Sunday, January 28, 2018

No. 1 Villanova 85, Marquette 82: Brunson and DiVincenzo combine for 54 points in the last visit to the Bradley Center

Photo Credit: Benny Sieu- USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE— The Jalen Brunson show presented itself in peak form with a game-high 31 points as the top-ranked Villanova Wildcats (20-1, 7-1 Big East) knocked off the Marquette Golden Eagles (13-8, 4-5 Big East), 85-82 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

While Brunson put on an offensive clinic, Mikal Bridges made the difference with an offensive rebound off Brunson’s miss from the top of the key with 17 seconds left and found an open Donte DiVincenzo on the bounce pass for a layup to put Villanova up 85-80.

DiVincenzo’s layup highlighted a 23-point effort, highlighted by 10 of the first 12 points of the game for Villanova.

“[Donte] does so many things and is so valuable for us off the bench,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “I was concerned going into today’s game whether or not he could maintain a high level and did a great job. He was huge defensively, especially with the big rebound at the end of the game.”

Villanova exacted revenge in its final trip to the Bradley Center after a 74-72 loss to on Jan. 24, 2017 and Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski gave credit to Wright for preparation.

They were really ready to play and I am sure they watched the film from last season’s loss at the Bradley Center,” Wojciechowski said. “They are good as any team in the country right now.”

After a six-point effort at Xavier on Jan. 24, Andrew Rowsey responded with a team-high 29 points, on 5-of-9 from long range. Despite the scoring outburst, Rowsey wanted to get more of his teammates involved.

“We play with a lot of space in an effort to keep the ball moving at all times,” Rowsey said. “I was not trying to take over at all, but I was trying to get other teammates involved.”

DiVincenzo set the tone on offense with ten points on 4-of-5 from the field in the first 3:31 of the game. In need of a response, Marquette turned to its go-to option as Markus Howard drained back-to-back three-pointers, which sent the home crowd into a frenzy as it trailed Villanova, 14-12 at the 15:00 mark in the first half.

The Golden Eagles found themselves in early foul trouble as Rowsey and Harry Froling went to the bench in an 18-second span with two each as the Wildcats lead expanded to 22-14.

Villanova continued to add to the lead as it grew to 33-21, behind seven straight field goal conversions and a couple of timely baskets from Eric Paschall.

Like Marquette, Villanova found itself in a fragile predicament in the foul department as Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, DiVincenzo and Paschall committed two fouls each. The Golden Eagles seized the moment as Rowsey reasserted himself into the MU offense with six straight points, which highlighted a 13-2 run to go ahead 44-42.

In need of an offensive boost, Villanova turned to seldom used Colin Gillespie as he drained a three-pointer from the baseline to end Marquette’s flurry. The Wildcats finished the first half on a 7-0 run and took a 49-44 lead into the locker room.

The twists and turns continued into the second half as both teams took each other’s best shots on offense. Brunson served as the main catalyst of a Villanova 10-0 run over 3:26 to take a 61-52 lead.

As Villanova’s offense revved into high gear, Marquette’s stalled on the other end as it went 3:27 without a field goal, but would be bailed out by Rowsey once more. Rowsey delivered back-to-back long range makes to pull the Golden Eagles to 73-70 with 6:47 left.

Rowsey found Froling at the rim for the layup and conventional to cut Marquette’s deficit to 80-77 with 3:38 remaining, but would not get any closer as Villanova swept the regular season series.

Looking Ahead:

The Golden Eagles look to avoid a three-game losing streak as they host the Butler Bulldogs on Jan. 31 for an 8 p.m. tip, while the Wildcats and Creighton Bluejays square off at the Wells Fargo Center on Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m.

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