by Pat Ralph
Coming off a tough loss against the No. 3 nationally ranked University of Connecticut Huskies last Tuesday night, the Villanova women’s basketball team suffered their second straight loss this week with a 58-50 defeat in overtime on the road against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers this past Saturday.
In the contest, the Wildcats failed to shoot the ball well, as they averaged 39 percent from the field for the game.
Even though the Wildcats (16-5, 5-3) struggled with shooting overall in the game, they were able to shoot an impressive 50 percent from behind the 3-point line.
Another problem for the Wildcats was in the rebounds department, as the ’Cats were outrebounded 35-23 by the Scarlet Knights.
In addition to their strong performance on the glass, Rutgers (13-8, 4-4) was able to shoot an impressive 46 percent from the field in the contest.
Another strong aspect of the Scarlet Knights’ win was outscoring the Wildcats in the paint 32-14 and in second-chance points 12-0. The ’Cats also committed a season-high of 18 turnovers in the contest.
A layup by senior forward Laura Sweeney gave Villanova a 44-36 lead with 7:25 to play in regulation.
Following the Sweeney bucket, the Wildcats would score just two more points the rest of the half.
The Scarlet Knights sliced the ’Cats lead to 44-41 on a Shakena Richardson 3-point field goal at the 3:49 mark.
The Wildcats answered on the other end when sophomore center Emily Leer converted an uncontested layup. Leer’s field goal was her team’s final points of the second half.
Villanova led 46-45 when Richardson was fouled on a drive to the basket with eight seconds remaining.
Richardson missed the first and made the second free throw to tie the game at 46-46.
The Wildcats had a chance to win the game at the buzzer but senior forward Megan Pearson’s jumper was off target.
Rutgers scored the first six points of overtime to take a 52-46 lead.
A key play in the extra session happened at the 4:07 mark when Sweeney fouled out of the game.
Two free throws by Wildcat junior guard Devon Kane cut the Scarlet Knight lead to 52-48 with 2:31 to play.
Rutgers freshman Kahleah Copper scored on a driving layup on the next possession to give the Knights the six-point lead again at 54-48 with 2:04 remaining in the competitive Big East matchup.
Kane made one of two from the line to make it a five-point game, before Richardson made two free throws to give Rutgers a 56-49 advantage with 1:33 on the clock.
Two missed field goals by Villanova and a bucket by Scarlet Knight forward Betnijah Laney iced the game for Rutgers.
With the game tied at 11-11 with 9:59 to play in the first half, the Wildcats outscored Rutgers, 10-3, over the rest of the half to take a 24-17 halftime advantage. Senior guard Rachel Roberts led the run with seven points.
Despite the loss, Sweeney recorded her 16th career double-double and seventh this season, notching 11 points and 10 rebounds. Sweeney also recorded five assists and four steals in the contest.
Roberts added 10 points and three assists to the Wildcats’ efforts.
Leading Rutgers in scoring were sophomre guards Shakena Richardson and Betnijah Laney, who had 14 and 12 each. Laney was named to the Big East Honor Roll this past Monday for averaging 13.5 points and 5 rebounds during Rutgers two wins from the previous week.