Guru's WNIT Report: Villanova Tops Indiana to Reach Semifinals
A year ago it was Jay Wright and the Villanova men’s team achieving postseason greatness with the NCAA title.
Now it’s Harry Perretta and the Wildcats’ women’s team doing some amazing things.
On Sunday afternoon Perretta’s group playing its fourth straight road game in the WNIT made it to the national semifinals at the Final Four level beating host Indiana 69-57 in Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
The Wildcats (20-14), getting to a 20 win season for the fifth straight time, did what they do best when they are on the mark to do it and that is to shoot the 3-ball to overcome other deficiencies.
On Sunday ‘Nova rode its way to Wednesday’s semifinal game at Michigan in Ann Arbor while the other semifinal after Sunday’s games will have Georgia Tech, a 76-66 winner over visiting Alabama, meeting Washington State, a 74-66 winner over host Iowa.
Oddly, there was a thought Perretta’s bunch could be this good this season but it is a young group and unlike some other freshmen tandems who have succeeded in the NCAA tournament, this one has taken time to grow out in Philadelphia’s Main Line in the western suburbs.
With some doubt that Villanova might not have been taken as an at-large team at 16-14 this time, such is the nature that builds the WNIT 64-team field, that once third place but Big East tournament champion Marquette, top-seed off regular season champion DePaul and second seed and co-regular season champion Creighton went to the NCAA, the Wildcats in a fourth-place tie with Saint John’s but the fourth-place team with a season sweep of the Red Storm became the official official conference automatic qualifier to the WNIT field.
Once in the bracket, Villanova opened with a win at Ivy runnerup Princeton, then across town at at-large entry Drexel, coached by Wildcats alumna Denise Dillon, whose team won the 2013 WNIT, and then at difficult Colonial Athletic Association automatic qualifier James Madison in overtime and into Indiana for Sunday’s fourth-straight road win.
At Michigan on Wednesday there will be a bit of a reunion in that Wolverines coach Kim Barnes Arico used to go against Perretta and the Wildcats when she coached at Saint John’s in the old Big East.
Two rounds ago, Arico and the Wolverines eliminated Saint John’s coached by her successor and former assistant Joe Tartamella.
Villanova started with a sizzling attack from beyond the arc as sophomore more guard Jannah Tucker was 4-for-5, sophomore guard Adrianna Hahn was 3-for-7, junior guard Alex Louin was 2-for-3, and junior center Megan Quinn was 1-for-2 making the team 10-for-17 and overall 15-for-28 from the field for a 41-30 at the break.
A defensive stand in the third quarter enabled the Hoosiers (23-11) to move within seven points by the end of the third quarter at 47-40.
Twice in the final period the Hoosiers moved within four points, the second at 51-47 with 6 minutes, 34 seconds left in regulation.
Then Quinn scored inside for the Wildcats and a six-point lead before both teams were unable to score the next two minutes.
A trey from Louin made it a nine-point lead with 4:47 left in regulation.
The Hoosiers then got it back to within four again Amber Deane hit a trey and Tyra Buss scored to make it 56-52 the Wildcats still in front with 2:56 left in regulation.
Louin off an out of bounds play scored to make it 58-52 with 2:10 left and then she hit 1-of-2 from the line on the next possession and Villanova led 59-52.
The Wildcats held the Hoosiers scoreless the next possession and then got the ball with 1:02 left.
Villanova then ballooned the lead in the final minute going a perfect 10-for-10 from the line in the last minute with Louin getting six of the points.
Tucker, who shot 6-for-13 from the field, scored 19 points, while Louin had 18 points, nine rebounds and four assists; and Hahn scored 13 points. Senior Samantha Wilkes helped keep her career alive with six rebounds and four blocks to shore up the Villanova defense.
Buss had a game-high 21 points for the Hoosiers, Deane scored 12, and Cahill 10.
Villanova, now 15-9 in the WNIT, moves to its first semifinal game, and will take a perfect 2-0 record this season over Big 10 schools against the Wolverines, a third member of the conference.
Tucker has scored a combined 41 points her last two games heading to Michigan.
Meanwhile, in the Georgia Tech victory, the Yellowjackets (21-14), now with the most wins since collecting 26 in 2012, moved to their first semifinal since 1992 as five players scored in double figures in the home win inside McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta.
The winners led by as many as 24 points over the Crimson Tide () and will host Washington State on Wednesday.
Elo Edeferioka scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Alabama, while Antonia Peresson and Kaylan Pugh scored 12 points each and Francesca Pan scored 10.
In losing to visiting Washington State (16-19), a talented team which got decimated by injuries but because of the high number of Pac-12 squads in the NCAA earned the WNIT conference AQ, host Iowa (20-14) got 19 points and 15 rebounds from Megan Gustafson, 16 points from Ally Disterhoft, and 11 from Kathleen Doyle at home in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City.
Alexys Swedlund got a game high 20 points for Washington State, Pinelopi Pavlopoulou had a double double of 13 points and 11 rebounds while Caila Hailey also had a double double for the Cougars with 10 points and 12 rebounds, while Ivana Kmetovska scored 14 points.
In the season-ending loss for Alabama (22-14), in which the Tide had their best win total since 1997-98, Shaquera Wade scored 15 points, Ashley Williams scored 13 and grabbed 13 rebounds, Jordan Lewis scored 13, and Hannah Cook scored 11.
“We have a lot to build on, a lot to be proud of and a lot to move forward with in the future,” said Kristy Curry, whose previous coaching stops were at Texas Tech and Purdue.
Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph, a former Purdue star, said, “I thought everyone stepped up and played their role. I’m just really pleased with the development and growth of this team.”
Rice Tops UNC-Greensboro 74-62 to Win Women’s Basketball Invitational
Former Maryland assistant Tina Langley has led Rice (22-13) to its first ever postseason title in winning the WBI in events not involving conference tournaments.
“I’m so tremendously happy for our seniors to be able to go out with a championship,” she said of the Conference USA school.
Maya Hawkins scored 17 points in becoming the MVP of the eight-team tourney played on home courts with Rice winning at its Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston and during the title game she became the 17th player in the program to reach 1,000 points for a career.
Jasmine Goodwine scored 13 and finished her career with 1,211 as Rice tied the 2000 and 2004 squads for second most wins in a season.
The Spartans finished at 20-15, collecting their most wins since the 2006-07 season.
UNCG senior Shanese Harris scored 20 for the team coached by Trina Patterson.