RADNER — There was a look of disappointment on Maddie Sigrist’s face as she walked off court after Villanova’s 60-51 loss to Connecticut on Saturday afternoon.
She wore the same frustrated look as she walked into the post-match press conference almost half an hour later.
It was a missed opportunity, and the 6-2 senior forward knew it.
“It was tough because it was in the last 20 seconds that I didn’t think we could win the match,” Siegrist said. “You have to learn from it and move on.”
The scene was set for Villanova’s victory. The Wildcats played at home to the second sold-out crowd in the show’s history, the second since 2004. Simply put, the energy within the pavilion was electrical.
Villanova fans cheered at every Huskies foul, foul, turnover, or missed shot, yelled even louder at every positive Wildcats play, and, of course, booed every time they played against the home team. .
“It was an incredible atmosphere,” said Connecticut manager Geno Auriema.
Villanova’s strengths didn’t stop there. The No. 14 Wildcats (he’s 23-5 overall and the Big East 14-3) were hot. They had won five straight games in 14 of their last 15 games and had top scorer and Player of the Year contender Sigrist on their side.
UConn, on the other hand, were shorthanded, especially with injuries to Paige Bookers and Ajfad. The Huskies played just his six players against the Wildcats, and Dorkajujas played 35 minutes despite spraining his ankle in practice Friday.
Still, the Huskies (24-4, 16-1) showed why they were the number one team in the Big East before their 2013 split and since their comeback.
UConn won the day with more turnovers (22) than field goals (20). Lou Lopez Senecher led the Huskies with a game-high 22 points. Dorka Juhas (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Aaliyah Edwards (13 points, 14 boards) had double-doubles.
Still, it was the defense that allowed the Huskies to lead the Wildcats by two games in the Big East’s regular season title fight.
UConn held 33.3% of Villanova’s shots overall (60-20) and 20% of their 3-point range (25-5) while the Wildcats also made just 50% of their free throws (12-6). .
“Often we miss a few shots at the free-throw line, we miss assignments on the defensive end, and we don’t get to play against UConn,” said Villanova coach Denise Dillon. “You can’t beat a lot of opponents….You can avoid some of these mistakes against other opponents, but in the conference she’s definitely better than the #1 team and nationally she’s #6. it’s not.”
Much of that defense centered on Siegrist, who went into games averaging over 29 points per game. Siegrist got off to a fast start, coming off the field in the first quarter as he went 5-for-7 and he scored 10 points, but only 3-for-15 to go with his 21 points, eight short of his season average. Ended.
The Huskies threw a variety of defenders to Juhas, Edwards, Aubrey Griffin, and a double-teamed Sieglist when the opportunity presented itself to keep her out of the game.
“When you play against someone like that, you need a little help,” said Auriemma. “If you overcrowd her, she’ll get in the lane and get buckets and free throws. If there’s too many playoffs, she’s a good enough 3-point shooter and she’ll do them well enough.” …I was really proud of our defensive effort tonight.”
Despite an offensive struggle, Villanova recovered and made it interesting in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats cut his 52-40 deficit to 52-50 with 3:58 left on his 10-0 run. Lucy Olsen scored 5 of 13 points in that blowout, but the Wildcats were unable to complete the comeback. hit the back end for a two-shot foul with 1:25 remaining.
“I think we missed our chances,” Dillon said. “…it’s tough and I’m looking forward to seeing how the team bounces back.”
https://www.mcall.com/2023/02/18/maddy-siegrist-villanova-cant-avoid-mistakes-in-loss-to-uconn/ No. 6 Husky Overcame Absence and Wildcat in a Packed Pavilion