"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Thank You Sir May I Have Another!!

Marquette knocks down another ranked team in a span of 48 hours as they defeated #9 Pittsburgh 84-82 tonight in front of 19,007 fans. It was the largest crowd to watch a college basketball game in the state of Wisconsin ever.

Steve Novak scored 27 points to lead MU in the victory. Marquette is now 6-0 when Novak scores 20 or more points. The victory gives MU 8 Big East wins and guarantees them a non-losing conference season in their inaugural season in the league.

The game in general was another cardiac treat for MU and its fans. These guys sure love to play havoc with our nerves and tonight was no exception. Pitt jumped out to the early lead in the first half on strength of Aaron Gray and the outside shooting of Fields and Krauser. The Panthers led 30-24 at the 6:49 minute mark on a Krauser three pointer. MU then went on a 12-2 run largely on the shooting of Wes Matthews and Steve Novak. After Pitt managed to tie the game at 36-36, the Golden Eagles dropped in two more three pointers by Novak and Chapman and ultimately led 44-41 at the halftime.

During halftime MU retired the number of Maurice Lucas. More on that later in a separate blog post.

The second half started like the first half with Pitt scoring the first two baskets and retaking the lead at 45-44. The game see-sawed the next few minutes until Marquette seized a mini-lead on three pointers by Novak and McNeal to push MU to a 57-53 advantage. Minutes later MU added to their lead and seemed poised to put Pitt away when Dan Fitzgerald's three pointer gave MU a 68-58 edge with 9:46 left, the largest lead for either club all night.

The Panthers would not go away, however. Over the next 6:46 the Panthers outscored MU 19-10 to cut the lead to one point with three minutes to play. A Steve Novak three at the 2:55 mark pushed the lead back up to four points until Ronald Ramon answered with his own three cutting it to an 81-80 MU lead with less than two minutes to play.

This is when the 19,007 hearts and those watching and listening at home really began to pound. MU was able to get a close in look by Wes Matthews who missed about a 5 footer. Fortunately Barro grabbed the offensive rebound, MU's tenth offensive rebound of the night and brought it back out for us to reset. Tom Crean signaled a timeout at 1:17 to create a play. Unfortunately the kids weren't able to execute or Pitt just shut down our options and MU was forced to call another timeout by an obviously frustrated Crean with 5 seconds left on the shot clock and :46 on the game clock. They ran a curl up top for Novak to come off several screens. Pitt defended it very well and Novak's shot didn't even draw iron forcing a shot clock violation. Pitt ball down one point and they call a timeout with :36 remaining.

Jamie Dixon drew up a play for Aaron Gray and the play worked well. The ball was thrown into the key where Gray dribbled and turned to his left causing Barro to rake him across the arms and a foul with :26 left. Gray to the line shooting two. He was 2 for 3 at that point at the line. Two attempts later he was 2 for 5 as he missed both and MU secured the rebound. Instead of Pitt fouling immediately, they allowed MU to bring the ball up court and burn 14 seconds. More importantly was MU's ability to put the ball into Novak's hands at the end of those 14 seconds when Pitt finally fouled. Money time. Novak hit both free throws and the Golden Eagles led 83-80 with 11 seconds.

Pitt now had to take a three to tie the game and a three point attempt they got. Ramon missed a tough attempt which Gray managed to rebound under the basket. Instead of kicking the ball back out for a tying three, he went up and made a two pointer from about 6 feet with plenty of bumping going on. No call but the basket counted and the horn sounded off for a MU victory, players and fans going crazy and Tom Crean shaking hands.....until....

But wait a minute....upon further the refs decided there were still 0.2 seconds left on the clock when Gray's shot went in. MU would have to inbound the ball again. Crean huddled the players for the final strategy plan of the game. Before the ball was in bounded Pitt fouled Joe Chapman but were not called for an intentional foul. The senior knocked down the first shot to make it 84-82. On the second shot he missed (intentionally I could not tell) and Pitt grabbed the rebound and threw it the length of the court as the horn sounded. I doubt the shot would have counted if it had gone, but it didn't so the game was over for a second time. MU is now 18-8 and 8-5 in the Big East.

Dominic James finished with 16 points while Wes Matthews chipped in 13. Chris Grimm added 4 points to the cause and played another solid defensive game in the post. It was the third time in Marquette history that we beat ranked teams back to back in the same season (regular season games only).

GoMarquette.com game story, game notes, quotes

Todd Rosiak article here

Pittsburgh Post Gazette article here

Associated Press article here

Boxscore here


TB said...

great recap! even better win ;-)

five7top said...

FYI, Chapman did miss the 2nd free throw on purpose. Two reasons. One Tom called timeout after the first one and when they came back, they all pulled back. Two, I was close enough to see Chapman go to the line and then take a slight step to the left for the intentional miss. Another brilliant strategy by the potential Big East coach of the year.