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No. 10 Marquette rebounds in OT after potential winner waved off, beats Villanova 71-65 in Big East

BEast Marquette Villanova Basketball
Posted at 8:16 AM, Mar 15, 2024

Kam Jones and Marquette thought they executed their play perfectly with 2.3 seconds left in regulation to beat the buzzer and Villanova in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.

Not quite. The 10th-ranked Golden Eagles had to go to overtime to finish the job Thursday night.

Jones scored 18 points, Oso Ighodaro's only basket was a huge one with 18 seconds remaining in OT and Marquette rebounded from having a potential winner waved off in regulation to beat Villanova 71-65.

“Any time you have a shot that goes in and you got a high of feeling like you won and then it gets taken away from you, that can be dangerous, but I liked the look there in our guys’ eyes," Marquette coach Shaka Smart said.

The third-seeded and defending champion Golden Eagles (24-8) will face seventh-seeded Providence in the nightcap of Friday night’s semifinal doubleheader at Madison Square Garden.

Eric Dixon led sixth-seeded Villanova (18-15) with 19 points, TJ Bamba made three free throws with 1:50 left in the second half to tie it at 58 and neither team scored in regulation again.

Though the Golden Eagles came awfully close.

They inbounded with 2.3 seconds left to Ighodaro at the top of the lane and he passed to Jones cutting toward the baseline for a flip shot at the buzzer. It appeared Marquette had won. After a lengthy review, officials said the ball was still on Jones' finger tips when time expired. It was about as close as it could get to being game over for 'Nova.

The Wildcats celebrated, granted a stay.

"We practice responding,” said guard David Joplin, who scored Marquette's first five points in overtime.

Ighodaro's jump hook with the shot clock winding down made it 69-65 with 18 seconds left.

"That’s exactly what we were trying to do,” Smart said. “We believe in the guy. He’s a warrior.”

Marquette's big man and third-leading scorer finished with a season-low four points on 1-for-5 shooting.

“They made some really tough shots when they had to,” Villanova coach Kyle Neptune said.

The Golden Eagles were playing their fourth straight game without injured point guard Tyler Kolek (oblique), last season’s Big East player of the year.

Marquette lost to UConn and Creighton without Kolek before winning its regular-season finale against Xavier and then escaping against Villanova.

Smart said Kolek has been practicing, would not definitively rule him out of the Big East Tournament and remained confident he would be back for the NCAA Tournament next week.

A night after needing a 3-pointer in the final seconds from Justin Moore to barely avoid elimination in the first round by last-place DePaul, Villanova found itself in another tight, physical game.

Dixon scored 13 in the first half, including a jumper with 14 seconds left that put Villanova up 29-28 at the break.

Marquette started the second half with an 11-2 run, sparked by Stevie Mitchell’s six straight points in the paint. Mitchell finished with 15 points.

The Golden Eagles never could pull away and Villanova made a charge behind Bamba (12 points) and Moore, who swished a long 2 with 7:08 left to give the Wildcats a 51-50 lead.

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Marquette split two games with Providence in the regular season.

Villanova, which won five Big East Tournament championships from 2015-22, exited in the quarterfinals for the second straight season under Neptune, its second-year coach. The Wildcats are in danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for two consecutive seasons, which has not happened since 2003 and ’04.