For 10 minutes, it appeared that Villanova was going to be locked into another thriller with James Madison, just like the two teams had done when they previously met in the third round of last season's WNIT.
Both teams were neck-and-neck, until the Wildcats settled in on both ends of the court for a strong second quarter performance. James Madison was at the brunt of a ferocious scoring streak and from there Villanova pushed the lead into double figures and kept it there for most of the game.
Then the Dukes' late comeback bid started, but the Wildcats were able to stave them off to win 60-57.
Villanova had a 55-46 lead with 3:47 left in the fourth quarter, when James Madison proceeded to hit back-to-back threes to suddenly make it a close game.
The Wildcats were able to hold them off and make a few necessary free throws, but there were a few scares along the way.
Villanova split its final three trips to the free throw line, making one but missing the other. This kept James Madison around to possibly steal the game, but Villanova's defense buckled down.
James Madison's Kelly Koshuta had two open looks from the three-point line at the end. The first take caromed off the rim but found its way back to her, and the second shot missed altogether.
Once again, the Wildcats were paced by the play of Adrianna Hahn, Alex Louin and Kelly Jekot.
Hahn scored a team-high 15 points. Jekot added 10 points. Meanwhile, Louin enjoyed a solid all-around game, scoring 10 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and adding three assists.
Mary Gedaka chipped in eight points off of 4-of-5 shooting, as well as five boards.
Villanova trailed by two after the first quarter, but darted ahead after outscoring the Dukes 21-9 in the second to take a 33-23 halftime lead. Villanova started off the quarter with an 8-2 run that included a pair of threes by Megan Quinn and Jannah Tucker, as well as a layup by Bridget Herlihy.
During this stretch, the Wildcats shot 8-of-16 and 4-of-9 from deep.
Villanova kept the Dukes at bay from then on, maintaining a comfortable double digit lead until it had to eventually shut down James Madison's rally.
Kamiah Smalls led the Dukes with a game-high 17 points and eight rebounds before fouling out. Koshuta finished the game with 15 points off of 7-of-12 shooting.
With the Friday night win, they'll be moving on to the championship game of the TD Bank Classic in Vermont on Saturday, at 7 p.m., where Villanova will face American.
The Eagles beat tournament host Vermont, 64-62, after a buzzer beating layup by Emily Kinneson.