Last-second lapse spoils MU comeback

Marquette lost to Villanova 76-75 in the Big East Quarterfinals on a last second layup despite a valiant second-half comeback

NEW YORK – Dwayne Anderson's wide-open layup at the buzzer gave Villanova a 76-75 victory over Marquette in the Big East Quarterfinals.

With Marquette about to take possession, up 75-74, with 40 seconds to play, Villanova called their final timeout.

"We didn't want to be confused with, ‘Are we fouling? Not fouling?" said Villanova head coach Jay Wright. "Might have been a bad move not having a timeout left. We had to make that decision."

After Jerel McNeal was blocked at the rim with 13 seconds left, Reggie Redding drove the lane for Villanova and found Anderson unguarded under the basket for the win.

"We stepped uphill to help penetration," said Marquette head coach Buzz Williams. "They went behind us. I think they scored five baskets on that throughout the game."

Marquette had erased a 16-point halftime deficit to take their first lead since the opening minutes, on a Lazar Hayward three-pointer with 1:39 to play.

"We fought so hard in the second half to get to the point where we were," said Marquette's Wes Matthews. "And five seconds changed it completely for us."

After an abysmal first half of shooting, in which they made only 5 field goals, the Golden Eagles shot themselves back into the game in the second half. Marquette hit 8 threes after intermission, including 3 apiece from Hayward and Maurice Acker.

Marquette opened the second half on an 11-2 run to draw back within seven, 49-42, at the 16:20 mark. Then they went on a 12-3 run to draw the game even at 72 with 2:13 to play.

"I thought in the second half we played much more the way we have to play in order to give ourselves a chance for success," said Williams.

Free throw shooting also kept the Golden Eagles alive in this one, as 19 of their 31 first-half points came from the free-throw line. In a game where 43 total fouls were called, Marquette sank 33-of-39 from the charity stripe.

‘That was what kept us in – made it even remotely a game in the first half," said Matthews.

Jimmy Butler led Marquette with a career-high 19 points, including a 13-of-16 effort from the free-throw line.

Jerel McNeal finished with 15 points and 5 assists despite once again playing with foul trouble. McNeal picked up his fourth foul with 12:14 left in the second half, yet stayed on the floor to help engineer the Marquette comeback.

Hayward, Acker, and Matthews also finished in double-figures for Marquette.

"They've gotten to a point they know how to play without [Dominic] James," said Wright.

Scottie Reynolds led all scorers with 21 points, and Corey Stokes came off the bench to score 20 for the Wildcats.

Villanova advances to play Louisville in the Big East Semifinals on Friday, while Marquette will now wait to find out their seeding for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

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