PHILADELPHIA – Despite a career-high 24 points from redshirt senior Chatilla van Grinsven (Helmond, Netherlands/Dr. Knippenberg), the Saint Joseph's women's basketball team dropped its Big 5 opener to Villanova, 55-51, Saturday afternoon at Hagan Arena.
Down 27-23 to start the second half, van Grinsven tallied the opening two baskets of the stanza to tie the game at 27 all on a layup less than a minute in.
The Wildcats regained the lead, 32-29, but the Hawks answered back with a 5-0 run as van Grinsven capped it with a layup at 12:15.
Villanova (7-1, 2-0 Big 5) rallied back to regain the lead, only to have SJU answer, leading to a 38-38 tie with 8:58 to go.
Unfortunately for Saint Joseph's, Villanova opened its biggest lead of the game, using a 10-0 run to take a 48-38 lead on a pair of Rachel Roberts free throws with 4:16 remaining. The Hawks went 5:40 without a point as they shot 0-for-7 from the floor and turned the ball over twice during that period.
Saint Joseph's (5-3, 0-1 Big 5) continued to fight back in the final minutes though, cutting the deficit to three, 54-51, on a layp by van Grinsven with 6.4 seconds left. However, the Wildcats would hold on for the win as Roberts hit 1-of-2 free throws to seal the game.
In the first half, the Hawks fell behind 6-0 early, but rallied to take their first lead, 14-12, on a three-pointer by Mireia Vila (Cabrera De Mar, Spain/Escola Pia Santa Anna) at 9:52.
Villanova answered with a 7-0 run to make it a 19-14 game on a three-pointer by Emily Suhey, but SJU cut the deficit to one, 22-21, with under five minutes left in the half.
The Wildcats would retain the lead though, using a 5-2 run to end the half and take a 27-23 lead into the second frame.
For the game, Saint Joseph's hit 20-of-50 from the field, including 2-of-12 from behind the arc (16.7 percent) and 9-of-15 from the foul line (60 percent). At the other end, the Wildcats hit 19-of-49 from the floor (49.6 percent), 5-of-11 from three-point range (45.5 percent) and 12-of-17 from the foul line (70.6 percent).
Individually, van Grinsven posted her third double-double of the season, adding 11 rebounds to go with her 24 points. Previously tallying 22 points twice at Colorado State, van Grinsven hit 10-of-20 from the field, including 1-of-2 from three-point range and 3-of-4 from the foul line against Villanova. Vila added seven points off the bench, to go with five rebounds, while redshirt sophomore Natasha Cloud (Broomall, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara) had a game-high four assists and two steals to go with six points and six rebounds.
Roberts finished with a team-best 16 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats
The Hawks return to action at the Gator Classic, December 20-21. Saint Joseph's opens the tournament against Central Michigan at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 20.