Robert Cole/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — There is something about the Villanova Wildcats women’s basketball team that has, somehow, some way, has acted as kryptonite to some of the superpowers that have been displayed by the UConn Huskies over the past two decades. One more time, with history on the line, the Wildcats will once again play David to the Huskies’ Goliath…and the Wildcats pack a couple of good slingshots.

The top two seeds in the 2022 Big East Women’s Basketball Tournament advanced to square off in Monday’s final, with the No. 1 seed Huskies using a dominant first quarter as it cruised to a 71-51 victory over the fifth-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles in the first semifinal at Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday. Guard Christyn Williams scored eight of her 13 points in the first quarter as the Huskies shot 67 percent from the field (10-for-15) while forcing the Golden Eagles to miss 16 of their 19 shots from the field in the game’s first 10 minutes.

Evina Westbrook came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points for the Huskies, who had Paige Bueckers come off the bench once again as she eases back into the rotation after her knee injury in December. Bueckers scored just two points in 18 minutes, but her team’s impressive first quarter allowed the Huskies to institute load management with their star sophomore.

Her load may increase more on Monday given that their opponent will be the second-seeded Wildcats, who held off a late charge to defeat No. 6 Seton Hall 64-55 to advance to their first Big East Tournament final since 2003. Like the Huskies before it, Villanova also used a strong first quarter to put them in the ascendancy, with Maddy Siegrist and Brianna Herlihy each scoring seven points in a first quarter that saw the Wildcats shoot 56 percent from the field and open up a 23-12 lead after the quarter. Siegrist, the nation’s second leading scorer, ended up with 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Herlihy had 17 points and eight rebounds.

Monday’s final may not end with a Huskies’ coronation that many casual fans might envision given the Wildcats propensity to play spoiler in UConn’s illustrious basketball history. In that last Big East Tournament final the Wildcats played in, they stunned UConn, 52-48, to not only win the tournament but end the Huskies’ 70-game winning streak, at the time the longest winning streak in the history of Division 1 women’s basketball. In case you need your evidence to be more recent, the Wildcats stunned Connecticut 72-69 in Hartford last month, snapping the Huskies’ 169-game winning streak in conference games.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Sunday’s semifinal games, with all photos taken by ALOST senior photographer Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 16 pictures in total.

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Tags : Big East ConferenceMarquette Golden EaglesSeton Hall PiratesUConn HuskiesVillanova Wildcatswomen's college basketball

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