Notre Dame heads to Big East semis with win over Marquette
BY TONI GINNETTI firstname.lastname@example.org March 14, 2013 10:59PM
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: Eric Atkins #0 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish drives in the first half against Junior Cadougan #5 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the quaterfinals of the Big East Men's Basketball Tournament at Madison Square Garden on March 14, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Updated: March 15, 2013 12:25AM
NEW YORK — Notre Dame will make its fourth consecutive trip to the Big East tournament semifinals after a 73-65 comeback victory Thursday night against conference co-champion Marquette at Madison Square Garden.
The No. 24 Fighting Irish (25-8) overcame a double-digit deficit against the No. 12 Golden Eagles (23-8) to advance. They’ll face
No. 2 seed Louisville on Friday in a repeat of a semifinal last year.
‘‘Here we go again,’’ coach Mike Brey said of the matchup won last year by the Cardinals en route to their tournament title and eventually the Final Four. ‘‘In our games that go overtime, we’ve won. But they handled us there five days ago. I hope it’s overtime.’’
The Irish won an epic five-overtime game 104-101 on Feb. 9 in South Bend.
Three-point shooter Pat Connaughton led the Irish on Thursday with 18 points. Jamil Wilson led Marquette with 16.
Jerian Grant added 17 points for Notre Dame, and Garrick Sherman scored 16 off the bench, many at critical times.
‘‘Everyone does their part, and we’re always ready to go,’’ Sherman said of Notre Dame’s big men. ‘‘Tonight was my turn.’’
Sherman added six rebounds on a night when All-Big East center Jack Cooley was limited to six points and six rebounds before fouling out.
The Eagles outrebounded the Irish 42-31 and shot a better percentage from the field (46.6 percent to 40 percent), but they committed 11 first-half turnovers that were costly.
‘‘We have to be a lot better than we were tonight,’’ said Marquette coach Buzz Williams, whose team reached the Sweet 16 last season. ‘‘We shot 50 percent in the first half but made 11 turnovers against a team that doesn’t press. We didn’t get to the bonus [to shoot free throws] until the last minute.’’
The Irish trailed by 13 in the first half after a 7-0 opening run by Marquette. But they chipped back, holding the Eagles scoreless from the field for six minutes. They tied the score at 23 on Sherman’s basket at the 3:26 mark before taking their first lead with 2:48 left on Sherman’s third consecutive basket.
The Eagles led again 48-44 with 9:35 left, but Vander Blue was called for a foul with 8:28 left and Sherman converted a three-point play to start a critical 9-2 run for Notre Dame.
Marquette cut the lead to 54-52 with 5:20 left, but a succession of fouls put the Irish on the line and Connaughton caught fire from behind the arc with two of his six three-pointers in the last three minutes.
Notre Dame went 18-for-21 from the free-throw line while Marquette was 7-for-12.