After three-straight losses and with their backs to the proverbial BIG EAST wall, Villanova responded against No. 10 Marquette last night, winning, 67-61, at Finneran Pavilion in Villanova, Pa.
Villanova (21-8, 12-4 BIG EAST) was helped by a return home, a 12-1 run to end the game and a career-high 29 points for sophomore Jermaine Samuels on 10-of-19 shooting. Samuel's previous high for the Wildcats was 15, a mark he had equaled by halftime, and he had no points in each of those losses Villanova had in its last three games.
Marquette (23-5, 12-3 BIG EAST) still controls its own destiny in the conference, as any combination of two Marquette wins and Villanova losses in the final five games the two teams will play will result in Marquette winning a share of the regular-season championship. However, a failure to hit any field goals over the last 5:14 didn't help MU, while Naismith Award candidate Markus Howard had to spend nearly six minutes off the floor in the second half after earning his fourth foul on his third charge of the game with 9:28 remaining.
Howard led Marquette with 25 points, but Sam Hauser was the only other Marquette player to reach double-figures, scoring 13. Howard was also seen to be favoring his wrist after falling on it after a drive to the basket late in the game. While he remained in the game, no immediate word was given as to the severity of the injury.
Phil Booth exemplified Villanova's willingness to follow the lead of St. John's, the only other BIG EAST team to beat Marquette this year, and attack the basket against Marquette. Booth was just 3-of-18 shooting, but repeatedly got to the free-throw line and went 10-for-10 there to end up with 17 points.
Marquette struggled with turnovers through much of the game, giving the ball up 18 times compared to Villanova's seven. However, Marquette got hot in the second half, shooting over 70 percent for much of the half and taking a five-point lead on its final field goal of the game, 60-55, after being down as many as 12 in the first half. Villanova did damage on the boards, though, particularly late, getting 12 second-chance points on 15 offensive rebounds compared to four and six for Marquette in the contest.
Two of Marquette's three remaining regular-season games are at home, the first of which will come Sunday against Creighton. Tip time at Fiserv Fourm will be 2 p.m. CST.
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Video: Marquette / Big East / Fox Sports