If there were any lingering fears or doubt of rust showing up in Wednesday’s game—the first for Harry Perretta’s squad in nine days—it didn’t take very long for those worries to be extinguished.
After initially trailing La Salle at the Explorers’ home floor in Tom Gola Arena, the Wildcats stormed ahead and hardly looked back, winning 76-49.
The Wildcats were down by two by the end of the first quarter, but outscored La Salle with a vicious 22-8 second quarter to take a comfortable double digit lead going into the break.
The Explorers were dealt a blow of misfortune, as their top scorer and one of the star in the Atlantic 10—Amy Griffin—went down with a right leg injury just before the second quarter.
Griffin, who had eight of La Salle’s 16 first quarter points, was off to a good start for the Explorers, making 4-of-6 shot attempts.
However, her absence was too big for La Salle and gave the Wildcats an opportunity. Villanova did take advantage, but it also started knocking down shots at a high clip after not shooting well to start the game.
Kelly Jekot heated up in the first half, scoring 15 of her game-high 20 points in the first half alone. In her third 20-point game of the season, she was 9-of-14 on the floor and added four rebounds to her day.
The Wildcats continued to pounce on the Explorers after the break, adding another high-scoring quarter to pad their lead and extend it well out of reach for La Salle.
Aside from Jekot, Adrianna Hahn also had a solid game, adding 13 points—including a 3-of-6 performance from deep—and five rebounds. Alex Louin also had 13 points, with eight rebounds and four assists to complement them. Bridget Herlihy contributed 12 points off the bench. Her sister, Brianna, chipped in 10 boards. Meanwhile, Cameron Onken got her first collegiate bucket, draining a three-pointer from the corner.
As for La Salle, Adreana Miller had 18 points in Griffin’s absence, but was held to shooting just 6-for-18 on the floor. Deja King added eight points.
With the win, the Wildcats are now guaranteed at least a share of the Big 5 title. They can win the outright title if they take down Penn, the remaining Big 5 team on their schedule. However, that will have to be put on hold for now.
The Quakers and the ‘Cats don’t meet until mid-January, and Villanova will begin conference play. The Wildcats will head on the road to play Creighton on Dec. 28. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m.