Jan. 19, 2008
VILLANOVA, Pa. - A close game that seemed destined to go down to the wire turned in the closing minutes as Villanova (11-7, 1-4 Big East) was defeated 73-60 by Syracuse (15-3, 3-2 Big East) on Saturday afternoon at the Pavilion. The Orange closed the game on a 19-4 run in the final 6:13 to register their first road victory over the Wildcats since 1994.
Although both teams owned leads of at least 12 points during the game, the score was tied 34-34 at halftime and in the decisive second period the sides were not separated by more than three points until the final four-plus minutes of the game.
Junior Laura Kurz (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) scored 17 of her team-high 19 points in the second half and her three-pointer with 6:36 remaining gave Villanova a 56-54 edge. She wound up scoring the Wildcats final nine points and 14 of the team's final 18 points but Villanova still went cold from the field after that three-pointer gave the Wildcats the lead for the final time. When all was said and done, Villanova missed eight of its final nine shots from the field and turned the ball over five times in the last six minutes.
Chandrea Jones made the second of two free throws with 6:13 to play and Fantasia Goodwin made a layup at the 5:39 mark to give Syracuse a 57-56 lead that it would not relinquish. Goodwin added another layup moments later and Jones made two free throws with 4:33 left for a 61-57 lead. The Wildcats never got any closer as the Orange made 10-of-13 free throws in the final five minutes to secure the win.
Kurz finished 7-of-15 from the field and hit 3-of-7 from three-point range to lead the Villanova in scoring for the eighth time this season. Senior Stacie Witman (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) was the only other player in double figures, with 13 points and seven rebounds. Juniors Lisa Karcic (New Hyde Park, N.Y.) and Siobhan O'Connor (West Chester, Pa.) chipped in eight points apiece.
The Wildcats shot under 40 percent from the field in both halves but got hot at a good time in the first stanza, making 6-of-8 from the field and hitting three free throws in a 17-5 run that took just 3:53. That spurt enabled Villanova to build a 24-12 lead with 9:29 left in the first half before Syracuse began to cut into the margin. O'Connor and Witman had five points apiece in the run and sophomore Tia Grant (Lido Beach, N.Y.) converted all three free throws after being fouled on a three-point shot.
The Orange would eventually close the first half on an 11-2 run to pull even at 34-34 at the intermission. The Wildcats grabbed an offensive rebound of a missed shot with 18 seconds left in the period and the shot clock off, but a quick subsequent jumper was off the mark and Syracuse tied the game on Jones' jumper at the buzzer.
Jones led all scorers with 25 points and added 10 rebounds for the Orange, while Nicole Michael also registered a double-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Vionca Murray came off the bench to contribute 10 points and Syracuse made 24-of-34 foul shots in the game.
A quick and athletic Orange squad created a tough matchup for the Wildcats, who were nevertheless up to the task for all but the final minutes. Syracuse owned a 50-35 rebounding edge and pulled down 18 offensive caroms.
This afternoon's contest ended Villanova's stretch of playing three of its first four conference games at home. The Wildcats are on the road for the next two and four of the next five games, beginning this Tuesday with a 7 p.m. tip-off at Providence.