leer also has the ability to score and averages 12.1 points per game. Big East’s Sixth Women of the Year award recipient, Taylor Holeman, looks to return to her high energy defensive role for the Wildcats. Holman leads Villanova in rebounding with 5.7 boards per game, and looks to be the go to lockdown defender against Maine’s Liz Wood. 

On paper, this game is about as evenly matched as possible. Both teams’ statistics are nearly identical, Villanova averages 61.3 points per game, while Maine averages 61.1 points per game. The Wildcats average 33.5 rebounds a contest, which is roughly a single board more than the Black Bears’ 32.1 rebounds per game. The rest of the statistics closely adhere to the similarly even trend.

Nevertheless, if the month of March has proven one thing to collegiate basketball, it is that paper statistics are irrelevant once March Madness begins.

If Villanova advances, it will face the winner of the Virginia vs. Old Dominion matchup on either March 23 or 24 (the time is yet to be decided). 

The Wildcats look poised and primed to make deep run in the WNIT, and the Nova Nation will be behind them throughout the entire journey.