Men’s Basketball Swept by Marquette


Courtesy of Quinn Burns/Villanovan Photography

Caleb Daniels scored 10 of Villanova’s first 14 points on Wednesday night.

Owen Hewitt, Staff Writer

No. 24 Marquette completed a regular-season sweep of No. 12 Villanova late Wednesday night, defeating the Wildcats 83-73. The Golden Eagles led wire to wire, never surrendering the lead they built early in the game. It’s the first time the Golden Eagles have swept the Wildcats in the regular season since the 2011-12 season, and the first time that the ‘Cats have fallen victim to a sweep since 2016-17, when Butler came away with two wins. The loss takes the Wildcats to 16-6 overall, and their 9-3 Big East record has them one game behind No. 15 Providence. 

Senior forward Brandon Slater finished as the Wildcats’ leading scorer in the loss, posting 18 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field. Junior guard Justin Moore led the squad in assists with five, while graduate guard Colin Gillespie had an uncharacteristic four turnovers to pair with his four assists. Moore and sophomore forward Eric Dixon both grabbed six boards but only combined for 11 points. 

The ‘Cats got off to a slow start in Milwaukee, with the Golden Eagles jumping out to a 10-2 start, hitting three threes in that stretch, while the ‘Cats missed both of their attempts from downtown. The Wildcats also turned the ball over five times in the opening eight minutes of the game, limiting the offense immensely.

“They jumped on us early,” Villanova head coach Jay Wright said. “We didn’t handle that pressure well. We tried to battle back, and we battled, but you can’t play five or seven minutes like that to start the game against a good team.”

Redshirt senior Caleb Daniels stepped up to spark the offense in the early goings, scoring 10 of the Wildcats’ first 14. On the back of an 8-0 run punctuated by a Slater three, the Wildcats cut their deficit to just three with 7:26 to go in the first half. Following the three, however, Slater was called for a technical foul, swinging the momentum back in the Golden Eagles’ favor as they went on a 16-5 run to close the half.

Marquette freshman guard Tyler Kolek had nine during the stretch, while freshman forward Justin Lewis had seven. The Wildcats went into the half trailing 46-32. The 46 points scored by the Golden Eagles were the most allowed in the first half of a conference game by the ‘Cats defense since 2020.

Villanova got off to a hot start in the second frame, outscoring the Golden Eagles 21-10 over the first 10 minutes of the second half to cut the lead down to three again, but then the Wildcats went ice cold from the field. The ‘Cats went 0-9 from the field over a nearly seven minute span in the second half, and their deficit was extended back to 13 with 3:41 left to play. 

After starting the game shooting 5-8 from long distance, Villanova closed the game out making just three of its remaining 23 shots from three.

“It would be arrogant to say that we got the looks we wanted, we got decent looks, but they’re flying at us with length,” Wright said. “Obviously they threw our timing off a little bit cause we’ve got good shooters, but they’re always flying at you, always playing aggressive, usually when we shoot like that it’s because the other team’s pretty good defensively.” 

Moore came up limping after rolling his ankle with 3:16 left and had to be subbed out after taking free throws, but would re-enter later in the game.

The ‘Cats tried to claw their way back into the game late by fouling, but couldn’t manage to cut the Golden Eagle lead down to anything manageable in the closing minute. The 83 points allowed far surpassed the average of 61.1 points given up on average by the Wildcats this season, and stands as the most allowed this year by Villanova in regulation. 

“I think we can get a lot better, we’re just not there yet,” Wright said. “Lot of different reasons, everyone’s got their issues, but I think we have a lot of room for improvement, and that’s what the season’s all about. How do you handle these things, and how do you grow and learn from these things, and that’s what I think we can do.”

The Wildcats will be back in action Saturday as they take on No. 17 UConn at the Wells Fargo Center. The noon contest will be televised on Fox Sports. The upcoming game is a big one and gives the Wildcats a chance to rewrite the ship coming off a loss.

“We talk about the schedules, they are difficult but they’re also opportunities, right?” Wright said. “You lose on the road like this, then you’ve got a ranked team coming in, you’ve got a chance to play. It’s a good thing that you get those opportunities, and that’s what’s great about this league.”