Short-handed Marquette dropped by Nova, 87-76

Marquette put up a gutsy effort against the overpowering Villanova Wildcats with only six players, but depth overcame resilience in Villanova’s 87-76 victory. Sophomore Jajuan Johnson led Marquette (11-15, 3-11) with 20 points while sophomore center Luke Fischer chimed in with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and Duane Wilson poured in 15 points.

Marquette was left with just six active players after Matt Carlino and Juan Anderson were held out of action. Carlino missed his fourth straight game while recovering from a concussion. Anderson unexpectedly missed the game due to a right ankle injury he suffered in practice Thursday.

“Juan is a competitor,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “He rolled his ankle pretty good. Juan’s game is based on energy, athleticism, effort dragging that leg around and I don’t want to put him in a position to get further hurt.”

[#23 Jajuan Johnson led MU with 20 pts and 5 assists]

Foul trouble put Marquette in an even more perilous situation. Both Fischer and freshman Sandy Cohen III fouled out of the game in the second half, which prompted Wojciechowski to insert walk-on Michael Mache into the game for the final 29 seconds.

The difference in the game came from beyond the arc. Villanova (25-2, 12-2) drilled 11 of its 21 3-point attempts while Marquette was 9-of-26 from deep. Five players scored in double figures for the Wildcats, who were led by Darrun Hilliard with 17 points.

Ryan Arcidiacono scored 16 points, but did most of his damage in the first two minutes of the second half. Arcidiacono opened up the half with a triple 10 seconds into the second frame. He struck again 38 seconds later to extend Marquette’s lead to 12 points. After a Jayvaughn Pinkston jump shot put the Wildcats up 14, Arcidiacono hit his third three of the half with 18:02 remaining.

Those three shots signified an early dagger for the Golden Eagles, who had managed to hang around with the heavily favored Wildcats in the first half.

Marquette’s lineup showed similarities the 2011-12 Villanova team that went 13-19 and 5-11 in the Big East. The Wildcats gave then freshmen Hilliard and Pinkston a heavy dose of minutes during the difficult season.

[Luke Fischer jams in two of his 17pts. He also had 5 rebs, 2BL and 1 steal]

Today, Marquette started two sophomores, a true freshman and a redshirt freshman. Wojciechowski said games like today are building blocks for the future.

“There’s a lot of lessons to be learned,” Wojciechowski said. “You’re looking at the lineup and you see two freshmen, two sophomores and a senior point guard. You look at their lineup and you see just an experienced veteran team. Sometimes you have to through pain and struggle and if you use it the right way it can make you stronger in the future.”

[Wojo trying to keep MU in the game vs #6 Villanova.]

Marquette unexpectedly stuck around for longer than they were expected. The Golden Eagles fought all day and once again couldn’t string together the necessary possessions. Saturday’s loss was just another step in the process of rebuilding the program.

“I don’t like to lose and I don’t think the guys in the locker room like to lose,” Wojciechowski said. “But, we got to continue to focus on the process and continue to get better.”

The Golden Eagles hit the road for two straight games against Butler and Providence before closing out the regular season with two home games against St. John’s and DePaul.

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