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Siegrist's homecoming a successful one as Villanova wins its opener

11/07/2022, 11:00pm EST
By Jonathan Kinane

Jonathan Kinane (@jkinane218)

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. — Villanova’s season-opening 60-38 win over Marist College on Monday night at the McCann Center served as a long-awaited homecoming for Wildcats star Maddy Siegrist.

Like most teams, Marist’s defensive game plan centered around stopping the player it tried desperately to keep at home. Siegrist struggled initially, but her size and physicality proved to be too much as the Big East preseason player of the year worked her way to a 21-point, 13-rebound double-double and shot 8-of-19 from the field.

Maddy Siegrist (above) had a double-double in her hometown as Villanova won its season opener. (Photo courtesy Kira Crutcher)

“(The environment) was definitely a little tougher than I expected it to be,” Siegrist said. “It’s tough not to think about it. There were so many people who helped me get to where I am today. Everywhere I looked there was somebody. It was great to get the win.” 

The two-time Poughkeepsie Journal high school Player of the Year at Our Lady of Lourdes played to a packed house that included more than a smattering of Villanova blue. Her introduction as part of the Wildcats’ starting lineup drew one of the loudest roars of the night.

“It was great,” Siegrist said. “It didn’t really feel like a road arena in there. I think I’ve shot at Marist more times than I’ve shot at Villanova. Growing up and coming to all the Marist games, it was really nice to finally play on the court here.”

In addition to growing up in the Poughkeepsie area, Siegrist’s dad, George, played at Marist from 1987 to 1991 before serving as an assistant coach with the Red Foxes’ men’s team for over a decade.

Siegrist’s mom, Ginna, met George while she was a cheerleader at Marist, and currently works at the school as an academic advisor.

While Villanova’s rooting interests were more than represented, the Marist crowd provided one of its best turnouts since the COVID-19 pandemic began to ensure a charged atmosphere that felt made the game feel like a cross-town rivalry.

It wasn’t the easiest of starts for Siegrist, who picked up an early foul just over three-and-a-half minutes into the contest. After a couple of missed attempts and a turnover, she finally opened her account with a floater at the 2:20 mark of the first quarter.

Marist, bolstered by a hot start from former Syracuse point guard Kiara Fisher, led for much of the first quarter. After Siegrist tied the game with two free throws late in the first, Fisher answered with a step-back at the buzzer to give the home team a 17-15 lead after 10 minutes.

After Shazer scored to make it 19-15 early in the second, the Wildcats responded with Siegrist off the floor. The visitors pushed the tempo and reeled off a 9-0 run to take a 24-19 lead with just over seven minutes left in the half.

Though Nova gained control for the first time of the night, Siegrist couldn’t really get much started, opening 1-for-7 before sticking home a putback to make it 33-26 with 2:44 left in the first half.

The Wildcats had a difficult time separating themselves from their hosts, but Siegrist finally started to assert herself, scoring the final seven points of the half to help Villanova to a 37-29 lead at the break.

“We didn’t talk about it a lot but we just kind of know every opponent is going to hone in on Maddy,” Villanova head coach Denise Dillon said. “Maddy feels it every game so it’s just a matter of settling in, not being surprised, and working through it.”

On this Monday night in Poughkeepsie, Siegrist had far from her best stuff, but her team buckled down on defense and held the Red Foxes to a measly nine second-half points on just 3-for-24 shooting from the floor. Sophomore forward Christina Dalce scored 13 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in her first career start; sophomore guard Lucy Olsen added eight points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Siegrist proved to be a constant nuisance on the offensive boards, grabbing eight of her own and refusing to be denied in the paint on a night where her outside game was non-existent. 

It seemed fitting that Siegrist provided the dagger with an easy layup off a press break to put the Wildcats up 54-38 with 4:24 left.

With just under 90 seconds left and her team up 18, Siegrist exited the game to a standing ovation from the Wildcat contingent made up of friends, family, and plenty of others sporting shirts with her number 20 across the middle.

It was a game several years in the making, and even though it was a bit of an off night for Siegrist — you know you’re pretty good when that isn’t one of your better games — the Wildcats still came out 1-0.

“You just have to tip your hat to Villanova,” Marist head coach Brian Giorgis said. “Maddy Siegrist is a great player and even though I thought we did a great job on her she did what great players do.”

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