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Defensive stop in final seconds ensures National Marquette Day victory over Villanova

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Defensive stop in final seconds ensures National Marquette Day victory over Villanova

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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For the second time this season, it looked like Marquette’s inability to make a defensive stop at the end would cost the Golden Eagles a win.

But this time, the Golden Eagles made the stop they needed, shutting down the Villanova Wildcats in the final possession and winning 66-65 on National Marquette Day.

Villanova had a chance to win the game, trailing by one with 12 seconds left, but Marquette made a game-winning defensive stop. 

Villanova redshirt senior Phil Booth drove to the basket, but Marquette redshirt junior Ed Morrow didn’t give him any space in the paint. The double-team of Morrow and freshman forward Joey Hauser forced Booth to pass it to sophomore Jermaine Samuels.

“The key to the whole defensive possession at the end of the game was Ed Morrow,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “Booth got by his man, and Ed stepped up and protected our basket. … That was a game-winning play.”

Samuels got the shot off in time, but he couldn’t do much against Sacar Anim’s tight on-ball defense.

It was very similar to Marquette’s last-second loss to St. John’s Tuesday. A Markus Howard miscue with a one-point lead resulted in the defense having to make a stop to win the game.

“Although it wasn’t exactly the same game situation, essentially it was the same,” Wojciechowski said. “If we get a stop, we’re going to win.”

Marquette appeared to have the game under control about midway through the second half, but then Villanova came back with a 10-0 run and never trailed by more than nine after the run.

“There was no part of me that felt like they weren’t going to make a run,” Wojciechowski said. “That’s just what they do. … As soon as you have a breakdown, they take advantage of it.”

The run came amid an otherwise-underwhelming offensive day for the Wildcats. Marquette held Villanova to 40 percent from the field and 31 percent on 3-pointers.

“The few good looks that we got, we didn’t make,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “And then a lot of them were tough looks.”

Anim and Howard helped the Golden Eagles outlast the run, scoring a combined 56 points. All of Marquette’s field goals in the last 16 minutes came from either Howard or Anim.

Howard finished with 38 points on 13-for-24 shooting. He was also 5 of 11 from 3-point range. Wright kept on repeating the same four words about Markus Howard in his postgame press conference: “We had no answer.”

“Everything in our book, we tried.” Wright said. “We even tried zone. He hit a three against the zone. He just single-handedly beat us.”

It was a stark contrast from Marquette’s last win over Villanova, when Howard fouled out after seven scoreless minutes.

Anim had 18 points Saturday on 8-of-10 shooting despite having to guard Booth, the Wildcats’ leading scorer.

“Sac was doing everything out there,” Howard said. “He really gave us a huge spark today, and also his defense was unbelievable.”

Wright had to prioritize Howard or Anim, but couldn’t focus on both. 

“You can’t put too much attention on (Howard),” Wright said. “We took a chance down the stretch (guarding Howard), and Anim hurt us.”

No other Marquette player had more than four points. All of Marquette’s scoring came from five different players.

“Even though we may have not played our best offensively, our guys found a way to win,” Wojciechowski said. “That’s been something that our team has done a pretty good job of over the course of the season.”

The Hauser brothers, who average a combined 26.1 points, scored just four points total. Neither Hauser brother scored until the 18:00 mark in the second half.

“We didn’t want to put too much attention on Howard and let those guys go,” Wright said. “We played them pretty tough, too.”

Turnovers continued to be an issue Saturday afternoon. Twelve Marquette turnovers led to 19 Villanova points.

The Golden Eagles will visit DePaul Tuesday for their first road game since Jan. 30. Marquette and DePaul have split the last four games in Chicago.

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About the Writer
John Steppe, Executive Sports Editor

John Steppe is the executive sports editor for the Marquette Wire. He is a junior majoring in journalism and double-minoring in digital media and Spanish....

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