Buzz Williams has a theory on why Marquette plays so many close games.
“We’re not very good,” the coach said with a shrug.
Maybe, but the Golden Eagles aren’t bad either. Especially when things get tight.
Vander Blue scored 22 points and Marquette overcame a dramatic game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation by Pitt’s Lamar Patterson to win, 74-67, in overtime on Saturday and remain unbeaten in the Big East Conference.
“I think it just sums up what we’ve been doing all year,” Blue said. “I’m sure a lot of people didn’t have us winning ... we just wanted to make sure wherever we go, we do what we do.”
What Marquette (12-3, 3-0) is doing at the moment is finding a way to deliver with the game on the line. The Golden Eagles went on a quick 8-2 burst to take control of the extra period and Pitt never got within six the rest of the way.
“We wanted to make sure we started off overtime delivering the first blow,” Blue said. “It was a whole new game. It was 0-0. Once we hit the first bucket and the first stop, we feel like we’re OK.”
Davante Gardner made all six of his shots from the floor while adding 13 points and grabbing eight rebounds for Marquette, which is unbeaten through three conference games for the first time in four years.
Lamar Patterson led Pitt (13-4, 1-3) with a career-high 22 points, including his 3-pointer from the top of the key as the clock expired. Williams said he didn’t consider ordering his players to foul when the ball was inbounded, then added his players looked like “clowns” when the shot dropped through the net.
The Petersen Events Center erupted as Patterson celebrated at halfcourt, emphatically punching the ground.
It didn’t stop the Golden Eagles, however, from delivering the knockout as the Panthers fell to 0-4 in games decided by nine points or less.
“We need to grow up quickly and figure out a way to get it done,” Pitt coach Jamie Dixon said.
The Panthers may have to do it – at least in the short-term – without senior guard Tray Woodall. The team captain left the game early in the first half with a head injury after colliding with Marquette’s Derrick Wilson during a scramble for a loose ball.
Woodall laid on the floor for several minutes before slowly making his way to the bench. He placed ice on his face sporadically the rest of the afternoon and Dixon isn’t sure when his team’s most experienced ballhandler will be able to return.
The Golden Eagles had issues of their own. Point guard Junior Cadougan went down with a leg injury later in the half, though Wilson stepped in and played capably in Cadougan’s absence.
“I felt I was ready for it,” Wilson said. “I’ve learned a lot from Junior and seen him handle situations like (this) and my teammates put me in position.”
And suddenly Marquette finds itself in an unusual position: atop the Big East. The Golden Eagles have been one of the conference’s biggest surprises after finding a way to win the tight games they couldn’t earlier in the season. Two of Marquette’s three league victories have come in overtime, with the other a one-point escape against No. 19 Georgetown last week.
For most of the first 40 minutes, it didn’t look like the Golden Eagles would need to put in any extra work. Marquette spent most of the afternoon nursing a narrow but seemingly comfortable lead that floated between 2-6 points. Every time Pitt looked ready to get in position to tie the game, the Golden Eagles would get a stop.
Pitt’s struggles at the free throw line helped. Pitt shot just 50 percent (13 of 26) at the line, including a miserable 2 of 7 in overtime. It wasn’t quite the performance the Panthers were looking for after crushing Georgetown on Tuesday night.
Pitt hoped the 28-point romp would serve as a launching pad into a manageable – by Big East standards – stretch that includes games against conference also-rans like DePaul and Providence.
Instead, the Panthers are searching for answers on how deliver when everything is on the line.
“We have enough guys, we have the right guys,” Dixon said. “We just didn’t get it done.”
That’s no longer an issue for Marquette, which is getting contributions from all over. Jamil Wilson added 11 points and five rebounds for the Golden Eagles while Todd Mayo chipped in 10 off the bench. Marquette outrebounded Pitt 38-33, outscored the Panthers 28-18 in the paint and had a 14-8 edge in second chance points.
“I wish it was the last game of the season,” Williams said. “We’re thankful we get to have a happy flight on the way home but we’re also cognizant we have eight more road games and for us to be in the middle of January and for us to win one road game ... we’ve got a long way to go.”
Buzz Williams has a theory on why Marquette plays so many close games.
Pitt slips past Clemson in OT
Lamar Patterson had a career-high 30 points, including a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left, as Pittsburgh overcome a five-point deficit in the final seconds of regulation and beat Clemson 83-78 in overtime Saturday.
Patterson’s 3 with 3 seconds left cut the Tigers’ lead to 67-65.
Robert Morris holds off St. Francis in NEC
Karvel Anderson and Lucky Jones came up big again for top-seeded Robert Morris, with 21 and 18 points, respectively, but clutch free throws by David Appolon preserved a 60-57 victory over sixth-seeded St. Francis in a Northeast Conference semifinal on Saturday.
The Colonials (21-12) advance to Tuesday’s championship for the fifth time in six years, facing fourth-seeded Mount St. Mary’s (15-16).
Danel helping Falcons to Division III tournament
When Chelsea Danel was a senior at North Star, the Cougars were able to win a District 5-AA basketball title.
Now Danel, a senior at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, is a key contributor on a Falcons’ hoops squad which upset top-seeded Lebanon Valley 53-47 in the Commonwealth Conference championship on Saturday. It was the ninth title for the Falcons in 13 appearances.
Ferndale grad aiding Duquesne women’s hoops
Matt Schmidt was hired as an assistant coach for the Duquesne women’s basketball team in June.
Now the former Ferndale High School standout will have his first opportunity to experience March madness with the Dukes, who are the sixth-seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament which opened Thursday in Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Va.
Icecats on way to national tournament
The Pitt-Johnstown hockey team needed to overcome some long odds to advance to the ACHA Men’s Division III national championship tournament in Coral Springs, Fla. next week.
- Local Sports Briefs 3-7-14
St. Francis wins NEC quarterfinal
Ronnie Drinnon hit a go-ahead basket and a pair of free throws in the final 48 seconds, scoring a career high 20 points as sixth-seeded St. Francis battled past third-seeded Bryant 55-54 in the Northeast Conference tournament Wednesday night.
St. Francis hasn’t been in the playoffs since the 2010-11 season and scrapped past Bryant (18-14) in a closely fought contest that saw five ties and five lead changes – three in the final 3:37.
Wake Forest beats Pitt in ACC opener
Dearica Hamby finished with 25 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists and two steals as No. 11 seed Wake Forest women beat 14th-seeded Pittsburgh 72-58 in the first round of the ACC tournament on Wednesday night.
Hamby had a tremendous night in notching her school-record 22nd double-double of the season.
UPJ makes day special for young sports fan
The Pitt-Johnstown baseball team made one of the most important signings in the program’s history on Wednesday at the Sports Center.
Johnstown resident Jill Miller signed a letter of intent on behalf of her 4-year-old son Brandon, who is battling Chiari Malformation, a brain ailment that leads to pain throughout the young boy’s body on a daily basis.
Warren leads N.C. State past Pittsburgh
T.J. Warren scored a career-high 41 points and N.C. State surged past Pittsburgh 74-67 on Monday night.
Warren’s eighth 30-point game of the year gave the Wolfpack’s flagging NCAA tournament hopes a needed boost. N.C. State (18-12, 8-9 ACC) won for just the second time in its last six games, riding Warren for much of the second half.
The ACC’s leading scorer made seven straight shots at one point and finished 16 of 22 from the field. His emphatic dunk in the final seconds sealed it.
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- Pitt slips past Clemson in OT