Marquette dodges Davidson upset

James Pennington, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Vander Blue hit a running lay-up with one second left completing Marquette's comeback win, 59-58, over No. 14 Davidson on Thursday in a second-round game of the NCAA Tournament's East Regional at Rupp Arena.
"March Madness," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "We're lucky to still be standing."
Marquette (25-7) scored 11 points, including three 3-pointers, in the final 1:03 to complete its comeback after a day in which scoring did not come easily at all. Before that last minute of the game, Marquette was 1-of-12 from deep.
In the final one minute, three seconds the Golden Eagles scored on their final four possessions, by far their most productive stretch of the day. Only on one other occasion did Marquette score on more than two consecutive possessions in the game, and that was early in the first half.
Davidson's De'Mon Brooks threw the ball away with 6.7 seconds left and a one-point lead, and Marquette was given a final shot.
Jamil Wilson inbounded the ball to Blue just beyond midcourt, and Blue drove all the way to the basket. Around the 3-point line, the defense was forced to switch, and Davidson center Jake Cohen was switched onto Blue.
Blue, a 6-foot-4 guard, went to his left and got around Cohen to lift the ball off the backboard just over the 6-10 center's outstretched hand.
Davidson (26-8) had won 17 games in a row, which was the longest active winning streak in the country.
"We wanted him to catch the ball going away from their basket," Davidson coach Bob McKillop said. "We were going to switch every screen. We thought they were going to go to the ball screen and into the alley to try to score, and that's what they did."
Blue hit a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left to bring Marquette within two points, but Nik Cochran answered with two free throws for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats took an early 12-2 lead but allowed Marquette back in the game to take a 20-19 lead. From that point on-about five minutes remained in the first half at that point-until about the 10-minute mark in the second half, neither team could make a run.
Whether it was on account of good team defense or poor execution and shooting on offense is debatable; either way, neither Marquette nor Davidson could make shots.
Throughout the drought it was Cohen who became the lifeblood of the Wildcats' offense. He struggled from the floor in the first half-his advanced post game was still giving him opportunities, the shots just weren't falling-but his persistence paid off in the second half.
He scored four points for Davidson in what was the biggest run for the Wildcats, a 10-2 stretch that gave them a 49-40 lead with 6:26 to play. Cohen finished with a team-high 20 points.
Marquette will play No. 6 Butler in the round of 32 on Saturday. The two played on Nov. 19 in the Maui Invitational. Butler's Rotnei Clarke hit a 30-foot runner as time expired to give Butler a 72-71 win. "They made commercials on Rotnei hitting that shot," Williams said Thursday.
For most of the game, Marquette was unable to take advantage of the athleticism advantage it had over Davidson; the Golden Eagles out-rebounded Davidson, 41-29, but couldn't convert those rebounds into points. Marquette finished 34.6 percent from the floor (20-of-58), shooting its worst since it went 19-of-53 (35.8 percent) in a 70-51 loss to Louisville on Feb. 3.

The Golden Eagles' shooting woes reflected those of their two top scorers, Wilson and Blue. They had a combined 30 points points but shot a combined 9-of-28 from the floor. Williams has been open throughout the season that his team is not a good shooting squad, and he re-affirmed that despite the last minute of Thursday's win.
"I thought the lid was on it for a while that I don't think we can shoot, and that wasn't me being sarcastic," Williams said. "I'm very transparent. I think that we do a good job in late-game execution. Part of that is because we've been in so many of them, and not just this year."
NOTES: Marquette was in danger of being eliminated in the round of 64 as was the case in 2010, when the Golden Eagles lost as a No. 6 seed to Washington 80-78. ... No. 3 seeds are 97-16 in the round-of-64 matchups since the field expanded 64 teams in 1985. ... Davidson has not won an NCAA tournament game since 2008, when Stephen Curry led the Wildcats to the Elite Eight. Before 2008, Davidson's last NCAA tournament victory was in 1969. ... Davidson has played in seven NCAA Tournaments under coach Bob McKillop, who is in his 24th year on the Wildcats' sideline.

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