Wildcats Clinch BIG EAST Championship Berth Despite Loss to Louisville
On the final day of the regular season, Villanova (15-14, 5-11 Big East) clinched the final spot in the BIG EAST Championship despite an 84-52 loss to Louisville (21-8, 10-6 Big East) on Monday night in Freedom Hall. The Wildcats clinched the No. 12 seed in the conference tournament and will play Pittsburgh at Noon on Saturday. The 12-team BIG EAST Championship is being hosted by Connecticut at the Hartford Civic Center.
Villanova ended the regular season tied for 11th place in the league along with Georgetown and South Florida, as each of the three teams owned a 5-11 conference record. By virtue of the conference tiebreaker policies, South Florida clinched the #11 seed and Villanova was awarded the #12 seed.
In Monday night's game, the host Cardinals shot 56 percent in the second half and quickly stretched a nine-point halftime advantage. Louisville went on a 15-2 run in a span of just over five minutes which resulted in a 55-32 with 10:13 remaining in the contest. The Wildcats were never closer than 17 points in the last 10 minutes and the final score represented the Cardinals largest lead.
Junior Laura Kurz (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) led Villanova with 15 points and 11 rebounds and classmate Lisa Karcic (New Hyde Park, N.Y.) scored a team-high 17 points. Karcic also had seven rebounds and three steals in the game, while redshirt freshman Shannon Elliott (Wilmington, Del.) tallied seven points and five rebounds in 17 minutes.
Louisville shot 51 percent for the game and owned a 45-30 rebounding edge for the game. The Cardinals generated 20 assists on 32 made field goals and had 12 steals in the game. Angel McCoughtry filled the stat sheet for Louisville, recording 21 points, 15 rebounds, five assists and eight steals. Chauntise Wright added a game-high 22 points as she and McCoughtry combined for 43 points on 17-of-25 shooting from the field.
In the first half, the Cardinals scored the first five points of the game and never trailed in the game. Louisville built a 21-8 lead midway through the period and maintained a lead between eight and 13 points over the final 11 minutes of the period.
Villanova ends the regular season with a 15-14 overall record and 5-11 conference mark. The Wildcats posted a seven-game improvement from last season, when the team went 8-21 overall with a young roster.