Too bad for the Golden Eagles the miracle heave came a half second too late.
Since replays showed the clock had already hit zero well before Gardner released the ball at the end of regulation, Marquette had to settle for overtime and Providence got a reprieve. The near-miss stung even worse for the Golden Eagles after they squandered a three-point lead in the final seconds of double overtime and fell 81-80 to the Friars in a matchup of Big East bubble teams.
The key sequence began when Marquette inbounded the ball up one with 10 seconds to go and Ted Bancroft tied up Jake Thomas to force a jump ball. Derrick Wilson then tried for a steal on the ensuing Providence inbound pass and fouled Bryce Cotton in the process, enabling the Providence senior to end his career at the Dunkin Donuts Center by sinking the game-tying and game-winning foul shots.
The jubilation of the Friars and misery of the Golden Eagles reflected the high stakes for both teams.
Providence (20-10, 10-7) keeps its at-large hopes alive entering a difficult regular season finale at Creighton on Saturday night. Marquette (17-13, 9-8) probably will need to win the Big East tournament to earn an NCAA bid regardless of what it does in its regular season finale against St. John's.
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