On Wednesday night at the Finneran Pavilion, the Villanova Wildcats took on the Marquette Golden Eagles in Big East regular season play. Last time out, on Dec. 23, the Wildcats downed the Golden Eagles with a dominant second half performance and the same happened again.
Coach Jay Wright’s Wildcats scored a season-high 96 points over Steve Wojciechowski and Marquette’s 64. As Coach Jay said in his post game conference, “it was just one of those nights,” referring to his team’s successful shooting night from both inside and beyond the arc. The ‘Cats had contributors all over the court and was defensively pretty solid throughout. The Villanova Wildcats look like they have settled in after the month-long COVID pause. Keeping this consistency while tuning up a few others will be key with big games like against No. 19 Creighton this Saturday.
Let’s take a look at what the ‘Cats did well last night in the win over Marquette:
Shoot ‘em up
Last night against Marquette, you could say the ‘Cats “shot ‘em up” and didn’t sleep in the streets, as Wright’s famous phrase goes. Posting a season-high 96 points comes from shooting the ball well all over the court. The team was 34-of-54 for field goals showing a solid 63%, while they went 13-of-22, a blazing 59% from three.
They especially had the hot hand from long range in the second half, where they knocked down 10-of-15 three-pointers.
Villanova had five players score in double digits. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led the pack with 27 points, followed by Collin Gillespie with 16 and Jermaine Samuels with 14. Both Justin Moore and Caleb Daniels chipped in 12 apiece.
In the post-game presser, Wright spoke about Robinson-Earl saying, “he is really developing as an offensive player,” crediting his work ethic. At one point in last night’s game, Marquette cut Villanova’s lead to nine, and JRE responded with three-straight 3’s to extend the lead.
Wright credits JRE and Samuels shooting developments to their work in the offseason, day in and day out, and even extra time before and after practice. These shots are becoming more and more a consistent part of their game, making them both threats from all over the court on offense.
Playing “Villanova Basketball” is fun!
This may be a phrase that gets thrown around a little too much without an exact definition, but on Wednesday night, the ‘Cats truly played some “Villanova Basketball.” There’s a lot of things that fall under that term, but they are iconic for two things: the Jay Wright endorsed jump stop and the consistent “making the extra pass.”
Villanova’s win over Marquette came with contributions on both sides of the floor from multiple key players. Robinson-Earl led the way with an all-around effort, including his best three-point shooting performance to date.
“JRE is so valuable to any team, night in and night out,” Wright said. “He does the little things: the rebounding, the screening, always guarding the best player and great team defensive player.”
From important offensive boards like the one that led to Caleb Daniels half buzzer beating 3 to smart defensive box outs, the ‘Cats looked solid for most of the night. Sharing the ball was almost as impressive as the accuracy of the team’s shooting, as they assisted on 25 of 34 made shots.
Collin Gillespie posted his third double-double of his career with 16 points and 11 assists. Even Bryan Antoine who made his return to the floor last night chipped in with an assist.
Defense turned to Offense
The Wildcats caused 16 Marquette turnovers which led to 30 points on the other end. The Cats had nine steals from the Golden Eagles in the win. Playing sound defense led Villanova momentum’s into the offensive side.
While Dawson Garcia led the Golden Eagles with 28 points, and D.J. Carton had a few highlight plays, the rest of Marquette’s team had a hard time getting shots to fall and finishing around the rim. Getting stops on the defensive end for the ‘Cats allowed quick transitions to offense where we saw that “Villanova Basketball.”
Villanova also capitalized on its free throws, going 14-of-15 from the stripe, including 4 foul shots by Collin Gillespie due to two separate technical fouls on Marquette.
So, what’s next?
Jay Wright and the Wildcats seem to be catching their rhythm back from before the COVID pause. Developing more defensively as a team will be the next challenge for the ‘Cats to take on. Hopefully, the Villanova Wildcats can build off this win and continue to move the ball and shoot as well as they did tonight. Overall, a solid team win going into a huge Big East challenge with No. 19 Creighton this Saturday, at 5 p.m. ET on FOX.