Villanova bounced back from their upset to Xavier to defeat Marquette 89-79. It was another energetic, loud away crowd for the Wildcats Saturday afternoon at BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee in front of 19,043 fans for Marquette Day.
Four Wildcats finished in double figures. Kris Jenkins and Josh Hart both finished with 19 points for the Wildcats. Hart went 7-of-8 for shooting. Jenkins shot 4 of 9 from three-point range. Forward Daniel Ochefu chipped in with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Ochefu, Jenkins, and Hart combined for 57 of the Wildcats 89 points on the night. Ryan Arcidiacono chipped in with 10 points.
The four highest scorers in the game finished with 19 points as Haanif Cheatham and Jajuan Johnson led Marquette with 19 points. Cheatham grabbed five boards as Johnson added five steals on 8-of-10 shooting. Johnson and freshman forward Henry Ellenson combined 21 points in first half, shooting a perfect 7-for-7. Ellenson finished with 13 points to pass the school’s single-season freshman scoring recording. Freshman PG Traci Carter had seven points, 10 assists, four rebounds, and three assists in 35 minutes of play.
It was the Wildcats defense that secured them the victory, as it has done s many games in the past. Villanova’s high-pressure defense forced the young Golden Eagles squad into a lot of turnovers. Marquette committed 17 turnovers and gave up 27 points on turnovers.
Offensively, Villanova struggled with the Marquette defense. Marquette is the one of the top defensive teams in the Big East and a tough opponent and caused the Wildcats to commit 17 turnovers, including 13 steals, which led to 20 points for the Golden Eagles.
Coach Steve Wojciechowski and his young Golden Eagles were not able to keep up with the Wildcats. They fought hard, but it was not enough. Every time they tried to get close, Villanova would pull away and take control.
Villanova finished the first half 42-37 off 56.5% shooting. Marquette scored first at the second half, but the Wildcats responded with an 8-0 run. They finished the game shooting 57.7% for the game, the highest shooting percentage against Marquette this season.
For the Wildcats, it was just the third time an opponent has shot more than 50% this season. The Wildcats dodged Marquette’s first win over a top-ranked team since they upset Kentucky in the 2003 NCAA Tournament. Villanova’s experience was too much for the young Marquette squad.
With the win, the Wildcats remain one game ahead of Xavier to stay at the No. 1 spot in the Big East despite losing to the Musketeers on Wednesday. Villanova goes into the final week of the regular season in control of the conference.
Next Villanova return home to play DePaul on Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET at The Pavilion. The final regular season is at home against Georgetown on March 5 at the Wells Fargo Center at noon. The Big East tournament kicks off on March 9 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.