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Villanova Earns Hard Fought 55-51 Win at Saint Joseph's
Megan Pearson

Dec. 8, 2012

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Philadelphia, Pa.--Despite playing without leading scorer Laura Sweeney for most of the game, the Villanova Wildcats managed to earn a 55-51 win at Saint Joseph's on Saturday afternoon. Villanova's sixth-straight victory improves the Wildcats to 7-1 overall and 2-0 in Big Five play, while the Hawks fall to 5-3 overall and 0-1 in City Series action.

Sweeney suffered an eye injury diving for a ball at the 17:14 mark of the first half and did not return to the game.

"This was a good win for our team," said Wildcat head coach Harry Perretta. "We knew we were going to miss Laura after she went down early in the game. I thought we did a great job making up for Laura's loss. Everybody we put in did something positive for us. I was really happy with how smart we played down the stretch."

With the score tied at 38-38 with 8:58 to play, Villanova went on a 10-0 run to take a 48-38 lead at the 4:16 mark. A driving lay-up by sophomore forward Taylor Holeman started the Wildcat spurt. A steal and a breakaway lay-up by junior guard Devon Kane on the next possession gave the `Cats a 42-38 lead.

After neither team scored on its next two possessions, Villanova increased its lead to 44-38 when senior guard Rachel Roberts tallied a driving left-handed lay-up. The Wildcat defense forced a stop on the other end of the floor and senior forward Megan Pearson hit a jumper as the shot clock was winding down to give her team a 46-38 advantage. After another defensive stop, Roberts was fouled on a drive and made both free throws to give Villanova a 48-38 lead with 4:16 left in regulation.

Saint Joseph's scored the game's next four points when Hawk sophomore Natasha Cloud scored on back-to-back driving lay-ups. Kane missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Hawks had possession and an opportunity to close the 48-42 Villanova lead. Pearson came up with a big defensive play when she stepped in the passing lane, stole a Saint Joseph's pass and was fouled. Pearson converted both free throws and Villanova led 50-42 with 47 seconds remaining.

The Hawks closed to within 54-51 with six seconds left when Chatil Van Grinsven scored on an offensive rebound put back. Villanova inbounded the ball to Roberts who was fouled. Roberts missed the first, but put the game away when she made the second free throw.

Villanova never trailed in the first half and led by as many as six en route to a 27-23 halftime advantage. Kane paced the Wildcats in the first half with seven points, while Leer added six first half points. Van Grinsven registered eight points in the first stanza to lead Saint Joseph's. The Wildcats were 11-of-26 from the field in the first half, while the Hawks were 8-of-23 from the floor.

In the win, Roberts was Villanova's go-to player with 16 points and nine rebounds. Roberts was 4-of-5 from the field, 2-of-2 from three-point range and 6-of-8 from the foul line. Pearson had 11 points and Kane finished with 10 points, three assists and two steals.

Van Grinsven led the Hawks with a game-high 24 points and a game-best 11 rebounds.

For the game, Villanova shot 39.6 percent from the field (19-of-48), 45.5 percent from three-point range (5-of-11) and 70.6 percent from the foul line (12-of-17), while Saint Joseph's was 20-of-50 from the floor (40.0%), 2-of-12 from behind the arc (16.7%) and 9-of-15 from the charity stripe (60.0%). The Hawks held a 34-30 advantage on the backboards. Villanova had eight turnovers and Saint Joseph's was charged with 12 miscues.

Villanova will return to action on Wednesday, Dec. 12, when the Wildcats play host to Princeton. Tip time is set for 7 p.m.

NOTES: Villanova has now won seven consecutive Philadelphia Big games...With today's win, the Wildcats are 98-35 all-time in Big Five games...The 98 wins are the most by a Big Five women's program...Villanova has won six straight over Atlantic 10 competition...The home team had won seven straight in the Villanova-Saint Joseph's series before today's road win by the Wildcats...Villanova has made at least one three-point field goal in 279 straight games...This was the second game this year that Villanova has had single digit turnovers .