VILLANOVA, Pa. – Justin Lewis wanted the ball with the game on the line and got it – and briefly lost his grip. Like all the times Marquette nearly let the game slip away, Lewis recovered. And this time, he let it fly.
Over a fallen defender, Lewis buried a 3 that sent the Golden Eagles into a frenzy and led to one of the rarest of sights – a Villanova loss on its home court.
“I tell the guys all the time, we’re not guys who are going to come out and play pretty,” Lewis said after Marquette’s 57-54 win over No. 11 Villanova on Wednesday night.
His shot looked beautiful to the Golden Eagles.
Lewis’ fifth 3 of the game came with 11.5 seconds left to snap the Wildcats’ 29-game on-campus winning streak.
Marquette won for the first time ever at the Pavilion and earned a breakthrough victory in coach Shaka Smart’s first season.
“Our guys deserve a lot of credit just for coming in here, hanging in there and giving us a chance to win,” he said.
Marquette (13-6, 5-3 Big East) briefly fumbled the ball, but Lewis recovered to nail the biggest shot of the season and send the Golden Eagles to their fifth straight win. The Golden Eagles stormed the court and mobbed each other in wild celebration after Villanova’s last-second heave was well off the mark.
Marquette simply never let this one get away from them, withstanding every big basket or defensive stop by Villanova (13-5, 6-2) that normally rattles the opposition.
“They hit a lot of timely 3s,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “The last one being the most timely.”
Villanova hadn’t lost at the Pavilion since November 2018.
Lewis hit five 3s and scored 21 points for Marquette. Greg Elliott made four 3s and scored 14 points. Marquette hit 13 3s to Villanova’s six.
Eric Dixon led Villanova with 15 points, and Justin Moore had 13.
Elliott made a 3 with 3:40 left that pulled the Golden Eagles within one, and Lewis went inside for a bucket that tied it at 54 with 1:07 left – the buckets that pushed them to the brink of their biggest win of the season.
The Golden Eagles had already won four straight Big East games for the first time since 2018-19 and came out from the jump poised for five. Marquette never shrunk from the challenge of playing at the Pavilion and never wilted.
Consider one nice stretch: Gillespie tied the game on a 3, Marquette airballed the next possession and Caleb Daniels worked inside for a tough basket and a 27-25 Wildcats lead. With the packed crowd getting louder, Lewis settled down the Golden Eagles with a 3 and Darryl Morsell scored with 3 seconds left to send them into halftime with a 30-29 lead.
It was just a sign of the bigger buckets – and one upset – ahead.
“I really give them credit in that they’re playing for each other,” Smart said. “I told them that’s the only way to come in here and win. You’re not beating Villanova as a bunch of individuals. You’ve got to play for each other.”
Josh Hart, the 2017 Big East player of the year and current New Orleans Pelicans guard, had his jersey retired at halftime. Hart was a two-time MVP of the Big East Tournament and the leading scorer on Villanova’s 2016 national championship team.
“Our biggest and best memories of being here are winning the national championship,” Hart said.
Hart spent his first two NBA seasons with the Lakers and is in his third season with the Pelicans. He’s averaging a career-best 13.1 points, with 7.5 rebounds in 35 games.
Wright had noticed Hart on a scouting trip for another player and quickly became enamored with a player he says he knew would be a “great Villanova basketball player.”
“It’s kind of hard to put into words what he meant to me,” Hart said. “I came in as a freshman with a small shot of coming into the league.”
Hart is the only Villanova player to record 1,900 or more points (1,921), 800 or more rebounds (812), 250 or more assists (266) and 150 or more steals (161) over his career. Villanova does not retire numbers (with the exception of Paul Arizin’s No. 11).
Marquette: The Golden Eagles opened a pivotal stretch against Top 25 teams, with Villanova marking a stretch of six of seven games against teams ranked in this week’s AP Top 25 poll. Marquette’s career record improved to 131-210 against Top 25 teams (4-4 this season).
Villanova: The Wildcats are about as tough as any team to beat on campus. They fell to 323-65 since the building opened in 1986 and 30-3 since the building reopened in 2018-19 following a $65 million renovation.
NOT SO FOUL
Marquette was 2 of 2 from the free-throw line; Villanova 4 of 5.
Marquette: Host No. 20 Xavier on Sunday.
Villanova: Play Saturday at Georgetown.