VILLANOVA, Pa. -- It started with 9:37 left in the game with a foul shot by Kelan Martin, and it ended with 4:18 left with a three-pointer by Martin.
In between, nothing went right for Villanova.
It was a 5½-minute nightmare.
No. 22 Butler ran off 18 straight points against No. 2 Villanova, turning a seven-point deficit into an 11-point lead, and then hung on for a 74-66 win over the Wildcats, ‘Nova’s first loss on campus in more than four years (see Instant Replay).
Villanova has lost three games this year, two of them to Butler.
“You have to give them credit,” Villanova sophomore Jalen Brunson said. “They were just hitting every shot. As a team, we just didn’t really lock in defensively. All credit to them for what they were able to do offensively.”
Villanova led 49-42 with just over 9½ minutes left, but during that 5½-minute stretch Butler made 7 of 11 shots – including 4 of 7 threes – to take a 60-52 lead.
Villanova went 6½ minutes without scoring. The Wildcats missed six straight shots and committed two turnovers during that 18-0 run.
“Nothing really changed,” Butler junior forward Kelan Martin said. “We just stuck together.
“We knew we might get punched in the mouth today, it happens on the road, especially with a good team. We responded well and stuck with it and went on a run and just kept grinding it out, possession by possession.”
The loss was the first ever on campus for Josh Hart, Kris Jenkins and the other Villanova seniors. The Wildcats had won 48 straight games at the Pavilion since a 2013 loss to Providence. That was Ryan Arcidiacono's freshman year.
Villanova dropped to 26-3 overall and 13-3 in the Big East, and Butler – which had never won at Villanova – improved to 22-6 and 11-5.
One more Villanova win or Butler loss will still give Villanova the outright Big East Conference title and No. 1 seed in next month’s conference tournament in New York.
Creighton lost Wednesday night to Providence, leaving Butler and Villanova the only schools that can win the Big East regular-season title.
“We’ve got to have better attention to detail, and it starts with me,” Hart said. “On the defensive end we got exposed and it started with me and that’s something that we’ve got to have better attention to detail from the seniors and [have it] trickle down.”
Villanova got the lead down to six – with the ball -- with three minutes left and got as close as five during a wild last couple minutes, but Butler made its last eight foul shots to secure the win.
“It seemed like the last couple minutes took an hour,” Martin said.
Brunson shot 9 for 13 for 24 points, but the rest of the Wildcats were a combined 16 for 44.
Hart scored 18, but Jenkins shot 1 for 8 and 1 for 5 from three, Mikal Bridges had just three points and Donte DiVinenczo just six.
“They just played better than us in every phase,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “We just have to give them credit. Sometimes you come into a game, and the other team plays better. You try everything and our guys competed to the end, I’m proud of them for that, but we just ran into a team that played better than us tonight in every phase.”
Butler led 8-0 early, but Villanova outscored the Bulldogs 44-28 over the next 22½ minutes and took its biggest lead at 44-36 seven minutes into the second half.
But Butler – down eight against the No. 2 team in the country in a gym where the Wildcats hadn’t lost in four years – kept battling.
“I thought our guys played pretty loose and free and were able to make some open looks against their pressure,” Butler coach Chris Holtmann said. “They’re 15th in the country in defensive efficiency for a reason, but our guys just got into a rhythm and made some open shots.”
Martin had 22 points and eight rebounds for Butler on 7 for 11 shooting. Kamar Baldwin added 15 points before fouling out, and Avery Woodson scored 13.
Butler shot 51 percent and 40 percent from three. Villanova shot just 44 percent and 41 percent in the second half and made just 6 of 24 from the arc – 25 percent.
“Their physicality, we just didn’t handle it well,” Wright said. “We turned it over [and] couldn’t get any assists (eight on 25 baskets).
“They just do a great job of playing every possession. They get down, they don’t do anything different. They just keep grinding, grinding, and try to do the same thing. When they got down, they didn’t crack at all. They just kept executing.
“We didn’t crack either but we just couldn’t get buckets. We didn’t execute well and a lot of it was their defense. They were just a better team than us tonight. We made more mistakes than they did.”