No. 5 Villanova dominates Golden Eagles on road despite Garcia’s career-high performance

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First-year forward Dawson Garcia (33) goes up for a putback basket against the Villanova Wildcats on Wednesday night. He had a career-high 28 points (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

Even with a career night from first-year forward Dawson Garcia, who had 28 points, the No. 5 Villanova Wildcats dominated Marquette on the road by a score of 96-64.

It was a rough night for almost every Marquette player. Sophomore guard D.J. Carton was the only other Golden Eagle to finish in double figures with 13 points. He started 3-for-3 from the field, but finished 5-for-9 and had six turnovers.

Junior guard Jose Perez was the only player off the bench for the Golden Eagles to score thanks to a garbage-time three. Sophomore guard Symir Torrence, redshirt junior guard Greg Elliot and redshirt first-year guard Dexter Akanno shot a combined 0-for-5 from the bench in their combined 22 minutes on the floor.

Redshirt senior guard Koby McEwen had another rough game, getting seven points on 2-for-7 shooting. He also had three fouls, including a technical for inappropriate language.

It was a dominating performance for the Wildcats, especially in the second half. Villanova scored 54 points compared to Marquette’s 32.

Sophomore forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl led the way for the Wildcats with 27 points. He shot 10-for-11 from the field and 5-for-5 from deep. He was a force on both ends of the floor, grabbing eight rebounds and posting three steals.

It was a great shooting night for the Wildcats overall, as they went 63% from the field, hitting 13 threes on 22 attempts.

Senior guard Collin Gillespie had a double-double with 16 points and 11 assists. All five Villanova starters scored at least 12 points and shot 44% from the field in the 32-point victory. Villanova also had 25 assists on 34 made baskets.

It was once again a story of turnovers for the Golden Eagles. Marquette gave up the ball 16 times and the Wildcats turned those giveaways into 30 points. MU forced nine VU turnovers, but was only able to turn that into nine points.

The Golden Eagles hung in with one of the best teams in the nation at half and trailed by 10 points. It could have been a seven-point game if not for a three by redshirt junior guard Caleb Daniels, which was set up by Gillespie after he had grabbed an offensive rebound.

Head coach Steve Wojciechowski said this moment is when the momentum really shifted to Villanova’s favor and he felt that Marquette did not compete well enough in the second half.

“I thought a huge play in the game was the end of the first half, where there was a broken play three. I thought our guys competed the first half, I didn’t think we competed to the level that I believe we’re capable of in the second half,” Wojciechowski said. “Obviously Villanova is a terrific team and any time you make a mistake they capitalize, but as well as they played, I felt like we didn’t give them the resistance we needed to.”

After Villanova built up a lead as high as 19 points in the first part of the second half, the Golden Eagles made a push midway through, closing the deficit to nine points. That was the closest Marquette would come to making it a game in the second half. Over the last 11 and a half minutes, Marquette was outscored 35-12.

“Every time we step on the floor, especially in a time period like this, it’s a gift and you have to honor that gift and I thought we did for 19 plus minutes in the first half, and I feel like we didn’t in the second half and that’s my responsibility,” Wojciechowski said.

The Golden Eagles fall to 9-11 overall and 5-9 in BIG EAST play and have now lost two in a row. Marquette has a four-game road trip coming up and will kick it off against the Seton Hall Pirates on Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. Central Standard Time.

This story was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at Jackson.gross@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JacksonGross6