Villanova played tough versus Marquette, but could not come up with the big win over the 3rd-ranked team in the conference. Villanova remains 4th in the conference, with a 12-4 overall record and 7-4 record in the Big East, but this would have been a win that pushed them closer to making the NCAA Tournament, the ultimate goal. Alas, the team is certainly still in contention for a tournament bid, and the loss was certainly respectable.
If the team wants to find a source of encouragement despite the outcome of the game, it can center around the fact that they remained competitive throughout a game that featured an overall tough shooting performance. It happens to even the best of teams, and it happened to Villanova Friday night, as they shot 34.8% from the field, and 4-24 (16.7%) from 3-point range.
Villanova got out on a quick 7-2 run in the first 2:13 to begin the game, with a Sam Carangi 3-pointer to open the scoring, and 5 points from Brianna Herlihy. However, Marquette ended up “winning” the first quarter 16-15. Herlihy, the Senior out of Braintree, Massachusetts, who finished the game with 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, picked up 7 of those 19 in the first.
The second quarter was Villanova’s lowest scoring quarter since they played Drexel on December 13th, with only 7 points being scored, and Marquette outscoring them by 6 to take a 7-point lead into the halftime break. Lior Garzon hit a 3-pointer on the first possession of the quarter, but following that bucket, Villanova went scoreless for the next 4:20 until a made layup from Herlihy at the 5:24 mark. The ‘Cats then went scoreless for another 5:24, until a buzzer-beating layup by Herlihy left them down 29-22 at the half.
Yet Villanova would not give up and the 3rd quarter was much more productive. With 23 points, the ‘Cats were able to outscore Marquette by five. Herlihy continued to lead the way, putting up the first 5 points of the 3rd for the ‘Cats, but Sarah Mortenson and Maddy Siegrist provided significant contributions as well, with 7 points each in the quarter. At the end of the 3rd, Villanova was very much in the game, only down 47-45.
The team cut the lead down to a single point on a free throw as part of a three-point play by Lior Garzon with 7:48 remaining. But from that point Marquette went on a 14-4 run, which left them up 63-52 with 34 seconds to go, and the game was over. For the game, Garzon and Mortenson provided valuable contributions: Garzon with 8 points in 24 minutes off the bench, and Mortenson with 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. Siegrist had 18 points and 11 rebounds, but by her lofty standards, this was a down game, as she shot 7-18, and 1-5 from three-point range. Herlihy led the way in scoring with her 19.
Marquette improves to 15-4 on the season and 12-3 in the conference. Next up for Villanova is a very winnable game against Georgetown, a team that is 1-12 on the season, on Sunday at 2 PM. Following that, the ‘Cats play a 6-9 Providence squad on Wednesday, another game that they will need to win to continue to have a shot at making the tournament.