The Lady ‘Cats have had no trouble opening the season, winning their third straight game, this time at home against Big 5 rival La Salle. The Explorers have been struggling this season but put up a fight against the Wildcats.
However, a strong fourth quarter performance for the ‘Cats—where they made five threes—was enough to shake off the Explorers. ‘Nova went on to win its first Big 5 game of the season, 81-68.
La Salle was unable to hang over the final 10 minutes of the game, shooting a mediocre 4-of-17 (23.5 percent) in the final frame of play. The sharpshooting Wildcats built momentum, as they built up their lead, and that fueled them defensively as well.
Overall, Villanova got another strong performance from junior Kelly Jekot. Jekot had a game-high 19 points off of 8-of-11 shooting. She converted on 3-of-5 three-point shots. Mary Gedaka and Adrianna Hahn also enjoyed solid games. Gedaka had an efficient night inside the arc, going 7-for-10 en route to a 16-point finish. As for Hahn, she had a nice all-around game.
Janay Sanders scored the opening bucket for the Explorers, but that was the only lead they would have for the night. Gedaka stole the ball on their next possession and went coast-to-coast to tie the game, and a three-pointer from Adrianna Hahn gave the Wildcats the lead. The ‘Cats stayed true to their form, driving the ball down low or kicking it for a three-pointer. After a high-scoring first quarter the Wildcats held on to a 20-17 lead.
The Explorers wouldn’t go away easily, as they kept the lead to single digits and tied the game with two minutes left in the half after a basket from Shalina Miller. After four missed shots in the span of twenty seconds from La Salle, the Wildcats capitalized and marched into the half with a 40-35 lead. The ‘Cats only made 4-of-17 three-pointers in the first half, but were able to get the ball into the paint and convert.
The game remained relatively close through the third quarter, but the Wildcats were able to hold their opponents at bay. They closed the gap to five points twice, and both times Hahn responded with a three-pointer to extend their lead. A put-back layup from Grace Stant with a few seconds left gave the Wildcats a 9 point lead heading into the final quarter of action.
La Salle had no energy left to mount a comeback in the final ten minutes, and the Wildcats were able to push the lead into double digits.
Miller led the Explorers with 15 points and seven rebounds, and Jeryn Reese chipped in 10 points.
The Lady ‘Cats get a nice Thanksgiving rest before facing off against the red-hot Hokies of Virginia Tech on Saturday at noon for the kickoff of the UCF Thanksgiving Classic.
Interesting note: Villanova received 3 votes in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll compared to 1 vote for Virginia Tech, but the Hookies received 5 votes in the AP Poll. UCF, Sunday’s opponent for the Wildcats, received 6 votes in the USA Today poll. A weekend sweep will certainly boost Villanova’s chances of hitting the polls again (Hey, at least one time might be ranked). Welcome to Feast Week.