Women's College Basketball

Villanova Edges Past Creighton, Advances to Big East Final

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Creighton Bluejay Molly Mogensen shoots over the outstretched arms of Villanova’s Lucy Olsen during the Big East Semifinal game Sunday night at Mohegan Sun Arena. Photo by Mike D’Avino/Sportspage Magazine

Maddy Siegrist scored 37 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in a dominating performance as the No. 2 seed Villanova Wildcats edged the No. 3 seed Creighton Bluejays 63-61 in the Big East semifinal on Sunday.

Villanova guard Brooke Mullin got the scoring started with a three-pointer just 25 seconds after tipoff. Creighton guard Molly Mogensen promptly answered with a trey of her own, tying the score 3-3 with 9:02 left in the opening frame.

Siegrist scored her first basket of the night to break the tie 25 seconds later. It would be the first of 21 field goals she made in the game.

During the rest of the first quarter, neither team could go on a run. The largest margin for Villanova was four points, while Creighton managed to pull out a one point lead when the first quarter ended and the score 16-15 in favor of the Bluejays. The game was tied three times in the opening frame.

Creighton was able to push their one-point lead into a small run to start the second quarter. Guard Rachael Saunders converted two free throws and Morgensen hit a jumper to give the Bluejays a four-point lead with 8:19 remaining in the half.

However, Siegrist promptly answered with a jumper of her own to cut the Villanova deficit to two.

Creighton guard Lauren Jensen nailed a three-pointer, which was followed by her teammate, forward Emma Ronsiek connecting on a jump shot. The Bluejays held a comfortable 27-20 lead with 5:59 left on the clock.

The Wildcats tried to answer, but nobody outside of Siegrist was able to hit a shot. Forward Christina Dalce missed two consecutive layups before Siegrist finished the possession with a jump shot. Creighton’s Ronsiek then scored on consecutive jump shots and the Bluejays took an eight-point lead, 34-26, with just 2:23 left in the half.

The Wildcats gained a little bit of momentum when Zanai Jones and Mullin were each able to hit from beyond the arc. Creighton led 34-32 at halftime.

Jensen hit another three-pointer for the Bluejays to put her team up by five as the third quarter began, but that was the high water mark for Creighton, as Wildcats Lucy Olsen, Dalce and Siegrist each scored on jump shots. Villanova now led 38-37 with 6:55 left in the third.

The two teams traded baskets, and the lead, during the remainder of the quarter. Villanova led 47-45 when the third quarter came to a close.

The Wildcats began the fourth quarter the same way the Bluejays began the second. Dalce scored on a jumper, Kaitlyn Orihel added a trey, and Siegrist scored on two jumpers and a trey. This put Villanova up 59-51 with 3:05 remaining in the contest.

However, instead of putting the game away, the Wildcats gave Creighton a way of hanging around. Dalce fouled Creighton’s Lauren Jensen beyond the arc. Jensen converted all three free throws to cut the deficit by five.

Ronsiek added a jumper to cut the deficit to three, but Siegrist answered with one of her own. Jensen answered that with a three-pointer and the score was now 61-59 in favor of Villanova with a mere 1:32 remaining on the clock.

Ninety-two seconds can be an eternity in basketball.

Creighton Bluejay forward Emma Ronsiek loses the ball in traffic during Sunday's Big East Semifinal loss to Villanova at Mohegan Sun Arena. Photo by Mike D'Avino/Sportspage MagazineSiegrist missed on a three-pointer which was rebounded by Creighton’s Rachael Saunders. Villanova’s Dalce stole the ball from Ronsiek. Wildcat guard Bella Runyan missed on a three-pointer, but Siegrist was fouled on the rebound. Siegrist made both free throws and Villanova now led 63-59 with just 26 seconds to go.

Jensen missed a three pointer and Ronsiek missed a layup. The officials reviewed the play looking at who should have possession, but ended up calling an unobserved intentional foul on Dalce, who had collided with Saunders in the paint. This enabled Creighton to choose any player to shoot two free throws and gave them possession of the ball.

Bluejay head coach Jim Flanery chose Jensen who made both free throws. The score was now 63-61 with only 11 ticks left on the clock and one last opportunity for the Bluejays to win or tie. Jensen pushed the ball down the court but missed the short jumper, which was rebounded by Siegrist with 3.4 seconds left.

The ball was inbounded to Siegrist, who was promptly fouled by Ronsiek, who fouled out of the game. Because Creighton still had two fouls to give, Siegrist was fouled again on an inbounds play, this time by Saunders with 0.7 seconds left. On yet another inbounds play, Villanova was able to inbound it to Orihel, who held onto it long enough to run out the clock and secure the victory.

Villanova went 24-51 from the field, 6-19 from beyond the arc, and converted 9-11 free throws. Maddy Siegrist led all scorers with 37 points and led all rebounders with 11 boards. Christina Dalce pitched in for nine points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats.

Creighton went 23-50 from the field, 6-16 in three point shooting, and nailed 9 of 10 free throws. Lauren Jensen led the Bluejays with 22 points; Emma Ronsiek added 15 and Molly Mogensen chipped in a dozen. Rachael Saunders led Creighton with seven rebounds.

“What a great battle against an extremely talented Creighton team,” said Villanova head coach Denise Dillon. “And we knew it would be a good matchup. But it was certainly matched evenly. Pulled out a close one and super excited to get another chance to play.”

“Yeah, I thought it was a really good basketball game. Two really competitive teams who know each other well. And I think the kind of irony is the two games we played in the regular season, neither one was that close,” Creighton’s Flanery said. “They have Maddy, and sometimes that’s — not to discredit their other players, but sometimes that’s enough. That was the difference today, obviously. Not just the 37 points but doing it on 21 shots is tough.”

Regarding her 37 point performance, Siegrist said, “Nobody can do it all by themselves. I need my teammates. I think Chris [Dalce] stepped up huge today and Kaitlyn [Orihel]. And Lucy [Olsen] always facilitates and she had an unbelievable game today. And I think everyone’s just confident when they shoot the ball. And I think that’s the biggest thing. And you see the results like games like today, they were able to hit some big shots down the stretch.”

Villanova will now play UConn in the Big East championship game tomorrow. Creighton will wait for the call to see if they are invited to the NCAA Tournament or if they will be headed to the NIT.

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