Marquette is notoriously known for not losing at home. Despite falling short of preseason expectations this year, the Golden Eagles have done a great job of protecting their home court. Their only loss at the BMO Harris Bradley Center this year was against #5 Ohio State, other than that they have not lost at home. When it comes to the Big East portion of their schedule, they have not lost at the BMO Harris Bradley Center since March 2, 2011.
The story of the first half was a steady lead for Villanova, with their good shooting, especially on the perimeter. Villanova made seven first half three pointers, doing so at a rather decently efficient rate. James Bell had 15 points in the first half, including three baskets from long range. Darrun Hilliard also made 3 three pointers in the first half. Marquette approached the game with an opposite philosophy, choosing to take the ball inside and use their size to their advantage. The Golden Eagles had 24 points in the paint, following the lead of big man Davante Gardner. Villanova did a great job of spreading the ball around the floor, whether it be driving into the lane then kicking out to the open man, or just being patient until they find a hole in the defense.
Villanova continued to hold the lead for most of the first half. Although they were not as effective from the three point line, in part to Marquette closing down onto the perimeter, the Wildcats got it done through other means. Ryan Arcidiacono did a great job today of scoring and dishing, providing great looks and setting up a number of rim rattling dunks inside. Arcidiacono picked up a double-double with 20 points and 11 assists. With 1:36 remaining, the Wildcats had a seven point lead over the Golden Eagles, and had been keeping a rather healthy lead over Marquette for most of the game. Jamil Wilson made a free throw and a jumpshot to bring the Golden Eagles within four and from there it got interesting. Tony Chennault and Arcidiacono would each go one for two from the free throw line and give Villanova a six point lead with 49 seconds remaining.
It looked like the Wildcats would just cruise to the end of the game, but Marquette had other plans. Todd Mayo made a difficult corner three pointer to make it a one point game, it was Marquette’s second three pointer of the game and couldn’t have come at a better time for them. Arcidiacono would be sent to the line where he would make both, to give the Wildcats a three point cushion. However, he would make one of his very few mistakes of the game on the other end of the court, when he fouled Mayo from beyond the arc. Mayo would convert all three free throw attempts to tie the game up at 77. Jay Wright would call a time out to come up with one last plan, with 4.8 seconds left on the clock. Villanova went end to end in the short amount of time, with Chennault putting together his best Scottie Reynolds’ impression. Chennault put up the layup and the ball bounced on the rim and finally fell through as the buzzer sounded. The look of defeat on the Marquette players quickly turned into cheerful expressions of joy as the referees called a foul on Chennault’s drive.
Further replay of the last few seconds in regulation showed that Steve Taylor Jr. took the charge but his feet were actually set in the restricted zone, meaning Chennault’s basket should have counted and nonetheless Villanova wins in exciting buzzer beater fashion. The final drive was in review, but the call is irreversible, it was in review only to see if there was time remaining on the clock. Jay Wright was livid at the blown call as the game went into overtime.
In overtime, Villanova raced out to a 10-2 run over Marquette. The run was what they needed as Marquette could not catch up to the Wildcats. James Bell would sink the last two free throws of the game, bringing the final score to 94-85. Villanova outscored Marquette 17-8 in overtime. Villanova broke Marquette’s streak of won conference games at home.
James Bell led all scoring with 30 points. Arcidiacono and Darrun Hilliard both had 20 points. For Marquette, big man Davante Gardner finished with a double-double of his own with 29 points and 13 rebounds. Forward Jamil Wilson chipped in 16 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists.
The Wildcats continue their road trip as they will be heading to Georgetown for a game on January 27 at 9 p.m.