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Finneran Fortress No More: Marquette 57, #11 Villanova 54

A big night for Justin Lewis was capped by a big shot for the kid from Baltimore as the Golden Eagles win in the Finn for the first time in program history.

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Villanova Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Lewis, y’all.

The second year star from Baltimore was a monster just outside Philadelphia on Wednesday night, going for a game high 21 points, including that broken play three with just seconds left as YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles downed #11 Villanova, 57-54. It is Marquette’s first ever win at Finneran Pavilion in 10 tries, and it gives Marquette three wins over ranked opponents in their now five game long winning streak.

How did we get there?

Well, for starters, Marquette played a nearly perfect opening 20 minutes of basketball. The Golden Eagles got out of the gate strong, and while they never had a gigantic lead on Villanova, they were making the Wildcats chase them from the 18:20 mark onwards. A 9-0 Villanova run in about two and a half minutes late in the frame tipped the game to 29-25 for the home team, but Lewis (duh) and Darryl Morsell scored late buckets for the visitors to give them a one point advantage at the break.

The second half did not go so well for Marquette, not for the first nine minutes or so. A three-pointer each from Greg Elliott and then Lewis were Marquette’s only field goals in the opening stretch, and a 12-0 run by the Wildcats left them up 45-36 with 10:53 to go.

To be clear: From 4:30 left in the first to 10:45 left in the second, Villanova essentially put up a 21-0 run, albeit broken into two parts, to take a nine point lead. It’s not what you want.

For a while, it looked like Marquette wasn’t going to break back through. Greg Elliott and David Joplin hit big threes to make it a three-point game, but Villanova was able to answer and keep the Golden Eagles at arm’s length. An and-1 from Eric Dixon made it a six point game, 51-45, with 7:32 to go.

Elliott got to the rack in transition... and was apparently not touched by any of the VU defenders jumping with him..... and then both teams went quiet for a stretch. That’s good news for Marquette, since that meant Villanova wasn’t building their four point lead back up. Finally, after a stretch of no one putting anything in, Elliott got loose up the wing on the break and Tyler Kolek hit him perfectly, ka-splash, 51-50 Nova.

Kolek rushed a three off the dribble. Elliott made a bad pass. Chances that you can’t let slip through your hands when you’re trying to wipe away a nine point lead, or at least chances that looked like that. Collin Gillespie, he of the Big East POY trophy a year ago, got a layup to go, and he converted the and-1 as well, four point game. 2:19 to play.

Lewis immediately answered back by getting into the lane and scoring, two point game, less than two minutes to go. Morsell forced a jumpball that gave the Golden Eagles possession, and Lewis converted again. Tie game, 71 seconds left.

Justin Moore ended up with the ball for the Wildcats, and he decided to try Kur Kuath. It did not end well as the big man recorded his third block of the game to move him alone into 10th place on the MU single season blocks chart. But it ended up going out off of Morsell, so VU got it back with 43 seconds left. They went to Dixon deep under the rim, but he couldn’t get it to fall. Rebound to Marquette, specifically to (of course) Lewis, and the Golden Eagles walked it up and killed out the clock to leave Villanova with as little time left to go to attempt to tie or win.

It didn’t go according to the textbook, you can see that from the video at the top of the page. Marquette quite nearly lost the ball. But they didn’t. Lewis recovered, and with the shot clock and game clock winding down, he buried the game winning triple.

But the game wasn’t over. 11 seconds left to go for the Wildcats. Marquette played defense straight up with a three point lead. It ended up going to Moore for a three to tie.

He missed. It got tipped waaaaaaaay back away from the rim, and Gillespie ran it down and the refs called it tipped by Marquette. Right or not, whatever, not worth worrying about. Gillespie gathered and hucked it back for a prayer, but officially he did not get the shot off in time.

MU wins.

First ever win at the Finn. Program establishing victory for Shaka Smart. All things are possible now.

Marquette was led by Lewis and those points, and his seven rebounds were tops for the team, too. Tyler Kolek had six assists to lead all players there. Credit to Marquette’s defense, as they held the Wildcats to just a 43% effective field goal percentage and just 6-for-24 from long range. According to KenPom.com, only Baylor made Villanova look worse on offense this season, and MU closed the game out on a 21-9 run in the final 10:33.

HOW ABOUT SOME HIGHLIGHTS, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and CBS Sports Network?

Up Next: Well, it’s kind of a big one. On Sunday, you have to believe that Marquette will be playing for a spot in the Associated Press top 25. They’ll be facing #20 Xavier at 1pm Central time at Fiserv Forum, and the Musketeers will be coming off a hard fought narrow victory at DePaul on Wednesday night.