Katherine Coyer leads Wildcats past St. John’s in third round of WNIT



Mitchell Berrang

The Villanova Wildcats (22 – 13) continued their march to the WNIT championship as they hosted yet another postseason showdown on Thursday night in the Pavilion.

The St. John’s Red Storm (23 – 11) looked to take down the red hot Wildcats, but Villanova’s depth and lethal 3-point shooting hoisted the Wildcats past St. John’s with a 63 – 55 victory.

Before the tip-off, junior guard Caroline Coyer brought her Wildcats together in a huddle offering words of motivation and focus. Villanova knew the task at hand, it was quite simple: beat St. John’s, advance to the quarterfinals. 

However, the Wildcats had a rocky start to begin the game. The Red Storm jumped out to an early 6 – 2 lead thanks to the physicality of guard Danaejah Grant and forward Amber Thompson. St. John’s also looked to quiet Wildcat leader Caroline Coyer by having their speedy guard Aaliyah Lewis face guard Coyer the entire first half. 

Nevertheless, the Wildcats were able to take a 12 – 9 lead at 13:38 mark with a timely 3-pointer by Coyer. St. John’s fought back and held the advantage thanks to numerous offensive rebounds, which resulted in second chance points.

Villanova’s bench played a prominent factor in this win.  Freshman guard Alex Louin and senior forward Taylor Holeman brought much needed energy into the Wildcats’ efforts both offensively and defensively. Such bench depth allowed Villanova to take back the lead, and finish the half leading St. John’s 28 – 26. 

The second half was a different story for Villanova. The 3-pointers began to fall for the Wildcats and there was no turning back. Junior guard Katherine Coyer paved the way for the Wildcats by scoring 20 out of her 23 career high points in the second half. 

The first ten minutes of the second half were fairly even. Both teams went back and forth in scoring, but all the momentum was with the Wildcats. At the 9:06 mark senior center Emily Leer drained a three to put the Wildcats up 43 – 40 and the Wildcats maintained the lead until the buzzer sounded.

The Wildcats pulled off a 10 – 0 scoring run that began at the 7:30 mark and ended at the 4:35 mark. That roughly three minute scoring drought for the Red Storm really hindered their chances of winning, the score was now 53 – 45 Villanova in front. 

Sophomore guard Jordan Dillard took advantage of her extra minutes and made a game-changing offensive rebound that allowed the Wildcats to take another 35 seconds off the game clock and it led to a 3-pointer from Katherine Coyer to extend the Wildcats’ lead 56 – 45 with 1:32 left in the game.  As the crowd came to their feet, Villanova shot free-throws the rest way as St. John’s was forced to foul. 

The Wildcats ultimately solidified their 61 – 55 victory from the charity stripe, and survive and advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT.

Katherine Coyer led the Wildcats in scoring with her career high 23 points. Meanwhile, her twin sister, Caroline Coyer had 15 points and led the team in assists with four.

Louin played a pivotal role for the Wildcats with her 14 points and team high six rebounds coming off the bench. 

St. John’s guard Danaejah Grant recorded a double-double and led the team in points with 25 and rebounding with 14, but was just 4-of-11 from the free-throw line which really hurt the Red Storm. 

Amber Thompson finished the game with 16 points and 11 rebounds, which gave her a double-double as well. St. John’s guard Aliyyah Handford was two points away from a double-double, finishing with eight points and 11 boards. 

Villanova will now travel to Morgantown, West Virginia to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers on Sunday.  Tip-off is scheduled for 2 P.M. with the winner advancing to the WNIT’s final four.