It wasn’t the prettiest of starts for either team, but the Wildcats would ultimately do just enough to spring ahead of the Owls in the second half and win, 69-65.
With the win, the Wildcats improved to 9-0, their best start since the 1979-80 season. Villanova also remains to be one of three schools that have undefeated men’s and women’s basketball teams—with the Florida State Seminoles and the Mississippi State Bulldogs also in the mix.
It wasn’t an easy game for the ‘Cats, who found themselves trailing early.
The Wildcats were slow to start, but remained defensively tough in containing Temple’s Tanaya Atkinson. Atkinson, the leading go-to scorer and rebounder for the Owls, was kept quiet to begin the game. She’s carried the Owls before, and stopping her was vital to a winning gameplan.
As for Villanova, a number of players were contributing. Four Wildcats would ultimately finish in double figures—Adrianna Hahn (19 points), Alex Louin (15), Megan Quinn (12), and Jannah Tucker (10).
The Wildcats would bounce back with a 7-2 run to close out the second quarter to take a small 27-25 lead at halftime.
After the break, Atkinson would finally break through for Temple. She helped make it a back-and-forth affair, as she scored 20 of her 24 points in the second half alone. The six-foot senior would finish with 24 points and 18 rebounds, but shot just 9-for-24 on the floor.
A pair of free throws by Temple’s Lena Niang would eventually tie things up at 44, with just seconds left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats would respond with a last-second jumper by Hahn, just before the buzzer, to take a 46-44 lead going into the fourth quarter.
That would be the final lead change of the game. The Wildcats managed the hold Temple off. They began the final quarter of the game strong, starting with a 12-5 run. They would eventually push their lead to as high as 10 points, after a Mary Gedaka and-one made it 61-51 with 5:58 remaining.
Atkinson would lead a hard-nosed effort to trim the lead down to three, but the Owls couldn’t get that extra stop or big play needed to tie the game or overtake the Wildcats.
Now, the Wildcats will take a 10-day break for end-of-semester exams and will resume action on Dec. 20, when they head over to Tom Gola Arena to play another Big 5 school in La Salle. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.