Brunson, Bridges spark No. 1 Villanova past Marquette, 85-82

Jalen Brunson scored 31 and Mikal Bridges did the dirty work down the stretch Sunday in No. 1 Villanova’s 85-82 victory over Marquette.

Despite tweaking his ankle and sitting down for treatment in the second half, Brunson finished the game with 10 of 19 shooting.

“I’m fine,” Brunson told a Fox television reporter later. “A little thing. I’m moving forward.”

Villanova was already hurting coming into the Big East game, playing without guard Phil Booth for the first time since he fractured his right hand last week.

The Wildcats met the challenge with balanced scoring from Brunson, Donte DiVincenzo (23 points) and Bridges (16).

Bridges made a critical play in the final minute.

After Brunson missed a three, he grabbed the offensive rebound, and fed DiVincenzo.

DiVincenzo hit a layup for an 85-80 lead with 19 seconds remaining.

Marquette guard Andrew Rowsey hit five three-pointers and scored 29, but back-court mate Markus Howard was held scoreless after intermission.

Howard, who scored 52 in overtime on Jan. 4 at Providence, finished with 13 points on 5 of 18 shooting.


Villanova 20-1, 7-1

Marquette 13-8, 4-5

Markus Howard: ‘Every shot … you feel like it’s going to go in’

Every time record-breaking Marquette sophomore Markus Howard touched the ball, it felt like something good was about to happen.

Howard scored 52 points Wednesday night to lead a 95-90 overtime victory over Providence College, at Providence, Rhode Island.

Howard started out inconspicuously with 10 points in the first half. But then he exploded for 32 in the second half and added another 10 in the overtime.

Altogether, Howard finished 17 of 29 from the field, including 11 of 19 three pointers. He knocked down all seven of his free throws.

“When you’re in a rhythm like that, every shot you throw up, you feel like it’s going to go in,” Howard told Andy Katz of “My teammates did a great job of finding me. My coaches did a great job of setting up plays.

“So it was really my job just to create and get the best shot for our offense.’

Daniel Rapaport of Sports Illustrated reported that it is the first 50-point performance of the season in NCAA Division I and the most since Nate Wolters scored 53 for South Dakota State in 2013.

Central Michigan guard Marcus Keene, out of San Antonio’s Warren High School, scored 50 last year.

Howard, a 5-11 guard from Arizona, entered the game at Providence’s Dunkin’ Donuts Center as the nation’s 37th best scorer at 20.5 points per game.

With his outburst, he tied the Big East Conference single-game scoring record set in 2011 by Providence’s MarShon Brooks and also eclipsed a nearly 60-year-old school record.

Marquette’s previous record of 44 points was set in February of 1958 by Mike Moran against Creighton and tied in 1990 by Tony Smith against Wisconsin.

Other school records set by Howard included field goals and three-pointers.

The 11 3-pointers tied his own MU record established earlier this season against Chicago State.