Dec. 1, 2013
MIAMI - The Villanova Wildcats ran their record to 7-0 on the season with a 68-61 win over Florida International in the championship game of the FIU Thanksgiving Classic. Senior guard Devon Kane was named MVP of the tournament, while junior forward Lauren Burford earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team.
Villanova starts the year 7-0 for the first time since the 1979-80 season.
The Wildcats led 12-11 with 7:15 to play in the first half, when Florida International used a 12-5 run to take its biggest lead of the half at 23-17 at the 3:29 mark. Kamika Idom led the Panther spurt with seven of her team's 12 points.
The Wildcats answered the Panther run by scoring the next five points to slice the FIU lead to 23-22. A three-ball by Burford and a lay-up by sophomore forward Kavunaa Edwards accounted for the five points.
Florida International rounded out the first half scoring when Idom made two free throws with 2:11 remaining. The foul shots gave the Panthers a 25-22 halftime lead.
Cold shooting doomed the Wildcats in the opening half. Villanova was 10-of-29 from the floor (34.5%) and just 2-of-14 from three-point range (14.3%) in the game's first 20 minutes. Burford led the Wildcats with six first half points. Idom led the Panthers with nine points.
With the score tied at 31-31 with 14:59 left in the game, Villanova went on a decisive 21-7 run to take a 52-38 lead at the 6:33 mark. Burford and sophomore guard Caroline Coyer each had six points in the spurt, while senior guard Devon Kane added five points. Burford's six points came via two three-point field goals, while Kane added a lay-up and three free throws after being fouled shooting from behind the arc.
The Wildcats looked to be in control of the game with a 61-51 lead with 1:16 on the clock. However, Villanova missed three consecutive foul shots and the Panthers pulled to within four at 62-58 on a three-point field goal by Jerica Coley with 35 seconds remaining.
On the next possession, Caroline Coyer made two free throws to up her team's lead to 64-58. After Florida International forward Kamika Idom made one of two from the free throw line to slice the Wildcat lead to 64-59, Villanova put the game away when Kane sank two free throws to give her team a 66-59 advantage with 17 seconds remaining.
After making just 2-of-14 from three-point range in the first half, the Wildcats went 5-of-11 from behind the arc in the second stanza.
Burford led the Wildcats in the win with 19 points to go with a career-high tying six rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Burford was 7-of-9 from the field, including a 5-of-7 effort from three-point range. Kane tallied her first career double-double with 17 points and a career-high 10 assists. She also added four rebounds and had no turnovers in 37 minutes of action. Caroline Coyer added 11 points in the victory.
Florida International was paced by Coley who had a game-high 24 points and Idom who netted 13 points.
For the game, Villanova shot 24-of-54 from the field (44.4%), 7-of-25 from three-point range (28.0%) and 13-of-18 from the foul line (72.2%), while FIU shot 35.0 percent from the floor (21-of-60), 31.6 percent from long distance (6-of-19) and 76.5 percent from the charity stripe (13-of-17). The Panthers held a 39-35 advantage on the backboards. Villanova finished the game with just six turnovers.
Villanova returns to action on Saturday, Dec. 7, when the Wildcats host Saint Joseph's. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m.
NOTES: Villanova has now won the FIU Thanksgiving Classic twice (2001 &2013) and are 5-1 all-time in the tournament...The Wildcats have now won eight of their last 11 in-season tournaments they have played in...Villanova improves to 83-36 all-time when participating in in-season tournaments...A Wildcat has registered a double-double in three straight games (Kavunaa Edwards, Taylor Holeman and Devon Kane)...Villanova has committed single digits in turnover in four of the last seven games.