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Junior forward Taylor Holeman had 11 points and eight rebounds in Sunday’s road win. (Audrey Eyring/The Villanovan)

by Pat Ralph

The Villanova women’s basketball team held off the Seton Hall Pirates by a score of 62-57 this past Sunday at Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, N. J.

The win was Villanova’s fifth straight victory and improved them to 18-5 overall and 8-4 in Big East play this season.

It was Villanova’s fifth win in their last six games against Seton Hall and their 10th win in their last 11 games played at The Hall.

Sunday’s game was the fourth straight in which four Villanova players scored in double figures.

Junior forward Lauren Burford and sophomore guard Caroline Coyer both had 15 points in the contest to lead the Wildcats, while junior forward Taylor Holeman and senior guard Devon Kane both had 11 points.

All 15 of Buford’s points came from three, as she has made 10 3-pointers over the last two games for the ’Cats. For the eighth time this season, Buford has made three or more 3-pointers in a game.

Sunday’s game was Coyer’s 15th double figure scoring game of the season, while Kane has scored in double figures in 11 of the last 12 games for the Wildcats.

The Wildcats controlled the entire first half, as they led 30-14 at the intermission. Despite shooting only 39 percent (12-of-31) from the field and 28 percent (5-of-18) from beyond the arc in the first half, the Wildcats closed the first half out with an 18-0 run.

The key to ’Nova’s big lead at the half was their terrific defense, as the ’Cats held Seton Hall scoreless for the last 10 minutes of the half and forced them into four turnovers.

As a result, the Pirates only shot 23 percent (6-of-26) from the field and failed to make a three in the opening half.

The Wildcats expanded their lead to as much as 22 points in the early minutes of the second half, but the Pirates would not go quietly into the night.

Behind a 46 percent (16-of-35) shooting performance in the second half, Seton Hall eventually cut the Wildcat lead down to as little as four with just over two minutes to play in the game, but the ’Cats would not let them get any closer down the stretch.

In the second half, the Wildcats shot 42 percent (10-of-24) from the field and only 20 percent (2-of-10) from downtown. For the entire game, Villanova shot 40 percent (22-of-55) from the field and only 25 percent (7-of-28) from three.

Both teams were not spectacular from the free throw line in the game, as each team barely scratched over 60 percent shooting from the charity stripe.

Both teams combined to shoot only eight free throws in the first half, but nearly quadrupled that total in the second half with a combined 30 free throws. However, no one fouled out or picked up a technical foul in the contest.

Despite the loss, Seton Hall (13-9, 4-7 in Big East) did outscore Villanova in the paint by a difference of 32-20.

Junior guard Ka-Deidre Simmons led the way for The Hall with 15 points, while junior forward Bra’Shey Ali pulled down 15 boards to help the Pirates outrebound the Wildcats 40-36 in the game.

Ultimately, Villanova’s strong defensive performance and bench production were the catalysts to victory on Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats held Seton Hall to only 36 percent shooting from the field and 11 percent from three for the game, as well as forcing them into a total of 11 turnovers.

In addition, exactly half of Villanova’s points came from their bench, as they outscored the Pirates 31-18 in bench points on the night.

Another important component of the Wildcats win on Sunday was their ability to take care of the basketball. The ’Cats only committed nine turnovers in the game, which was their 13th single digit turnover game of the season.

With regards to turnovers, the ’Cats doubled-up Seton Hall in points off turnovers 12-6 in the game. Also, the Wildcats were supreme in the assists department with a 15-7 advantage in the contest.

Sunday afternoon’s win over Seton Hall moved the ’Cats into a third place tie with Creighton in the Big East standings.

The win was also ’Nova’s Big East-leading 10th road victory of the season, as they now stand at 10-2 away from the Main Line this year. The Lady Wildcats return to action for a Saturday matinee on Feb. 15 at St. John’s.

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