VILLANOVA, PA. 2/12/2020 – The #15 Villanova Wildcats ended a three-game losing streak holding off a late charge by the Golden Eagles of Marquette to win 72 – 71. The Wildcats led by 18 points early in the second half, then had to withstand a late Golden Eagles run to earn the win that puts them into a tie for second place in the Big East.
In the game Marquette guard Markus Howard, the nation’s leading scorer, scored 24 points to make him the all-time leading scorer in the conference with 1,408 points. His three-pointer at the buzzer set the record.
It is the fourth straight time the Wildcats played a team ranked in the top-25 as the Golden Eagles came in at #18. It was another situation where Villanova outlasted a team that was hard to put away.
“Everyone in the Big East has a lot of fight in them,” said Villanova guard Collin Gillespie. “It’s a game of runs, and I didn’t think we did a good job of executing down the stretch. It’s a learning experience and the whole season is going to be like that. We’ve got learn from it and get ready to go.”
“We’ve been in big games before.”
Marquette tops in the Big East in three-point shooting. But it was Nova who came out quickly and effectively from the three-point line. Seven of the Cats first nine baskets were from beyond the arc as they raced out to a 28 – 13 lead with just over 8 minutes to play in the opening stanza. In the second half the lead grew to its apex.
Then Marquette slowly chipped away at the lead and got to within 70 – 65 with 56 seconds on the clock. Wildcats forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, who lead Villanova with 17 points, made a free throw. Howard answered with a three to bring his team to within a possession at the 40 second mark. The Golden Eagles would not go away.
Howard raced down the court trying to get off a game-tying shot, but was fouled. He missed his first shot then intentionally missed the second hoping to get a rebound. The free throw did not touch the rim and gave the ball back to the Wildcats. Robinson-Earl iced it with a free throw. Howard made a deep three as the game ended. He got the record, but not the win.
“You can’t spot anybody in this league an eighteen-point lead and think you are going to win” said Marquette Coach Steve Wojciechowski. “I am proud of the group that came off the bench. What they did was play together and competed together and gave us a chance to win a game that we had no business being in.”
Marquette leads Big East in defensive rebounds per game. Nova matched them off the boards and had more caroms off the defensive glass by a 32 – 29 margin.
Robinson-Earl, who had 11 boards to record his 8th double-double of the season, and had an assignment to guard Howard.
“He’s very dynamic,” Robinson-Earl said about Howard. “He can score from anywhere. He makes tough shots and gets to the rim. He is a tough guard.”
Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels had 14 points each and Saddiq Bey added 10 points.
“These games are amazing,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright. “I’m proud of our guys. They gutted it out. They find ways to learn and get better each night.”
Sacar Anim scored 14 for the Golden Eagles. Jamal Cain added 13 points while Koby McEwen contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Villanova starts a new winning streak. The Cats go from a Big East grind to a Big Five game next playing Temple on North Broad Street with the Big Five title on the line.
Written By: Glenn Papazian