The 15th ranked Marquette Golden Eagles had a classic trap game in front of them and damned if the club didn't do everything possible to fall into that trap....but they didn't. An incredible finish on a Jerel McNeal steal and shot to win the game at 70-68 means MU moves to 19-4 on the season and 6-2 in the Big East.
MU started the game very cold on 1-12 shooting missing layup after layup. Despite the horrific shooting, they were able to get to the line and maintained a small lead for much of the first half. As the shooting picked up from the field, MU moved out in front by 6 points at the half, 35-29.
In the second half, MU maintained their 6 point lead until about the 14:30 minute mark when the Bulls went on a 15-5 run. From there it was back and forth until the final seconds.
The lead changed hands 10 times in the final 13 minutes with no team able to grab more than a 4 point cushion. The 3:03 mark saw Tom Crean's club trailing 64-60 after a Gransberry layup and the small USF crowd (4300 announced) fully engorged. MU setup an opportunity for Dan Fitzgerald and he did not disappoint. Fitz hit a huge 3-pointer just like he did in overtime against Pitt last week. The shot cut the lead to 1. The Bulls answered with a dunk pushing the lead up by 3 and forcing a timeout by Crean with 1:09 left.
MU went for the tie on the ensuing possession on a 3 ball by Wesley Matthews but he missed. McNeal, playing with four fouls, grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled by Gransberry. The foul knocked the Bulls big man out of the game and sent McNeal to the line for two free throws. He converted one of two...MU trailed by 68-66 with :58 remaining.
After a wild play where USF appeared to throw the ball away but it hit the referee before going out of bounds and was saved by the Bulls. A timeout was called by their coach to settle the Bulls down. Coming out of the timeout, the Bulls Mattis got open for a layup but MISSED and Fitzgerald was there for the rebound with :26 left. MU pushed the ball hard up the court and Dominic James made a circus layup with 4 defenders crashing down on him. Game tied 68-68 with :14 left. USF advanced the ball and called a timeout with 9.6 seconds remaining.
At this point Crean had to be hoping for overtime. USF had been killing us on in-bound plays in the second half for dunks and layups consistently. With Gransberry fouled out, MU would probably have the advantage if they could get it to OT, though McNeal and Fitzgerald were playing with 4 fouls. No need. MU put it away at the end.
USF inbounded the ball and after one pass Jerel McNeal jumped the passing lane with 3.8 seconds left and went down the court with the ball. About 4 feet out he put up a shot that left his hand before the buzzer went off. The ball banked, hit rim, settled and dropped through just after the final red light went on. MU wins 70-68...amazing.
"I just read it, just trusted my instincts, and I was able to come up with the ball and make a big play at the end," McNeal said.
Classic trap game avoided.
Dominic James led Marquette with 16 points. Coach Crean revealed in the post game press conference that James was sick in the second half and had to fight through it. MU finished with four players in double figures and David Cubillian also added 9. Despite MU shooting only 38% from the floor and 67% from the line, they escape with the win.
MU has the week off as they prepare to play Providence on February 3rd and the retirement of the Dwyane Wade jersey.
Watch and listen to the win with these links:
Great stuff here - this YouTube video covers the game's final minute.
MUScoop has the ESPN highlights of the MU win -- including terrific footage of the game's deciding play.
Video Highlights including the last play (you have to deal with the USF fight song)
Here's the radio play by play of McNeal's amazing steal and buzzer beater via YouTube. WOW.
Todd Rosiak recap at Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The St Petersburg Times on the Bulls' tough home loss.
The Tampa Tribune recap.
MarquetteHoops' recap on Scout.com
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Written by muwarrior92 at 3:09 PM