"I was really proud of our ability to come together," said a relieved coach Tom Crean, whose team bounced back from a three game losing streak, including a heart breaking buzzer beater loss to Louisville on Saturday. "We weren't going to make a mountain out of a molehill; we weren't going to dwell on it (losing)."
With 7:14 left in the first half, Marquette trailed 28-19 thanks in large part to 16 first half points by Villanova freshmen Scottie Reynolds.
"At that point, we had to remind ourselves, ‘Refuse to lose,'" said James, who also had five assists. "Great teams have to win in different fashions."
That fashion was Hayward, who then went on a 7-0 run himself that included a three point shot and four free throws to pull Marquette within two.
"Some guys forget about me. I don't know why?" said Hayward, who also played a career high 28 minutes. "I just kept fighting and playing hard."
"He did a great job moving without the ball underneath the basket," said Villanova coach Jay Wright. "When we rotated, he went to the open area. That is what we are trying to teach our guys to do."
Marquette closed the first half on a 14-5 run to even the score at 33.
After two Wildcat free throws brought Villanova within two at 46-44, Marquette went on a 7-0 run to distance themselves and then used a 31-35 performance from the charity stripe to put the game away.
"Tonight's game was not anything we didn't expect," noted Wright, whose team had been averaging just 55 points allowed in their last seven games. "We just could not match them offensively."
The 80 points given up by Villanova were the most since they yielded 82 in losing at Providence on January 23rd.
Marquette was also stingy on the defensive end, taking six charges and creating 18 turnovers. Contributing to that blue collar mentality was Hayward, who guarded Villanova's leading scorer and All-American candidate, Curtis Sumpter.
"When he was running up the court, I tried to bump him a little bit," said Hayward of guarding Sumpter. "I talked a little junk to get in his head to make him shoot bad shots."
Sumpter was just 3-8 from the floor for the Wildcats (18-9, 6-7).
Marquette travels to South Bend to take on Notre Dame this Saturday. Marquette has beaten the Irish in their last three tries.
**Andrew Sharos is a senior double majoring in History & Secondary Education and is also the Head Student Writer for MarquetteHoops.com.