The Villanova women’s basketball team found itself in the nearly same situation as last season, but made sure things turned out differently.
Kelly Jekot scored 18 points to lift visiting Villanova, 58-50, over Penn on Wednesday at the Palestra and give the Wildcats the Big 5 championship.
Villanova (11-6, 4-0 Big 5) had a chance to win last season’s Big 5 championship, but lost to Penn at Jake Nevin Fieldhouse. The Quakers (9-3, 2-1) went on to earn a share of the title by beating Temple.
The Wildcats used a perimeter-centric attack to withstand an early Penn run, going on a 10-0 run to finish the second quarter, but the Quakers found their footing midway through the third quarter, going on their own 10-0 run to win the frame, 14-12.
“That’s our philosophy, because we’re not big enough to beat them inside,” Villanova coach Harry Perretta said. “We have to work the ball on the perimeter and get three-point shots. We knew they were going to pound the ball inside. We knew that we couldn’t give up both threes and inside shots.”
Jekot added 11 rebounds and two assists while shooting 4-for-8 from three-point range. It was her first career double-double.
Penn dominated the glass and outscored Villanova in the paint, but the Wildcats made six more three-pointers than the Quakers, which helped make up for Penn’s getting nine more rebounds.
Penn had a hot start, ignited by offensive rebounds and solid defense. The Quakers had seven offensive boards in the first quarter and held the Wildcats scoreless for nearly seven minutes.
Penn center Eleah Parker had 25 points and 17 rebounds, going 12-for-28 from the field and nearly outscoring the rest of her team, which went 8-for-38.
Part of the Wildcats' early struggles stemmed from missing their starting point guard, Adrianna Hahn, for the first quarter. According to a school spokesperson, the junior was penalized for a violation of team rules.
Despite missing the first quarter, Hahn finished with 12 points and five assists.
“She’s our senior, she’s our point guard,” junior forward Mary Gedaka said. “I appreciate her on the floor with me and she’s obviously a great basketball player.”
It is Villanova’s 16th Big 5 championship, and 10th time going undefeated against the rival schools. Villanova is now 119-39 in the Big 5, including 25-2 at the Palestra.
“It’s an awesome feeling, I was just telling my teammates, especially here in the Palestra. There’s so much history that’s happened,” Gedaka said. “Some of their moms played for Villanova and some played on other teams, as well, so it’s really cool to play for the people that played before us.”