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Notre Dame dumps Marquette behind balanced attack

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- For the second consecutive night in the Big East Conference tournament, Notre Dame won a game with little production from its top player.

Jack Cooley, who posted 19 double-doubles this season, scored only six points Thursday, but thanks to teammates Pat Connaughton, Jerian Grant and Garrick Sherman, the 24th-ranked Irish were able to bump off 12th-ranked Marquette 73-65 in a quarterfinal matchup.

Notre Dame, seeded sixth, meets second-seeded Louisville in the semifinals on Friday. It's a rematch of the epic five-overtime game the Irish won 104-101 on Feb. 9

Connaughton led the Irish (25-8) with 18 points. Grant scored 17 and Garrick Sherman tossed in 16 points off the bench.

Eric Atkins added eight points for the Irish, including a critical three-point play that gave Notre Dame a 62-54 lead with 2:59 to play. Connaughton's 3-pointer upped the Irish's lead to 65-57 with 2:24 left.

"It's a great luxury to have all ... of those guys," said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey.

Cooley, who fouled out, had six rebounds and two assists. He totaled only two points in the first-round win against Rutgers on Wednesday.

Third-seeded Marquette (23-8) received 16 points from Jamil Wilson and 14 from Junior Cadougan.

Connaughton has made 12 of 18 3-pointers in the two Big East tournament games this week.

The second half featured 13 lead changes, the last one coming at 52-50 when Sherman converted his own miss with 6:32 to play.

That started a 9-2 run by Notre Dame. Cooley, an all-Big East selection, came up with two of Notre Dame's 12 offensive rebounds. The first he put back for a 54-50 lead, and the last led to a feed to Connaughton for a 3-pointer that made it 59-52 with 3:30 left.

"I'm proud of Jack Cooley because it wasn't a real good night, but he kept trying and he kept plugging," Brey said. "He made some big plays for us.

"Garrick (Sherman) was fabulous. I think we found another weapon here in March."

The Irish led 29-25 at halftime.

Tom Knight and Connaughton picked up where they left off on Wednesday against the Scarlet Knights. Knight led the Irish with eight first-half points and three rebounds, and Connaughton contributed six points and a steal before the break. The duo combined for 39 points in the 69-61 victory over Rutgers.

Marquette led 17-4, but the Irish fought back, outscoring the Golden Eagles 25-8 over the final 10:46 of the half.

"The game didn't start really well for us, but we fought back," Brey said. "There was no panic."

Marquette is in good shape for an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, but its coach acknowledges there is work to be done in the next week.

"We need to learn from our offensive inadequacies," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "We shot 50 percent (in the first half), but we turned it over 11 times. Our turnover rate was way too high.

"The season isn't over. This part of the season is over, but we need to learn from it and grow from it."

NOTES: Marquette posted back-to-back 14-4 seasons in the Big East Conference. ... With a deep rotation, the Golden Eagles feature six players who contribute at least 6.4 points a game. ... Marquette junior forward Davante Gardner earned the conference's Sixth Man Award. ... Notre Dame wore its Adidas lime green uniforms with camouflage shorts and matching sneakers. ... Notre Dame only shot 41.5 percent overall in Wednesday's second-round meeting with Rutgers, but it connected on 10 of 17 from 3-point range. On Thursday, the Irish shot 40 percent overall, including 7-for-20 from long distance. ... Thursday was the first time Marquette and Notre Dame met in the conference tournament since the sixth-seeded Golden Eagles beat the third-seeded Irish 89-79 in the 2008 quarterfinals.
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