A slow start offensively, forced #18 Marquette to play catch-up all night before falling to #15 Villanova 72-71 in Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Wildcats (18-6, 8-4 Big East), who snapped a three-game losing streak. Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels added 14 points apiece as the Wildcats pulled into a second-place tie with Creighton in the Big East Conference.
Markus Howard scored 24 points for Marquette (17-7, 7-5), which had won three straight and six of seven. Howard, the country’s leading scorer who entered averaging 27.4 points a game, became the Big East’s all-time leading scorer in league games with 1,408 points.
The Wildcats led by as many as 15 points in the first half and came out strong to open the second by scoring the first nine points after halftime to take a 47-29 lead.
The Golden Eagles slowly cut into the Villanova lead and were within five, 65-60, with 3:58 left to play. But the Wildcats scored the next five to go up 10 with 2:03 left to play.
From there, the Wildcats survived a Marquette rally that ended with Howard’s three-point basket at the buzzer.
The Golden Eagles have the weekend off and will return to action next Tuesday at home against Creighton.