Villanova Falls Short in an Overtime Thriller

Marquette Wins 71 – 65 in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinal Round

NEW YORK, NY 3/14/2024 –

In a tough, hard fought, emotional game that saw momentum swings both ways, it would take an extra five minutes to decide the winner after Marquette thought they scored the game winner at the buzzer. The basket was reviewed and disallowed, so on to overtime tied at 58. The issue was still in doubt until 18.8 seconds showed on the clock when Golden Eagles forward Oso Ighodaro scored on a turnaround hook shot at the top of the key, his first basket of the game, that gave Marquette breathing room in a 71 – 65 win over the Villanova Wildcats in a quarterfinal round game. Marquette will go to the semifinals for the second consecutive year.

“I’m really proud of the way our guys just kept fighting, get it into overtime, and kept fighting until the very end,” said Villanova Coach Kyle Neptune. “So proud of our effort.”

Villanova came off a close win over DePaul the night before. Marquette was still without star guard Tyler Kolek. It was a slog through the weeds, defensive battle. The closeness of the game is reflected in that the lead changed hands 11 times and there were 8 ties.

The Wildcats led by one at halftime 29 – 28. The Golden Eagles took the lead back and extended it to 45 – 36 at the 12:31 mark.

Villanova fought back and behind a 16 – 4 run to take a 51 – 50 lead on a basket by Justin Moore with 7:07 to play. The Golden Eagles took the lead back and had a five-point lead with 3:15 left in regulation, but they would not score again. Mark Armstrong scored, then T.J. Bamba sank 3 free throws for the Wildcats to tie the game at 58 with 1:50 showing on the clock.

The last minute of regulation had many twists and turns. Golden Eagles guard Stevie Mitchell shot for the lead, but Armstrong defended well and blocked it with 37 seconds to play. Villanova got the ball to Moore on the ensuing possession. He tried for a game-winning three with 7 seconds left, but missed. Marquette ball as 2.8 seconds showed on the clock, and it set up a highly emotional last sequence.

The Golden Eagles inbounded the ball with a pass just over halfcourt and a timeout with 2.5 seconds remaining. Ighodaro caught the pass and fed a cutting Kam Jones who sent a floater towards the basket. The ball bounced up and fell through the net. Marquette believed they won. Villanova felt it was late. The officials reviewed the play and ruled that the ball did not fully leave his hand when the lights went on. The basket was disallowed. On to overtime.

“Anytime you have a shot that goes in and you get a high of feeling that you won, and then it gets taken away from you, that can be dangerous,” said Marquette Coach Shaka Smart. “But I liked the look in my guy’s eyes.”

Two scorers were limited. Moore scored 4 points for the Wildcats, and Ighodaro had the same for the Golden Eagles. Eric Dixon scored a game-high 19 points for Villanova. Jones put in 18 for Marquette.

“Overtime game, Big East Tournament, going against a really good opponent, the margin very small,” Neptune said. “Give them a lot of credit. They are a really good team. They battled and they were just a little bit better.”

Marquette survives and moves on. Villanova showed there is not much of a difference between them and the 10th ranked team in the country on this night at Madison Square Garden.


Written By: Glenn Papazian


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