Marquette only held the lead for 22 seconds on Tuesday night. It just happened to do so when it mattered most.
What seemed like Villanova’s game for most of the game, Marquette staged a second half comeback. After an impressive win by the Wildcats earlier in the season over Marquette at the Wells Fargo Center, the Golden Eagles figured that Tuesday’s matchup would be nowhere near the first one.
The Wildcats saw their lead disintegrate and get taken away by the Golden Eagles at the very end. Marquette completed the comeback and finished the game on a 19-4 run over the final 5:15 of the game to upset No.1 Villanova, 74-72.
It was a tale of two halves, as the Golden Eagles displayed efficient shooting from inside and beyond the arc in the second half. After being held to just 24 points in the first half, Marquette came out surging after to break to score 50 points on the Wildcats defense.
On a night where the starters were ineffective, the Golden Eagles got the biggest contribution from the bench as they accounted for over half of the Golden Eagles’ points, providing a combined 38 points from three different reserves.
Marquette shot a blistering 16-of-23 (69.6 percent) in the second half, including a 7-off-11 (63.6 percent) shooting performance from beyond the arc.
Senior transfer Katin Reinhardt shined the brightest, as he led Marquette with a team-high 19 points off the bench and made clutch shots down the stretch to give the Golden Eagles the victory.
The transfer guard from UNLV and USC made a game-tying shot with 1:07 left in the game and made the eventual go-ahead free throws with 11 seconds remaining. Duane Wilson added another 11 points in the win, while Luke Fischer led all starting Golden Eagles with 15 points.
Villanova started out the game on a 8-0 run and seemed headed for an easy victory against a Marquette team coming off an upset win over No. 7 Creighton at Omaha, in which it scored 102 points.
The Wildcats widened the gap and led 39-24 at halftime, after receiving big first half contributions from Jalen Brunson and Mikal Bridges. The duo accounted for 25 of the 39 first half points by Villanova. They set the tone early in a game in which Villanova’s seniors had a fairly quiet night.
Hart was effective when he was in the game, but unfortunately for Villanova, he was in foul trouble early and that hindered him from seeing much time on the court. The senior guard scored 16 points and was 6-of-10 from the field, despite just playing 19 minutes. Brunson and Bridges also eclipsed double figures.
Bridges led the way with a game-high 20 points, while Brunson had 19.
After a hot first half performance, where they shot 15-of-29 (51.7 percent) on the floor, the Wildcats cooled off in the second half, looking like a completely different team. They were an ice cold 12-of-38 (31.6 percent) on the floor to finish the game. However, one thing remained consistent throughout both halves–the poor 3-point shooting.
The three-point line is usually kind to the Wildcats, but they could not get it going from deep. They shot an abysmal 6-of-34 (17.6 percent) from long range.
The Wildcats were without starting shooting guard Phil Booth for the 18th straight game, as questions about his return to the Wildcats for the season continue to swirl. The Wildcats can ill afford to lose him as depth in the backcourt has become an issue, especially when Hart and Kris Jenkins are ineffective or in foul trouble.
Donte DiVincenzo and Eric Paschall are solid options off the bench, but can be pretty streaky. The Wildcats were restricted to running a 6-man rotation for most of the game as Hart was glued to the bench in foul trouble, and the issues of depth were apparent.
With the loss, Villanova falls to 19-2 overall and 7-2 in Big East play. The ‘Cats will most likely lose their top-ranked status on the AP Polls once again.
Next up for the Wildcats is a trip back to the Wells Fargo Center to face the No. 12 Virginia Cavaliers in a late season non-conference game. The Wildcats will be looking to bounce back on Sunday with a 1:00 p.m. tip-off.