The Wildcats opened their Big East Conference portion of their 2014-2015 season on Wednesday, Dec. 3 with a dramatic 51-49 loss at Providence.
Providence senior guard Tori Rule scored with two seconds left on the clock to secure the victory.
The team also faced Saint Joseph’s University on Dec. 7, and fell 58-54 after a tough battle.
Senior forward Emily Leer, junior guard Katherine Coyer and sophomore forward Samantha Wilkes were all sidelined against Providence due to injury, but the Wildcats were able to gain an early advantage in the first half.
Senior forward Taylor Holeman led the Wildcats in the first couple of minutes as she made her first four baskets to give Villanova a 13-5 lead.
Junior guard Caroline Coyer scored two consecutive 3-pointers to improve the score to 19-9 with a little over six minutes into the half.
With eight minutes remaining in the half, Villanova went on a 10-4 run to grab its largest lead of the half, 34-17.
Junior guard Kendall Burton scored consecutive three-point field goals to give the team the advantage.
Rule and Friar senior forward Alexis Harris scored five points for Providence, closing the half with a score of 34-22 for Villanova.
The Wildcats entered the second half disoriented and could not get back to the rhythm they found in the first half.
Providence started out the half very strong with a 12-0 run to tie the game at 34-34. Holeman was able to break the streak with two consecutive baskets.
Providence claimed its first lead of the game as a seven-point streak with eight minutes to spare put them up, 46-39.
However, Villanova was not discouraged and sophomore guard Jordan Dillard and Coyer teamed up to score five consecutive points for ’Nova, making it 46-44 with five minutes left.
The momentum changed yet again, as Providence gained a five point advantage, making it 49-44 with a little over a minute left.
The game entered its most exciting phase in the last two minutes. Holeman made a steal for ’Nova while being fouled. Two free throws put the Wildcats within one point of the Friars at 49-48.
With 25 seconds remaining, Coyer was fouled and made the first free throw, but missed the second, tying the game at 49-49.
With two seconds left on the clock, Rule scored a driving lay-up to give Providence a 51-49 win at the buzzer.
The Wildcats’ performance significantly declined in the second half.
They shot 46.7 percent from the field in the first half but were only four of 25 in the second. The Friars improved from 9-of-28 to 12-of-21 in the second half.
Holeman scored double digits with 15 points, while also accumulating nine rebounds.
Coyer followed with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists. Rule led Providence with 22 points.
The Wildcats have played Providence more than any other team, as this was the 66th meeting between the two schools.
The last meeting took place on Feb. 5, 2014, when the Wildcats triumphed, 72-66.
On Sunday, Dec. 7, the team fought valiantly but fell 58-54 to St. Joseph’s. The Wildcats fell to 2-6 for the season and 0-1 in Big Five Play.
The game started out evenly, and the Wildcats led 10-9 seven minutes into the first half.
The Hawks then scored a seven-point streak and would reach their largest lead of the game at 26-15 with four minutes left in the half.
A 12-4 run by the Wildcats decreased the Hawk advantage to only three points at the first buzzer.
The run was highlighted by a 3-pointer by Burton and consecutive baskets by sophomore guard Jordan Dillard.
The last 10 minutes of the game proved eventful, with the Hawks leading 48-43 with seven minutes to play.
Coyer scored two jump shots and two free throws to give Villanova its first advantage at 49-48 since the early minutes of the first half.
When the scoreboard read 51-50, ’Nova had gone scoreless for the prior three minutes.
It was ended when Saint Joseph’s senior forward Ashley Robinson converted two free throws with a minute remaining.
Hawk junior guard Ciara Andrews was then fouled and hit both free throws to give the Hawks a 54-51 advantage with 41 seconds on the clock.
Andrews was fouled again after Coyer missed a three-pointer and was able to score both free throws.
A 3-point field goal by Burford decreased the lead to 56-54 with four seconds left in the game.
Villanova was unable to get the steal two foul shots secured the Hawk victory.
Coyer was the only Wildcat to score double-digits with 17 points, five assists, four rebounds and a steal.
Junior forward Kavunaa Edwards secured eight points, while Burton followed with seven.
Andrews led St. Joseph’s with 17 points.
Villanova was 21-of-48 from the field, 8-of-23 from the three-point range and 4-of-8 in free throws.
St. Joseph’s was 21-of-52 from the field, 1-of-2 in three-point field goals, and 15-19 in free throws.
Sophomore guard Samantha Wilkes made her debut this season in the St. Joseph’s game, while Emily Leer and Katherine Coyer remained absent due to injuries. The women’s basketball team will face La Salle in its home opener this Sunday.