Nov. 16, 2009
FAIRFIELD, Conn. - Senior guard Maria Getty (Centerville, Ohio) and redshirt freshman forward Megan Pearson (West Chester, Pa.) had the final say in a game that featured six ties and eight lead changes, as the duo each made a late three-pointer to help push Villanova (1-0) past Sacred Heart (0-2), 50-49, in the Wildcats season opener on Monday night at the Pitt Center.
Getty hit a three-pointer with 6:12 to play to give Villanova the lead for good at 47-45 and Pearson connected from long distance with 4:15 to play to extend the Wildcats lead to 50-45. Despite being held off the scoreboard the rest of the way, Villanova allowed just four free throws down the stretch to the Pioneers and held on for the one-point victory.
Sacred Heart turned the ball over with 27 seconds left with the final score already intact at 50-49. The Pioneers had two fouls to give before a third foul finally put the Wildcats at the free throw line for a 1-and-1 opportunity. Villanova missed its free throw try with 12 seconds to play but Sacred Heart never got a shot off at the other end, as Pearson stole the ball with one second to play to seal the game.
The teams were never separated by more than six points at any point in the contest. The Pioneers never led by more than five points and their final lead of the night came with 6:35 to play when a layup by Lindsey Gibson gave Sacred Heart a 45-44 lead. The Pioneers didn't score again for nearly four minutes and in that span the three-pointers by Getty and Pearson proved to be the difference in the game.
In her collegiate debut for the Wildcats, redshirt freshman forward Laura Sweeney (Marlton, N.J.) came off the bench to lead the team with 11 points, seven rebounds and four steals in just 19 minutes of action. She shot 5-of-11 from the field and made 1-of-2 three-pointers. Senior guard Tia Grant (Lido Beach, N.Y.) added 10 points and accounted for all of Villanova's made free throws in the game with a 4-of-5 showing at the foul line.
The Wildcats appeared to be in midseason form in the areas of the game that the squad is known for succeeding in. Villanova hit 10-of-31 three-pointers and outscored Sacred Heart, 30-9, from behind the arc. In addition, the Wildcats committed only 12 turnovers while forcing 19 on the defensive end. Getty finished with nine points, all coming on three made triples, and also had three steals. Pearson finished with eight points, four rebounds and two swipes, while junior forward Amanda Swiezynski (Exeter, N.H.) tallied a game-high seven assists to go along with five points and three steals in 38 minutes.
Alisa Apo led the Pioneers with 12 points, six rebounds and four steals, though she was held to 3-of-13 shooting on the night and turned the ball over nine times. Callan Taylor chipped in 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for Sacred Heart, which owned a 32-25 edge on the glass.
Before the game was decided in the closing minutes, Villanova had gone on an 11-0 run early in the second half to turn a 33-28 deficit into a 39-33 advantage with 14:16 to play. Grant started the run with two free throws and ended it in the same fashion, while Sweeney made a pair of layups and Pearson hit a three-pointer during the spurt.
In the first half, the Pioneers shot 55 percent (11-of-20) from the field and led 26-25 at the intermission.
The Wildcats return to action when they play their home opener on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. against Penn. The game will also serve as the Philadelphia Big Five opener for Villanova.
NOTES: The Wildcats are now 25-16 all-time in season openers, including 20-14 under Harry Perretta ... Villanova has now won both its meetings against Sacred Heart (last season and this season) and improves to 23-1 all-time against the teams that currently make up the Northeast Conference ... Wednesday's home opener is the only home game at The Pavilion for the Wildcats in their first six contests of the season ... Grant's 4-of-5 performance at the charity stripe and a missed free throw by junior center Heather Scanlon (Drexel Hill, Pa.) marked the only free throw attempts of the game for Villanova.