The Marquette Golden Eagles certainly have a flair for the dramatic.
For the second time in four days, the blue and gold have endured a blood pressure-rising, white knuckle, down-to-the-wire finish—and have emerged victorious in each instance.
Following its overtime triumph over UConn on New Year’s Day to kick off its conference schedule, Marquette (11-3, 2-0) upended No. 15 Georgetown, 49-48, Saturday afternoon at the BMO Harris Bradley Center to extend the fifth-longest home winning streak (18 games and counting) in the nation.
While the Golden Eagles, who shot 36.4 percent, secured the signature victory of their 2012-13 campaign, the outcome was anything but certain in the game’s final seconds.
Following a pair of free throws by Davante Gardner with eight seconds remaining, MU held a 49-46 edge. With MU electing not to foul on the ensuing Georgetown (10-2, 0-1) possession, sophomore forward Greg Whittington let fly a three from the left wing—and was subsequently fouled by Marquette senior Trent Lockett with 2.3 seconds left in regulation.
“I was in extreme help mode,” cited Lockett, who finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and two assists, according to the AP. “I tried to jump at him and he jumped forward when he shot, and it was all bad from there.”
The 6’8”, 205-pound Whittington, who net 13 points and secured a team-high eight rebounds on the game, calmly sank the first two free throws.
Williams, back on the sidelines following a one-game suspension stemming from an off-season recruiting violation, called a timeout in an effort to ice the Columbia, Md. native.
The strategy went according to plan for the fifth-year head coach as Whittington misfired on his third attempt which, despite a pair of misfired free throws on the other end by Lockett, sewed up the victory for the Golden Eagles.
Despite a relatively lethargic showing on the offensive side of the ball (headlined by 16 field goals on the afternoon and a 25.9 percent shooting performance in the opening frame) Marquette out rebounded the Hoyas, 35-26, and held John Thompson III’s club to 18 points below its season average.
“We had our opportunities today and we just didn’t convert on a few things,” noted Thompson III, whose team hit the hardwood for the first time since defeating American University on Dec. 22, according to the AP. “That’s the Big East. Every game, every possession is important.”
Indeed, as Marquette, who has now won four straight and is the first Big East affiliate to notch two conference victories, led nearly from start to finish and did enough of the little things to avoid losing the first time since falling at UW-Green Bay on Dec. 19.
“We can lose to a team that’s not really good and we can beat one of the best teams in the nation,” said senior point guard Junior Cadougan, who scored two points against the Hoyas following his 18-point outing against the Huskies on Tuesday, according to the AP. “It’s our choice. It’s how we come to work every day. Everything depends on our energy.”
Vander Blue and Gardner paced the Marquette offensive attack with 12 points apiece while redshirt junior Jamil Wilson, who entered the weekend having scored seven points combined in his previous two outings, chipped in with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting.
The Hoyas, suffering their first loss since falling to then top-ranked Indiana in overtime on Nov. 20, shot 39.1 percent from the field and were paced by Markel Starks’ game-high 20 points.
Saturday marked the first of three matchups against nationally ranked opponents over a two-week span for Marquette. Next up for the Golden Eagles, who are looking to go 3-0 in conference play for the first time in four years, is 24th-ranked Pitt (12-3, 0-2), who play host to MU on Saturday, Jan. 12 at 11:00a.m. CST.