Colin Gillespie and the Wildcats were firing on all cylinders this evening, cruising to a comfortable 85-68 victory over a formidable opponent in the Marquette Golden Eagles.
Gillespie led all scorers with 22 points on the night in what would turn out to be one of his best shooting performances of the year. But in typical Villanova fashion, Gillespie was not the only contributor to the teams success. The Wildcats had five players with double figures in the scoring column, including a 14 point outing for sophomore Justin Moore and a 13 point, 7 rebound performance from sophomore Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. The Golden Eagles were led by senior Jamal Cain showcasing a modest stat line of 15 points, 7 rebounds and 2 assists.
The first half was your typical Villanova, Marquette matchup including a lot of contact in the paint, three pointers attempted and Wildcats diving across the cold hardwood in the Fiserv Forum. Both teams got off to a hot start shooting the ball, but it was Marquette who would take an early five point advantage into the first media timeout. The Golden Eagles hung around most of the first half, fending off the WIldcats hot shooting with some crafty baskets of their own, and held the advantage through the midway point of the first half. As the end of the half approached, Villanova’s discipline and experience took over as they outscored Marquette 11-6 in the last five minutes of the first half, and took a 36-30 lead into the locker room. Villanova would not look back in the second half, as they extended their lead to 23 at one point, and cruised to as comfortable a victory that they have had in Milwaukee in years.
The story of the second half for Marquette, in one word, would be turnovers. The Golden Eagles racked up 17 of them in the game with eight coming in the second half. To beat the Villanova Wildcats you certainly do not have to play a perfect game, but when you lose the turnover battle 17-4 against any team coached by Jay Wright, the odds will simply not be in your favor.
Moving forward, the inscrutable Eagles have a 10-day break before they face off against the reeling Georgetown Hoyas in the Nation’s Capital on January 2. All hope is not lost for the Golden Eagles yet, though. The talent is undeniable on this roster, displayed by not one, but two wins over ranked opponents so far this season in Creighton and Wisconsin. It will be a treat to follow along and see if Steve Wojciechowkski can put it all together before March.
As for the Wildcats, this was a throughly impressive victory and certainly one of the more stress-free games that they have played this season. We saw everything from Colin Gillespie’s leadership, to Brandon Slater’s impactful minutes off the bench. We even saw one minute of Chris Arcidiacono, a treat for the Villanova faithful. There were many positives to be taken away from the evening and honestly, there is only one pressing question that still faces the NovaNation.
Where are Jay Wright’s suits?
The Wildcats will have a 10-day rest as well over the holidays before they travel to Cincinnati to face off against a red-hot Xavier Musketeer team, currently ranked #22 in the country.