Ryan Arcidiacono took control in overtime and powered No. 4 Villanova (17-2, 6-1 Big East) past Marquette (11-9, 3-4) 94-85 at the Bradley Center Saturday.
Arcidiacono scored 20 points and dished out 11 assists. His backcourt mates put forth sterling performances as well, as James Bell scored a career-high 30 points and Darrun Hilliard added another 20. Davante Gardner scored a career-high 29 points (including 11 free throws) and pulled down 13 rebounds and Todd Mayo, who rescued Marquette in the final minute of regulation, added 18. Jamil Wilson had 16 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, but fouled out in the first minute of overtime.
Marquette started the second half hot on both ends of the floor and had the Nova lead down to 45-40 at the under 16 timeout. With 14:35 remaining, Gardner chased down a long rebound and fed Mayo for a layup that he finished through the block of Arcidiacono. Mayo cut the lead to one with a layup on the next possession.
The Wildcats hit back quickly however, beating Marquette's rejuvenated pressure defense for a Daniel Ochefu dunk and a contested three from Arcidiacono that stretched the lead back to six. Nova increased its lead to 58-49 after a pair of Marquette empty possessions resulted in layups at the other end.
Marquette refused to go away and went to a paint-heavy approach with Gardner and Chris Otule that cut the deficit to 61-57 with 6:39 to go. However, a Bell three from the top of the key and a one-handed slam from Jayvaughn Pinkston increased the lead to 11 and seemingly put the game to bed.
However, a series of missed free throws and frantic drives to the basket by Marquette gave the Golden Eagles the ball down just 73-69 with 27.7 seconds to go.
That gave Mayo a chance to work his magic once again. He cut the lead to two with an off-blance leaner in the paint and, after Arcidiacono made two more free throws, Mayo hit a fall away three-pointer to cut the lead to 75-74. Arcidiacono then made two more free throws, but fouled Mayo shooting a potential game-tying three with 4.8 seconds to go. Mayo made all three attempts.
On the final possession of regulation, Tony Chennault dribbled the length of the court and laid the ball in the basket as time expired. However, Chennault was called for a charge, which was drawn by Steve Taylor Jr., who Buzz Williams specifically inserted for defense before the possession. The replay showed that Taylor was clearly in the restricted area and that the referee missed the call.
Villanova led 38-31 at the half behind 15 points from Bell, who shot 6-for-11. Hilliard chipped in three three-pointers, as the Wildcats built their lead with exceptional outside shooting. They scored just six points in the paint to Marquette's 24, but still led for the entire opening frame.