MILWAUKEE (AP) — Dwyane Wade's pregame message to Marquette was direct.
The Golden Eagles heeded the Hall of Famer's words.
“He said, ‘You guys have to win today,’" Marquette coach Shaka Smart recalled after the 17th-ranked Golden Eagles' 87-74 victory over Villanova on Monday. “Obviously that can go both ways, but I thought our guys did play with a level of desperation and commitment to what goes into winning even as Villanova was raining 3's in the first half.”
Kam Jones scored 22 points and Tyler Kolek had 19 points and 11 assists as Marquette shot 58.7% and outscored Villanova 30-17 over the last nine minutes. Oso Ighodaro added 18 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Wade attended Monday’s game to announce he was making a $3 million gift to his alma mater that will grow the school’s summer reading program for Milwaukee children, establish a Wade Scholars program benefiting low-income students and expand the university’s athletic and human performance research center, which will include a new practice facility for the men’s basketball program.
The Hall of Famer’s appearance came as Marquette was trying to erase a two-game skid. The Golden Eagles were coming off a 69-62 loss to Butler in which they shot 32.9% to snap a 20-game home conference winning streak that had tied a Big East record.
“Anytime you lose a couple of games, and particularly the way we lost our last game and the way that we played on offense and shot the ball, there had to be some doubt overcome," Smart said. “I thought the guys did a great job of overcoming that today.”
The Golden Eagles bounced back by relying on the lessons they had learned as kids. They continually worked the ball inside to get easy shots, as Marquette outscored Villanova 60-18 in the paint.
“Since kids, we’re just taught to shoot closer to the basket because it’s easier to make it,” said Marquette guard Stevie Mitchell, who scored nine points. “Just getting to the basket, getting high-percentage shots just gets our confidence going now shooting from outside."
Mark Armstrong had a career-high 24 points for Villanova. Eric Dixon had 15 points and Brendan Hausen added 11 points.
Kolek had eight points during a 12-0 run that enabled Marquette to pull ahead for good and beat Villanova (11-6, 4-2) for a fifth straight time, the Golden Eagles’ longest win streak in this series’ 44-game history.
After trailing by 10 points early in the second half, Villanova tied the game at 57-all on Dixon’s 3-pointer with 10:01 remaining. The Wildcats wouldn’t score again for over 4 ½ minutes as Marquette went on a 12-0 run to pull ahead for good.
While that scoring drought proved critical, Armstrong cited other areas in which Villanova came up short.
“Just defending and rebounding," Armstrong said. "We just didn’t come out and play hard enough. We’re going to go back to the gym and keep working.”
Villanova: The Wildcats lost in part because they couldn't stay hot from 3-point range. They went 9 of 18 from beyond the arc during a first half that featured eight ties and 12 lead changes. They were 5 of 15 on 3-point attempts in the second half.
Marquette: Kolek bounced back from a mini-slump and scored eight points during that 12-0 run. The reigning Big East player of the year had averaged just 3.5 points while shooting 2 of 19 overall and 1 of 10 from 3-point range during that two-game skid.
This victory should enable the Golden Eagles to stay in the Top 25 next week even if they lose on Saturday.
Villanova: Hosts No. 1 UConn on Saturday.
Marquette: Visits St. John's on Saturday.
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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball