Junior forward Jayvaughn Pinkston is averaging 15 points per game through 20 games. (Rachel Bleier/The Villanovan)

by Pat Ralph

Despite giving up a late lead and falling victim to a controversial call at the end of regulation, the Villanova men’s basketball team pulled out a tough 94-85 overtime win over Marquette at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee this past Saturday.

The No. 9-ranked Wildcats (17-2, 6-1 Big East) were led in the contest by none other than their two team leaders: senior guard James Bell and sophomore guard Ryan Arcidiacono.

Bell led all scorers with a career-high 30 points in the game, while Arcidiacono finished with a double-double of 20 points and 11 assists.

As we have seen time and time again, Arcidiacono always steps up in the big moments to lead the Wildcats.

His composure and poise in the extra frame was the key to Villanova calming down and overcoming the emotional roller coaster that took place in the final minutes of regulation.

Arcidiacono is the first player this season in college basketball to have at least 20 points and 10 assists without turning the ball over.

“I felt good all game so I just wanted the ball in my hands,” the sophomore guard said to Villanova.com after the game. “If we were going to go down, I wanted it to be on my shoulders.”

After blowing an 11-point lead, which resulted in being tied at 77-77, senior guard Tony Chennault’s game-winning layup was waved off and instead was called for a charge.

The call was controversial because of the moment in which it was called as well as the fact that the Marquette defender was in the restricted zone when he took the charge.

According to this relatively new collegiate rule, a defender who tries to take a charge in the restricted zone should be instead called for a blocking foul. Head Coach Jay Wright was far from happy with the officials’ call.

“I was so happy that the play worked, and then I was so crushed when the call was made,” he said to Villanova.com. “I know he has great integrity. I was still mad at him, but I know he has great integrity.”

Nevertheless, the Wildcats outscored the Golden Eagles 17-8 in overtime to pull away with the win. Along with Bell and Arcidiacono’s strong performances, the Wildcats also got 20 points from junior guard Darrun Hilliard and 12 points from junior forward JayVaughn Pinkston.

The Wildcats’ offense was cooking all night, as they shot 48 percent from the field throughout the game. In the first half, the ’Cats shot an impressive 42 percent from 3-point land behind seven threes.

However, they only made three in the second half to end up shooting 36 percent from beyond the arc.

The struggling Golden Eagles (11-9, 3-4 Big East) were led in the game by senior forward Davante Gardner’s double-double of 29 points and 13 rebounds.

Marquette also got 18 points from junior guard Todd Mayo (the younger brother of Milwaukee Bucks guard O.J. Mayo) and 16 points from senior forward Jamil Wilson.

Marquette may not have won the game, but they had a clear advantage in the paint and off the bench throughout the contest. The Golden Eagles outscored the Wildcats in the paint 54-30 and in bench points 28-7.

Look no further for this indication than at the final numbers in Villanova’s box score. Sophomore forward Daniel Ochefu only had five points, while bench players like sophomore guard Dylan Ennis and freshman guard Josh Hart did not even register a point and failed to make an impact in the game.

In addition, Marquette exposed Villanova’s defense in the game by shooting 50 percent  from the field. After holding teams to under 50 percent shooting for 47 straight games, the Wildcats have now allowed their last two opponents exceed that threshold.

The Golden Eagles did not establish much of a 3-point presence in the game, as they only took eleven shots from beyond the arc and made two.

There are a few takeaways from this game to focus on going forward. First off, the way Villanova came out and played strong speaks much to the character of this team and how well-coached they are.

After an embarrassing home loss to Creighton, the Wildcats could have come out flat and underperformed against a team that is better than their record shows.

However, their ability to bounce back from a humbling loss and find a way to capture a tough road win shows that this team will be prepared for the mental challenges that the month of March presents. 00



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