Women’s basketball prepares for crucial home game against Villanova

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Isabelle Spingola (30) looking to make a pass in the Marquette's 93-55 win over Villanova on Feb. 10, 2019. (Marquette Wire stock photo.)

Marquette women’s basketball looks to finish off the first half of conference play Sunday afternoon as the team hosts the Villanova Wildcats.

The Golden Eagles are coming off a 73-51 win over the Georgetown Hoyas Friday. It was Marquette’s defense in the fourth quarter that allowed the Golden Eagles to overcome some first-half struggles. Senior guard Isabelle Spingola led the way for MU with 24 points, three rebounds and three assists.

Meanwhile, the Wildcats are coming off a 85-69 loss to No. 11 DePaul Friday night. Despite strong defense in the fourth quarter forcing the Blue Demons to shoot just 4-for-13, Villanova was unable to overcome 17 turnovers and a 43-34 deficit at halftime. VU was led by senior guard Mary Gedaka’s 20 points. Standout freshman Madison Siegrist followed up with 19 points of her own.

Villanova poses a tough task for the Golden Eagles, with both teams in a six-way tie for second place in the BIG EAST.

The Wildcats graduated two key pieces of last year’s team, namely guard Adrianna Hahn and forward Jannah Tucke. Hahn, a three-year starter, averaged 11.1 points and led the Wildcats in free-throw percentage last season. Tucker, the former Tennessee Volunteer, averaged 10 points per game last season for the Wildcats.

Villanova will also be without one more key piece, but it isn’t due to graduation. Due to sustaining an injury prior to the season, guard Kelly Jekot was forced to redshirt her senior year. The two-time Gatorade Pennsylvania Player of the Year, Pennsylvania AAAA Player of the Year and USA Today Pennsylvania Player of the Year averaged 13.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest last season for the Wildcats.

Villanova head coach Harry Perretta is in his final season with Wildcats. This is the 42nd season Perretta has been at the helm for VU.

Getting a home win against the Wildcats will keep Megan Duffy’s team in contention for a top-three standing in the league.

Fun Facts 

  • Last year, Villanova finished with an overall record of 19-13, 9-9 in BIG EAST play. The Wildcats were eliminated from the BIG EAST Tournament by Georgetown in the first round.
  • The Wildcats advanced to the Round of 32 of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament last season before falling to the West Virginia Mountaineers 64-57. Despite outscoring WVU 19-16 in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats couldn’t overcome a 31-19 deficit at halftime.
  • VU has finished in the top four in BIG EAST standings for the past five seasons and made seven consecutive postseason tournaments.
  • MU is 7-2 at home this season. Its two losses came to then-No.10 Mississippi State and Northwestern.

A Look Back 

  • Villanova has an overall record of 11-6, and 5-3 in conference play. Its three losses in conference play came to Creighton, Butler and DePaul.
  • The Wildcats suffered a major loss to American University earlier this year, taking losing 76-54. American never trailed Villanova in the matchup, with the Wildcats making just four shots in the fourth quarter.
  • Villanova’s biggest win this season came on Nov. 24 against the University of Georgia. Despite not having a lead throughout the game, the Bulldogs limited Siegrist to just eight points which is her season-low.
  • In the last six meetings between these teams, MU has won them all.

Key Players 

  • Gedaka finished as the team’s leading scorer last season averaging 14 points and 6.8 rebounds per game for the Wildcats as they finished third in the nation at 66% from the field. Currently, she is second in scoring averaging 17.1 points and 5.8 rebounds. She was selected to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team this season.
  • Siegrist brings a great presence around the perimeter and under the basket averaging 20.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game this season. She leads the BIG EAST in scoring and ranks second in rebounds. The Poughkeepsie, New York native redshirted last season after fracturing her ankle.
  • Spingola is coming off back-to-back 2o plus point games moving her season average to 11.5 points per game. She ranks third in the BIG EAST in three-point field goal percentage at 44%  and second with three-points made with 53.
  • Senior forward Altia Anderson is averaging 6.6 rebounds per game this season and 9.0 in the last three games.

Keys to the Game 

  • Marquette: Win through the press. The Wildcats are averaging 13.8 turnovers per game this season.
  • Villanova: Win through the defense. This might seem like a cliché but in Villanova’s case, this has been the bread and butter to its success this season. The Wildcats rank first in the BIG EAST in scoring defense with 59.1 points per game, first in blocked shots with 4.1 per game and second in defensive rebounds with 26.9 per game.

This story was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu and on Twitter @JohnleuzziMU.