MILWAUKEE, Wis. – This one must have had a little circle on it for 12th-ranked Villanova, at least since Jan. 19 anyway, when Marquette had shown up at the Finneran Pavilion and knocked off the Wildcats. That’s still Villanova’s only home loss of the season.
Well, it turns out Marquette had Wednesday circled too, seizing a chance to show it means business in the Big East under first-year coach Shaka Smart. The best way to do that in this current era? Knocking off Villanova home-and-home nicely does the trick. Marquette, now ranked 24th, led the entire way at the Fiserv Forum. The Golden Eagles withstood a couple of ‘Nova runs and took care of business late to produce another upset, 83-73.
With under a minute left, Villanova had made just 23.3 percent of its threes. A tough way to win on the road.
Off early …
Villanova’s first possession produced an airball rushed before the shot clock went off … which meant it went off anyway. Next trip, a giveaway up top. Marquette jumped out, 10-2. Timeout, ‘Nova.
Caleb Daniels kind of kept the Wildcats within range early, scoring 10 of their first 16. Except Marquette was simply quicker to everything, especially rebounds. A Golden Eagles first-half missed shot was pretty much a 50-50 proposition, with Marquette getting six offensive boards, to seven rebounds for Villanova. At the other end, Marquette had a 12-2 advantage. By halftime, the scoreboard reflected that, Marquette up 46-32.
One serious first-half run
But even that ended in frustration for Villanova. When Brandon Slater hit a three-pointer from the corner, Villanova got within 30-27. Except whatever Slater then said, he was whistled for a technical. Marquette made the two free throws, which was the start of a 11-0 run.
As Gillespie goes …
Collin Gillespie had made 13 of 20 three-pointers in his previous three games, scoring 59 points in those wins over Georgetown, DePaul and St. John’s. In the first half, Gillespie made 2 of 7 threes.
Maybe Villanova can fool themselves …
…into thinking the start of a game is actually a halftime. Those first minutes after the half are often Villanova’s best. Smart had to use the first timeout after Villanova quickly got back within 48-40, then drew closer still, doing nothing real fancy.
One Villanova specialty was on full display – drawing fouls. Marquette got to seven in the second half before Villanova picked up its second.
When Villanova drew …
…to within 56-53, Marquette guard Darryl Morsell hit three straight jumpers, a couple of stepbacks, one off the dribble. Golden Eagles were back up, 62-53. Those points were the daggers.
So what do the standings look like?
Villanova falls to 9-3, still second in the Big East. Providence is 9-1, with the upcoming home-and-home series between the two looming ever larger. Marquette improved to 8-4, hanging close in the upper ranks, with 6-3 Connecticut also in the mix.