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Villanova’s March Madness Chances Collapse as Villanova loses to Marquette in OT | Villanova vs. #10 Marquette Recap

Written by on March 17, 2024

In a must-win situation, Villanova battled with #10 Marquette for 45 minutes, including overtime, but in the end, the Golden Eagles’ efficient offense sent the Wildcats home. The Wildcats survived a Kam Jones buzzer beater, which was later overturned by review, but it just delayed the inevitable: Marquette finished the job in the extra five minutes of overtime by a final score of 71-65. Villanova’s March Madness aspirations come to an end and so does their season unless they accept the NIT bid later this weekend.

Villanova vs. Marquette in the Big East Tournament Quarterfinal Game on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Wildcats converted 34.5% of their field goal attempts. Their three-point shooting, especially from Brendan Hausen, who was 1 for 8 from behind the arc, was inefficient. Villanova made just nine of thirty-five attempts (25.7%) from three. In what could be his last game as a Wildcat, Eric Dixon scored 19 points with 11 rebounds while playing 41 of 45 minutes. Mark Armstrong shot 6-10 from the field for 15 points, three rebounds, and three assists. TJ Bamba got off to a slow start in the Big East Tournament. He did not score against DePaul and took a while to score against Marquette, but he was a big factor late with 12 points. The Wildcats had just ten bench points in 45 minutes with seven coming from Hakim Hart.

Marquette played Thursday’s Quarterfinal game without Tyler Kolek, who is out with an oblique injury. Kolek is expected to be available for the Golden Eagles’ first March Madness game. Four of Marquette’s starters scored at least ten points. Kam Jones, who is Marquette’s average leading scorer with 17 points per game, finished the evening with 18 points, six rebounds, and four assists. He was very impressive in the second half and overtime. Stevie Mitchell and David Joplin combined for 29 points. Villanova held Oso Ighodaro to just four points, but Marquette’s offense was explosive when it mattered in overtime.

Team Stats

In terms of team stats, Villanova rebounded nicely after a surprisingly poor rebounding performance against DePaul by winning the rebounding battle against Marquette, 44-37. The Wildcats also had ten offensive rebounds to beat the Golden Eagles in that category. Villanova is not a good offensive rebounding team. They had just three against the Blue Demons on Wednesday night. Villanova had two more assists than Marquette, 15-13, and the Wildcats had four blocks to Marquette’s one block. However, Marquette had seven steals against Villanova and dominated the turnover margin, 11-5. Marquette took good care of the basketball, and it helped their offense in key situations, especially without Kolek.

Game Recap

First Half: Cats’ take a small lead into halftime, but it could have been a larger advantage

In the first half, both teams had difficulties knocking down shots. Villanova’s defense put tremendous pressure on Marquette in the first twenty minutes, especially their stars: Kam Jones and Oso Ighodaro. Jones and Ighodaro were held to just five first half points, which were all scored by Jones. However, the Wildcats simply could not capitalize and extend their lead, and it ultimately cost them when Marquette started to heat up in the second half. The Wildcats took a 29-28 lead into halftime in New York.

Second Half + Overtime: Villanova fails to take advantage of second chance

The Golden Eagles came out on fire to begin the second half. Kam Jones really started to heat up and knock down some shots for Marquette. The Golden Eagles led by nine points with 12:33 left in the second half, which was their largest lead of the contest. For most of the second half, Marquette’s lead stayed around five or six points until the end of the second half where Villanova tied the game at 58. With less than three seconds left on the game clock in regulation, Shaka Smart called timeout to discuss the winning play for Marquette. Out of the timeout, Marquette got the ball to Kam Jones, who appeared to make the last second shot to win the game. The Golden Eagles and their fans celebrated at Madison Square Garden. It looked like another heartbreaking regulation loss for Villanova in the final seconds: almost a carbon copy of the loss to Creighton on March 9th. However, after review, it was determined that Jones did not get the shot off in time. The ball was still in his hands as time expired. Villanova was given a second chance to extend their season and keep their March Madness chances alive heading into Friday night.

Unfortunately, overtime just delayed the heartbreaking loss for five more minutes. Villanova played behind for almost the entire five minutes, and the offense continued to look unimpressive. Despite Villanova’s great defensive effort, Kam Jones and Marquette were moving on to Friday’s semifinal game while the Wildcats’ season had come to a crashing end.

My Thoughts

Marquette did not play their best game, and Villanova’s defense caused a lot of problems for the Golden Eagles, especially in the first half. As per usual, the theme of the entire season of disappointing and inconsistent offense continued in Madison Square Garden for Villanova. In both games in the Big East Tournament, Villanova’s offense was outplayed even against 3-29 DePaul, who lost 20 consecutive games and did not win a conference game all season. Villanova has a lot of work to do in the offseason after missing the tournament again.

Active Offseason for Villanova

This will be an active offseason for Villanova. They must decide the future of Coach Neptune as Villanova’s head coach and the direction of the team with at least three starters leaving this offseason. With Villanova missing March Madness for the second straight season under Coach Neptune, despite having a top defense and spending big money on transfers, Coach Neptune has received a lot of criticism, and his job appears to be in jeopardy. It’s no doubt that the Wildcats played tremendous defense this season, but the popular slogan “defense wins championships” was proved to not always be correct by Villanova’s end of the season. Villanova’s defense did everything they could even against Marquette, but the Cats’ offense had no game plan execution and seemed outplayed for most of the season. They could go on some runs to cut into deficits, but the offense could not knock down key shots late in games, which led to many close disappointing losses like on Thursday night against Marquette.

Will the Wildcats accept the NIT invite?

It’s uncertain if Villanova will accept the NIT offer, which would most likely have them as a #1 seed. The Wildcats might not have enough players to play in the NIT with most of their starters leaving for the NBA draft or on the final year of eligibility. With Jordan Longino and Nnanna Njoku’s injuries, the Cats’ bench is already thin on depth. If Villanova accepts the NIT offer, WXVU will have live coverage of any games from the Finneran Pavilion. You can stay up to date with our broadcast schedule and coverage on our WXVU sports Instagram (@wxvu.sports).