Women’s basketball victorious in first round of WNIT



Mitchell Berrang

After a cold blustery day full of snow, the Wildcats look to bring some heat into their opening round game of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT) against the University of Maine Black Bears.

Fans poured into the Pavilion in hopes for a Wildcat victory. Sure enough, the Wildcats defeated the Black Bears 71 – 60, advancing to the second round of the WNIT.

Villanova jumped out to an extremely hot start thanks to junior forward Lauren Burford’s four consecutive three pointers, which gave the Wildcats an early 14 – 4 lead.

Sophomore forward Samantha Wilkes continued the 3-point trend by knocking down two long-range threes, which helped further extend Villanova’s lead to 22-6.

Great ball movement led to open shots for Villanova.  The Wildcats’ persistent on and off ball pressure stifled also Maine’s offensive scoring. Both these factors allowed the Wildcats to build and maintain their large first half lead.

At the half, the Wildcats lead the Black Bears 40-21.

First half scoring was pretty well-distributed as six Wildcats scored four points or more. Lauren Burford led the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding with 12 points and four rebounds while junior guard Katherine Coyer was second in scoring by dropping seven points in the half.

In the second half of the game, Maine fought hard to get the lead within reach, and eventually started cutting into the lead, though the Wildcats still led 47-33 at the 14:45 mark.

Maine stepped up the defensive pressure, but eventually began to trade baskets with the Wildcats.

Villanova had a minor dry-spell from beyond the arch, which opened the door for sophomore guard Sigi Koizar and her Black Bears to cut the lead to within ten at 56-46 at the 5:26 mark.

Maine’s 2-3 defensive zoned proved to be vulnerable to the Wildcats’ tendency to shoot from beyond the arch.

Head Coach Harry Perretta’s high-low offense successfully countered Maine’s zone, which left an open shooter waiting to execute from the 3-point line. In fact, Villanova’s Lauren Burford took advantage of this offensive set, and netted a 3-pointer to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 59-56.

On the next three offensive possessions, the Wildcats continued the high-low offense. Freshman guard Alex Louin made two consecutive 3-pointers, while Caroline Coyer sunk an additional 3-point bucket.

These possessions extended Villanova’s lead to 68-52 at the 2:16 mark.

The Black Bears attempted a last minute comeback, but the Wildcats successfully held them off, and ended the game with a 71 – 60 Villanova victory.

Alex Louin’s 17 points off the bench led the Wildcats in scoring, while Lauren Burford added 15 points, and was a perfect 5-of-5 from the three-point line.

Burford was co-leader in assists with four. Caroline Coyer also recorded four assists, and finished the game with 12 points and a team-high five rebounds.

Additionally, Samantha Wilkes dropped in 10 points from off the bench.

Villanova’s bench outscored Maine’s bench 31 – 10. Another deciding factor in the game was Villanova’s success from 3-point range.  The Wildcats were 14-of-27 on such shots, while the Black Bears were only 4-of-9.

The Black Bears’ leading scorer was Sigi Koziar with 22 points, and incredibly all of her 22 points were scored in the second half. Maine’s forwards Mikaela Gustafsson and Lizz Wodd put up respectable numbers as well. Gustafsson finished the contest with 17 points, while Wood was one point shy of a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.

This victory propelled the Wildcats to 20-13, and makes this their third consecutive 20 win season and Perretta’s 17th time having coached a team with 20 or more wins.

Villanova will now host Old Dominion in second round action of the WNIT this Sunday, March 22nd in the Pavilion, tip-off will be at 2 P.M.