Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Darrun Hilliard poured in a career- high 26 points to lead eighth-ranked Villanova to a 73-56 win over Marquette at Wells Fargo Center.
Josh Hart chipped in 13 points off the bench and JayVaughn Pinkston scored 11 points and pulled down seven boards for the Wildcats (26-3, 14-2 Big East), winners in four straight.
With the win and a Creighton loss on Saturday, Villanova moved one full game ahead of the Bluejays for first place in the Big East. The Wildcats will visit Xavier on Thursday before closing out the regular season at home against Georgetown on Mar. 8.
"It's good right now; it's good for today. We'll take it. But it doesn't matter until the end of the season. I know it's a cliche, but it's true. It doesn't matter who's in first place until the last game," said Villanova coach Jay Wright.
Deonte Burton scored 13 points and Todd Mayo added 11 for the Golden Eagles (17-12, 9-7), who fell to 0-5 against ranked opponents this season.
Marquette's starters combined to go just 5-for-23 from the field in the setback.
"I would say the number one disappointment was we didn't play as hard as we needed to in order to beat a team as good as Villanova. I thought at times we did, but from pillar to post, we didn't," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said.
Mayo had the Golden Eagles within 17-14 with his jumper at the 9:15 mark of the first half, but Nova rattled off a 10-2 run to open up a 27-16 lead. Hilliard sparked the run with a 3-point play on a fastbreak layup.
Marquette clawed its way back within six later in the half, but Hilliard scored the final five points of the session, including a 3-pointer with three seconds left to send the Wildcats into the break sporting a 36-25 lead.
Villanova then opened the second half on a 12-4 run to make it 48-29.
Marquette scored the next six points to get within 48-35. Villanova, though, opened up a 16-7 swing, capped off with a Ryan Arcidiacono 3-pointer, that essentially put the game out of reach.
Marquette never got closer than 17 the rest of the way.
Villanova scored 21 points off 15 Marquette turnovers ... Arcidiacono finished with eight points ... Marquette's bench scored 39 points ... The Golden Eagles visit Providence on Tuesday and close the regular season at home against St. John's on Mar. 8.