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Wildcats plunder Pirates’ Den, win 67-59

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A strong fourth quarter performance by the Lady ‘Cats grants them their third straight Big East win.

-Ryan Bowman/VU Hoops

The game was never out of reach, but it wasn’t in Villanova’s favor either. The Villanova women’s basketball team always seemed to be a step behind the Seton Hall Pirates, trailing them for a majority of the game.

The Wildcats entered the fourth quarter down by four, but they would get the spark they need to spur them to victory thanks to the play of sophomores Mary Gedaka and Kelly Jekot.

Jekot and Gedaka combined for 20 of the Wildcats’ 29 fourth quarter points, helping them pull ahead and finish on top, 67-59.

Their fourth quarter play helped the ‘Cats outscore the Pirates, 29-15, a pivotal 10-minute stretch to change the tide of the game.

Gedaka would supply a pair of free throws and a jumper by Jekot, to start the fourth quarter, would quickly tie things up at 42. It was the first time the game was knotted up between both teams since the opening minutes of the game.

From there, the ‘Cats would go on an 11-2 run to dart ahead. The scoring spurt was topped off by a Gedaka and-one. She would convert the ensuing free throw to make it 53-44, with 4:31 left in the game.

Three straight Pirate baskets would make it 53-50, with approximately three minutes left, but that would be the closest Seton Hall would get to catching the ‘cats.

Villanova would pull away down the stretch and eventually put the game out of reach.

Jekot led the ‘Cats with 21 points and five rebounds. Gedaka came off the bench and finished with 16 points off a 6-for-9 shooting performance. She also had eight rebounds. Jannah Tucker also broke double figures, as she added 11 points and was 3-of-5 from deep.

Meanwhile, Donnaizha Fountain paced the Pirates with a game-high 28 points and 13 rebounds. The 6-foot redshirt senior forward is very familiar with the ‘Cats, playing against them in her days as a Temple Owl, before she transferred to Seton Hall. Her 28 points marks a new personal best for the season.

She had been problematic in the paint for the ‘Cats all-game long and barely missed from the free throw line, sinking 7-of-10 attempts from the line.

Fountain received a big boost from another forward, Shadeen Samuels, who finished with 20 points and nine boards. Samuels was a lot more efficient on the floor, compared to Fountain, making 8-of-11 shots.

However, the rest of the Pirates were kept quiet. The other Pirates combined for just 11 points and shot just 5-of-20 overall.

Villanova’s strong finish was in sharp contrast to its start. Seton Hall had a 29-17 lead at halftime and limited the ‘Cats to shooting just 6-for-28 (21.4 percent) for the first two quarters.

The second half would be a strong resurgence for the ‘Cats, who scored 50 points over the final 20 minutes of the game. While Jekot and Gedaka were key players, Villanova shot a much improved 14-of-29 on the floor (48.3 percent) as a team.

The Wildcats improve to 14-2 overall, including a 4-2 record in Big East play. They resume their road trip this Sunday, at St. John’s. Tip-off is slated for 2 p.m.