Villanova 83 Seton Hall 56: Courtside commentary

South Orange, NJ - On Monday Villanova and Seton Hall finished their Big East regular season schedule. The visiting Wildcats were too much for Seton Hall to handle. In a contest with one lead change, the Wildcats posted an 83-56 victory. Villanova improved to 26-5 (17-3) while Seton Hall finished at 17-13 (10-10).

First period: Villanova raced out to a 12-4 lead before the Pirates regrouped. A few missed easy shots, a few unforced turnovers added up for the Pirates. Villanova was able to attack inside and from the perimeter. Brooke Mullins corner three with two seconds remaining pushed the Wildcat lead to three possessions.

Villanova 19 Seton Hall 12

Second period: Maddy Siegrist averages 28 points per game for Denise Dillon’s Wildcats. Villanova is far from just one player. At the half Siegrist, doubled on every catch within ten feet of the basket, had eight points. Villanova showed good ball movement, the ability to hit from outside and patience. Seton Hall’s top scorer Lauren Park-Lane was limited to two points. Azana Baines picked up the slack for Seton Hall with a team-high 11.

Villanova 38 Seton Hall 23

Third period: Villanova ‘won’ the first for minutes by a 13-7 count. From there the Wildcats were never really challenged. They rang up 29 points, comfortable pulling away. Villanova shot 56% from the floor with Siegrist scoring 16 points to equal the output of the entire Seton Hall team.

Villanova 67 Seton Hall 39

Fourth period: Siegrist continued her hot shooting. For the final two periods she shot 9 of 13 from the floor. She finished with a game high 32 points, 24 following intermission. The play of Baines, a senior forward who led the Pirates with 22 points, was a bright spot for Seton Hall. Park-Lane, getting over an illness, played 30 minutes scoring five points, 15 below her average.

Final: Villanova 83 Seton Hall 56

Seton Hall will face Xavier in a first round game, Friday at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Villanova will be in Friday’s quarterfinal facing the winner of Providence and Depaul who meet in the first round.

In a game of 67 possessions, Villanova enjoyed a resounding 124-84 edge in offensive efficiency. Villanova shot 50% for the game while the Pirates were 40%. Villanova also won the battle of the boards 38-28. Christina Dalce, a 6’2" Villanova sophomore, led the way with 11 boards. Dalce also added 11 points to complete her double-double.

Villanova enters the Big East Tournament, winners of 7 of their last 8. The lone blemish, a nine point loss to number 6 UConn.

"Coming into our last regular season game we were locked into our seeding (in the Big East Tournament)," Villanova coach Denise Dillon said. "In those cases there can be complacency but not tonight. We got after it."

Dillon, naturally, was pleased with the play of Siegrist. "She was defended closely in the first half but didn’t force anything," Dillon observed, "Once she (Siegrist) got going she really opened things up for (Maddie) Burke (12 points) and (Brooke) Mullin (8 points)."

As noted, Park-Lane of Seton Hall wasn’t at full strength. Do not, however, discredit Villanova’s defense. "We tried to use our length," Dillon said. "She (Park-Lane) will beat you with her speed so we couldn’t go after her, just protect the basket. Also, Mullin played against her four years now and was familiar with what she could do."

Seton Hall coach Tony Bozzella praised Villanova as a team ," that plays really well together." Bozzella had good things to say about the performance of Baines. Overall, the Pirate mentor is concerned as his team won three of eight in February and heads to Mohegan Sun on a two game slide. "Coming into this season I thought the momentum of our WNIT runner-up finish last year would carry over," he said. "The second half of the year we haven’t been playing that well. I can’t understand why."