Coyer helps ’Cats silence Red Storm

Paul Regan

Villanova (12-9, 6-3) rebounded from a close loss to Seton Hall with an 81-69 defeat of Big East foe St. John’s (15-5, 6-3). The Wildcats maintained a double-digit lead for most of the second half as they cruised to an important victory on Sunday afternoon at the Pavilion.

’Nova was fueled by junior guard Caroline Coyer’s 28-point performance and a team field goal percentage of 61 percent (34-56). Coyer netted 14 in each half on 11-18 shooting from the field and six for ten from 3-point range.

Senior forward Taylor Holeman got Villanova going early in the first half with four smooth jump shots for a quick eight points off the bench. Holeman finished the game with 14 points, three rebounds and four assists.

St. John’s junior guard Aliyyah Handford, who is averaging 20.4 points per game this season, got off to a hot start by scoring eight of the Red Storm’s first 16 points.

Coyer hit two threes++ in a row to give the ’Cats a 33-26 lead with just under five minutes remaining in the first half.

Villanova quickly extended its six-point halftime lead with two jumpers from Coyer and a corner three from senior center Emily Leer. 

With four minutes left to play, a 3-pointer by senior forward Lauren Burford gave Villanova a 79-61 lead, its largest of the game, and put the game out of reach.

Coming into this game, St. John’s and Villanova were the top two defensive teams in the Big East, holding their opponents to 54.1 and 55.2 points per game, respectively. But it was each team’s offensive firepower that was on display in this game as Villanova shot 61 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range, while the Johnnies shot 54 percent from the field.

’Nova boasted an impressive 24 assists to just six turnovers and was able to execute its offense against the league’s top defensive team.

Leer contributed 13 points and a team-high six assists for the Wildcats. St. John’s was led by junior guard Danaejah Grant and Handford, who scored 20 and 19 points, respectively. 

The contest was labeled as the “We Back Pat” game to support the initiative founded by the Pat Summit Foundation to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. The Wildcats’ next contest will take place on the road against Marquette on Friday night at 8 p.m.