No. 24 Marquette sweeps No. 12 Villanova for first time since 2011-12

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Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Graduate student Darryl Morsell (32) goes for a layup in No. 24 Marquette’s 83-73 win over No. 12 Villanova Feb. 2.

Coming off a two-point loss on the road at Providence, the No. 24 ranked Marquette Golden Eagles hosted No. 12 Villanova in their first home game as a ranked team this season and came away with a 83-73 victory, sweeping the Wildcats this season for the first time since the 2011-12 season. 

This is Marquette’s seventh Quadrant 1 victory of the season, tying them for the most in the nation with Baylor, Kansas and Wisconsin.

“Give Shaka a lot of credit,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “In an incredibly short period of time he’s put together an outstanding team. They’ve got all the pieces.”

Marquette scored the first points of the game 34 seconds into the game and never looked back, as they led throughout the entirety of the game. 

In the first half, it was redshirt first-year guard Tyler Kolek and redshirt first-year forward Justin Lewis leading the way for Marquette. However, eight different players made it into the scoring column compared to just five for the Wildcats.

The Golden Eagles took advantage of good shooting from beyond the arc to keep their lead. They shot 7-for-15 as a team in the first half including two each from Lewis, Kolek and first-year guard Kam Jones. 

Kolek was the enforcer on an 11-0 Golden Eagles run that pushed their lead to 14 with just under three minutes to play in the first. He then went on a personal 5-0 run capped off with a straight-on 3-pointer. 

In the second half, it was graduate student guard Darryl Morsell who stepped up for Marquette after scoring just three points in the first 20 minutes.

The Golden Eagles were on a scoring drought of nearly four minutes before Morsell made four-consecutive mid-range jumpers to push the lead to 11. 

“First half I feel like I played terrible,” Morsell said. “My coaches and teammates were constantly giving me confidence, that’s all I really need.” 

Morsell ended the night with 15 points on 6-for-9 shooting. He fouled out with 1:34 to go in the game.

“Darryl really went and won us the game with that stretch where he hit those key baskets,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. “Darryl’s a grown man. He gives us a sense of assuredness on both ends of the floor.”

The Wildcats continued to claw back as they went on a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to eight. From there, Marquette was able to withstand the comeback attempt thanks to good free-throw shooting, as they finished 17-for-18 from the line on the game and 12-for-13 in the second half alone. 

Lewis led the Golden Eagles in scoring once again with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting. He also collected a game-high nine rebounds. 

“I really admire how much he’s improved,” Wright said. “It’s all come together this year. He’s got it all. I love him, great player.” 

Kolek finished just behind Lewis with a tied season-high 18 points on 5-for-13 shooting. He also had a game-high six assists. 

For Villanova, it was rough 3-point shooting in the second half that highlighted their struggles. After going 6-for-17 in the first half, the Wildcats went just 4-for-17 in the second half from deep.

Marquette’s success against Villanova this season is unprecedented in the BIG EAST conference. It is the first time a team has beaten Villanova twice while holding the Wildcats under 40% from the field in both games since the 2003-04 season when Providence did it. 

“That’s what you have to do when you’re at home,” Smart said. “We had to be the better team in order to win and that starts with defense for us. Our guys did a good job being aggressive in our press.”

Wright said he was surprised at the effectiveness of Marquette’s press defense. 

“I saw our guys tentative, not being aggressive to go at them,” Wright said. “We were prepared for it, but you got to give them credit. They did a really good job and we tried to battle back but we can’t play like that on the road against a really good team.”

The win puts Marquette at a record of 16-7 and 8-4 in BIG EAST play. They currently sit in fourth place in the BIG EAST standings behind Providence, Villanova and UConn. 

Next up for Marquette is two road contests next week at UConn on Tuesday and at Butler on Saturday. They won’t be back at Fiserv Forum until a week from now when they face off with Georgetown next Wednesday night. 

This article was written by Matt Yeazel. He can be reached at matthew.yeazel@marquette.edu or on Twitter @MJYeazel.