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Marquette knocks off Mountaineers

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By Tony Dobies
Thursday, March 10, 2011
 

NEW YORK — West Virginia's dominance of Madison Square Garden was short-lived.

After winning the Big East Conference Tournament a year ago, the six-seed Mountaineers saw an 11-game winning streak in March end Wednesday in the second round of the Big East Conference Tournament, courtesy of a 67-61 defeat to 11-seed Marquette .

"We just didn't play like us," said WVU senior forward Cam Thoroughman.

The loss snaps a three-year streak of WVU (20-11) advancing to at least the semifinals of the Big East Tournament. The Mountaineers will now have to wait until Sunday to find out where they'll be heading for the NCAA Tournament.

With the win, Marquette (19-13) likely secured itself a bid to the NCAA Tournament. That would make for a record 11 teams from the Big East going to the big dance. The Golden Eagles will face Louisville tonight at 9 in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament.

"We've just got to regroup as a team and get back to playing together," said WVU junior forward Kevin Jones, who had a team-high 15 points. "We have to figure something out, because this can't keep continuing."

After shooting 58.3 percent in the first half, West Virginia struggled in the second half, scoring just 25 points. The Mountaineers blew a nine-point lead and shot just 22.2 percent in the final 20 minutes.

The Mountaineers made just six shots in the half.

"I don't know if it was the fact that they were giving us different looks on defense as much as we just didn't make shots," Thoroughman said

of the second half. "By the time we play our next game, this will be out of our system."

Marquette guard Darius Johnson-Odom hit two huge 3-pointers in the final five minutes of the game and finished with 11 points. Fellow guard

Junior Cadougan had 15 points, 13 of which came in the second half. Forward Davante Gardner scored eight of his 10 points in the second

half, as well.

The Mountaineers opened the second half on fire and led the game by nine after getting threes from guards Truck Bryant and Joe Mazzulla.

But Cadougan scored seven straight points to cut WVU's lead to 44-42. A few minutes later, Marquette would tie the game at 48 on a three-point play by Gardner.

On the other end, Mitchell hit a 3-pointer, but five straight points by Marquette, capped by a three from Crowder, gave the Golden Eagles their first lead since 3:21 in the first half.

After back-and-forth action at the free-throw line, Marquette forced a turnover and a wide-open Johnson-Odom hit a three for a 58-55 lead with 4:36 to play.

West Virginia committed a turnover coming out of a timeout and Johnson-Odom hit another three to give the Golden Eagles a six-point lead.

The Mountaineers eventually cut the lead to three points and had the ball with less than 30 seconds to play, but Bryant missed a shot and Marquette was able to seal the victory at the line.

"I was caught up in the moment. When I got the steal, my first reaction was the time, and I had a clear path to the basket," Bryant said.

After trailing by as many as six points in the first half, West Virginia ended the first half on a 14-1 run, sparked by threes from Bryant and Jones and four points from Pepper. The Mountaineers went into halftime with a 35-29 lead.

West Virginia shot 56 percent in the first half and made 7 of 13 threes. Marquette shot 46.2 percent, but just 20 percent from three-point range.

Flowers had 11 points and Bryant had 10 for the Mountaineers.

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