PHILADELPHIA -- Maalik Wayns could not believe the call. The Villanova guard was convinced a ball knocked off a Marquette player and went out of bounds, giving the arrow to the Wildcats.
Nope, Marquette ball. Wayns yelled a profanity and was whistled for a technical foul.
Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder did the heavy lifting to help the Golden Eagles (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) storm back from an 18-point deficit. They capitalized on Nova's momentary meltdown and made the comeback complete.
Johnson-Odom hit two free throws off the technical and Crowder tied it with a basket off the possession. That jump-started a late 8-0 run that helped Marquette rally to beat Villanova 82-78 on Saturday.
"We were able to keep a level attitude in a game like that and not get carried away," Johnson-Odom said.
Johnson-Odom matched a season high with 26 points, and Crowder had 20 points and 11 rebounds for Marquette (18-4, 7-2 Big East). The duo sparked the Golden Eagles to their sixth straight win and kept them in contention for a conference title.
The Wildcats had the lead with 6:15 left when Wayns got the T. Johnson-Odom did his part from the line and Crowder tied it on a driving layup. Johnson-Odum made it 71-69, putting Marquette ahead for good.
"I don't think you can go on the road ... and go through all that we went through and have a chance to win unless you're extremely tough," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said.
The Golden Eagles used a 10-0 run in the second half, capped by Crowder's falling down 3, that tied the game at 55. Villanova got the lead back to four points until Wayns used profanity after what he thought was a blown call. The official looked straight at him, made the "T" signal and the game changed from there.
"I didn't touch the ball at all," Wayns said. "I just reacted. I didn't say anything disrespectful to the ref. I don't know what caused the tech. He called it, so it is what it is."
Pinkston hit a 3 with 8.6 seconds left to pull Villanova within two but it wasn't enough for the Wildcats, who had 20 turnovers.
"When you're struggling, it's never one thing," coach Jay Wright said.
There were three technical fouls called overall in the game.
This has been a down season for the Wildcats and their first NIT in eight years appears more likely than another trip to the NCAA tournament. For 20 minutes, however, the Wildcats showed why Wright still likes his team and believes a solid foundation is in place for next season.
They opened the game with three straight 3s and James Bell added a fourth for a 21-7 lead. They stretched the lead to 18 and were getting baskets from everyone. Bell, who came in averaging 7.6 points, had 11 at the break. Cheek also scored 11 in the first half, just a tick off his season average.
Winning or losing, neither coach was happy.
Wright was whistled for a technical and badgered the refs all half. Williams was hit with one after Marquette was called for a shooting foul, which allowed the Wildcats to hit four straight at the free throw line and make it a 13-point game.
Williams said he never complained to the officials, but simply fell down.
Throw in the T called against Wayns, and it was clear officials were paying attention after they were put on notice this week by John Adams, the national coordinator of men's basketball officiating. He posted a memo stating officials have done a "poor job" dealing with bad sportsmanship "committed by players, substitutes, and bench personnel, including head coaches."
"You should have a very low tolerance for players who use profanity towards officials or who "wave you off" after a call etc.," he wrote. "These types of actions call for technical fouls. Call them! Your coordinators and commissioners will support you."