VILLANOVA, PA. 12/31/2018 – The Villanova Wildcats closed out 2018 with a 75 – 71 win over the Xavier Musketeers at the Finneran Pavilion. Nova withstood a furious Xavier rally who got to within 3 points twice late in the game. Forward Kelly Jekot made a dagger three with 44 seconds to play and a free throw with 12 ticks left to seal the victory.
Credit the three-point shooting for the win. The Wildcats made a season-high 15 three-point shots in the game led by Jekot and Adrianna Hahn who had 5 each, a season-high tying total for Jekot.
Xavier came into the game leading the Big East in three-point percentage defense (21.6%). Nova made 15 of 15 of 37 from deep. Their defense looked effective early as Villanova was getting their points inside the arc.
Then at the end of the first quarter forward Kelly Jekot made a shot from distance. It started a run of made three’s for the Cats. Of the next 14 Nova baskets, 12 were from three-point land. Hahn made five of those three’s, Jekot 3, and Jannah Tucker and Grace Standt sank two. By the end of that barrage in the third quarter Villanova held a 52 – 27 lead.
“That was pure Villanova basketball,” Jekot said. “That’s where we shine when we hit each other with a pass and make threes.”
Xavier battled back from a 61 – 39 deficit at the start if the final quarter, and out scored Villanova 32 – 14 in the final 10 minutes. The three-pointer stopped falling and turnovers got the Musketeers back in the game.
“We had key people who came in and hit shots like Emily Esposito who made shots when it counted, Adrianna made shots when it counted,” Jekot said.
Jekot had a game-high 23 points making 7 of 14 and 4 of 5 from the line. Hahn scored 19 points making 6 of 11. As a team Villanova was 26 of 56 (46.4%).
Esposito, a freshman guard, was a big contributor setting a career-mark with 13 points making 6 of 10 from the field, one of which was a three-pointer. Forward Mary Gedaka scored 8 points and pulled down a career-high tying 13 rebounds.
The Cats were moving the ball as well assisting on 20 of 26 made field goals.
Xavier got a team-high 19 points from Na’Teshia Owens and 17 from Princess Stewart. A key in the comeback was the Musketeers getting points off turnovers. Villanova turned the ball over 20 times which led to a 26 – 17 advantage for the visitors in points off turnovers.
The Wildcats (9 – 3, 1 – 1) go on their first Big East road trip as they go to Creighton, then Providence. Xavier falls to 9 – 3 also, but are 0 – 2 in conference play. Each Big East game is important for the Cats as those contests can go wither way.
“On any given night any Big East game can look like this and it could look like Butler,” said Jekot. “We can blow teams out or we could be had. We have to come out for every game super prepared because you never know what can happen.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian