Villanova Escapes with 54-51 win Over UC

Jan. 6, 2013

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CINCINNATI - Villanova University took their first lead of the second half with 21 second remaining, eventually escaping Fifth Third Arena with a 54-51 win over the University of Cincinnati women's basketball team in the BIG EAST opener.

The Bearcats led for 19 minutes and 39 seconds in the second half during Sunday's contest, but Villanova led when it mattered most - at the final horn. UC was out-scored 9-2 in the final three minutes and 20 seconds, capping a come-from-behind win for the Wildcats.

Following a pair of free throws from Kayla Cook (South Webster, Ohio/South Webster) with 3:20 to play, Villanova added scores in the paint on consecutive trips down the court to tie the game at 49. The big shot for the Wildcats came when Caroline Coyer hit a three with 21 seconds left to give Villanova a 52-49 edge. After opening the second half 0-for-12 from three point range, Villanova hit two of their final three long-range shots in the game.

Dayeesha Hollins (Cincinnati, Ohio/Winton Woods/Michigan) cut the lead to one with nine seconds remaining, but Villanova added two free throws and the Bearcats desperation three at the horn fell short, sending the Wildcats home with a 54-51 win.

As a team, the Bearcats shot 44.7% from the field, including 2-4 from beyond the arc and outscored the Wildcats 32-28 in the paint. Both teams grabbed 33 rebounds during the contest, but the Bearcats' defensive efforts provided 24 defensive rebounds and forced nine turnovers. Entering Sunday's game Villanova ranked first nationally in turnovers per game (11.2).

Hollins reached double digits (16) for the 25th-straight game dating back to the 2011-12 season on 8-of-16 shooting. She also grabbed four rebounds and dished out two assists. Jamison added nine points and three rebounds, while Cook chipped in nine points, the most she has scored since going for 11 points against Eastern Kentucky on December 9. Dunn added to the Bearcats' all-around attack with seven points, six rebounds, four assists and a block.

The Wildcats opened the game with three-pointer, but went scoreless over the next 4:22 as the Bearcats were able to take a 4-3 lead. Neither team led by more than one until Lauren Burford hit a three for Villanova with 11:42 left in the half. She eventually hit three over a span of just over three minutes, but UC countered with scores from Lesha Dunn (Toronto, Canada/Trinity Valley Community College) and Jasmine Whitfield (Crestwood, Ky. / South Oldham) to go along with a pair of free throws from Alexis Durley (Houstin, Texas/Andy Dekaney). Villanova led 18-14 with 8:16 to play.

Cincinnati forced three turnovers over the next two minutes, leading to scores from Dayeesha Hollins (Cincinnati, Ohio/Winton Woods/Michigan) and Dunn that knotted the score at 18 with 7:02 on the clock.

All the momentum seemed to swing the way of the Bearcats down the stretch after Dunn swatted away a Villanova shot. Durley grabbed the rebound and passed it off to Kayla Cook (South Webster, Ohio/South Webster), who nailed a three to make it a 24-20 UC lead.

After three ties and seven lead changes, the Bearcats took a 27-25 lead into the locker room.

UC opened the second half on a 6-0 run with two driving lay-ups from Hollins and one from Cook to give UC a 33-25 lead at the 18:38 mark. UC pushed the lead to eight points during two different points in the second half before Villanova began their comeback.  

The Wildcats were led by Sweeney with 15 points, six rebounds, five steals and three assists. Lauren Burford added 14 points, while Coyer contributed 10 points ad five rebounds.

Villanova is now 11-2 overall and 1-0 in the BIG EAST. Cincinnati is 8-6 overall, falling to 0-1 in conference play.

Prior to today's tip, junior guard Dayeesha Hollins (Cincinnati, OH/Winton Woods/Michigan) was recognized for scoring her 1,000th point during the December 21 game against Belmont University.

Next up for the Bearcats is a BIG EAST matchup against Seton Hall on Wednesday, January 9 at Fifth Third Arena. The contest, which will be televised on Fox Sports Ohio, will tip-off at 7 p.m.