You wanted a game, you got a hell of a game.
Wednesday night, 9pm start, Fiserv Forum was ready to explode from the get-go and YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles delivered. With three guys delivering in double figures led by 19 points from Justin Lewis, #24 ranked Marquette scored the 83-73 victory over #12 Villanova to move to 16-7 overall and 8-4 in Big East play. The record on The Seven Game Stretch Of Doom? 5-1 with one game left to go, so it’s kind of gone from The Seven Game Stretch Of Doom to The Seven Game Stretch Of Really Great Basketball Games to The Seven Game Stretch Where Marquette Makes Their Case On A National Stage.
Your official attendance: 12,782, but you couldn’t have told me it was anything south of 15,000 when the game tipped off and the Golden Eagles soared out to a 7-0 start and a 10-2 opening in the first two minutes and 20 seconds. That’s when Jay Wright burned a timeout to settle down his Wildcats and after the game, Wright would claim that Marquette’s press defense was throwing them a curveball.
Jay Wright says Marquette's press defense surprised him as much as it did a little bit early on. #mubb forced four turnovers in first four minutes.— John Leuzzi (@JohnLeuzziMU) February 3, 2022
The game settled in for a minute, and Villanova said “no, we’re not dead, you can’t get rid of us that easily.” A layup from Caleb Daniels brought VU back within four, and MU answered with five straight, thanks to a Darryl Morsell steal ending a VU possession before it really got going. 15-6, and a Kam Jones three gave Marquette a double digit lead before six full minutes had gone by.
That’s where the game turned into, for a while, Marquette trying to say that they wanted to be up by 10 points and Villanova saying that they really didn’t like that and would prefer it be a single digit contest. An eight point run by the Wildcats following a triple by Jones pulled them within three, 30-27, with 7:26 to go, but Tyler Kolek didn’t appreciate that. The next seven came from the 2021 Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year, and that turned into nine of the next 11, all in MU’s favor, and whaddya know, Marquette was up 14, 41-27.
A three-pointer from Justin Lewis, one of four in the game for him, was the last bucket of the first half, and that left the Golden Eagles back on that 14 point margin, 46-32, at the intermission. That was about the last good news for a while for Marquette. A Kur Kuath dunk at the 18:30 mark of the second half was MU’s only bucket in the first four-plus minutes, and Eric Dixon’s layup made it a 10-2 run by Villanova to start things off.
That’s when Darryl Morsell took over. The grad transfer from Maryland had a rough first half, airballing two three-pointers after using one as MU’s first basket of the game, and an awful pass pretty much straight into Justin Moore’s hands earned the Baltimore native some time on the bench to compose himself. It worked in a big way as he started slowly dismantling the Wildcats across most of the next 15 minutes.
Layup, assist on a Lewis three, offensive rebound that turned into a Kolek three, Marquette by eight, 56-48, 13:49 to go.
He subbed out a little while later, and returned at the 9:29 mark with Villanova just three points away, 56-53. You can see what happened while he was away. Jumper, jumper, block on Caleb Daniels, jumper, Villanova timeout, jumper again. 64-53 Marquette, 6:45 to go.
Block on Justin Moore while Kur Kuath was scattered on the floor, which went straight to Olivier-Maxence Prosper, who kicked it ahead to Lewis, wing three in transition, BANG, Marquette by 13, 4:58 to go.
The lead would peak at 15 on an OMax bucket just a few moments later, and in retrospect, that was the end of the game. Sure, Villanova cut it to eight with 2:46 to go on a Collin Gillespie layup, but Morsell got it back to 10 on a pair of freebies. Morsell fouled out with 1:34 to go whilst attempting to dunk on the entirety of Philadelphia all at once, but he got called for the offensive foul.... but MU was up 10, so oh well.
This is where Jay Wright lost his mind. At first, I thought Wright was intstructing his guys to foul because Marquette wasn’t in the bonus yet and he just wanted them there so when they got a stop or two and hit a three or two, it would be close with a minute left and fouling to try to extend the game would make sense. That didn’t work, as Greg Elliott sank a pair to make it a 12 point game, 76-64 with 1:10 to go, but after Jermaine Samuels missed a three-pointer for the Wildcats, they started fouling with less than a minute to play. While down 12.
This sucked. A lot.
Foul, Marquette hits free throws, Villanova throws in some meaningless garbage, foul, Marquette hits free throws, etc., etc., etc. The closest it got was eight points with 37 seconds to go and so the Golden Eagles were never in danger. Very terrible ending to what had been a very enjoyable college basketball contest up to that point.
Justin Lewis’ 19 led all scorers, and the Baltimore native added nine rebounds and a steal in 35 minutes. Tyler Kolek added 18 points even while struggling (5-for-13) from the field all night, and he had six assists and two steals as well. Morsell was MU’s other double digit scorer with 15 points in his 24 minutes before fouling out.
Can I interest you in some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Fox Sports?
Up Next: Some well deserved time off. The Golden Eagles won’t be back in action to wrap up The Seven Game Stretch Where Marquette Makes Their Case On A National Stage until next week Tuesday. That’ll be a road trip to see Connecticut in their end of the yearly home-and-home. The Huskies lost at home to Creighton on Tuesday and will have to visit Villanova on Saturday before the Golden Eagles get to town.