ANN ARBOR, Mich. —For the second game in a row, Villanova grounded itself in its defense.
But unlike Saturday’s win against BYU, this time it fell short.
The third-seeded Michigan Wolverines (24-6) wore down the 11th-seeded Wildcats (24-9), growing a commanding lead at the end of the third quarter. Villanova’s season ended with a 64-49 loss in the second round of the women’s NCAA Tournament at Crisler Center on Monday.
“I’m extremely proud of our group for battling till the end and giving everything they had as they have all season,” Villanova head coach Denise Dillon said. “I’m happy with the season overall even though it was a tough one today.”
What had powered its first tournament win since 2018 also showed up in the first five minutes Monday, benefiting from a rushed Michigan team that couldn’t execute and made poor choices. The Wildcats’ second field goal came off a bad pass that sophomore forward Lior Garzon converted for an easy layup. The Wildcats led by three points after the first quarter. There were three blocks and six steals in the first quarter alone for Villanova.
Unfortunately, Villanova couldn’t take advantage on the other end. Despite plenty of good looks at the basket, it failed to convert. That kept the door open for the Wolverines, who eventually found their footing on offense. Michigan took control with a 10-0 run over the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth.
Forward Naz Hillmon led Michigan with 27 points, 11 rebounds and five steals.
Villanova’s offense struggled as leading scorer Maddy Siegrist, who ranked second in the nation with 25.8 points per game, managed just 12 points on 5 of 13 shooting. Garzon was the only other Wildcat to hit double figures with 11 points.
“We talked about it all season, not allowing your offense to dictate defense. But when you’re in a game like this with so much on the line and the clock is running down, pressure mounts a little more.”
Turnovers killed the Wildcats. Michigan tallied 17 points off the Wildcats’ turnovers in the the first three quarters. With just over 30 seconds left in the third quarter, Siegrist was stripped by Hillmon, leading to an easy layup and an 8-point Michigan lead.
Villanova never made it any closer.
The Wolverines earned a second straight trip to the Sweet 16 and will face 10th-seeded South Dakota on Saturday in the Wichita Region.