1995-96 Season Review
During the 1994-95 season, the Villanova women's basketball team posted a 19-9 overall record and finished second to National Champion Connecticut in the Big East Conference. Last year, the Wildcats proved that 1994-95 was no fluke as they went 21-7 overall and 13-5 in the Big East Conference.
Despite winning 21 games, including a 12-game mid-season winning streak, Villanova was slighted by the tournament committee and left out of the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season.
"It was very disappointing to us that we were not selected to the NCAA Tournament. We thought that with a 21-7 record and winning 19 of our last 23 games that we deserved an invite," said Villanova head coach Harry Perretta. "However, just because we didn't get selected to the tournament, it does not diminish what we accomplished last season. We had a group of kids who worked extremely hard and played very unselfishly. I couldn't be happier with the way last season went."
The Wildcats began last season in the University of Maine Dead River Classic where they opened the tournament with a 61-58 victory over Brigham Young University behind senior forward Denise Dillon's 21 points. The following day, Villanova lost to the host Black Bears 70-61 in the tournament championship. Three Wildcats earned All-Tournament distinction including Dillon, senior Jen Snell and sophomore Jenn Beisel.
Following the Maine Tournament, the Wildcats returned home to open up Big East play against Seton Hall. Despite 11 points and eight rebounds from Dillon, the Pirates won a defensive battle 57-56.
Villanova evened its record at 2-2 by defeating crosstown rival St. Joseph's 61-54 in the Philadelphia Big Five opener. Snell scored a team-high 17 points for the Wildcats, while Dillon and Sue Glenning added 15 points each.
Georgetown handed Villanova its second straight Big East loss, 73-65, in a game played in Washington, D.C. One highlight to this game was Dillon becoming the 12th player in Villanova women's basketball history to score 1,000 career points.
After the Georgetown loss, the Wildcats got on a roll that saw them win 12-straight games. The streak began with a 64-42 Big Five victory over Temple in a game played at the Spectrum. Villanova made it 3-0 in the Big Five with a 61-49 win over LaSalle, as Glenning made seven three-point field goals for a game-high 28 points.
Next came the Midlantic Wildcat Christmas Classic that included Brown, St. Bonaventure, Marshall and the host Wildcats. In the opening round, the Wildcats defeated Brown 67-48 behind 16 points from Glenning and 14 points from Beisel. In the championship game, St. Bonaventure pushed Villanova to overtime where the 'Cats pulled out a 66-61 win. Beisel was strong again as she grabbed 13 points against the Bonnies. Dillon played outstanding by recording a double-double with 23 points and 11 rebounds. For her efforts, Dillon was named the tournament's MVP, with Beisel earning all-tournament distinction.
With the 1995 portion of the schedule over, Villanova entered 1996 with records of 6-3 overall, 0-2 in Big East play and 3-0 in Philadelphia Big Five action.
The Wildcats wasted no time in garnering their first Big East win as they traveled to St. John's on Jan. 2 and gained a 75-56 victory. Glenning was sensational with six three-pointers for 26 points, while Snell was 10-for-13 from the field for 20 points. This win proved to be the first of eight straight Big East wins.
Two big wins in this stretch came at Miami and at Seton Hall. In the Miami game, the Wildcats played great defense and got 18 points from Glenning and 15 points from Dillon to claim a 59-53 win. Despite shooting 19% in the second half and just 27% for the game, Villanova managed to escape Seton Hall with a 54-51 victory. The win snapped Seton Hall's six game winning streak against Villanova.
Defending National Champion Connecticut ended the Wildcat win steak as the 'Cats lost to the Huskies 62-46 in front of 2,721 at duPont Pavilion. The game began great for Villanova as the Wildcats opened up 20-3 lead on the Huskies, which included holding UConn to without a field goal until the 7:34 mark of the first half. Connecticut used a 17-6 run to close the half and cut Villanova's lead to 26-22 at intermission. With Villanova leading 40-38 with eight minutes left in the second half, the Huskies finished the game on a 24-6 run to put the Wildcats away.
Villanova rebounded a few nights later with a hard fought 82-73 win at Providence. Glenning poured in a team-high 22 points and Dillon added 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Freshman Jenn Sliwa came off the bench to score 11 points.
After returning from Providence, the Wildcats played Pennsylvania in a neutral site game at Temple's McGonigle Hall. With a win, Villanova would finish the Philadelphia Big Five slate a perfect 4-0 and capture the outright league championship. The Wildcats jumped on the Quakers early and owned a 55-19 advantage at the half en route to an 86-43 win. The victory gave head coach Harry Perretta his eighth Philadelphia Big Five title.
"Winning the Big five Championship was something that was very important to our kids. With all four seniors being from Philadelphia, they wanted to go out with an outright title, " said Perretta. "All year long, they talked about capturing the Big Five title and getting their championship watches. It was very rewarding to see them achieve their goal."
The Wildcats entered their last home game of the year against Rutgers with 19-5 overall record and wanted badly to claim win number 20 on Senior Day at duPont Pavilion. Trailing 35-23 at intermission, Villanova mounted a furious second half comeback to win a thriller 61-59. Glenning and Dillon led the way again getting 17 and 14 points respectively. The victory gave Villanova its first 20-win season since 1987-88. It was also a special day for seniors Dillon, Glenning, Snell and Stacie Keffer who closed out their home careers in fine fashion. These four student-athletes would wind up scoring 3,555 career points.
Villanova closed out the regular season with an 85-51 loss at Connecticut to finish the year 20-6 overall and 13-5 in the Big East, which was good enough for third place in the Big East 6 division behind UConn and Notre Dame.
Due to the two division format, Villanova entered the Big East Tournament as the number five seed despite having the third best record in the league. In the first round of the conference tournament held at Connecticut's Gampel Pavilion, the Wildcats drew number 12 seed St. John's. In a low scoring affair, the 'Cats beat the Red Storm 56-42. Glenning with 12 points and Beisel with 11 were the only two Wildcats to score in double figures.
The next day, Villanova battled number 13 seed Pittsburgh in the second round. In the first round, Pittsburgh upset number four seed Miami. The Panthers continued their Cinderella run by defeating Villanova 59-57 on a baseline shot at the buzzer which would ultimately end Villanova's season.
Led by head coach Harry Perretta, members of the Villanova women's program achieved numerous indivudual accolades for their efforts during the 1995-96 season. After guiding the Wildcats to a 21-7 record, Perretta was named Big East Conference Coach-of-the-Year, as well as Philadelphia Big Five Coach-of-the-Year. Other Big East honorees included Dillon and Glenning who both earned second team All-Big East distinction. At the Philadelphia Big Five awards banquet, several Wildcats gained recognition highlighted by Glenning who was named Big Five Player-of-the-Year and freshman Shanette Lee who was the Rookie-of-the-Year. Rounding out the Big Five awards were Glenning and Dillon being named to the All-League first team and Snell being chosen to the second team.
Last season, Glenning established herself as one of the nation's top three-point shooters as she set a school record for three-pointers made in a season with 87. Due to her three-point shooting prowess, Glenning was invited to the National Three-Point Shooting Championship which is held in conjunction with the men's Final Four. At the championships, which was televised by ESPN, Glenning captured the three-point shooting title by defeating seven other participants. Glenning was the first Wildcat to ever compete in the event.