Villanova played tough defense and was lights out on offense to build out a big lead early on. The 'Cats improved to 30-2 on the season, advancing to the Big East Tournament semi-finals where they will face the winner of St. John's and Providence, the 5th and 4th seeds in the conference respectively.
It was the 13th-straight victory for Villanova, who also matched the most wins in school history.
Behind the strength of 17 made three-pointers, the Wildcats were just too much for Marquette to handle, even with Matt Carlino in their lineup. The Eagles guard, who went off for 26 points against Seton Hall yesterday, scored just 5 points this afternoon after heading into halftime without any record on the score sheet. Carlino had been missing in the previous meeting between the teams due to an injury.
In total, nine Wildcats got on the scoreboard in the game, with three scoring in double-digits. Big East Sixth Man of the Year Josh Hart led the way with 20 points, scoring all 11 during a late first-half 11-0 run to end a threat from MU, who had pulled within 2 points.. Hart connected on 5-of-7 from deep and also had 3 assists and 2 steals. Darrun Hilliard scored 13 points and led the team with eight assists, while Dylan Ennis was not far behind with 12 points.
Both Hilliard and Ennis went 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and the 'Cats were 17-of-29 overall from deep, matching a school record as well as the Big East tournament record for made 3-pointers.
Defensively, the 'Cats also performed well, holding the Eagles to under-30 points per half, and a total field goal percentage of just 39.1% from the floor. Marquette also didn't get much going from deep, connecting on a minimal 27.8%. The Eagles had their pockets picked 14 times by the Wildcats and turned the ball over 22 times, both were twice as many as Villanova. Derrick Wilson committed nine of the turnovers for MU, after putting up 14 assists and just two turnovers on Wednesday.
Wilson led the Eagles in scoring with 11 points, while center Luke Fischer scored 10.
The Golden Eagles crushed Seton Hall one day earlier and looked like they were set to be a tough challenge for the Wildcats this afternoon. Villanova, for their own part seemed to come out of the gate hot and looked sharp on defense. After last season's disappointing Big East Tournament loss to Seton Hall in the same round, the Wildcats were not ready to allow themselves to get booted from the competition so quickly again.
For the 'Cats, every win in New York helps to highlight their case for a top seeding in the NCAA Tournament. While they are surely in the field, and likely no-worse-than a 2-seed, the possibility of a spot on the top line remains open, especially if they keep winning.