Coming off a tough road loss to the Butler Bulldogs, the Villanova Wildcats hosted the Marquette Golden Eagles Saturday night in their first game of the season at the Well Fargo Center. The ‘Cats bounced back in a big way as they ran away from the Golden Eagles early in the 2nd half for a 93-81 win. Kris Jenkins led the way with a season-best 23 points while Josh Hart added 19 points and 7 assists. Jalen Brunson continued his strong play of late with 16 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
‘Nova got off to a sluggish start offensively, turning the ball over on their first two possessions. Kris Jenkins was able to break the ice with a smooth three-pointer from the left side of the court. From there, the ‘Cats asserted themselves, jumping out to a 21-10 lead at about the twelve minute mark on a tough And-1 finish by Jalen Brunson.
The Golden Eagles continued to play with energy and shot the ball well from behind the arc to stay in the game. Marquette cut the Nova lead down to 7 with a layup from freshman guard Markus Howard with 1:10 to go in the half. Following the layup, Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski was called for a questionable technical foul after yelling “foul” with the referee confusing it for another word beginning with an F. The ‘Cats seized the opportunity and extended the lead to 44-33 at the break.
The Wildcats scorched the nets in the first half shooting 15-23 from the field and 6-10 from 3. Jenkins led the team with 11 points while Markus Howard paced the Golden Eagles with 15 first half points.
The ‘Cats continued their hot shooting in the 2nd half, knocking down 13 out of their first 16 shots and pulling away to a commanding 80-52 point lead by the 9 minute mark. Despite a late run by Marquette, Nova had eased off the gas by that point with both Tim Delaney and Dylan Painter seeing extended mop-up minutes.
The ‘Cats finished the game 32-49 from the field and 14-23 from three point range. That’s an eFG of nearly 74%. Thanks for playing, Warriors!
Villanova will host the Xavier Musketeers on Tuesday night at the Pavilion in a highly anticipated on-campus matchup. Lookong ahead to the Xavier game, Jay Wright took no time to celebrate the win: "Our three-point defense has to get a little bit better. We still had thirteen turnovers, we gotta get better. Our communication defensively, that's how we gave up some threes, we gotta get better."
After the big win, coach Wright also updated Phil Booth's status saying, "It's still going to be a while."