Davante Gardner hit 2 free throws with 4.7 seconds left and 3rd-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles held on to beat No. 6 seed Butler 74-72 in the East Regional of the NCAA tournament.
Gardner’s 2 free throws pushed the Golden Eagles’ lead to 74-70, but a Butler Bulldogs full-court pass to Andrew Smith went for 2 points when Marquette was called for goaltending.
On the following inbounds play, Marquette (25-8) threw the ball out of bounds and allowed Butler Bulldogs a final shot with 2.4 seconds to play. A last-resort inbounds pass to Smith was wild, and he could not recover to get off a good attempt. His shot-put heave from 22 feet screamed off the backboard.
Vander Blue led Marquette with 29 points, 19 of which came in the 2nd half. His 3-pointer with 1:21 to play tied the score at 69. When Jamil Wilson hit 2 free throws with 47.7 seconds to play, the Golden Eagles would not trail again.
Gardner hit one of 2 from the line with 22.9 seconds left, and Butler’s Roosevelt Jones sank one of two with 14.7 remaining to make it 72-70.
Rotnei Clarke had 18 points in the 1st half as Butler Bulldogs opened a 35-27 lead.
Clarke, a senior playing in his 1st year at Butler (27-9) after transferring from Arkansas, was 6 of 9 from the floor before halftime and 3 of 6 from 3-point range. Football scores
Marquette could not stop Clarke from getting off his shot. His release is one of the quickest in the game and it showed in the 1st half.
But Clarke fell on his wrist early in the 2nd half and didn’t score in the final 15 minutes. He finished with 24 points.
Golden Eagles coach Buzz Williams expounded the Marquette switched their defense on Clarke in the 2nd half but wouldn’t say how.
“If we can make it into a fight and make it ugly, then it probably trends toward it helps us the most,” Williams claimed. “(Clarke) made 6 shots in the first half, had 50 percent of their points. As good a shooter as he is, you kind of have to go all in the 2nd half and see whether those other guys can beat you, and they almost did. I think that what you guys saw epitomizes, is a microcosm of our culture.”
Butler held a comfortable lead through much of the first half and led by as many as 9 points in the 2nd at 41-32 with 16:13 to play.
The Marquette Golden Eagles took their first lead of the 2nd half at 60-58 with approximately 7 minutes to play on a Blue basket.
Butler controlled much of the 1st half after a bit of a slow start. The Marquette led 15-12 with 13:04 to go in the 1st half, but Butler Bulldogs answered with a 9-2 run to take a 21-17 lead with 9:49 to go. On Clarke’s back, the Bulldogs took their biggest lead at 33-23 with 3:26 to go until halftime.