Adrianna Hahn stepped up to the line and promptly made two free throws to extend the Wildcats’ lead to three points, with just 7.1 seconds on the clock.
Fortunately for the Wildcats, she made both. On the following possession, South Dakota State delayed the celebrations when Madison Guebert banked a three at the buzzer to force the game into overtime.
However, after both teams traded baskets to start, the Wildcats would eventually pull away to win 81-74. Friday night’s victory marks their first NCAA Tournament win since 2004.
“That’s basketball, she made I want to say lucky shot—she went up there and banked it in,” Villanova head coach Harry Perretta said of the the end of regulation. “That’s the way it goes, you just have to try to recover and play. I thought our kids did a great job of not deflating. We came right back in overtime and played very well in the overtime.”
The Wildcats pounced all over the Jackrabbits from opening tip, feeling their hot shooting hand early. They sprung out to a 26-11 lead after the first quarter and kept pouring on the baskets.
South Dakota would settle in and started chipping away at the Villanova lead in the second half. The lead withered down into single digits and suddenly, the Jackrabbits were just a couple of baskets away from the ‘Cats. Guebert’s three to bring the game into overtime was the first time the game was tied since the score was 0-0 to start.
Sophomore Mary Gedaka got overtime started with a layup, but South Dakota State quickly answered back with a Macy Miller basket.
From there, the Wildcats rattled off three-consecutive threes to take a nine-point lead. Jannah Tucker nailed back-to-back treys to break the 70-70 tie. After both teams didn’t score for about a minute-and-a-half, Hahn added another three to pad the lead.
Miller would got a layup to fall to end the Villanova run, making it 79-72 with just 49 seconds left in the game. This time around, there would be no last second comeback.
Hahn led the Wildcats with 24 points, including a 6-for-12 performance from long range. Tucker added 20 points, including six treys. Gedaka had 15 points off the bench, while Alex Louin nearly had a triple-double. The senior guard racked up 10 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists.
As a team, Villanova was 16-of-38 (42.1 percent) from beyond the arc, with most of those coming from the first half alone.
“The goal was to make threes,” Perretta said. “The goal was to make threes. The goal was to make at least 12 threes if we could for the game. I think we made 16. Once we got up in overtime, they couldn’t catch us.”
For South Dakota State, Miller had a game-high 25 points, with eight rebounds. Guebert finished with 21 points. Ellie Thompson added 16 points and seven rebounds.
Next up for the ‘Cats is a date with the No. 1 seed, Notre Dame, on Sunday night. The Fighting Irish are 30-3 overall. They downed Cal-State University, Northridge to begin tournament play. Notre Dame won 99-81.
Villanova is keeping its approach simple for its upcoming clash with one of the top teams in college basketball.
“Show up and play,” Perretta said. “Rollie Massimino told me that 30 years ago—just show up and play, and see what happens.”