NCAA in Rupp: Marquette escapes Davidson 59-58

mfields@herald-leader.comMarch 21, 2013 

Marquette Coach Buzz Williams wasn't lying when he said on Wednesday that his Golden Eagles were the gang that couldn't shoot straight.

Marquette might as well have been blind-folded and handcuffed the way it was clanging shots in the first 39 minutes of its second-round NCAA game against Davidson on Thursday afternoon.

Williams looked like a truth-teller, and it looked like No. 3 seed Marquette, trailing 54-48, was going down to No. 14 seed Davidson.

That's when the Golden Eagles made their coach out to be a bit of a liar.

Marquette knocked down three three-pointers in a span of 50 seconds, and got a driving layup from Vander Blue with one second left to pull out an improbable 59-58 victory in front of 14,622 fans in Rupp Arena.

"March madness," Williams said. "We're thankful to still be standing."

The Golden Eagles advanced to play Butler on Saturday, while Davidson, its nation-best 17-game winning streak over, will be haunted by what might have been.

"Just devastated" is how Wildcats senior Jake Cohen described his feelings.

Davidson Coach Bob McKillop credited Marquette, saying, "They had to make great plays to beat us."

The Golden Eagles' late-game resolve and resourcefulness made up for its mostly awful offense. They shot 28 percent (8-for-29) in the first half and trailed 25-23. They continued to shoot abysmally until the closing 60 seconds.

"I thought the lid was on it for a while," Williams said. "And I don't think we can shoot. That wasn't me being sarcastic."

Down 54-48, Marquette saw the lid come off. Jamil Wilson drilled a three to cut the deficit in half with a minute left. (Before that shot, the Golden Eagles had missed 10 of 11 three-point tries.)

After De'Mon Brooks scored off an assist by Cohen to give Davidson a 56-51 lead, Blue drilled another three for Marquette, making it 56-54 with :27 left.

Nik Cochran, the nation's best free-throw shooter (94 percent) cashed two to put Davidson ahead 58-54.

Wilson answered again for Marquette, hitting another three to make it a one-point game (58-57) with :10 left.

Davidson, which played so well for so long, then made a crucial turnover as Brooks threw the ball away.

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The clock showed 5.5 seconds left, but the officials checked the TV monitor and, after a few minutes, adjusted the clock to :06.7. Marquette, with no timeouts left, took advantage of the stoppage to gather itself.

McKillop called that "an unfair advantage."

Williams said the breather wasn't any big deal because his team knew what play it was going to run. "It helped us calm down somewhat. It helped more emotionally than strategically."

Blue, who hit a game-winning layup against St. John's a few weeks ago, got the ball, drove off a screen set by Davante Gardner, and attacked the basket from the left side.

"All I was thinking was if I get to the rim I've got to finish," said Blue, who led Marquette with 16 points.

Wilson had 14 points for the Golden Eagles. Chris Otule muscled for 11 points and 11 rebounds. Trent Lockett also had 11 rebounds.

Williams wasn't surprised by his team's clutch play in the closing minute.

"We've been in more one or two possession games, I would say, than any BCS team in the country ... So we've had a lot of big-stage reps in being down."

Cohen's 20 points led Davidson. Brooks had 11 points and eight rebounds. Cochran also had 11 points.

McKillop saluted his players' effort: "They emptied their tank today. They played 40 minutes as competitively and as passionately as any coach could ever want."

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog:

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