For those of you who have yet to see a Villanova game in the Jake Nevin Field House—I’m sorry. I grew up on the stories my father told me from when he went to Villanova in the 80s and would sneak beers in his backpack—leaving it dangling out a window to keep them cold on a winter day.
The intimate, old-school setting may very well have been what tipped the game over in Nova’s favor, and allowed their women’s team to come out on top today, with a final (and excruciatingly close) score of 68-67, versus one of Villanova’s blood rivals.
In more current times, the Wildcats still have a history of exciting games versus the Hoyas, especially this season. They won by just one basket earlier this year (60-58 on January 10), and just one point on Saturday afternoon.
From the start of the game it looked like this one was going to be exciting, and in that respect the Wildcats did not disappoint. Villanova led for a majority of the game but was never comfortable, with Georgetown answering almost every basket with one of its own. Villanova’s head coach Harry Perretta seemed relieved—if somewhat surprised—that his team was able to pull out a win.
“They’re good, I find it a miracle we beat them twice,” said Perretta. “I mean, they’re athletic, they rebound the ball, they kill us on the glass, force us into turnovers.”
Villanova led 34-32 going into the break and was down by one with only a couple of seconds on the clock. Then, Jannah Tucker drained a three-pointer to snatch the lead just before half.
While Tucker’s three was important, Villanova’s trio of Alex Louin, Kelly Jekot and Mary Gedaka led the way.
Louin, a six-foot senior, that has a calm confidence throughout the game that comes from years of collegiate play. She didn’t take a single three, but made a statement inside, racking up 14 points and nine boards all inside the arc. Apart from Louin, Jekot enjoyed a solid performance, with 13 points, four boards, and four assists.
However, it was Gedaka who dialed up another big performance off the bench, with a team-high 17 points off 7-for-12 shooting. She also corralled seven rebounds, but made things uneasy with her play from the free throw line, only making 2-of-6. Those misses were felt even harder towards the end of the game.
“If [we] can make a foul shot… the game probably would not have got as close,” said Perretta. “I think Mary missed six in a row.” (She was in fact, 2-for-6, but the team was a combined 11-of-20)
Georgetown’s Dionna White made the Wildcats particularly uncomfortable and was undoubtedly the best player on the court in the first half, consistently driving to the basket, and being rewarded for it. She finished the half with 13 of her 21 points, and although she is shorter than anyone on the Villanova team at 5’5”, she is able to use her small size and astounding athleticism to her advantage, obviously having no struggles keeping up with the bigger players on the court.
The up-and-down nature of the game continued all throughout the second half. After the game Perretta praised Georgetown’s defense, obviously impressed— and more than a little frustrated—by the Hoyas.
“We can’t score against them straight up,” said Perretta. “They’re just too good on defense.”
Once Gedaka and the girls got into the swing of things, they began to draw fouls, and get points without giving as many up. Right when ‘Nova seemed to be on a roll, Georgetown answered back, and the Lady ‘Cats stumbled, but the crowd never faltered.
Jake Nevin turned into a miniature version of the Wells Fargo Center for a few moments on a Saturday afternoon, with deafening yells, cheers, and jeers alike. The crowd’s energy was infectious, and the Villanova team was able to hold their lead until the end.
As Perretta put it, the ladies “managed to make enough baskets to win,” although the game was anything but pretty. With one half of a second left in the game, Georgetown’s star White scored a layup to bring the two teams within one point of each other, but that would be it. Although the game was ugly, Villanova managed to keep up their tradition of beating the Hoyas, after meeting them three times in the 2016-17 season, and coming out on top each time.
For the Hoyas, Mikayla Venson also enjoyed a good game for Georgetown, scoring a game-high 23 points, which included five 3-pointers. Cynthia Petke enjoyed a double-double, tallying 12 points and 14 boards.
Look for the Villanova Women’s Basketball team to be back in action next weekend, playing St. John’s at 11:30 a.m. on Friday.