Marquette holds off Pittsburgh 74-67 in OT

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Associated Press

Posted on January 12, 2013 at 3:06 PM

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Vander Blue scored 22 points and Marquette stayed hot, beating Pittsburgh 74-67 in overtime on Saturday for its fifth straight victory.

Davante Gardner made all six of his shots from the floor while adding 13 points and grabbing eight rebounds for the Golden Eagles (12-3, 3-0 Big East), who are unbeaten through three conference games for the first time in four years.

Lamar Patterson led Pitt with 22 points, including a game-tying 3-pointer from the top of the key as the horn sounded at the end of regulation. The Panthers (13-4, 1-3), however, couldn't keep the momentum going.

Marquette, which never trailed over the game's final 28 minutes, opened overtime with a quick 8-2 burst to pull away. The Golden Eagles won it at the free throw line, making 13 of 16 during the extra period.

The Golden Eagles have been one of the Big East's biggest surprises, finding a way to win the close games they couldn't early in the year. Two of Marquette's three league wins have come in overtime, with the other a one-point escape against No. 19 Georgetown last week.

For most of the first 40 minutes, it didn't look like the Golden Eagles would need to put in any extra work. Marquette spent most of the afternoon nursing a narrow but seemingly comfortable lead that floated between 2-6 points. Every time Pitt looked ready to get in position to tie the game, the Golden Eagles would get a stop.

Yet Marquette couldn't quite put the Panthers away even though Pitt lost senior guard Tray Woodall to a head injury in the first half. Woodall smacked into the knee of Marquette's Derrick Wilson while scrambling for a loose ball and didn't return.

The Panthers stayed close thanks to redshirt freshman Durand Johnson — who had 10 points in 25 energetic minutes — and just enough playmaking from point guard James Robinson, who finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Still, Marquette appeared to have things in hand when Robinson missed a 3-pointer and the ball caromed off a Golden Eagles player with 1.2 seconds remaining. Instead of calling timeout to set a defense, Marquette allowed Pitt to quickly inbound the ball. Patterson snagged the pass and calmly drained a 22-footer as the clock expired.

The Petersen Events Center erupted with joy and Patterson let loose an emphatic fist-pump.

The Golden Eagles, however, landed the knockout.

Blue, attacking the basket relentlessly, made six straight free throws as Gardner mixed in a layup. By the time Pitt seemed to get its feet set, it was too late. Marquette gradually pulled away.

Pitt's struggles at the free throw line helped. Pitt shot just 50 percent (13 of 26) at the line, including a miserable 2 of 7 in overtime. It wasn't quite the performance the Panthers were looking for after crushing Georgetown on Tuesday night.

Pitt hoped the 28-point romp would serve as a launching pad into a manageable — by Big East standards — stretch that includes games against conference also-rans like DePaul and Providence.

Instead, the Panthers are searching for answers on how to win close games. That's no longer an issue for Marquette.

Jamil Wilson added 11 points and five rebounds for the Golden Eagles while Todd Mayo chipped in 10 off the bench.

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