Marquette unable to finish off second-half run in loss at Villanova

BY foxsports • February 3, 2011

By Paul Imig
February 3, 2011

The biggest issue for Marquette this season has been surrendering second half leads and allowing its opponent to come back late for wins. That never came into play on Wednesday as it was the Golden Eagles who were playing catch-up down the stretch.

Unlike Notre Dame and Louisville, both of which made successful second half runs to defeat Marquette earlier this season, the Golden Eagles attempt at a come back fell just short in a 75-70 loss to No. 12 Villanova.

After Marquette got up 12-11 early in the first half, the Wildcats rallied off eight consecutive points and led the rest of the way.

Four days earlier at home against Syracuse, the Golden Eagles led for the entire game to send the Orange to their fourth consecutive loss. But Marquette was unable to build on that big win as the team fell to 5-5 in Big East play.

At two different moments in the second half, Villanova led by 14 points. After the Wildcats took a 55-41 lead, the Golden Eagles went on an 18-7 run to cut the deficit to three with five minutes to play.

With an opportunity to get within one point or possibly tie the game, junior forward Jae Crowder turned the ball over and freshman guard Vander Blue committed a foul in the open court with Villanova already in the bonus.

To compound the negative sequence for Marquette, Crowder then picked up a technical foul after continuing to talk with Wildcats forward Isaiah Armwood. The officials had approached Crowder prior to calling the technical, but when the two continued at each other, a double technical was assessed.

That technical was Crowder's fourth personal foul.

The Golden Eagles again cut the lead back down to three after that, but were unable to draw any closer after Crowder fouled out at the 2:29 mark. He finished with nine points and four rebounds in 24 minutes. That is the fewest amount of minutes that Crowder has played since entering the starting lineup in mid-December.

It wasn't until there were 29 seconds to play that Marquette began to intentionally foul, yet the Golden Eagles shot 19 fewer free throws in the game than Villanova. And the Wildcats made the most of their attempts, connecting on 29 of their 33 free throws (87.9%). Marquette only missed one free throw in the game, but that came on only 14 attempts.

Junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom shot a season-high 21 field goal attempts, hitting seven of them (33%) for 15 points. Senior forward Jimmy Butler also had 15 for the Golden Eagles on 13 shots.

Johnson-Odom and Butler combined to shoot 58 percent of Marquette's field goal attempts in the game. They were the only two Golden Eagles players to score in double-digits.

Marquette faced a tough stretch in recent weeks, playing seven of its eight games against teams nationally-ranked in the top-25. Coach Buzz Williams and his team came away with three wins during that span, all coming at home over No. 11 Notre Dame, No. 10 Syracuse and unranked DePaul.

The schedule lightens up a bit through the rest of conference play. Road contests at Georgetown and Connecticut are the only remaining games against ranked opponents, with six upcoming games against unranked teams.

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