CBKB: Marquette hangs on to beat No. 10 Villanova 80-76
By JIM O’CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK — Lazar Hayward gave Marquette the lead for good with a 3-pointer with 1:51 to play, then added the clinching free throws with 3.2 seconds left, and the Golden Eagles went on to another close win, 80-76 over No. 10 Villanova on Thursday in the Big East tournament quarterfinals.
Fifth-seeded Marquette (22-10) will face eighth-seeded Georgetown in the semifinals Friday night. The loss for fourth-seeded Villanova (24-7), coupled with top-seeded Syracuse’s 91-84 loss to the Hoyas earlier, dropped the teams that had earned double byes to 0-2 — and both came against teams they had beaten twice during the season.
The Golden Eagles have played 20 games against Big East opponents this season and 13 have been decided by four points or less. Marquette has learned how to win the close ones, winning seven of the last eight games in that situation.
Marquette, which beat St. John’s 57-55 in the second round, is making its second semifinal appearance, losing to Pittsburgh in 2008.
Darius Johnson-Odom was 5 of 7 from 3-point range and scored a career-high 24 points for the Golden Eagles, while Hayward had 20 points and seven rebounds.
Corey Stokes had 22 points for the Wildcats, who have lost five of six and have seen their expected seeding for the NCAA tournament continue to drop.
These teams met twice in early January and Villanova won both games by two points. They were part of a stretch that saw the Golden Eagles get off to a 2-5 start in conference play. They were able to turn that around with a five-game winning streak and finished 11-7 in the league.
Marquette appeared to be on the way to a rare easy win as it took a 65-57 lead on Johnson-Odom’s last 3 with 4:54 to go.
The Wildcats turned on the defensive pressure with midcourt traps and wiped out that lead in 1:20 by forcing three straight turnovers to make it 65-all on a layup by Fisher with 3:34 to play.
Stokes hit a 3 to tie it at 70 with 2:22 to go. Hayward then hit a 3 from beyond the NBA line to break the final tie.
The Golden Eagles went 7 of 8 from the free-throw line the rest of the way, the last two by Hayward with 3.2 seconds to go that made it 80-76.
Marquette was able to control the tempo for most of the game, keeping the Wildcats from opening the game they way they like in leading the conference at 82.8 points per game.
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova’s first-team All-Big East selection, was 4 of 10 from the field, including 2 of 5 on 3s, and had 10 points. He was 5 of 16 from the field, making only 1 of 9 from 3 including a possible game-winner, and had 17 points in the 68-66 loss to West Virginia to close the regular season.