February 10, 2021 –
In the second half on what would be a snowy night on the Main Line the fifth-ranked Villanova Wildcats got hot from the three-point line converting 10 of 15 in the last twenty minutes to win 96 – 64 with their largest offensive output this season over the Golden Eagles of Marquette.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led Villanova in scoring with 27 points, one point shy of his career-high. The forward made all 5 of his shots from beyond the arc to set a collegiate-best in made three-pointers. He also stole the ball three times and pulled down a game-best 8 rebounds.
“He is developing as an offensive player,” said Villanova Coach Jay Wright about the further growth of Robinson-Earl. “He’s been working on this. I don’t expect him to have a night like this every night, but he’s had good nights and is getting more consistent every night he steps out on the offensive end of the floor.”
The first half saw the expected battle. At the end of the half Villanova missed a long three-point basket, but guard Collin Gillespie corralled the long rebound with a few seconds showing on the clock. He drove, then saw Caleb Daniels open in the corner, and got him the ball. Daniels beat the clock for a three and a 40 – 32 edge at intermission. The bucket lifted the Wildcats going into the latter twenty minutes.
“It did,” Wright said about getting a bounce out of that play. “We didn’t play well down the stretch in the first half, and it gave them a little juice going into halftime. We got a good shot and missed it, and it kind of looks like it’s going to be one of those nights. Then we got an extra pass to Caleb and he bails us out with it. I do think we felt good going into halftime.”
“I saw Caleb and kicked it out to him,” said Gillespie recalling the play. “I was going to get back on defense, but the ball came to me at the three-point line. I had a bunch of guys run at me and Caleb was open.”
“It did give us a lift going into halftime.”
After intermission it was all Nova. Within the first five minutes the Wildcats got a 57 – 39 lead highlighted by back-to-back baskets from distance by Justin Moore, who finished the game with 12 points.
After Marquette crawled back to within single-digits at 61 – 52, Villanova exploded again with a 12 – 2 run, and all points coming from beyond the arc. Robinson-Earl put in back-to-back-to-back three’s, then Gillespie added one of his own. According to Robinson-Earl practice makes perfect.
“I feel like it comes from the preparation,” said Robinson-Earl. “When you take thousands of shots in the same situation, you’re confident going into the game that you don’t think about it, just making the right decisions. I felt like the right decision was to take a shot, staying as confident as possible, and try to stick them.”
Gillespie notched his second double-double this season scoring 16 points and handing out 11 assists which tied his career-high in that category. All of the offense seemed to flow, nothing was forced, and when it flows like this, Villanova becomes a dangerous team.
“Guys in the paint are jump stopping, pivoting, other guys are cutting off the ball makes it that much easier,” Gillespie said. “You get more open looks. Guys were doing a good job of making the right decisions at the right time knowing when to score and when to kick it out to their teammates and make an extra pass.”
Jermaine Samuels added 14 points while Daniels and Justin Moore scored 12 points each to allow all five starters to break double figures in scoring.
Dawson Garcia scored a game-high 28 points converting 9 of 15 from the floor and sank 9 of 10 free throws for Marquette (9 – 11, 5 – 9). D.J. Carton contributed 13 points and 7 rebounds.
Villanova (13 – 2, 8 – 1) solidifies its hold on the top-spot in the Big East. The next game will be a huge test as the team travel to Omaha to play the second-place Creighton Blue Jays in a nationally televised game.
Written By: Glenn Papazian
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