Senior guard Devon Kane hit double figures for the 18th time this season. (Audrey Eyring/The Villanovan)
by Andrew Moffa
The Villanova women’s basketball team traveled to New York City Saturday looking to extend its winning streak to seven against one of the top teams in the Big East conference, No. 24 St. John’s.
Back in January, the Wildcats gave the Red Storm all it could handle at home before losing 59-52 in a game in which the ’Cats had a lead for much of the second half.
The visiting Red Storm were able to pull out the victory only after ’Nova failed to score on consecutive offensive possessions.
On Saturday, just like their previous meeting, the ’Cats stayed right with their favored opponent for much of the first half, but a decisive seven to zero run helped give St. John’s a 27-19 lead at the half, one they would not relinquish for the remainder of the game.
As a team that relies heavily on outside shooting, the Wildcats did not benefit from a zero for 13 performance from behind the arc in the first half.
In all, ’Nova only shot 21 percent from the field over the course of the game’s first 20 minutes.
However, because the Red Storm were not able to shoot much better, the ’Cats found themselves within striking distance as the second half began.
With both teams’ offenses playing much better in the second half, the ’Cats had a hard time cutting into the Red Storm’s lead.
The Wildcats stayed close for the majority of the second half thanks in part to sophomore guards Katherine and Caroline Coyer and senior guard Devon Kane.
At one point in the half, Caroline Coyer helped spark a run as ’Nova was able to cut the Red Storm lead to eight at 56-48.
However, this would be the closest the ’Cats would be for the remainder of the game.
Back-to-back 3-point field goals by senior guards Briana Brown and Eugenia McPherson for St. John’s just about put the game out of reach.
Katherine Coyer led the Wildcats in this contest with a career-high 18 points, breaking her previous career-best point total of 16 in a game at Creighton earlier this season.
Kane continued her extremely consistent season, reaching double figures in points for a remarkable 18th time this season. The senior guard from Springfield, Pennsylvania also added six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Katherine’s twin sister Caroline was the third Wildcat in double figures in this game with 10.
The Red Storm were led by sophomore guard Aliyyah Hanford, who registered a game-high 25 points, along with eight rebounds and a pair of assists.
McPherson and sophomore guard Danaejah Grant were also in double figures with 12 and 14 points, respectively.
The big story of this game, especially in the second half when both teams began to shoot the ball better from the field, was the rebounding advantage held by St. John’s. The Red Storm held a 54-31 advantage on the glass, aided by junior forward Amber Thompson’s career-best 17 boards.
This margin included a 20-7 advantage in offensive rebounds, helping the Red Storm to 22 second-chance points and a 32-26 advantage in points in the paint.
While the Wildcats are usually able to counter this advantage by opponents with a strong shooting performance from 3-point range, the ’Cats finished only 5-25 from beyond the arc, with all five of the makes coming in the game’s second 20 minutes.
Along with Kane and both Coyer twins, freshman forward Samantha Wilkes and junior forward Emily Leer scored 3-point field goals for the Wildcats.
This game also marked only the third time in 25 contests this season that junior forward Lauren Burford failed to make a 3-point field goal
This loss snapped the Wildcats’ six-game winning streak, but ’Nova is still looking good with a conference record of 9-5 and an overall record of 19-6.
For now, the ’Cats find themselves in fourth place in the Big East with only a handful of conference games remaining before the postseason.
The Red Storm, on the other hand, improved to 19-5 overall and 12-1 in the Big East.
The ’Cats next take the floor this Sunday, Feb. 23, at 1 p.m. against Georgetown in the Pavilion. ’Nova will be looking to sweep the season series against the Hoyas.