Marquette put two more on the board after a foul put senior Steve Novak on the free throw line. Down three and with time running out junior Aaron Gray tipped in a bucket for Pittsburgh as the clock ran down to 0.2 seconds. Marquette senior Joe Chapman was fouled before the inbound and made the first of two free throws and missed the second to prevent any chance for a Pittsburgh miracle.
Marquette senior Steve Novak did what he does best and led the Golden Eagles with 27 points, shooting 5-of-13 from three-point land. His perfect 6-of-6 from the line extends his current streak to 30 made free throws in a row. Reigning Big East Rookie of the Week, Dominic James added 16 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists, which were highlighted by zero turnovers. Coming off the bench freshman Wes Matthews had an impact with 13 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.
The highlight of the night by far was the interior defense of the Marquette big men. Assisted by sophomores Ousmane Barro and Ryan Amoroso, and freshman Dwight Burke, senior Chris Grimm contributed 4 points and 4 rebounds in only 15 minutes. He went to the limit picking up 4 fouls while effectively taking Gray out of the equation for Pittsburgh. Gray's 10 points and 7 rebounds are below his season averages in both respects; 14.2 and 10.7. The Combination the four men in the middle accounted for 10 rebounds, 5 of which were on the offensive end.
"Grimm is senior that has been through a lot of games. He may not get a ton of rebounds but he can keep his man from getting a ton of rebounds. That is what has to happen when you are going against front lines like this. If you are going to win this time of year, you better be led by your veterans," said Marquette head coach Tom Crean.
After turning around from a Thursday win over Georgetown, beating Pittsburgh meant more than just another notch in the "W" column. Many consider Marquette destined for the Big Dance after erasing any doubt as to their ability to play with the Nation's best.
Coach Crean is excited to be in that position at this point in the season.
"We are playing meaningful games in February and the more of those we can play, the more likely we might have some meaningful games in March," said Crean.
Pittsburgh head coach Jamie Dixon was disappointed not to come away with a win after such a hard fought game.
"Not often do you lose a game when you shot over 70 percent in a half. It is tough to lose a game when you shoot that. I thought our offense was good and we made good decisions and good looks," Dixon said.
Dixon continued, "[Marquette] played great and did a good job. They are well coached and would never count them out."
Marquette's next game is a trip to former C-USA rival, Notre Dame for a Big East rematch. Marquette was able to beat the Irish in Milwaukee with a buzzer beater from Steve Novak in January. Round two is Saturday at 5:00pm at the Joyce Center.