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Villanova Wildcats tripped up by Marquette, 60-71

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The Wildcats lose for the 3rd time in 4 seasons at Fiserv Forum.

NCAA Basketball: Villanova at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Markus Howard was just too much for the Villanova Wildcats, as they lost on the road to the Marquette Golden Eagles, 60-71. Howard finished with 29 points (despite fouling out) to lead all scorers. Cole Swider led the way for Villanova with 14 points and 5 rebounds. Justin Moore also finished in double digits with 14 points. Jermaine Samuels had 10 points before hitting the ground hard in the second half and sitting out the rest of the game.

It was a tough loss for a Villanova team that’s now just 1-2 on the road this season. Foul trouble, turnovers, and poor shooting were the story for the Wildcats, but this was certainly a learning experience for the young ‘Cats. A lot of the players at the end of the rotation saw big minutes in this game, especially Bryan Antoine who played significantly in the second half.

This was the third time in four seasons that the Wildcats have lost to Marquette at the Fiserv Forum. That of course corosponds with the career of the reigning Big East Player of the Year in Markus Howard. Things don’t get any easier for the Wildcats as the now travel to Creighton on Tuesday. The Bluejays are coming off a tough loss of their own at Butler, and will be looking to bounce back as both teams are now 1-1 in Big East play.

Game Rundown

Villanova’s defensive strategy was apparent early. Saddiq Bey was going to face guard Markus Howard and force the rest of Marquette to find a way to beat them. But that’s easier said than done, and within the first five minutes Howard had already drawn three fouls on the Wildcats, two of them against Bey. On top of that, Villanova struggled early defensively and Marquette had quickly built a 9 point lead with Howard already pouring in 12 points by the 13 minute mark.

But Villanova did come into the game as the #10 team in the country, and they weren’t going down without a fight. As fans have become accustomed to, the Wildcats used the three point shot to slowly climb back into the game. While it felt like Marquette had dominated early, by the first TV timeout the Wildcats had made it a two possession game.

As play continued, Villanova’s three point shooting cooled down. On the other end of the court, Markus Howard continued to heat up. By the next media timeout he was up to 17 points, and Marquette’s defense was making it tough for the Wildcats to keep pace. And on top of all that, Villanova kept racking up silly fouls that extended Marquette’s lead even further. With just over five minutes remaining in the first half, Marquette had taken a commanding 16 point lead.

Things just continued to go down hill for the Cats in the first half. Between the fouls and poor defense, Villanova simply looked lost on the court. If there was any bright spot in the first half, it was Swider’s perfect 4-4 from behind the arc.

In the second half, Villanova started to settle down and fight back. Bey was back on the court and hit an early three. But Jermaine Samuels got banged up on his way to the rim and had to be taken out of the game to be looked at on the bench. The Wildcats used their press to slowly crawl back into the game, cutting the lead from 20 points down to 12 by the first TV timeout.

Villanova continued to put the pressure on Marquette, but couldn’t quite get the game back into double digits. They kept missing on threes or turning the ball over just when they seemed to be getting on a roll. However, the defense had picked up in a big way, and the Wildcats were contesting everything to keep Marquette from trying to rebuild their lead.

The Wildcats did finally get the game back to double digits, but that seemed to snap the Golden Eagles back into the game. Markus Howard hit an incredible off-balance and contested three from the corner, and Marquette was able to push the lead back up to 13 with just over 5 minutes left in the game.

In the final minutes the Wildcats were able to match Marquette’s production, but that wasn’t enough to mount a comeback. Marquette would go on to win 71-60, and both teams are now 1-1 in the Big East.