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Villanova WBB's Maddy Siegrist becomes school's all-time scoring leader in win over Creighton

01/21/2023, 2:45am EST
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)


Before Maddy Siegrist arrived on Villanova’s campus four years ago she received words of warning from then head coach Harry Perretta: “You’re probably not going to play a lot.”

Siegrist was determined that wouldn’t be the case, but to think she’d leave the program as one of its best?

“No, I always believed in myself as a player and I thought I was gonna be alright, but I never could have thought that,” Siegrist said. “I never could have dreamed of that.”

Even with at least 11 games still left in her career she’s already put herself in that conversation, if not at the top of the list, and added to her legacy Friday night at Creighton.

VIllanova’s 6-foot-2 forward made history in the fourth quarter of the 73-57 win. With a jumper in the lane, followed by her patented fist bump, Siegrist passed 1987 grad Shelly Pennefather as the all-time leading scorer in Wildcats’ history — men or women.

“I mean it’s so special, the amount of great players that have played at Villanova,” Siegrist said. “It’s just such an honor honestly. To break Shelly’s record, I never could have imagined it, especially someone like that who’s such a good player but such a better person too.”

Villanova senior Maddy Siegrist, who set the school's career scoring record Friday, poses with coach Denise Dillon before a game earlier this season. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

“As an alum and a player who was aware of Shelly’s accomplishments and what she did — you heard a lot about it,” said Villanova coach Denise Dillon, who played for the Wildcats from 1993-96 and piled up 1,355 career points herself. “And seeing (Penefather) hold that record for 30-plus years, and to be a part of Maddy’s journey and watch her work to this point has been an absolute pleasure. I’m so incredibly proud of her and she still has so much more to do, so it’s going to be exciting as she continues to lead the team.”

Siegirst entered Friday’s game needing 18 points to break Pennefather’s mark — not much of a challenge for the nation’s leading scorer (28.8 ppg) whose season-low is 21 points.

Through three quarters, a Villanova win seemed certain, but it looked like Siegrist might need to wait to celebrate her milestone for another game. The Wildcats led 59-38, while Siegrist had just 11 points following a one-point third quarter.

Junior Maddie Burke helped spot the Wildcats a 26-6 first-quarter lead with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from deep. Sophomore Lucy Olsen had 17 of her 19 points (to go along with seven assists and eight rebounds) in the first three quarters.

“It was huge. I tried really hard not to think about it this week, but obviously with social media and stuff you’re aware. Just going into this game, it was whatever we have to do to get the win. That was the most important thing. To start the fourth quarter and have Maddie Burke scoring and have Lucy scoring throughout the game and all these kids scoring, it was huge. The most important thing was we got the win and when the time came, I took as many opportunities as I could.”

Dillon said Siegrist’s trust in her teammates is part of the reason the 2021-22 Big East Player of the Year was somehow able to unlock even more parts of her game.

“Maddy felt early when I got here her sophomore year, that she had to score for us to be successful,” Dillon said. “Like she needed to get 20-plus each night for us to win. Crazily, she’s learned that it’s trusting her teammates and learning their abilities and giving them confidence and putting them in scoring positions. 

“Yet, with that mentality, she’s actually scoring more. It really is a joy to see the game slow down for her, her understanding of the game has grown and just what she does everyday. It is relentless. Every practice. She wants to win every game, every drill we do and you see how it carries over.”

With the game in hand in the fourth quarter, Siegrist began to become the focal point of the Wildcats’ offense. Siegrist inched closer to the mark with a pair of free throws seconds into the fourth. 

Her teammates fed her in the post on two straight possessions moments later  — a pair of jumpers bringing her total to 17 points to match Pennefather with 7:45 left in the game and her team up 65-40. The record-making bucket game on a contested midrange jumper in the lane with 4:46 to play.

“I alays fistpump. I don’t try and do it,” Siegrist said. “I knew it and once it happened it was almost like, ‘Wooooh,’ take a deep breath and then just keep going and try to get to the end of the game.”

Siegrist finished with 12 points in the fourth to give her 23 total points in the game, bringing her career total to 2,414, one shy of Penn’s Diana Caramanico (2,415 points) for most in Big 5 women’s history.

“I wasn’t super aware of that but any time you pass someone like that it’s exciting,” Siegrist said. “Two points is a lot more doable for the next game hopefully.”

Villanova (18-3, 9-1 Big East) has won nine straight games since a Dec. 18 loss to Iowa State. Siegrist moved past Nancy Bernhardt for second place on the Wildcats’ all-time scoring list during a Dec. 2 loss to Creighton. 

Friday’s win was a big one for the Wildcats as along with getting some revenge over the Blue Jays, they kept their distance from the rest of the Big East, still sitting in second place behind undefeated UConn, earned a Top 25 NET win and gave Siegrist a happy memory as she celebrated her milestone.

“It was kind of a perfect storm,” Siegrist said. “You don’t want to get something like that when you lose. It was huge, and now we have a little bit of down time, so a little time to think about it, and then next week it’s back to work.”

There’s much more in store for Siegrist and the Wildcats this season. The reigning Big East Player of the Year is on the ballot for several national awards, including the USBWA National Player of the Year.

The Wildcast appear poised for another deep run in the Big East tournament and an  NCAA berth as well. 

It wasn’t the path she set out on when she arrived at Villanova, but Siegrist will lead the way.

“I would just say the commitment to be the best,” Dillon said of what separates Siegrist. “You ask some players, ‘What do you want to be? Do you want to be good? Do you want to be great? Do you want to be excellent?’ She wants to be the best and she’s committed to doing it. 

“She’s not going to talk about it. She’s actually going to put the time and effort into doing that. I think one of the best things about Maddy, dangle a carrot in front of her of a goal and she’s going after it. She’s not backing down.”

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