VILLANOVA, Pa. — Villanova coach Harry Perretta knew the only way his team could beat No. 11 Duke was to hit a lot of 3s.
Kelly Jekot and the Wildcats did just that in a 64-55 upset victory over the Blue Devils on Sunday.
Jekot scored a career-best 23 points, hitting seven 3-pointers, and the team made 15 from distance.
“I knew the key to the game was we had to make 3s and that’s what we attempted to do,” Perretta said. “We got 40 of them up there, second half we shot 10 for 20, we shot 50 percent. That’s what we needed to do to win the game.”
The Wildcats (3-0) trailed 30-22 early in the third quarter before heating up from the outside. They scored the next 14 points, including a four-point play by Alex Louin that gave Villanova a 33-30 lead— it’s first of the game. Jekot hit consecutive 3-pointers sandwiched around a layup by Rebecca Greenwell to extend the advantage. Three more 3-pointers by the Wildcats to close the period gave them a 48-36 lead.
Villanova, which shoots just 24 percent from behind the arc on the season, made seven 3-pointers in third. They made just three of their first 17 3s before connecting on 12 of their final 23.
“Once we start making 3s we’ll continue to make them,” Louin said. “Once we get that momentum we kept it. The crowd helped us do both.”
The win was Villanova’s first over a team ranked this high since beating then-No. 4 Notre Dame on Jan. 9, 2005.
The Wildcats are playing their home games at Jake Nevin Field House as the Pavilion is undergoing a major renovation. The intimate Field House, where the team played from 1975-86 only seats about 2,000 fans and is quite loud. Villanova is 96-30 there with the last game being played before Sunday in 1986.
“It’s a nice blue collar gym. A great gym with a lot of history,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “Credit to Villanova they played a better game. Great leadership by their folks.”
Lexie Brown finished with 16 points to lead the Blue Devils (2-1) before fouling out. She liked playing in the smaller venue.
“I loved it, had a lot of fun in there. The fans were great,” she said. “It reminded me of high school and Cameron which was small and old too.”
Leaonna Odom had 13 points and 12 rebounds for Duke, which only could get within eight in the fourth quarter.
With the game tied at 13 in the second quarter, Duke scored the next 11 points with the run started and finished by Haley Gorecki. She hit a layup to begin it and had a three-point play to cap it.
The Blue Devils led 28-22 at the half.
“We can’t handle ourselves in the third quarter. That’s basically the problem,” McCallie said. “That’s awful. How do we come out and do that? Lots of teams have a hot quarter. We have to be a lot stronger than that.”
ALL IN THE FAMILY: Villanova coach Harry Perretta is coaching three players who are daughters of three of his former players. Senior Nicolette Juliana’s mother (Denise Lamay) was on the team from 1983-85. Sophomore Mary Gedaka’s mother (Lisa Angelotti) played for Perrertta from 1983-87 and freshman Sam Carangi’s mother (Jen Snell) was a member of the Villanova squad from 1991-96. Angelotti was the conference’s player of the year in 1988 and is fifth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,622 points.
Duke: The Blue Devils had won 11 of their past 13 contests in Pennsylvania.
Villanova: The Wildcats came into the game with just 16 3-pointers combined in their first two games. … It was Villanova’s first win over a ranked team since Jan. 10, 2016 when the Wildcats topped No. 24 DePaul.
Duke visits Old Dominion on Wednesday.
Villanova plays in the Vermont Thanksgiving Tournament against James Madison on Friday.