Brunson, No. 3 Villanova bounce back, beat Marquette 100-90

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 16: Jalen Brunson #1 of the Villanova Wildcats drives against Elijah Long #55 of the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers in the first half during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyBank Center on March 16, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA — Perfect record ruined and No. 1 ranking gone, Villanova couldn’t wait to play again.

The schedule, though, made the Wildcats wait a week.

“We learned that it’s really hard to have a week off after getting your butt kicked,” coach Jay Wright said.

Jalen Brunson had 27 points and eight assists and No. 3 Villanova bounced back from its first loss of the season by holding off Marquette 100-90 on Saturday night.

Eric Paschall added 19 points and Mikal Bridges had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Wildcats (14-1, 2-1 Big East), who never trailed and shot 56 percent from the field to give Wright his 400th win at Villanova.

After stewing over a 101-93 loss at Butler, the Wildcats were efficient, hitting 27 of 32 free throws and getting assists on 20 of 32 baskets.

“It’s really hard, for a lot of reasons. No one is in a good mood, you want to play another game,” Wright said. “It was a rough week.”

Villanova, which hasn’t lost consecutive games in nearly five years, needed a good performance to overcome another great performance by Markus Howard.

The guard had 37 points and eight assists for Marquette (11-5, 2-2), three nights after scoring a Big East record-tying 52 points in an overtime win at Providence. His reverse layup with 23 seconds left made it 96-90, but he missed a 3 with 13 seconds left while trailing 97-90.

Andrew Rowsey was held to six points on 2-of-12 shooting and Marquette couldn’t duplicate a home victory over then-No. 1 Villanova last January.

“We knew coming into the game we were going to see the best of Villanova, obviously, coming off a loss and having a week to prepare,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “And the best of what Villanova has to offer is, in my humble opinion, as good as there is in the United States.”

With Brunson producing six assists in the first half, three on no-look passes for dunks, Villanova was sharp early and led by as many as 13 points before halftime. The lead swelled to 67-50 on Bridges’ three-point play with 12:47 left.

Howard, who hit a Big East record 11 3s against Providence, started just 1 of 4 from the field before catching a rhythm late in the first half.

He was 5 of 13 from 3-point range and also used his speed to score off the dribble, making 13 of 27 shots.

“Markus has become a much more complete basketball player,” Wojciechowski said. “Obviously the 3-point shots gain the most notoriety, but he’s much more than a 3-point shooter. He’s having a phenomenal sophomore year.”


Marquette: It marked the fourth loss to a ranked team (Purdue, Wichita State, Xavier) for the Golden Eagles, despite another big performance from Howard. Marquette may have had a chance if Rowsey didn’t struggle so much. He came in averaging 22 points.

Villanova: You could tell the Wildcats were itching to get back on the court, racing to leads of 6-0, 17-9 and 23-12 with a strong focus on both ends of the court that was missing at Butler. Wright was mostly happy with his defense despite giving up 90 points.


Wright improved to 400-162 in 17 seasons at Villanova, but shook off is significance.

“I promise you one day when I’m finished I’ll look back on it with great pride,” he said.


Howard also went 6 of 6 from the foul line. He’s made 58 straight dating to March.


With injuries sidelining Villanova’s Jermaine Samuels and Collin Gillespie, the Wildcats are looking for players to contribute in new ways.

They got it from Paschall, who was 3 of 3 from 3-point range after entering the game 2 of 27 from long range. And Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree surpassed his previous career-high of eight points by halftime. He finished with 10.


Marquette: Home vs. No. 21 Seton Hall on Tuesday.

Villanova: A showdown at home Wednesday night vs. No. 5 Xavier, which will likely drop in the rankings after losing to Providence on Saturday.