Hilliard leads Villanova past Marquette

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Sports Editor
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PHILADELPHIA — When two of their top scorers went to the bench early with foul trouble, the No. 8 Villanova Wildcats needed someone to step up.

Junior guard Darrun Hilliard was more than happy to oblige, scoring a career-high 26 points in the Wildcats’ 73-56 win over the Marquette Golden Eagles.

Hilliard’s scoring outburst tops his former mark of 25 points, set against Syracuse in an overtime win last year. The junior hit five of his eight attempts from beyond the arc and added four assists.

“It was just out of what we were doing, it wasn’t anything that was different,” Hilliard said. “I was just trying to be aggressive and make plays for myself and for my teammates.”

Marquette featured a more balanced scoring attack, with freshman guard Deonte Burton leading the way. The freshman scored a team-high 13 points, all of them coming in the second half.

The Wildcats (26-3, 14-2 Big East) suffered through some foul trouble early in the game, with guards Ryan Arcidiacono and James Bell going to the bench early with two fouls each.

With those two playing a combined 13 minutes in the first half, Hilliard and fellow guard Josh Hart carried the scoring load, scoring the first 20 Wildcats points in the opening 12 minutes of the game.

“In the first half, playing without James Bell and Ryan Arcidiacono, I thought our energy level actually went up,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “I thought we were actually a quicker team. Offensively we might not have been as efficient but our defense was actually better. I don’t think it’s a knock on those two, I just think we went a little smaller and quicker and then those guys were really fresh when they came in the second half.

During the run, Hilliard scored 13 points while shooting three of five from the 3-point line. Hart added the other seven, hitting three of his first four shots after replacing Bell.

A 7-0 Golden Eagles run that cut Villanova’s lead to six was derailed after Marquette coach Buzz Williams was called for a technical foul with 36 seconds left in the half due to confusion on an out-of-bounds call.

“Jake (Kaplan) clearly had possession of the ball, he was maybe about two and a half feet from the baseline,” Williams said. “I wasn’t trying to get a technical, I was trying to get a timeout. I was calling timeout with (referee) Karl (Hess) and heading towards where Jake was at and I was on the floor. So, in that regard, I was deserving of a technical. But I wasn’t doing it on purpose, I thought it was a timeout.”

Following the technical, Hilliard connected on the free throws and hit another 3-pointer to give the Wildcats an 11-point lead at the half.

Marquette (17-12, 9-7) opened up the second half sluggish, missing its first five shots as the Wildcats opened up a sizable 18-point lead. Guard Todd Mayo finally broke the spell with a mid-range jumper five minutes into the half.

Golden Eagles guard Deonte Burton scored 11 straight points for Marquette in a four-minute span, but no other player was able to contribute as the deficit climbed to 16 points.

The 3-pointers from Arcidiacono and Hart extended the lead to 22 with just under seven minutes to play, Villanova’s largest lead of the game.

“That’s the beauty of this team, we don’t just depend on one guy,” Hilliard said. “There’s a bunch of guys, a lot of bodies we can throw at you and that’s just the beauty and the makeup of this team.”

Heading into Sunday’s contest, the Golden Eagles were ranked 99th in the nation in turnovers per game with 11.6. Villanova was able to force 15 turnovers, eight in the first half, and convert them into 21 points.

NOTES: With the win, Villanova set a new mark with 26 regular season wins. The Wildcats have hit the 25-win mark four times, the latest coming in 2008-2009. … In the first meeting between the teams, Villanova ended Marquette’s 20-game win streak in the Big East, dating back to last year, in a 94-85 overtime win. … Marquette’s 56 points are the third-lowest this season, behind 49 points against Creighton and 35 points against

Alan is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief editors for Basketball Insiders. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 8 years, having written for the likes of Sportlens,, The Sports Daily, 90min, and His particular specialisms include US online casinos and gambling regulations, and soccer and basketball betting. Based in London, Alan holds an MA in English Literature and is a passionate supporter of Chelsea FC.

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