by Matthew Sheridan
In sports, it is said that one of the marks of a good team is it’s ability to win away from home. After this weekend’s showing, the Villanova Women’s Basketball Team appears to have that ability.
While many Villanova students and faculty were at home enjoying the end of their Thanksgiving break with family and friends, the women’s basketball team traveled to Las Vegas to take part in the UNLV Lady Rebel Round-Up.
The Wildcats came out on top in both games they played last weekend, first against Bowling Green by a score of 53-42 in the semifinal and then in the championship game against Montana by a score of 74-49.
In the first round on Saturday, ’Nova took on the Falcons of Bowling Green. The game started with an 8-0 Villanova run paced by senior forward Laura Sweeney, who made six of the Wildcats’ first eight baskets.
On the other end, Bowling Green started out 0-for-7 from the field, leading to an early first-half advantage for the Wildcats.
A later 5-0 run by the Falcons brought them within two points at 19-17 with 6:17 remaining in the first half, but once again Sweeney came through with two big layups to stop the Bowling Green spurt and bring the ’Nova lead back to six points.
The Wildcats would hold that six-point advantage throughout the remainder of the first half and head into the locker room winning by a score of 27-21, paced in large part by Sweeney’s 12 points.
The second half started out well for Villanova, as four quick points extended the lead to 31-21.
Bowling Green would respond, however, cutting the lead to six points with 13:26 to go.
The ’Cats then responded with two back-to-back threes from junior guard Devon Kane and senior forward Megan Pearson to give them a 12-point advantage with just over 11 minutes to go.
Unfortunately, the Wildcats went cold down the stretch, and BGSU managed to once again put a dent in the ’Nova lead, making it a 49-42 game.
Despite this, it was too little, too late for the Falcons, as two converted free throws gave the ’Cats a victory as they advanced to the championship game of the tournament.
Villanova was led on the day by Sweeney’s 16 points and 11 rebounds—her 10th career double-double—and senior guard Rachel Roberts, who had 11 points. Jillian Halfhill paced Bowling Green with 15 points.
The host team, UNLV, was unexpectedly bounced from the tournament in the first round in overtime by the Montana Lady Grizz, setting up a Big East vs. Big Sky battle for the UNLV Lady Rebel Round-Up.
Villanova handily won this game, never trailing and eventually holding on to win 74-49.
The shots were falling early and often for the Wildcats as they raced out to a 13-2 advantage to open the game.
Sophomore Lauren Burford and senior guard Rachel Roberts scored 11 out of ’Nova’s first 13, with two three-pointers for Burford and a three along with a runner in the lane for Roberts.
Later in the first half the Wildcats went on a 14-4 run, including three back-to-back-to-back baskets from long range making the score 32-13 for Villanova.
The ’Cats held their lead and eventually ended the half leading the Lady Grizz by a score of 40-19.
Throughout the first half Montana struggled from the field, making just 8-of-29 shots.
On the other hand, the Wildcats had knocked down 14-of-26, in the opening half.
The second half started out along the same lines for this two teams, with Villanova’s lead remaining around 20.
However, a 15-6 Wildcat run brought the Wildcat advantage to 27 with a 67-40 score with 6:23 on the clock.
’Nova eventually salted the remainder of the game away and came out on top by a score of 74-49 to win the tournament.
Lauren Burford led the way for the Wildcats with her career-high 19 points including 6 three-pointers. Villanova also received winning performances from Rachel Roberts and freshman guard Caroline Coyer, who poured in 13 points each.
Sweeney was named MVP of the tournament and Roberts also made the all-tournament team. With the two wins on the weekend, the team improved to 4-1 on the season.
They next play this Thursday at the Pavilion against Lehigh University.