MILWAUKEE (TICKER) —Reece Gaines may have shot himself over Dwyane Wade for Conference USA Player of the Year honors.
Gaines drilled a 3-pointer with five seconds left to lift second-ranked Louisville to a pulsating 73-70 victory over No. 11 Marquette, which had a 28-game home winning streak snapped.
A 3-pointer by Marquette’s Travis Diener tied it at 70-70 with 11 seconds left. Louisville (19-2, 9-1 C-USA American) decided against calling a timeout and inbounded to Gaines.
The Cardinals’ sweet-shooting senior guard never gave up the ball as he pulled up five feet from beyond the arc and drilled a shot over Wade, the conference’s leading scorer. Gaines, a Wisconsin native, finished with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
“We were going to run a pick-and-roll, that’s what we do in that situation,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. “He was either going to shoot it or or get someone a shot. He decided to shoot it (before a screen could be set).”
Marquette (18-4, 9-2) had one last chance, but Diener misfired badly on a contested 3-pointer as time expired.
Louisville responded three days after its 17-game winning streak was stopped in an upset loss at Saint Louis. The Cardinals ended the 10-game winning streak of the Golden Eagles and moved one-half game in front of them atop the American Division.
“The whole team played very tough,” Pitino said. “We had to come up with big plays down the stretch and we did.”
Wade led Marquette with 15 points but made just 3-of-13 shots. Robert Jackson fouled out with 14 points for the Golden Eagles.
The game drew a Wisconsin record 18,850 fans at the Bradley Center, including former Louisville coach Denny Crum. It pitted a pair of programs on the rise in Conference USA.
“Tom’s (Marquette coach Tom Crean) trying to get Marquette back to the (Al) McGuire era,” Pitino said. “I’m trying to get Louisville to the Denny Crum era.”
The back-and-forth game featured 16 ties and plenty of hard-nosed defense. But Louisville’s defense proved superior, limiting Marquette to 35 percent (21-of-60) shooting.
A layup by Terry Sanders gave Marquette a 62-59 lead with 5:47 remaining. Gaines answered with a 3-pointer to spark a brief 8-1 run as Louisville grabbed a 67-63 advantage.
Wade scored on a tough bank shot and later converted a pair from the line to pull the Golden Eagles within 68-67 with 61 seconds to go, setting up a key possession for the Cardinals.
Wade played excellent defense on Gaines, who fed freshman Taquan Dean in the corner. Dean drove and found Ellis Myles, who was fouled by Scott Merritt. The call was controversial as it appeared that Merritt cleanly blocked Myles’ attempt.
Myles made both foul shots with 29 seconds to go before Diener connected on his third 3-pointer of the game. Diener scored 13 points and added eight assists.
Dean netted 18 points and he and Gaines each drilled four 3-pointers. Freshman guard Francisco Garcia finished with 10 points.
Louisville center Marvin Stone, who was held scoreless in the loss to Saint Louis, had another poor effort with five points and six rebounds as Jackson got the better of him.
The Cardinals also overcame 63 percent (12-of-19) foul shooting. The Golden Eagles were near-perfect at the line, converting 21-of-22.