Jermaine Samuels scored a career-high 29 points as Villanova downed Marquette, 67-61, Wednesday night in the team’s final game in the Finneran Pavilion this season. The win snapped a three game skid for the ‘Cats and brings them to within a half game of Marquette for first place in the Big East.
The game started out slow on both sides as it took a minute and a half for a team to get on the board when Markus Howard put up the first two points of the contest for the Golden Eagles. On the other side, two Collin Gillespie free throws evened the score at two. ‘Nova was able to jump out to a 19-9 lead after a 15-2 run with two triples from Samuels, a long ball apiece from senior Joe Cremo and sophomore Collin Gillespie, and a pair of shots from charity stripe courtesy of senior captain Phil Booth. Marquette was able to stop the run with a three ball of their own from Joseph Chartouny. Marquette used this to their advantage in order to spark an 8-0 run of their own to close their deficit to 24-20, but Samuels carried on his momentum with a thunderous dunk to stop the Golden Eagles’ run in its tracks. Samuels finished the first frame with 15 points on 6-12 shooting from the field to lead all scorers. ‘Nova went into the half with a 32-28 lead.
Marquette big man Theo John put his squad on the board first in the second half, but once again, Samuels responded with another long ball to answer for the ‘Cats. A couple of possessions later, Samuels hit another triple while drawing a foul to add on to his outburst. “(Jermaine) is an amazing young man… he’s really talented… this was amazing tonight,” head coach Jay Wright said on his sophomore forward from Franklin, Massachusetts.
Marquette fought back, however, conducting an 8-2 run led by a couple of threes from Howard and Joey Hauser and a layup in the paint from Ed Morrow. After a floater from Booth, Marquette took a second half lead of 46-44 after back to back deep balls from Howard and Sam Hauser. The man of the hour for Villanova, Samuels kept the ‘Cats alive by trading buckets with Howard to tie up the game at 51. After trading buckets back and forth for a few minutes, Villanova found themselves in the lead, 63-60, with 90 seconds remaining. From that point on, a couple of free throws iced the game for ‘Nova, giving them the victory.
Howard led the way for Marquette with 25 points. Booth supplemented Samuels performance with 17 point of his own.
“That was a great Big East game today…We just played tough tonight,” said Wright about his team’s overall performance. “We got a lot of big time stops, especially down the stretch.”
Villanova’s final official home game of the season is this Saturday against the Butler Bulldogs at 2 p.m.