Siegrist leads Villanova into Sweet 16 for second time ever

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VILLANOVA, Pa. – As Maddy Siegrist hugged and high-fived every Villanova fan down the front row of seats in a wild celebration following the biggest win of her career, it was hard for the All-American not to think about far the Wildcats have come in just four seasons.

Siegrist’s journey saw her dominate as the program’s career leading scorer, lead Villanova into the kind of elite team that can pack a postseason game in their own house and now this milestone, a Sweet 16 berth for the first time in 20 years.

“Everyone wants to leave their mark,” Siegrist said.

Siegrist sure left hers on the Main Line.

Siegrist scored 31 points, had four blocks, four steals and sent the winningest team in Villanova history into the Sweet 16 for the second time in program history with a 76-57 win over 12th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast on Monday night.

“What Maddy has done and continues to do is off the charts,” coach Denise Dillon said.

The fourth-seeded Wildcats (30-6) won their record 30th game and celebrated the March Madness milestone in front of another packed house at the Pavilion. Siegrist, the first-team AP All-American, made 13 of 24 shots in what was likely her final home game. The four-year star has left some wiggle room that she could return for a fifth season, but all signs point toward her playing in the WNBA this summer.

One thing is sure, Siegrist is headed to the Sweet 16.

The Wildcats are going for the first time since the 2003 team reached the Elite Eight — the coach of that team, Harry Perretta, watched this one from behind the basket — and they will No. 9 Miami, which upset No. 1 seed Indiana.

“To me, Villanova is a Final Four-level team,” FGCU coach Karl Smesko said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they get there.”

He’s not the only one. President Joe Biden picked the Wildcats to win it all in his March Madness bracket.

One sign from the student section said it all, “It’s On! March Maddyness.” Another fan shouted during halftime warmups, “No one can guard you, Maddy!”

Siegrist checked out to a rousing standing ovation with 1:57 left in the game and the star forward hugged every teammate down the bench. Her teammates mobbed her after the final horn as the Wildcats danced on the court and flashed the “V” sign for their fans.

“If this is my last game at home, this is a great way to go out,” Siegrist said.

Siegrist sank two free throws with 5:18 left in the third quarter to give her 21 points, which made it 36 straight games this season for the two-time Big East Player of the Year with at least 20 points.

The Wildcats actually scored the first eight points of the game before Siegrist got on the board. Siegrist may be the star who topped 1,000 points this season alone but she’s had plenty of help along the way.

Against the Eagles (33-4), it was Lucy Olsen’s shot to turn this one into another March victory. The 5-foot-9 guard who averaged 12.9 points scored nine in the first quarter. The Wildcats seemed poised to run away with this one, blocking FGCU’s first two shots, grabbing every rebound and loose ball raced to a 26-11 lead.

But a 3:28 scoreless drought trimmed Villanova’s halftime lead 39-33.

Here’s the thing, Siegrist wasn’t going to let Villanova lose on its home court and become the latest men’s or women’s tournament single-digit seed to suffer an upset. Ole Miss stunned top-seeded Stanford a night earlier to somewhat open up the women’s bracket.

With Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright watching from behind the team bench, the Wildcats showed again what makes them a dangerous matchup in March.

The nation’s leading scorer, Siegrist converted a three-point play and then picked the ball clean on a steal and layup that stretched Villanova’s lead to 46-33.

“She’s the best player,” Smesko said. “To game plan for her in one day is extraordinarily difficult.”

Each time FGCU tried to make a run, Siegrist and Olsen pushed back. Olsen buried a 3 late in the third for a 61-41 lead and the road to the Sweet 16 was completely clear. She finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds.

“I wouldn’t want to win it with anyone else,” Olsen said.


Florida Gulf Coast: Sha Carter led them with 11 points. The Eagles are looking for their first Sweet 16 in team history. They still have the record for overall wins in the tournament by a 12 seed with three.

“We were a little rattled,” Carter said.

Villanova: Dillon won her 400th career game and 71st at Villanova. She went 329-211 in 17 years at Drexel. The Wildcats won 24 of their final 26 home games. That helped them win 30 games, topping the 1981-82 team that went 29-4 and advanced to the AIAW Final Four.


The Wildcats are headed to Greenville, South Carolina for the Sweet 16.

Siegrist powers Villanova past Cleveland State in March Madness

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Maddy Siegrist had a packed Villanova house rocking, another fallen foe reeling, and a simple reason why perhaps – and really, there is no doubt – the greatest player in program history seemingly keeps racking up milestones in the most clutch moments with ease.

“It’s hard to guard a moving target as Coach always says,” she said.

Now, Siegrist has Villanova moving on as March Madness contenders.

Siegrist became the fifth women’s player in NCAA history to score 1,000 points in a season and the first-team AP All-American had 35 points to lead fourth-seeded Villanova into the NCAA Tournament’s second round with a 76-59 win Saturday over Cleveland State.

The Wildcats (29-6) will play No. 12-seed Florida Gulf Coast (33-3) on Monday for the right to advance to the Sweet 16. The Eagles topped Washington State 74-63 in Saturday’s first game.

Villanova’s 29 wins this season tie the 1981-82 team for most in program history.

The two-time Big East Player of the Year, Siegrist got hot early and reached her milestone 1,000th-point bucket in style. Siegrist followed her shot after she missed a jumper from the elbow, crashed the boards and stripped the ball from a Cleveland State defender that had grabbed the rebound. She tossed up a fadeaway and banked in the bucket .

She pounded her fist in the air looking for the and-1 and got it. Siegrist sank the free throw for point No. 1,001 in the 2022-2023 season and gave Villanova a 34-16 lead.

Villanova fell just shy of a sellout at the Pavilion but more than 6,000 fans roared for Siegrist – whose No. 20 jerseys sold in the team store for $120 a pop – on the bucket. When the 1,000-point milestone was announced to the crowd later in the game, she received a standing ovation. She finished 15 of 28 from the field.

“You can’t stop her,” Kielsmeier said. “Anyone who thinks they can is wasting too much time trying to throw too much at her because she’s that good.”

Siegrist has more records, firsts and memorable milestones that most players can ever dream of reaching. Hitting 1,000 points, though, was never on her to-do list.

“I never thought it was an achievable goal,” Siegrist said. “I’m really glad we won the game. It’s better when you win and get the milestone.

Yes, Siegrist at one point had 31 points while the Vikings (30-5) scored just 32. But this was no one-scorer’s show for the Wildcats. In fact, the Pavilion was never at its loudest than when Bella Runyan buried a 3 for a 37-15 lead and she went into a timeout with her signature braided ponytail bouncing behind her. She hit three 3s overall and scored 13 points.

“Bella’s like an X-factor for us,” coach Denise Dillon said. “Today, it was finding open spots and taking the shots.”

The Wildcats were 16-of-38 from the field and 6-of-15 on 3-pointers in the first half for a 42-21 lead. No wonder President Joe Biden picked the Wildcats i n his bracket to win the national championship.

Destiny Leo scored 25 points for the Horizon League Tournament champion Vikings.

The two home games will serve as a raucous farewell for Siegrist after the Poughkeepsie, New York native absolutely sliced up the Villanova and NCAA record books. She entered the game leading the nation in scoring (28.9 points), has scored 20-plus points in all 35 games, and scored a career-best 50 points against Seton Hall. She’s also the career leading scorer in Philadelphia women’s Division I history, as well.

She’s already the career leading scorer for men and women in Big East regular-season games and she’s Villanova’s career leading scorer counting the men’s and women’s teams.

Siegrist also set Villanova’s tournament single-game scoring record on Saturday and led the Wildcats to their first March Madness win at the Pavilion (1-2).

She has one more in sight.


Cleveland State: The Vikings played in their first NCAA Tournament since 2010 and fell to 0-3 overall in the tourney. They also lost in 2009. But Cleveland State had never played higher than a 15 seed in March Madness.

“We didn’t handle the moment quite as well as I had hoped,” Kielsmeier said.

Villanova: Dillon improved to 2-2 in the NCAA Tournament and led the Wildcats to their 23rd home win in their last 25 games. The Wildcats are 32-7 at home in three seasons under Dillon.


Kielsmeier didn’t leave the dais before he snagged his March Madness placard – and asked for the rest for his team.

“These kids with their mementos,” Kielsmeier cracked.


Runyan is the daughter of former Philadelphia Eagles great Jon Runyan. FGCU’s Twitter account had some fun with their proximity to the NFL team, writing Fly Eagles Fly before the Eagles’ – basketball, not football – win against Washington State.

Marquette’s Kolek, Smart collect AP’s top honors in Big East

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Marquette’s Tyler Kolek is the Associated Press Big East player of the year and Shaka Smart is the unanimous pick for coach of the year after the two led the Golden Eagles’ surprising run to their first regular-season championship in 10 years.

Xavier’s Souley Boum was voted newcomer of the year in balloting by 11 writers and broadcasters who cover the conference.

Kolek and Smart led No. 6 Marquette to a school-record 17 conference wins and its highest national ranking since 1978.

Kolek, a unanimous All-Big East first-team pick along with Providence’s Bryce Hopkins, is among the conference leaders in five categories and is playing some of his best ball of late.

Kolek will enter the Big East Tournament at New York’s Madison Square Garden off three straight double-doubles, averaging 20.3 points and 11.3 assists in those games. His 7.9 assists per game for the season leads the Big East and is second nationally.

Smart combined high-scoring offense with aggressive defense to make the Golden Eagles the first team since the Big East formed in 1979-80 to win at least a share of the title after being picked ninth or lower. Marquette beat every league team at least once for the first time since it joined the league in 2005-06.

Hopkins, in his first season at Providence after transferring from Kentucky, has 10 double-doubles and leads the Friars with 16.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Joining Kolek and Hopkins on the first team are Boum and big men Adama Sanogo of Connecticut and Ryan Kalkbrenner of Creighton.

Boum played at San Francisco and UTEP before landing at Xavier this season, and he emerged as the Musketeers’ top player. He’s second in the Big East in scoring with 16.8 points per game and third in 3-point shooting at 42.2%. His 4.5 assists are second on the team and tied for sixth in the league.


u-Guard – Tyler Kolek, Marquette, Jr., 6-3, 190, Cumberland, Rhode Island.

Guard – Souley Boum, Xavier, Gr., 6-3, 175, Oakland, California.

u-Forward – Bryce Hopkins, Providence, So., 6-7, 220, Oak Park, Illinois.

Forward – Adama Sanogo, Connecticut, Jr., 6-9, 245, Bamako, Mali.

Center – Ryan Kalkbrenner, Creighton, Jr., 7-1, 260, Florissant, Missouri.


Guard – Kam Jones, Marquette, So., 6-4, 195, Memphis, Tennessee.

Guard – Colby Jones, Xavier, Jr., 6-6, 205, Birmingham, Alabama.

Guard – Jordan Hawkins, Connecticut, So., 6-5, 195, Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Forward – Eric Dixon, Villanova, Jr., 6-8 255, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.

Center – Joel Soriano, St. John’s, Sr., 6-11, 260, Yonkers, New York.

u-Coach of the year – Shaka Smart, Marquette.

Player of the year – Tyler Kolek, Marquette.

Newcomer of the year – Souley Boum, Xavier.

-“u” denotes unanimous selection.

AP All-Big East Voting Panel: Nick Bahe, Fox Sports; Adam Baum, Cincinnati Enquirer; David Borges, CT Insider (Norwalk, Conn.); Zach Braziller, New York Post; Jerry Carino, Asbury Park (N.J.) Press; John Fanta, Fox Sports; Akeem Glaspie, Indianapolis Star; Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times; Joel Lorenzi, Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald; Kevin McNamara, WPRO (Providence, R.I.); Ben Steele, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Edwards, UConn top Villanova to win another Big East title

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – For nearly 30 years, when the calendar turns to March, Geno Auriemma has UConn ready to play its best on the biggest stage.

This season was one of the most challenging in recent memory for the Hall of Fame coach and his team. The Huskies lost consecutive games for the first time in three decades and suffered through injury after injury that left them with just seven healthy players some games.

Despite those setbacks, the end result was the same: another Big East Tournament title.

Aaliyah Edwards had 19 points and 15 rebounds to lead No. 7 UConn to its 10th consecutive conference tournament title with a 67-56 victory over 10th-ranked Villanova in the championship game Monday night.

“Well, we talked about it before the game that given everything we’ve been through. I think it gave us a little more resiliency, a little more strength. I think we got a little more tougher as the season went on. And it showed up these three days,” Auriemma said. “These kids know when it’s March time, they’ve been in a couple of Final Fours. I think there’s a different vibe in our team.”

Dorka Juhasz added 16 points and Lou Lopez Senechal scored 14 for the top-seeded Huskies (29-5), who earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. UConn has now won 21 Big East Tournament crowns, including the last three since re-entering the conference in 2020. The Huskies won all seven titles when they were in the American Athletic Conference.

Next up, the Huskies will try to extend their record run of reaching 14 consecutive Final Fours.

“We’re talented, but we’re disciplined and dedicated to win,” Edwards said. “It speaks to our standard and to what we are as a program and we’re a winning program. That’s what we did today.”

The Huskies celebrated by dumping confetti on each other and Auriemma even showed off his dance moves, doing “The Griddy” with his grandkids. It has been a rough year personally for Auriemma, as his mother died in December and he had to miss time with illness.

“So many things have happened on and off the court this past season personally, team-wise, everything, that to get to this point you want to close that book,” Auriemma said. “And now start a brand new one starting next Sunday. That book ended the right way. A lot of acts, lot of tragedies, ups and downs. The book ended the right way. Now it’s time for a new one.”

Trailing 22-21 in the second quarter, UConn turned up its defense and outscored Villanova (28-6) 13-2 over the final 6:09 of the half to go up 34-24 at the break. Edwards, the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, had 12 points, making all six of her shots, and nine rebounds in the opening 20 minutes.

The Huskies put away the game by scoring 22 of the first 29 points in the third quarter to extend the advantage to 25.

It has been a difficult year for the Huskies, who have dealt with a host of injuries starting with Paige Bueckers tearing her ACL over the summer. UConn has been getting healthier lately, with Azzi Fudd returning for the Big East Tournament after missing the previous 14 games with a knee injury.

Lopez Senechal and Edwards are the only UConn players to have been in every game this season.

The Huskies lost two conference games for the first time since 2012-13 and suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time since 1992-93.

But UConn has turned it on in March. Monday’s win was a rematch of last season’s championship game that UConn won 70-40. This one was more competitive for a half, just like the two regular-season meetings which the Huskies won by five and nine.

“I think we’re a team that’s always ready for March,” Lopez Senechal said. “I think even if we have a rough stretch, we knew how to overcome it, we knew how to play together. I think that’s why we’re here right now. I’m super proud of the whole team.”

Villanova was cold from the field at the start, making just 6-of-25 (24%) in the first quarter, including missing all 10 of its 3-point attempts. The Wildcats trailed 19-14 at the end of the first despite having 10 offensive rebounds. They finally hit a 3-pointer to open the second and went on an 8-2 run to take the brief lead. Then UConn took over.

Maddy Siegrist led the Wildcats, who moved up to 10th in the AP poll Monday for the school’s best ranking ever, with 22 points.

“She does it better than most scoring the ball,” Villanova coach Denise Dillon said. “Finding different ways to score. Sheer determination. She found spots and created a couple looks around the basket.”


Siegrist has 984 points this season and is looking to become the fifth player to score over 1,000 in a season. The Big East Player of the Year would join Kelsey Plum (1,109), Jackie Stiles (1,062), Odyssey Sims (1,054) and Megan Gustafson (1,001). Siegrist led the nation in scoring (29.7 points) coming into Monday night’s game. She extended her streak to 34 consecutive games scoring 20-plus points. She’s one short of Plum’s record set in 2016-17.

No. 2 UConn takes charge in second half over Villanova 74-66

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
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HARTFORD, Conn. – Jordan Hawkins scored 22 points to lead No. 2 UConn past Villanova 74-66 on Wednesday night.

Freshman Alex Karaban added 15 points and Andre Jackson Jr. had 10 for the Huskies (14-0, 3-0 Big East).

The win allowed the Huskies to tie the start of the 1953-54 team for third best. Only two have fared better with the 1998-99 team’s 19-0 mark at the top of the list. It was also the first season UConn won a national championship.

UConn is one of three remaining undefeated teams in the country along with Purdue and New Mexico.

“Pressure is being 6-8, there’s no pressure on us,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “We have a good team.

“We won our first 14, we have a lot of confidence in what we do.”

Hawkins scored in double figures for the sixth straight time and had his fourth 20-point game of the season. He made 6 of 14 from the field and 4 of 11 3-pointers.

“I’ve always been confident in my game,” Hawkins said. “It’s been a lot of hard work and that’s what you need to build your confidence.”

The Huskies needed some perimeter punch with the Wildcats locking down on center Adama Sanogo. The preseason Big East Player of the Year was held to two points in the first half. Sanogo finished with seven points, his second fewest of the season.

“This is why our league is a really good league and UConn’s a really good team,” Villanova coach Kyle Neptune said. “There’s no team where you can just take away one guy and you’re automatically guaranteed to have a positive result.

“They are number two for a reason and they have multiple guys who can beat you.”

Caleb Daniels led Villanova (7-6, 1-1) with 23 points, Eric Dixon added 18 and Brandon Slater had 10.

A 16-3 run early in the second half helped the Huskies create some separation, taking a 49-39 lead with 12:13 left. Daniels’ layup gave Villanova a 36-33 lead, but 3-pointers from Hawkins and Karaban followed by a Jackson dunk sparked the home team’s surge.

UConn finished with 21 of 53 shooting from the field and 9 for 30 on 3-pointers. The Wildcats made 22 of 51 but were just 5 for 22 on the perimeter.

“They made it tough defensively trying to get after us,” Neptune said. “They made it a tough and nasty game.”

It was the first game this season the Huskies did not win by double digits.


The Wildcats had their five-game win streak come to an end.

The Huskies are in the meat of their conference schedule with trips to Xavier and Providence coming up before hosting Big East preseason favorite Creighton.


The Huskies defense came up large after Villanova cut it to 58-56 with 3:36 to play on Daniels’ three-point play. First Jackson’s steal led to a Sanogo layup, then Hassan Diarra drew a charge from Jordan Longino that led to Jackson’s 3-pointer and a 63-56 lead.


In 20 minutes off the bench, Diarra scored six points with three assists and four second-half steals.

“My mentality was to be disruptive and pick my team up with energy,” he said.


Villanova: Hosts Marquette on Saturday.

UConn: At No. 22 Xavier on Saturday.

No. 25 Villanova women beat American University 83-42

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

VILLANOVA, Pa. – Maddy Siegrist had 24 points and seven rebounds, Lucy Olsen added 14 points and No. 25 Villanova beat American University 83-42 on Tuesday night.

Siegrist scored 15 points in the opening 13 minutes as Villanova led 34-15. The Wildcats extended it to 46-23 by halftime before starting the second half on a 9-0 run for a 32-point lead.

Villanova added an 8-0 run in the fourth quarter for its largest lead of the game at 79-36. The Wildcats held American to 15-of-50 shooting (30%) and scored 21 points off 19 turnovers.

Christina Dalce scored 13 points for Villanova (8-2), which plays Saint Joseph’s on Saturday before taking a week off for final exams. Siegrist, who was coming off a 29-point performance on Sunday, made 10 of 17 shots as Villanova shot 56%.

Emily Johns scored 12 points for American (0-8), which hosts Marist (3-5) on Saturday.