WADE PAYNE / AP Enlarge
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A gift from a longtime friend brought Villanova coach Harry Perretta luck, and a pair of upperclassmen provided the Wildcats with another important victory.
Senior Katie Davis hit her fifth 3-pointer with 4:18 left to give Villanova its first lead as the second-seeded Wildcats rallied to beat Colorado 53-51 in the Mideast Regional semifinal yesterday.
Davis finished with 16 points. Junior Courtney Mix, a Central Catholic graduate, scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half and had a game-high 12 rebounds and three assists.
Perretta wore an orange tie, a present from Tennessee coach Pat Summitt. The coach said Summitt has given him four ties, and they all have brought him luck.
“I haven't lost in it yet,” he said. “She was trying to make me look better on the sideline. I needed a tie that cost more than $5.”
It looked like Villanova's surprising season would end as the Wildcats (28-5) trailed by 11 in the second half. But now they will play in their first regional final tomorrow night against top-seeded Tennessee.
Villanova has won seven straight, including a victory over Connecticut in the Big East tournament championship that snapped the Huskies' 70-game winning streak.
Sixth-seeded Colorado (24-8) had plenty of opportunities to reach its fourth regional final in 11 tournaments. Tera Bjorklund scored 29 points, but she missed five straight shots in the final five minutes.
Her worst miss came when she threw up a shot under pressure that hit the bottom of the backboard with Villanova up 50-49 and a minute left. Bjorklund scored with 7.5 seconds left to pull Colorado to 52-51, but Davis hit the first of two free throws for the final margin.
The performances by Davis and Mix compensated for a poor performance by Trish Juhline. The Wildcats' leading scorer had just six points on 1-of-9 shooting from the floor, well below her average of 17.9 points a game.
The Wildcats trailed 39-28 with 15:42 remaining when Davis started a 17-6 run with the first of her three 3-pointers. Mix had six points in the stretch, including a drive that tied the game at 45 with 5:43 left. Bjorklund scored, and Mix answered to keep it tied at 47.35.96049 -83.92091