Eagles dominate in home opener over Villanova

Career highs from Edwards and Fisher carry the Eagles to win

 Eagles dominate in home opener over Villanova

Emily Fisher blocks a player from passing the ball during a Nov. 9, 2018 game against Tulsa.

It’s easy for young teams to get stuck in cold streaks, but as D.C. has started to cool down, the Eagles were only interested in heating up. Sophomore guards Jade Edwards and Emily Fisher both notched career highs on Thursday night, carrying the team to a 76-54 victory over the Villanova Wildcats in the home opener.

The Eagles (1-1) jumped out to a 17-2 start and ended the first quarter with a 23-5 lead. The team was led early on by an unconscious performance from Edwards. Edwards had 16 points in the first half and didn’t miss a beat in the second, finishing the game with a personal-best 24 points, which included going 3 for 6 from deep. 

“Shooting and scoring is the main thing I focused on in the offseason, because I know last year they started sagging off of me,” said Edwards, “so I wanted to make sure I came in this year hitting shots, making sure they guard me back there.”

Fisher also had a career night, dropping 22 points on an absurdly efficient 9-for-11 shooting.

“I think [the team] just feels good about Emily and Jade’s improvements,” said head coach Megan Gebbia. “What I saw from them is both what I thought they could do coming here. I’m so proud it took the second game of the season to show that.” 

On offense, the Eagles used lots of off-ball movement, running and gunning with four guards on the floor. On two straight possessions, Fisher used a downhill off-ball screen set by senior forward Morgan Bartner. It forced two easy layups and a Wildcat timeout.

The Eagles run small, and-they were able to use that to their advantage against the Wildcats (0-3). There were several occasions where the Eagles were able to find one-on-one matchups, in which their quicker guards switched onto Novas wings. 

The team also used a decent amount of drive and kick action, leading to a number of open 3-pointers when Nova brought help-side defense.

The young squad showed a vast improvement on the defensive end of the floor. After allowing 81 points in the opener against Ohio, the team held Villanova to just 54 points, playing gritty and active defense for all 40 minutes. Gebbia has noted the difficulties of coaching a young team (nine of the 13 players are underclassmen), but on Thursday, the team started to show they could get it done on both ends.

“It all came down to hustle and diving for loose balls, and just doing the little things,” said Fisher. “We want to be a defensive team, so we pushed ourselves tonight.”

For Villanova, the offense ran through freshman Madison Siegrist and senior Mary Gedaka, who combined to score over 37 of the team’s 55 points. The Wildcats began making a dent in the second quarter, using their size advantage to bully the Eagles inside.

But the Eagles stuck to their strengths and kept the ball moving to tire out the Villanova squad.

“It helps with defensive pressure, being able to switch 1-4 was helpful,” said Gebbia. “It’s fun because it's fast, we made really good decisions today. Especially Emily had zero turnovers, and that’s what you want to see out of your starting point guard, so I’m proud of her.”

The Eagles will face another motion offense, trying to carry their momentum into Monday night’s game against High Point in Bender Arena at 7 p.m.

snusbaum@theeagleonline.com 

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