Late Turnovers End Chance At An Upset
VILLANOVA, PA. 2/5/2013 – The Villanova Wildcats women’s basketball returned home from a two game road trip. They were also coming off a two game losing streak being defeated at powerhouse Connecticut, and a disappointing overtime loss at Rutgers. The Wildcats would have to bounce back against the second ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Not an easy task for any team. Villanova played with Notre Dame for the entire forty minutes, but in the end mistakes were costly for the team looking to pull the upset. Notre Dame took home a 59 – 52 victory from the Pavilion
“I thought that we played very well in spurts and made mistakes in spurts,” said Villanova Coach Harry Perretta. “Against a high quality team or it doesn’t matter who you are playing against, when you make mistakes people are going to capitalize on them. They (Notre Dame) are one of the best teams in the country and they took advantage of every mistake that we made. That’s what good teams do.”
Notre Dame held the lead from start to finish. Villanova did tie the score one time. However, the largest lead for the Irish was 10 points at 39 – 29 with 15:38 remaining in the game. The Wildcats responded by going on a 10 – 4 run keyed by three from beyond the arc from sophomore center Emily Leer that cut the deficit to 43 – 39 at the 10:18 mark. The Wildcats missed their next four shots which allowed the Irish, who were not playing crisply, to stretch the lead back to 8-points with 7:05 on the clock.
Villanova was determined to stay in the game and with a 7 – 1 run over the next two and a half minutes, highlighted by two layups by senior center Laura Sweeney and a three-pointer by junior guard Devon Kane, the deficit was 2 points at 48 – 46 with 4:45 to play. The Wildcats would get no closer as the committed four costly turnovers over the next four minutes. Senior guard Rachel Roberts felt the mistakes were the reason why the game got away from Villanova.
“We got inconsistent with our passes,” Roberts said. “We got a little rushed as they were pressuring us, doubling us. We just made wrong decisions. We were passing before the girls made their cuts. We have to make good decisions.”
Notre Dame escaped with the victory. The Irish would need a team effort as star guard Skylar Diggins scored 14 points despite shooting 4 for 17 from the floor. Diggins made 6 of 10 free throws. Notre Dame had three other players score in double figures paced by forward Natalie Achonwa who scored a game-high 19 points and 11 rebounds. Kayla McBride added 16 points and Jewell Lloyd contributed 10 points. Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw knows that there are many talented players on the team that will rise to the occasion.
“It was important for us to have the other players step up, and we have that kind of team,” said McGraw. “Any of the four starters we have are capable of having a big night. Somebody always steps up. We had four players in double figures and Natalie stepped up big.”
It was also win number 700 for McGraw.
Leer led Villanova with 15 points as she shot 6 – 11 and made 3 of 4 three-point shots. Roberts added 14 points for Villanova and Sweeney scored 11. Villanova drops to 16 – 6, 5 – 4 in the Big East. The Wildcats prepare for a February 10 game against visiting Marquette. It will be another chance for Villanova to compete.
“When you play well and don’t win, it really doesn’t make you feel better,” said Perretta. “As a basketball coach I can ask that they do the best they can, and they are doing the best they can. They have to understand that right now. They are playing the best they can. I just hope they don’t get frustrated that they lost three in a row. Tomorrow they will understand it better than they do today.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian
Notes: Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw is a local product born in Pottsville, Pa. and raised in West Chester. McGraw graduated from Saint Joseph’s in 1977. She is a member of the Women’s Big Five Hall of Fame and the Saint Joseph’s Athetics Hall of Fame. McGraw began her coaching career at Archbishop Carroll High School before playing professionally. Lehigh University was her first stop in college coaching before moving on to Notre Dame where McGraw has been since the 1987-88 season.
It is a treat for her to come home and enjoy some of the Philadelphia culture she misses in Indiana.
“I had my whole family here,” said McGraw. “It will be great to celebrate with cheesesteaks and Tastykakes on the way home.”
She will bring the Irish to Philadelphia next season to play Penn at the Palestra, and hopes to return the following season for a match against her alma mater Saint Joseph’s.