Siegrist powers Villanova past Cleveland St in March Madness


VILLANOVA, Pa. – Maddy 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 victory 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 the most in program history.

Siegrist, a two-time Big East Player of the Year, got hot early and reached his 1,000-point milestone 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 who had grabbed the rebound. She threw up a fadeaway and put in the bucket .

She pumped her fist in the air looking for and-1 and got it. Siegrist sank the free throw for point No. 1,001 of the 2022-2023 season to give 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 — at 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.

Yes, Siegrist at one point had 31 points while the Vikings (30-5) only scored 32. But this was no one-scorer’s show for the Wildcats. In fact, the Pavilion was never at its highest 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.

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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. Not strange President Joe Biden chose the Wildcats in n’s 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 cut up the Villanova and NCAA record books. She entered the game leading the nation in scoring (28.9 ppg), has scored 20-plus points in all 35 games, and scored a career-best 50 points against Seton Hall. She is also the career leading scorer in Philadelphia Division I women’s history.

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

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

She has one more in her sights.

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

Villanova: Coach Denise 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.

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

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