January 22, 2023
Can Maddy Siegrist lead Villanova to BIG EAST glory?
Siegrist clinches Villanova basketball all-time scoring record
The leading scorer in Division I women’s college basketball is now the leading scorer in the history of Villanova basketball. With a pull-up jumper in the fourth quarter of a 73-57 Wildcats win over the Creighton Bluejays on Friday night, Siegrist clinched the all-time scoring record. She’d end the game with 2,414 career points, surpassing Shelly Pennefather (2,408 career points) as the leading scorer in the history of Villanova men’s and women’s basketball. Siegrist’s point total also leaves her just two points shy of the all-time scoring record in the history of Philadelphia Big 5 women’s basketball.
“It’s surreal. I never could have dreamed of something like this,” Siegrist said of breaking the record. “It’s all credit to my teammates and coaches. I’m just so grateful to play at Villanova.”
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Villanova is certainly grateful for Siegrist. As last season’s BIG EAST Player of the Year, and the heavy favorite to repeat, Siegrist has been dominant. Her size, wingspan and quickness allow her to score seemingly with ease over targeted defensive intensity from opponents (fittingly, she broke the scoring record by hitting a jumper over a double team). Villanova head coach Denise Dillon confirmed for The Next‘s Howard Megdal that Siegrist has nearly a 6’3 wingspan, allowing her to finish tough shots over defenders at the rim. Siegrist can also torch opponents from outside, hitting 40.5% of shots from beyond the arc this season.
“Well, I think that Maddy has shown in her career, and especially this year … continued growth,” Dillon said earlier this season. “And rising to the occasion of any opponent. She just does what Maddy does.”
Can Villanova win the BIG EAST?
Maddy Siegrist is firmly at the top of the list for BIG EAST player of the year, but can she lead the Wildcats to the top of the conference standings?
Two frontrunners are emerging in the BIG EAST standings: first-ranked UConn (17-2 overall, 10-0 BIG EAST) and second-ranked Villanova (18-3 overall, 9-1 BIG EAST). The Wildcats’ only conference loss this season was their first conference game, a 21-point loss to Creighton on Dec. 2. Villanova avenged that loss with a 16-point victory over Creighton on Friday.
UConn and Villanova have yet to meet this season in conference play, their first matchup is scheduled for Jan. 29 in Hartford. The Huskies will look to avenge last season’s 72-69 home-court loss to the Wildcats. That loss was, remarkably, UConn’s first conference defeat since 2013. The teams will meet for a second time this season on Feb. 18 on Villanova’s campus.
Heading into next week’s matchup, Villanova has reason for optimism. For one, the Wildcats are not facing the unprecedented personnel challenges the Huskies are facing. UConn announced last week that sophomore guard Azzi Fudd is out indefinitely after reinjuring her knee in a Jan. 15 game against Georgetown. Fudd has already missed over a month this season with the knee injury, and the school stated that there is no timeline for her return after this reinjury.
Earlier this season, the BIG EAST was forced to postpone a DePaul/UConn game because UConn lacked the required seven healthy players to compete in the game. Constant lineup and rotation changes have contributed to inconsistent play from the Huskies, averaging an uncharacteristic 16.6 turnovers per game.
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In addition to health, Villanova will also have rest on its side. Before next Sunday’s matchup, UConn will face DePaul on Monday, the rescheduled date of their postponed meeting. The Huskies will then travel to Knoxville on Thursday to face historic rival Tennessee as part of ESPN’s ‘College Gameday‘. Villanova does not play again until the UConn matchup next week.
Given the circumstances, Maddy Siegrist’s incredible talent, and the Wildcats’ strong record to date, it would not be surprising to see Villanova defeat UConn on Sunday and put themselves in an advantageous position to win or tie the BIG EAST regular season conference title.
Villanova head coach Denise Dillon told reporters earlier this season that the “sky’s the limit” for Maddy Siegrist. The coming weeks will tell if Maddy Siegrist can take her team with her to the top of the BIG EAST conference.
Written by Tee Baker
Tee is a women's basketball reporter and historian. At "The Next" Tee covers the BIG EAST conference and contributes articles and media featuring the WBL, the first professional women's basketball league in the United States.