Jerome Taylor (@ThatGuy_Rome)
As the buzzer sounded to end the first quarter, Maddy Siegrist hit a jumper to become the second-leading scorer in program history, but that might’ve been Villanova’s only positive.
Denise Dillon (above) is still looking for consistent firepower outside of Maddy Siegrist. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
On a night where she moved past Nancy Bernhardt on the scoring leaderboards, Siegrist’s scoring wasn't enough.
“I’ll probably reflect on it later,” Siegrist said about the milestone. “You know, it's always an honor.”
The senior got up to her old tricks, scoring 25 points and grabbing eight rebounds in Villanova’s home-opener at a near-capacity Finneran Pavilion.
Unfortunately, the Wildcats struggled to find production from anyone else as the rest of the team went 8-of-43 from the field in a 67-45 loss to No. 13 Creighton on Friday.
“We put ourselves in a good spot early in the season… We were excited to be here at home. We've had great support, great energy around the program,” Villanova head coach Denise Dillon said about the crowd, which included several other women’s sports programs who were there commemorating the 50th anniversary of Title IX.
“People came out, students were here and, to recognize the Title IX. I think [Friday night’s loss], that's a level of disappointment… this team recognizes the importance of playing for something bigger than ourselves.”
Coming into this season, the biggest question surrounding Villanova (6-2, 0-1 Big East) was, outside of the reigning Big East Player of the Year, where would the offense come from after Lior Garzon and Brianna Herlihy departed?
And after Friday, those questions are still there despite the positive record.
“We played 10 players. I mean, we got everybody in the game. Everybody had an opportunity,” Dillon said. “Just trying to find a little bit of rhythm. Trying to find somebody who felt they could knock down a shot for us or get a shot for somebody else, but that just didn't go our way.”
Outside of Siegrist, only Christina Dalce scored more than 5 points, and four of her nine points came in the final four minutes when the game was out of reach.
Conversely, Creighton’s (7-0, 2-0 Big East) scoring was concentrated, but it was still more diverse than the Wildcats, as three Bluejays finished with 10 or more points. Molly Mogensen led her team with 22 points.
Things started to go awry for the Wildcats roughly midway through the second quarter.
Despite the second-quarter struggles, the Wildcats went into halftime with a 27-26 lead but went ice cold at the start of the second half, shooting 25% in the third quarter. And all of the team’s makes in the quarter came from Siegrist.
“We came out, and we were solid in our offense and doing a decent job defensively. And then it flipped a little bit in that second quarter… “[Creighton] just stayed on point with what they do, and we faltered a bit with missing shots,” Dillon said.
“It was like a snowball that carried into that third quarter, where again, shots didn't fall for us. It seems to be a consistency of shots aren't falling, then we get a little bit quieter. That's a sign of some youth just trying to get this group to recognize that and grow up.”
The cold spell came right as the Bluejays started to heat up — scoring 17 points in the third quarter while shooting 58% from the field. They scored fairly easily on post-up opportunities, which led to more space for their perimeter scorers, as they went 6-of-9 from 3-point territory in the second half.
“Defensively, we just went away from what we were supposed to be doing. We let a few of their kids start getting looks that we took away initially,” Siegrist said.
“And then offensively, we didn't run anything. Like we didn't execute anything that we were supposed to do… one kid was dribbling too long or holding it, and you're not gonna win like that.”
Through the seven games before Nova’s home opener, they were able to find production from players like Lucy Olson and Maddie Burke, who both have scored 10+ points at some point this season. But as the season progresses, the team will need them and others to step up as the competition ticks up.
The loss at The Finn ended Nova’s 11-game home win streak. And their shot to bounce back from the loss will come on the road against Providence on Sunday.
“I think that's the beauty of the season, it's a quick turnaround. We're back here tomorrow for practice. We get on a plane and head up to Providence,” Dillon said. “This group just had a little gut check and needs to want it a little more on Sunday.”