The #14 Villanova Wildcats came up short on the road against the #10 Marquette Golden Eagles by a score of 66-65. This loss snapped the Wildcats 11 game winning streak and brought their record to 19-5 overall and 10-1 in Big East play.
Much like the team’s last game against Creighton, Villanova made a three-pointer to start the game and then proceeded to miss their next 6 attempts. This caused the offense to have a rough start as they only had 5 points in the first 6:30 minutes. The poor shooting continued for Villanova as they were 2-12 from three-point range in the first half. Seniors Phil Booth and Eric Paschall led the ‘Cats in the first half with 8 and 9 points respectively.
Marquette’s National Player of the Year candidate Markus Howard continued his superb season as he scored 21 of the Golden Eagle’s 30 points in the first half. Villanova did a great job of limiting Howard’s teammates for the first 20 minutes as they combined for 9 points on 3-12 shooting. Although Marquette was a one-man show in the first half, they entered the halftime break leading 30-26.
After playing a close first half, it seemed like Marquette was going to pull away in front of a sold-out crowd as they started the second half 7-7 from the field and built a 47-32 lead. Unlike the first half, this was a team effort as Howard, Theo John, Sam Hauser and Sacar Anim all scored during this 17-6 run.
In a raucous environment, the Wildcats remained tough and fought their way back into the game. Freshman Saddiq Bey led a 10-0 run to cut the Golden Eagles’ lead to 5 and forcing a timeout. Two minutes later, sophomore Jermaine Samuels hit two three-pointers to ignite a 11-0 run and take a 55-53 lead. During these two big runs, Villanova went 6-6 from deep and silenced the crowd.
The two teams played back-and-forth until the final minute. With Marquette holding a 1 point lead, Saddiq Bey stripped Howard with 16 seconds left, giving Villanova the final shot and a chance to leave Milwaukee with a victory. Unfortunately for Villanova, Phil Booth drove to the paint, got trapped under the hoop and Samuels missed a desperation jumper as Marquette escaped with a 66-65 victory.
Villanova was led by senior guard Phil Booth who scored 19 points to go with 3 steals, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Senior forward Eric Paschall chipped in 17 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists while freshman Saddiq Bey added 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. It was an off night for sophomore Collin Gillespie who only scored 5 points with one three-pointer.
Marquette was paced by junior Markus Howard who continued his sensational play by scoring 38 points on 13-24 from the field, 5-11 from deep, and 7-7 from the free throw line. On a day where Marquette’s second and third leading scorers, brothers Sam and Joey Hauser, only combined for 4 points, junior Sacar Anim chipped in 18 points on an efficient 8-10 shooting which included making his final 7 shots.