Nov. 9, 2007
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - Senior forward Stacie Witman (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) scored a career-high 31 points on Friday afternoon to lead Villanova (1-0, 1-0 Big Five) to a 64-58 victory at Tom Gola Arena over La Salle (0-1, 0-1 Big Five) in the season opener for both teams. Witman hit two late three-pointers to stem a rally attempt by the Explorers and lead the Wildcats to their third season-opening win in the last four years.
Villanova led 54-40 with 9:04 left but 12 unanswered points by La Salle trimmed that margin to 54-52 with 1:46 remaining. Witman then hit a three-pointer with 1:14 on the clock and another with 40 seconds left to give ensure the Wildcats lead at 60-52.
Earlier in the contest, Villanova went on a 15-0 run that spanned both halves. Witman scored 10 of her points during that run, which extended a 29-27 Wildcat lead to a 44-27 advantage with 16:33 to play. The Explorers went scoreless for a stretch of 7:50 during that run.
The 17-point cushion was the largest of the game for Villanova, but La Salle got back into the game with the late run that made the closing minutes meaningful. Four different players scored for the Explorers during the run.
La Salle received a double-double from Carlene Hightower, who scored 20 points and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds. Jamie Walsh also scored 10 points for the Explorers, who owned a 34-22 rebounding edge in the game.
It looked like trademark Wildcat basketball for a good deal of the game, as Villanova attempted 33 shots from beyond the three-point arc and just 19 from inside long range. The team hit on 11 of those three-pointers, including six in the first half and five in the second half. The Wildcats also dished out 16 assists on 22 baskets while committing just eight turnovers and coming up with seven steals.
Witman was the only Villanova player to score in double figures. In her Wildcat debut, junior forward Laura Kurz (Lower Gwynedd, Pa.) contributed nine points. Sophomore guard Maria Getty (Centerville, Ohio) added seven points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals in 36 minutes and classmate Tia Grant (Lido Beach, N.Y.) scored six points and had a game-high five assists.
La Salle led 9-2 early on and 13-6 with 11:41 left before the intermission before nine straight Villanova points gave the advantage to the Wildcats. A layup by Witman at the 9:36 mark of the period gave Villanova their first lead. Overall there were five lead changes in the first half.
The Wildcats will play their first five games of the season away from home. Next up is a Sunday afternoon contest at Loyola (Md.) which tips off at 2:30 p.m. from Reitz Arena in Baltimore.