Villanova Wildcats

Jermaine Samuels scores 29 points as Villanova snaps losing streak with win over No. 10 Marquette

usa_jermaine_samuels_eric_paschall_celebration_villanova.jpg
USA Today Images/Eric Hartline

Jermaine Samuels scores 29 points as Villanova snaps losing streak with win over No. 10 Marquette

VILLANOVA — Jermaine Samuels' point production mirrored Villanova's win total over the last three games: a big 0.

Samuels morphed from scoreless to sensational to deny No. 10 Marquette a piece of the Big East crown Wednesday night. He hit five 3-pointers and scored a career-high 29 points as defending national champion Villanova snapped a three-game losing streak with a 67-61 win over the Golden Eagles.

Saddiq Bey hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:31 left to help the Wildcats (21-8, 12-4 Big East) keep their hopes alive for a conference title with a needed win in their final game this season at their on-campus arena. Villanova won its first 10 Big East games and appeared headed to a No. 1 seed in the league tournament next month until it hit the skids on the road -- losses to St. John's, Georgetown and Xavier that opened the door for Marquette.

The Golden Eagles (23-5, 12-3) pounced and would have secured both a share of the Big East title and the top seed in the conference tournament with a victory against `Nova.

But who would have counted on Samuels to spoil Marquette's run?

Villanova has tried a maze of options throughout an uneven season to find a reliable third scorer after the 1-2 threat of Phil Booth and Eric Paschall. Booth, who averages 19.6 points, scored 17 and Paschall snapped a streak of 23 straight games in double figures with four points Wednesday. Paschall's off night left the offense open for another option -- and Samuels delivered.

"We've been trying to teach him what kind of decisions to make when they don't guard you," Villanova coach Jay Wright said.

The decision was clear, shoot!

Samuels had averaged only 4.1 points per game this season -- and that included a 15-point game with three 3-pointers in a win against Temple in early December. The 6-foot-7, 220-pound sophomore forward hit only seven more 3s during that span and was somehow scoreless in each of his last three games. He missed his only two field goal tries (both 3s) and did not attempt a free throw during Villanova's losing streak.

"I just want to be aggressive and make plays," Samuels said.

Left open against the Golden Eagles, Samuels hit two 3s in a 15-point first half and shot 10 of 19 overall from the floor.

"I wish we weren't the only team he hit 3s against," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "They put you in very tough positions because of their ability to shoot from the other positions."

Samuels buried a tying 3 in the second half that made it 48-all and converted a three-point play that made it 51-all.

The reason for all the ties? Markus Howard, who scored 25 points, reached 1,000 points in his career and proved again why he's the top Big East player of the year candidate. Howard nailed a pair of go-ahead 3s in the second half and scored 13 of Marquette's first 23 points in the period.

Howard was whistled for his fourth foul at 9:28 in the second half and went to the bench, slowing Marquette's roll.

"Getting stops and rebounding, that's what changes the game," Booth said.

With Howard out, the five-point favorite Wildcats did just enough to stay in the Big East race. Bey made the decisive 3 for a 61-60 lead and Booth, the two-time national champ, hit a pair of free throws with 1:30 left to keep it a three-point game. Samuels sealed it with two from the line with 11.1 seconds left that had fans going wild on senior night.

"This was March-level intensity," Wojciechowski said. "It was a heck of a college basketball game. Villanova deserved to win. They made more plays when it counted the most."

Big picture 
Marquette beat Villanova 66-65 at home this month but has not defeated the Wildcats in consecutive games since sweeping the season series in 2011-12.

With two regular-season games remaining, Villanova needs Marquette to drop at least one of its final three to have a shot at the Big East title.

Skid row 
The Wildcats, who fell out of the Top 25 this week, were on their first three-game losing streak since the 2012-13 season.

Up next 
Marquette plays next Wednesday at home against Creighton.

Villanova hosts Butler on Saturday at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center.

No. 20 Villanova holds off Delaware

usa_saddiq_bey.jpg
USA Today Images/Bill Streicher

No. 20 Villanova holds off Delaware

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — Playing with a young team, Villanova coach Jay Wright has discovered that even winning can be a learning experience for the No. 20 Wildcats.

The days of Phil Booth and Eric Paschall stepping up in crunch time for the Wildcats ended when their college careers concluded last season.

The new kids have to step up and, fortunately, a lot of guys are carrying the load.

Jermaine Samuels scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half and Villanova won its season-high fourth straight game by getting double-digit performances by five players to hold off Delaware 78-70 on Saturday in the Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center.

"It does boost their morale," Wright said of sharing the scoring load. "Guys like to score. That's one of the things we like to teach a young team -- don't evaluate yourselves on whether you score. So when five guys score they're all happy. Guys like to score. It's a normal human characteristic. They're feeling good right now. "

Justin Moore came off the bench to score 16, Saddiq Bey had 13, Cole Swider 12 and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 10 as the Wildcats (8-2) beat the Blue Hens (9-2) for the 15th straight time.

Nate Darling scored 29 points for Delaware, which has lost two straight after setting a school record by starting the season with nine consecutive wins for coach Martin Ingelsby. Kevin Anderson added 14 points, while Justyn Mutts had eight points and 11 rebounds.

"We had epic battles when Mike Brey was there," Wright of the former Delaware coach who is now at Notre Dame. "I always remember those games. They're really intelligent defensively, to Martin's credit."

Darling, who was 10 of 19 from the field, hit a long 3-pointer with 13:15 left the game to get the Blue Hens to within 47-46 and give the Wildcats and Wright some concern.

Moore hit two free throws on the Wildcats' next possession and Collin Gillespie, who had an off game with seven points, hit a 3-pointer to push the advantage to 52-46.

Delaware never got closer than three the rest of the way as the Wildcats opened a 10-point lead in the final minutes.

“I do think we played well on a big stage," Ingelsby said. "We went for it. We were fearless. A testament to Villanova, they made winning plays and their free throws. I thought when we had it to three points we could put a little game pressure on them and get it tied or take the lead, and they made some plays. We could never get it to a one- or two-point game."

Villanova hit 9 of its first 12 shots in building a 22-10 lead less than seven minutes in. The Wildcats made only six baskets the rest of the half, taking a 37-32 lead. Most of their shots were from the outside and they never got to the free-throw line.

Darling and Anderson kept the Blue Hens close, scoring 11 and nine points, respectively.

In the opening game of the doubleheader at the Prudential Center, Mississippi State rallied late to beat Kansas State 67-61.

Big picture

Delaware: The Blue Hens have one of their best teams and this was a shot at upsetting the Wildcats.

Villanova: The Wildcats find ways to win. In this one, they pushed the ball inside in the second half to break it open.

Villanova connection

Ingelsby is the son of former Wildcats standout guard Tom Ingelsby. He played at the school from 1970-73, helping Villanova reach the NCAA title game in 1971. Former Wildcat Dylan Painter transferred to Delaware after last season and he is eligible to play his first game on Monday.

Up next

Delaware: Hosts Delaware State on Monday night.

Villanova: Hosts No. 2 Kansas on Saturday in a Big East-Big Ten matchup.

No. 23 Villanova holds off Saint Joseph's surge for Big 5 win

usa_saddiq_bey.jpg
USA Today Images

No. 23 Villanova holds off Saint Joseph's surge for Big 5 win

BOX SCORE

Villanova nearly came undone completing an exhausting stretch of three games in six days against regional rivals.

Instead, the Wildcats found a final burst of energy, and that spoiled a frantic rally by their Main Line neighbors.

Saddiq Bey scored 22 points, Collin Gillespie had 20 and No. 23 Villanova held off a second-half comeback from Saint Joseph's to win 78-66 Saturday.

Villanova (7-2) led 41-25 at halftime, but Saint Joseph's Ryan Daly scored 22 of his 32 points after halftime to get the Hawks within 65-62 with 4:03 left. The Wildcats responded with a 13-4 run to end it.

"This will be good for us," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We've gone through a really tough stretch here, and we really haven't had a chance to practice. Now, we'll get a gap where we can work on some things. And it's always good when you can work on it after a win."

Justin Moore added 14 points and Jermaine Samuels had 12 for Villanova. The Wildcats have won 28 of 29 against Big 5 opponents since 2012.

The Hawks have lost seven straight overall and eight consecutive against Villanova since 2011. Daly was the only Saint Joseph's player with more than eight points.

"I'd much rather not had the 32 points if we ended up winning the game," Daly said. "That was the most important thing, and it didn't happen."

Saint Joseph's got within three on two occasions in the second half, including after Daly's two free throws with 4:08 left.

The Wildcats pulled away thanks to 8-for-8 shooting from the foul line in the last 2:11.

"We had a lot of tough games like this last year that helped us out," Bey said. "These games help you mature."

Big picture

Villanova: After a 2-0 week and winning three straight over Big 5 opponents, Villanova will likely remain in the AP Top 25 somewhere around their current ranking. The team has two games - Saturday against Delaware in Newark, a Dec. 21 home game against Kansas - before starting Big East play on Dec. 30 against Xavier.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks - in their first season under coach Billy Lange - showed some signs of life despite poor shooting.

"There are no such things as moral victories," Lange said. "However, I've kept a notebook that asks if we played hard that I fill out when I get into my car or on the bus after a game. And clearly, we did that today against a national championship program."

Up next

Villanova: The Wildcats are off until next Saturday when they play Delaware in the Never Forget Tribute at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Saint Joseph's: The Hawks travel to Temple on Tuesday night.