Maddy Siegrist has put Villanova on her shoulders before. The standout forward has made scoring 30 points a regular occurrence, and she entered the weekend in the top 10 in the country in scoring, no surprise to anybody who’s watched her trajectory over the last few years.
What she did on Sunday against Temple at the Liacouras Center was one of her best singular efforts yet.
Villanova senior Maddy Siegrist scored 41 points in a win over Temple on Sunday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
With the No. 24 Wildcats struggling from the floor against a game Owls squad, seemingly unable to generate any momentum as they fell further and further behind in the second half, Siegrist stepped up, almost single-handedly delivering a 74-71 win and keeping Villanova unbeaten on the season.
“Extremely proud of our group for finding a way, coming from down double-digits,” Villanova coach Denise Dillon said. “And Maddy led the way for us, again.”
The 6-foot-1 forward and reigning Big East Player of the Year poured in 41 points, reaching that benchmark for the third in time in her illustrious career, doing so while shooting 14-of-25 from the floor (2-6 3PT) and 11-of-14 from the foul line. She completed the double-double with 16 rebounds, committing just two turnovers and two fouls in 39 minutes of work; no other Villanova player had more than seven points.
Siegrist didn’t reach her career-high in points (42) or rebounds (17) but came one short in both numbers, getting stronger and stronger as the game went on. She scored 16 points in the fourth quarter alone as the Wildcats (4-0) came back from down as many as a dozen in the third quarter to steal one on the road.
“I was joking with Lucy [Olsen], I was like it’s like situations at practice — down eight, six minutes to go, you do those in practice so you’re ready for it in the game,” Siegrist said, though by the six-minute mark of the fourth quarter, the Wildcats had already regained the lead. “Coach reminded us in the third quarter, we were panicking like it was the fourth and we had a whole quarter to play. Just playing one possession at a time down the stretch.”
Siegrist hit the 3-pointer that kick-started Villanova’s comeback, midway through the third quarter, then a couple layups from the Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) native quickly had it down to a five-point game. Temple brought it back out to eight going into the fourth, but Villanova scored the first 12 of the fourth to re-take the lead for good.
Siegrist grabbed eight of her rebounds on the offensive end, helping Villanova to a 23-7 advantage in second-chance points, often fighting off one or more Temple defenders to somehow come away with her hands on the ball. Those second-effort buckets were crucial on a night where the Wildcats shot below 40% for most of the night (the team outside of Siegrist shot 12-of-35, 34.2%) and only hit 4-of-20 (20%) from 3-point range, while Temple was 11-of-24 (46%) from deep.
“I think that’s something I try to do every game, just try to crash the boards,” she said. “(Temple’s) super-fast [...] so they’re going to take away some of the initial looks. Might not be the first time you crash, might not be the second, but just keep going every time and just try to create some more possessions for your team.”
Temple (1-3) fought until the very end, getting a 3-pointer by Tarriyonna Gary with 30 seconds left to get within two points, and then another by Aleah Nelson with 10 seconds to play to stay within three. Villanova shot just well enough from the foul line in between, getting one each from Siegrist and Kaitlyn Orihel and a key pair from Bella Runyan with 17 seconds remaining.
Gary had a look from the wing at a game-tying shot with under five seconds to play, but the sharpshooter — who was 7-of-9 from 3-point range on the day — had her shot rim out.
Dalce coming up big on the glass for ‘Nova
Villanova forward Christina Dalce has shown massive strides from her freshman season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Dillon knew before the season that the growth of her sophomores were going to be crucial to the Wildcats’ success this season. So far, the second-year Wildcat who looks like she’s taken the biggest jump is forward Christina Dalce.
A 6-foot-2 forward out of Rutgers Prep, Dalce played in 13 games last year, scoring a total of 22 points (1.7/game) and grabbing a total of 26 rebounds (2.0/game). It wasn’t an easy year for Dalce, who dealt with mono, COVID and a knee injury at various points, but all of that’s well in the past.
Now a full-time starter, Dalce has already soared past her rookie numbers, scoring a total of 33 points (8.3/game) and grabbing a total of 69 rebounds (10.8/game) through four contests after a seven-point, 12-rebound effort against Temple. It was her third double-digit rebounding performance of the season, after grabbing 17 in the season-opening win at Marist and 10 in a win over then-ranked Princeton.
Dalce is still a developing force on the offensive end, as she’s shooting 14-of-39 (35.9%), mostly on attempts around the bucket, but she’s clearly much more confident on both ends of the floor, and that confidence only keeps growing.
“She rebounds the ball really well and that’s one of her greatest strengths,” Sieigrist said. “And just to see her come along so fast in these first four games, it’s really exciting.”
Richardson ‘satisfied’ with first Big 5 showing
Of course, Sunday night didn’t produce the result that first-year Temple coach Diane Richardson hoped in her first Big 5 matchup. The Owls led for 21 minutes against No. 24 Villanova, but ultimately could not secure the win.
“The Big 5 is big in Philly,” Richardson said. “I know that it is a test. … I know that it’s bragging rights, so I was hoping that we could pull this one out.”
Still, the game provided some positives for the former Towson coach, even as Temple dropped to 1-3 to start the season.
“I’m disappointed that we’re losing, obviously,” she said. “But we’re working on things, and as long as they’re coachable and we can start working on those things, I’m satisfied.”
After struggling to hit shots in the first three games of the season, the Owls shot 11-for-24 (46%) from 3-point range against the Wildcats. And while Siegrist certainly got hers and more for Villanova, Richardson was pleased with the defensive effort that Temple showed in limiting the rest of ‘Nova’s roster to single-digit scoring.
“Maddy put the team on her back,” she said, “but I thought our team defense was really good.”
Confident in the shooters on the roster, Richardson believes the team can continue to find success from the perimeter moving forward and build on the progress its made defensively.
“What you all saw today is the way we want to play,” Richardson said. “... That intensity, that defensive effort that we showed today, that’s going to be Temple basketball from here on.”
Gary comes up big from deep for Owls
Temple's Tarriyonna Gary scored 23 points against Villanova on Sunday. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Temple’s Tarriyonna Gary put on a breakout shooting performance for the Owls, draining 7-of-9 attempts from beyond the arc on her way to 23 points. It was a career-best night in points and 3-pointers made for the junior, who transferred after two seasons under Richardson at Towson.
“I’m just confident because that’s what I practice,” she said. “I work on that every day. Coach believes in me, and my teammates, they want me to shoot, so that’s what I’m going to do.”
“She’s a shooter,” Richardson added.
Making her first start of the year, Gary led Temple in scoring, her outside shooting key in fighting against a ranked Wildcats team until the final buzzer.
“(She) was hitting all the 3s,” Villanova’s Siegrist said. “I mean a lot of them were really contested. That’s a really tough shot to make, and she was knocking them down.”
Coming up next
Following the victory, Villanova will travel to Naples, Florida, to play in this upcoming weekend’s Gulf Coast Showcase. The Wildcats will open up the event on Friday with a matchup against Belmont at 1:30 p.m. at Hertz Arena.
Temple will continue with Big 5 action this week, traveling to Hagan Arena to take on St. Joe’s (4-0) at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday.