The Providence Friars were looking to give the Wildcats their second loss in three days, but Mary Gedaka would not let that happen.
She only missed one shot for the whole game, going 11-for-12 on the floor. However, in the second half, when the ‘Cats needed a spark the most, she went a perfect 6-of-6 overall—scoring 14 of her 24 career-high points in the final two quarters of play.
Gedaka had a crucial five-point scoring spurt late in the fourth quarter, putting Villanova on top for good, as it hardly looked back from there to hold on for the 63-55 victory.
The Wildcats were coming off their first loss of the season against Creighton on Thursday, and Villanova head coach Harry Perretta noticed their struggles offensively in the first half.
“We were definitely nervous coming in and that showed with the amount of shots we were missing,” Perretta said. “As the game went on, and we started making shots, I think the girls eased into it and got back into the game.”
The first quarter started with a quick run from Villanova including points from Alex Louin and Adrianna Hahn before Providence responded and tied the game at 6. Providence’s Jovana Nogic—one of the Big East’s top scorers—took control for the Friars, dropping 11 points in the first quarter and giving the Friars the lead.
She was a problem for the ‘Cats, as she scored 18 of her 26 points in the first half alone. Nogic gave Providence a 31-25 lead at halftime.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats shooting woes seemed to carry over from Thursday’s loss against Creighton, as they shot just 32.3 percent on the floor and an ugly 3-of-18 performance from beyond the arc. It wasn’t the sweetest of starts, especially when a number of those long range takes didn’t seem so ideal.
A couple of quick baskets by the Friars’ Clara Che and Ny-Asia Franklin suddenly pushed the Providence lead to double figures to begin the second half.
Villanova would answer back with back-to-back threes by Hahn and Louin, but it was still trailing behind. The pair of treys seemed to be a sign that the Wildcats’ luck from long range was turning around, but unfortunately they still struggled from deep. With the three-point shot not falling as much as they would have liked, the Wildcats found the solution from Gedaka in the post.
“She played terrible the other day against Creighton, really bad,” Perretta commented about Gedaka, smiling. “She played amazing today and that was great to see because we really needed that bounce back.”
As she started to heat up, the Providence lead started to shrink. She also got some help from a couple of timely baskets from Hahn and Louin. The third quarter ended with the Wildcats down three, but you could sense the momentum had started to swing.
A three-pointer from Jannah Tucker 30 seconds into the fourth quarter eventually tied up the game, and a basket from Gedaka shortly after that gave ‘Nova its first lead of the second half. After Providence tied the game at 51 midway through the fourth, the Wildcats went on a 12-4 run to finish the game.
Hahn and Louin joined Gedaka as the only Wildcats in double digits, finishing with 11 points and 14 points respectively.
Aside from Nogic, Maddie Jolin also had a productive game, chipping in 10 points, five rebounds, and a pair of assists.
Villanova has now won 24 of the last 29 meetings versus Providence, and improves to 1-1 in Big East play.
“Big East play is also tougher because the teams get to scout you more and they know what you’re going to try to run,” Coach Perretta said. “We take it one game at a time and just focus on the next opponent.”
Villanova returns home for their first home game in almost a month on Tuesday to take on Butler for their first game of 2018.