Last year, Cumberland Valley’s (Pa.) Kelly Jekot came in as a heralded 5-star freshman.
She was named the preseason Big East Rookie of the Year coming in, but never really lived up to those expectations. She struggled a bit as a freshman, but so far this season, she seems to have grown from those experiences.
Jekot has become a fixture in the starting lineup and one of the key players on Villanova women’s basketball team. She’s played well so far, but nothing had come close to what she did on the floor of a packed Jake Nevin Field House.
By the end of the first half, Jekot tallied 18 of her career-high 27 points in a 79-44 win over Big 5 rival St. Joseph’s Hawks on Sunday afternoon.
She decided to come out early, simply getting her job done, continuing to take things to a new level. Jekot made seven of her first eight shots of the game, helping Villanova pounce all over St. Joe’s.
“She’s outgrown ‘freshman indecisiveness,’” said Villanova head coach Harry Perretta, of the difference in Jekot’s game from freshman to sophomore year. “She understands the whole process better, as she knows exactly what she needs to do in order to make a statement this year on the court in her fullest potential.”
Jekot will clearly have some bragging rights over her sister Katie, who is a freshman guard for the Hawks. Katie didn’t get to stand her ground to Kelly in that she was out with a rib injury. Hopefully next year they’ll be able to act on the sibling rivalry for the ‘Holy War’ title and hash it out on the court.
Villanova controlled the game from opening tip. The Wildcats blitzed the Hawks and had the hot hand early, starting the game on a 13-2 run. From there, Villanova continued to pile it on.
“When we saw the scoreboard at 20-6, it triggered the offense,” Jekot said.
The Wildcats made 63 percent of their shots in the first half, allowing them to build a 39-14 lead at the break.
Throughout the game, the key for their success was simply continuing to stay on edge to find open passes and open shooters. They kept the game simple and that was the key for the team’s additional win, along with Jekot’s career display, as well as the largest margin of victory over the Hawks—ever.
Villanova, who had some issues with closing out games in the past, left no doubt on Sunday, as it routed the Hawks.
“We didn't shoot the ball well, and unfortunately that’s affecting our defense—which shouldn’t happen, causing us to lose today,” said Hawks’ head coach Cindy Griffin.
The loss was a disappointing one for the Hawks, since they entered after a loss to Temple to open Big 5 play.
Jekot wasn’t the only one to enjoy a solid game. Jannah Tucker was an exponential player doing damage on the court today. Tucker was able to get the ball inside the basket, while putting up consistent threes throughout the game and racking a total of 13 points, with 4 assists. Tucker shined as a leader alongside Jekot against the SJU Lady Hawks, while Mary Gedaka did an exceptional job of guarding the posts and also provided the Cats with an additional 16 points off the bench.
Despite the blowout loss in today’s Holy War, Chelsea Woods and Adashia Franklyn led the Lady Hawks on the board in total points both putting in a total of 26 minutes of solid work on the court and a combined total of 19 points and 2 assists.
“We got outworked today,” Griffin said. “This is something we can control which is the unfortunate part, and therefore we need to work on that as a team moving forward.”
Next up for the Lady ‘Cats, they will look to Wednesday to take on Fairfield. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Connecticut.