March 19, 2008
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Junior Laura Kurz (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) beat the clock in the final second and Villanova (16-15) advanced to the second round of the WNIT with a 53-52 win over American (18-14) on Wednesday night at the Pavilion. Kurz made a put-back basket with 0.6 seconds remaining to send the Wildcats into a second round game at Wisconsin (16-13) on Saturday at 7 p.m. (CST).
The last Villanova possession of the game began with eight seconds left after a made basket by the Eagles put the Wildcats into a 52-51 deficit. Senior Stacie Witman (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) missed a jumper from the left side with 2.6 seconds left but Kurz got the rebound and her buzzer beater was the game winner.
American called a timeout after the Villanova basket but was faced with the daunting task of inbounding the ball down the length of the court. The eventual inbounds pass was stolen by junior Briana Weiss (Piedmont, Calif.) as the buzzer sounded.
Just moments before the game-winning sequence unfolded, Liz Leer made a layup to give the Eagles the lead for only the second time in the second half. American missed two straight shots with 13 seconds and 10 seconds remaining, respectively, and called a timeout to set a play. Leer then put the team ahead with her second straight bucket.
The Wildcat lead stood at 51-48 after Kurz made one of two free throws with 2:08 to play. The teams were never separated by more than one possession in the final seven-plus minutes and a jumper by Leer with 1:44 to play narrowed the margin to 51-50. Kurz then missed a jumper with 1:14 to play, the Eagles turned the ball over on their next possession and Kurz had another jumper blocked with 32 seconds left.
The dramatic conclusion to the game didn't overshadow that Villanova established a new NCAA single-season record for made three-point field goals in a season. The Wildcats made five triples in the game to raise their season total to 306, eclipsing the old record of 305 (Missouri State, 2005) by one.
Kurz was the lone Villanova player to score in double figures and finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and three of the team's eight blocked shots. Witman scored just four points on 1-of-8 shooting but pulled down a game-high and career-high 12 rebounds and dished out six assists. Junior Siobhan O'Connor (West Chester, Pa.) and sophomore Tia Grant (Lido Beach, N.Y.) each scored nine points and redshirt freshman Shannon Elliott (Wilmington, Del.) added eight points and three blocked shots in 16 minutes.
Liz Hayes had 14 points and Stephanie N'Garsanet scored 13 for the Eagles.
The Wildcats led 27-23 at halftime and held a lead of between two and six points for the entire second half. However, after making a basket with 11:52 to play to go ahead 42-36, Villanova made just one field goal over the next seven minutes.
A layup by Stephanie N'Garsanet with 5:08 left gave American a 46-44 advantage and its first lead since the score was 10-9 in the opening minutes. The Wildcats quickly tied the game on a layup by Grant and retook the lead on a jumper by Kurz to lead 48-46.
Wisconsin received a first round bye in the WNIT field of 48 teams and will host Villanova on Saturday at the Wisconsin Field House. Game time is set for 8 p.m. (EST)/7 p.m. (CST).
NOTES: Siobhan O'Connor's three-pointer with 16:43 left in the second half was the record-breaking three-pointer ... She also made the record-tying three-pointer with 5:26 remaining in the first half ... The Wildcats also set a new school record for three-pointers in a season ... The previous mark was 304 and was just one off the NCAA record ... Villanova can also set the record for three-pointers attempted in a season with 14 more attempts ... The Wildcats average better than 26 attempted triples per contest.