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Strong Second Half Lifts No. 17 Marquette Past Wildcats 82-78
JayVaughn Pinkston

Jan. 28, 2012

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PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - No. 17/18 Marquette erased a 10-point halftime deficit and went on to down Villanova 82-78 in a BIG EAST men's basketball contest played on Saturday afternoon before 15,878 fans at the Wells Fargo Center. The Golden Eagles improved to 18-4 overall, 7-2 in the BIG EAST while the Wildcats dipped to 10-12 overall, 3-7 in conference action.

Freshman JayVaughn Pinkston led the `Cats with 17 points while junior Dominic Cheek added 16 points. For Marquette, Darius Johnson-Odom (26 points) and Jae Crowder (20 points and 11 rebounds) combined for 46 points for the Golden Eagles.

"I thought we did a good job in the first half of creating offense off of our defense," stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright of a period that saw his team grab a 46-36 advantage. "In the second half we couldn't get stops and it became a half-court game.

"I give their guards a lot of credit. They controlled the game in the second half."

The Wildcats moved out of the gate quickly on Saturday afternoon, scoring 14 of the game's first 17 points to take the early lead. Sophomore James Bell sank two triples and Maalik Wayns added another to key the spurt over the game's first four minutes.

The hot shooting and sharp defense allowed VU to craft a 30-12 advantage after Bell sank a pull-up jump shot with 9:23 to go in the period.

But even as the Wildcats were building the advantage, foul trouble was beginning to become an issue. Wayns picked up his second foul midway through the half and that limited him to eight first half minutes.

Mouphtaou Yarou was also saddled with two fouls so the `Cats relied on the youngest members of their roster, including four freshmen over the rest of the first half. Marquette shaved the deficit to 10 points at the break, capping it with a Johnson-Odom triple on its final possession of the period.

The second half, however, was Marquette's. The Golden Eagles scored the first five points of the period and took their first lead at 57-55 when Pinkston was whistled for goaltending on a Jamil Wilson lay-up attempt with 11:39 left.

A pair of Wayns' free throws with 8:16 left allowed the Wildcats to regain the lead with 8:16 left and add to it a short while later when Bell made a driving jumper with 7:29 left on the clock. It was 69-65 in favor of Villanova at that point.

A technical foul called on Wayns with VU nursing a 69-67 lead with 6:15 left, came in the midst of an 8-0 run by the Golden Eagles that proved decisive. Though the `Cats had several chances in the final minutes to tie or go ahead, Marquette converted all six of its free throw attempts down the stretch and emerged with their second four point victory over Villanova this season. (MU downed the Wildcats 81-77 on Jan. 1 in Milwaukee).

"In the second half we kind of got locked into a half court game," noted Wright. "When you're struggling like we are, it isn't one thing that isn't working. It's always a combination of little things."

The Wildcats connected on .417 of their field goal attempts while limiting Marquette to .385 shooting from the field. But 20 VU turnovers led to 25 Golden Eagle points and the Golden Eagles became one of the few teams this season to outrebound Villanova, doing so by the count of 44-39.

Villanova sees its next action on Sunday, Feb. 5, when it visits Pittsburgh (2:00 p.m./ESPN/ESPN 950 Radio).