Howard has 38, No. 10 Marquette edges No. 14 Villanova 66-65

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Markus Howard provided the offense and this time around, Marquette’s defense put on just enough pressure at the end.

Howard scored 38 points and the 10th-ranked Golden Eagles hung on at the buzzer, edging No. 14 Villanova 66-65 Saturday and handing the Wildcats their first Big East Conference loss.

Marquette (20-4, 9-2) was coming off a one-point loss to St. John’s in which it failed to get a final stop.

The Golden Eagles, who led by 15 early in the second half, took a 66-63 edge on two free throws by Howard with 53 seconds left. Phil Booth answered with a floater in the lane that made it a one-point game.

Jermaine Samuels then stripped Howard on the ensuing possession with 14 seconds left. After a timeout, Booth drove on Sacar Anim but was cut off underneath by reserve forward Ed Morrow.

Booth passed the ball back to Samuels, who missed an off-balance jumper from the left side as time ran out.

“We just wanted to make it tough for him, obviously bring him to a crowd,” Anim said. “We really wanted to force him to drive where I knew I was going to have some help. We were able to get him down there and Ed made a big time play.”

Villanova coach Jay Wright said the last play didn’t develop the way he hoped.

“We were just running a ball screen and trying to put it in Phil’s hands, just let him make a decision,” Wright said. “We trust him to make a decision.”

“I don’t think we gave him great options. I don’t think his teammates spaced out really well. We got congested under the rim. It’s one of those things. I think they thought he was going to shoot it so they started to go for the offensive rebound instead of giving him an option,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with that. When you get to that point, you’ve got to let the players make the decisions.”

Booth had 19 points and Eric Paschall 17 for Villanova (19-5, 10-1), which had won 11 straight since a 74-71 loss to Kansas on Dec. 15. The Wildcats had won nine of the 10 previous games against Marquette.

Howard, the Big East’s leading scorer, hit 13 of 24 shots, including 5 of 11 on 3s. He made all seven of his free throws.

Anim added 18 on 8-of-10 shooting for the Golden Eagles.

Marquette bounced back from its first home loss of the season, 70-69 to St. John’s on Tuesday when Shamorie Ponds scored the game-winning basket on a drive with 16 seconds left.

“Overall, I thought we played an outstanding defensive game against a very dangerous and potent offense,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “It’s ironic that, although it wasn’t exactly the same game situation, essentially it was the same. If we get a stop, we’re going to win.”

The Golden Eagles opened the second half with a 10-3 run, taking a 40-29 lead on a jumper by Sam Hauser with 16:38 left. Marquette pushed the lead to 47-32 on Anim’s jumper as Villanova made just 2 of its first 12 shots after the break.

Villanova answered with 10 consecutive points, pulling within 47-42 on Saddiq Bey’s 3-pointer from the right corner. The Wildcats later went on a 13-2 burst and took a 55-53 lead on Samuel’s 3-pointer with 6:16 remaining.

“We just came out with a competitive edge, something to prove,” Howard said. “I think we have a lot to prove still, but today especially, we just wanted to bounce back from the game we had Tuesday. That was not the team we were, that’s not the team we’ve been. Tonight, we really just bounce back and do the best way we could to pick it up on the defensive end.”

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