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Villanova women’s basketball pummels Florida Gulf Coast, punches ticket to first Sweet 16 since 2003

The Villanova Wildcats are headed back to the Sweet 16 for the first time in two decades.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Pennsylvania Photo by Eric Hartline/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Spring is finally here, and Villanova ushered in the new season with a scorching start that led to a dominant finish over No. 12-seeded Florida Gulf Coast.

The Wildcats pummeled the Eagles, 76-57, to punch their ticket to their first Sweet 16 since 2003.

Also, stop me if you have heard this before, but Maddy Siegrist captured another NCAA record in the victory.

Siegrist finished with 31 points and six rebounds in another dominant performance. She broke Kelsey Plum’s record of 35-straight games with 20 or more points, by extending her streak to all 36 Villanova games this season.

While Siegrist was the leading scorer for the Wildcats, it was Lucy Olsen who may have had the best outing of the day.

Olsen had a strong all-around showing and finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, including some dazzling plays in the process.

Once Siegrist decides to call it a career on the main line, the Wildcats will be in good hands with Olsen who is a star budding before our eyes.

Villanova won the jump ball and spent no time at all getting the scoring started, by way of a Lucy Olsen layup. Three different Wildcats were join in on the fun and extend the lead to eight in the early stages of the first quarter, before a Sophia Stiles trip to the free throw line gave the Eagles their first points of the evening.

The Wildcats would extend their lead and finish the first quarter with a 25-11 lead. In that time, Villanova’s heart in the paint Christina Dalce picked up two quick (questionable) fouls. She would not return the remainder of the half.

The second quarter started out much like the first, with Villanova extending their lead to at much as fifteen at one point, before Florida Gulf Coast University started to chip away. The Eagles would end the half on a 6-0 run over the final two minutes and cut the Villanova lead to just six going into the break.

The impact Christina Dalce has on the game goes far beyond the stat sheet. Just having her out on the floor to begin the second half was enough for the Wildcats to go on a 9-2 run and extend their lead to 15.

The Wildcats would take a 65-49 advantage into the final frame and hardly looked back from there.

Once again, the Villanova depth provided a spark off the bench. Already down Megan Olbrys, the Wildcats lost Christina Dalce in the first half with the aforementioned two quick fouls.

As a result, Bella Runyan stepped in and played 33 minutes, contributing five points in addition to her stellar defense. Kaitlyn Orihel was also a valuable contributor chipping in 27 minutes herself.

Christina Dalce was a big part of the teams dominant look today, finishing with six rebounds in just twelve minutes due to foul trouble. More-so than that was her outstanding defense, which always looms large down the stretch.

The Eagles were led by Sha Carter who finished with eleven points and six rebounds. Alyza Winston finished with ten points and three rebounds as well.

The Wildcats will face Miami on Friday.