Following a victory in their Big East opener at home against Xavier, the No. 10 ranked Wildcats took their 1-0 conference record out to Milwaukee, Wis. to play Marquette. Although Villanova did its best to come back from 20 points down, the ‘Cats ended up losing their second Big East game, 71-60. The loss drops the Wildcats to 10-3 overall on the season, and 1-1 in Big East play.
With just over 12 minutes to play in the first half, Marquette held a 20-16 over Villanova. Over a five-minute span, the Golden Eagles went on a 12-2 to extend their lead to 32-18 with exactly seven minutes left in the first frame. At one point, Marquette’s lead inflated to as much as 20 over Villanova. With the help of reigning Big East Player of the Year Markus Howard’s 17 first half points along with 13 from Koby McEwen, Marquette took a 46-29 lead into the intermission.
In the first, the Golden Eagles outmatched the Wildcats in every statistical category. Marquette shot over 55% from the floor and 13-13 from the free throw line. On the other side, Villanova only show 36% from the floor and 1-2 from the charity stripe. Marquette also had more rebounds and assists than Villanova. The only team stats in which Villanova had the advantage were turnovers and team fouls.
The second half was more of a back and forth battle between both squads. Villanova did everything in its power in order to make a roaring comeback. Over the first 12 minutes of the half, the ‘Cats made their own surge with a 14-5 run to cut their deficit down to eight going into the under eight-minute media timeout. From there, Marquette would do just enough in order to maintain their lead for the rest of the half. Although Marquette shot 18% from the floor in the second, a combination of hitting free throws and 21 of 25 second half points coming from Howard and McEwen, Marquette earned their first ranked win of the season, as well as their first Big East win in the 2019-20 campaign.
On Villanova’s side, junior forward Cole Swider and freshman guard Justin Moore led the scoring charge for the Wildcats with 14 points apiece. Junior forward Jermaine Samuels was the only other Wildcat in double figures with 10 in the game. For Marquette, Howard and McEwen scored 29 and 22, respectively, to lead the Golden Eagles to victory.
After losing their first game of the new decade, the Wildcats will have a couple of days off before traveling to Omaha, Neb. to play Creighton. Tipoff is set for 9 p.m.