March 5, 2011
HARTFORD, Conn. - In the second round of the BIG EAST Championship on Saturday night, No. 14 seed Villanova (12-19) never recovered from a big hole in the first half and saw its season come to an end in a 69-47 loss to No. 6 seed Louisville (20-11) at the XL Center. Sophomore forward Laura Sweeney (Marlton, N.J.) and junior guard Lindsay Kimmel (Binghamton, N.Y.) were the two high scorers for the game from either team, as Sweeney scored 16 points and Kimmel added 14 points.
Despite the loss, Villanova still holds claim to being the only lower-seeded team to win a game during the first two days of the conference tournament. The team outlasted No. 11 seed Providence in yesterday's first round contest to earn the right to play for a berth in the quarterfinals. Each of the top eight seeds in the BIG EAST Championship is alive going into Sunday's quarterfinal games.
It is fitting that the Wildcats should hold the claim of notching the only lower-seeded win in days one and two of the tournament. Villanova finished the season playing its best basketball of the year, with three wins in its final five conference games plus Friday's victory over the Friars forming a 4-3 finish down the stretch for a team which ended the year with a 12-19 overall mark.
Heading into the offseason, the Wildcats expect to return nearly 90 percent of their scoring and better than 85 percent of their rebounding from the 2010-11 campaign.
In tonight's game against the Cardinals both teams started slowly and exchanged leads four times in the first seven minutes of the contest. Louisville, however, made a jumper with 13:22 to play in the opening period to take a 6-5 lead that it would never relinquish.
Midway through the first half the Cardinals pulled away from a 14-10 advantage with a 12-0 run that took just 3:28 and left the score 26-10 in favor of Louisville at the 5:28 mark of the period. Villanova never got closer than 12 points the rest of the way and the Cardinals opened up their lead to as many as 29 points in the second half.
Sweeney and Kimmel combined for 30 points on the strength of 11-of-19 shooting from the floor. Sweeney made 6-of-9 field goals, including her only three-pointer, and was 3-of-3 at the foul line while adding two rebounds, two steals and three blocked shots. Kimmel was 5-of-10 overall and 4-of-9 from three-point range. Aside from their shooting and scoring efforts, the rest of the team was a collective 6-of-30 from the field, including 2-of-19 from long distance.
Redshirt freshman guard Devon Kane (Springfield, Pa.) added six points and three assists.
The big key for Louisville was its presence inside and its ability to take advantage of any mistakes the Wildcats made. The Cardinals owned a dominating 48-24 rebounding edge, including an 18-3 advantage on the offensive glass which turned into a 12-1 scoring margin on second chance points.
In addition, Louisville had a 26-8 scoring edge in points off turnovers despite only forcing Villanova into two more miscues (13) than the Cardinals themselves committed (11).
Shoni Schimmel scored 13 points for Louisville and Monique Reid added a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Cardinals advance to play No. 3 seed Notre Dame at 8 p.m. on Sunday night in the last of four quarterfinal contests.
For the Wildcats, the end of the season also marks the end of the collegiate careers of fifth-year seniors Heather Scanlon (Drexel Hill, Pa.) and Amanda Swiezynski (Exeter, N.H.). The pair combined to play in 211 career games for Villanova and were a part of the program's most recent NCAA Tournament team back in 2009, as well as a WNIT appearance in 2008. Swiezynski started 26 of 31 games this season and ranked fourth on the team with 54 assists, while Scanlon started seven of her 29 contests and contributed 3.4 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.