VILLANOVA, PA. 12/12/2012 – It was a game where neither team shot the ball particularly well and had a difficult time getting consistency on offense. Points would be at a premium. The Villanova Wildcats got points early from senior forward Laura Sweeney, and a second half opening spurt to get a 61 – 54 win over the Princeton Tigers at The Pavilion. Sweeney scored 9 of her 11 points in the first eleven minutes of the game. It was valuable for the Wildcats that she did.
“It was important, but I wish I had more consistency during the game,” Sweeney said. “When people are having a hard time scoring, defense is much more important. That’s what did it.”
Leading 26 – 18 at halftime Villanova opened the second half with a 13 – 5 run moving in front by a score of 39 – 23 with 15:25 on the clock. That would be the largest lead for the Wildcats. It provided a cushion they would need.
“It was important,” said Villanova Coach Harry Perretta. “When you get up 14 points, it’s hard for them (Princeton) as we were getting more opportunities. It was hard for them to make up those 14 points. We went up 6 and made another little run to go up 11. It was a good learning experience for our players.”
“Villanova is a team that shoots the ball well and in a forty minute game a team that shoots the ball well will go on a run,” said Princeton Coach Courtney Banghart. “As poorly as we were playing, we were in the game, somehow. If you told me they would take 23 threes and make 8, I’s be happy. They just happened to make four when we couldn’t score.”
Princeton would remain in contention cutting the lead to 47 – 43 at the 5:43 mark. Villanova answered with a 7 – 0 run, then made 7 of 9 free throws to close out the game. A key sequence in the run was a fast break layup by senior guard Rachel Roberts on a pass for freshman guard Caroline Coyer, one of her team-best 4 assists. Coyer also led the Wildcats in scoring with 12 points. Roberts made a three a minute later to close the run.
Villanova made 21 of 54 shots (38.9%). The Wildcats were better in the second half making 11 of 22. From the three-point line Villanova was 8 for 23. If the offense wasn’t clicking, rely on the defense. The Tigers were 21 of 67 from the floor, and just 3 of 13 from beyond the arc.
One answer Villanova did not have was for Princeton guard Niveen Rasheed who had a game-high 15 points, 5 assists, and 7 rebounds.
Villanova won its seventh straight game, and gutted out a win against a team that beat them by 20 last season. Sweeney credited it to the tenacity and resilience of her team.
“They (Princeton) are a good team that have been beating a lot of good teams,” said Sweeney. “They got us last year. We knew they weren’t going to go down easy. Our determination and out grit is something. We are intense and that is what helped us.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian