PHILADELPHIA, PA. 1/6/2018 – The #3 Villanova Wildcats looked for a bounce-back win after suffering their first defeat of the season, and got it with a 100 – 90 win over the Marquette Golden Eagles on a frigid night in Philadelphia. It was not as comfortable at the end as it may appear, but it is a win after a loss.
“A good step for us, a good next game,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “We had a long week after getting kicked. We took a step in the right direction after how bad that may have looked. They are hard to guard.”
Jalen Brunson led the way for the Wildcats scoring 27 points and handing out 8 assists. Five other Nova players put up double-digits.
Villanova also survived an outstanding performance by Marquette guard Markus Howard who scored 37 points and he, too, dished out 8 assists. Howard was coming off a career-high 52 point performance against Providence. The Big East’s second leading scorer was 13 – 27 from the floor, 5 of 13 from deep, and made all 6 free throws.
Te Wildcats were very efficient in their shooting, especially in the first half making 18 of 29 from the floor and 6 of 12 from beyond the arc en route to a 46 – 34 lead at intermission. They finished the game shooting 56% (32 of 57) and made 9 of 22 from beyond the arc.
When playing the Golden Eagles three-point shooting will be a key. Coming into the game Marquette led the Big East in three-point shooting percentage (45.6%) and average 13 from distance each game. Villanova contained Marquette who made 11 of 31 from three-point land. Conference leading scorer Andrew Rowsey was limited to 6 points making 2 three-pointers.
“Trying to prevent their three’s is very difficult,” Wright said. “Holding them to 11 is pretty good. I thought we did a decent job on their three’s.”
The Wildcats lead was in double-digits for most of the second half. However, the Golden Eagles made a run getting to within 93 – 88 with 43 seconds left. Nova finished the game making 7 of 10 from the line.
“We knew we were going to see the best of what Villanova has to offer,” said Marquette Coach Steve Wojciechowski. “They came out in attack mode right from the start. We couldn’t get our footing until it was too late.”
In addition to Brunson Villanova got 19 points from Eric Paschall. Mikal Bridges scored 18 points and took down 7 rebounds. Donte DiVincenzo scored 14 points while Phil Booth and freshman Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree added 10, a career-high.
Sacar Amin added 14 points for Marquette while Sam Hauser and Greg Elliott scored 13 apiece.
The Eagles outrebounded the Cats 39 – 30, 16 – 5 on the offensive glass.
The win was #400 for Coach Wright.
The Wildcats (14 – 1, 2 – 1) face a stern test on Wednesday when #4 Xavier, who lost to Providence, visits the Center. Villanova has one goal in mind.
“Win or lose we are coming back to get better,” said Brunson. “We want to get better every time. We are striving to be the best we can be.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian