Irish shoot past Marquette into Big East semis

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Updated: March 15, 2013

Pat Connaughton has found his range at Madison
Square Garden, as Notre Dame’s sharpshooter drained six 3-pointers for the
second straight night to help the 24th-ranked Fighting Irish down 12th-ranked
Marquette, 73-65, in quarterfinal action of the Big East Tournament.

Connaughton finished with 18 points, Jerian Grant added 17 and Garrick Sherman
had 16 off the bench for Notre Dame (25-8), which started slow but recovered
in time to advance to the semifinals for the fourth straight year.

“The game didn’t start really well for us, but we fought back,” Notre Dame
head coach Mike Brey said. “We made such big plays at key times, and everybody
had a hand in it.”

The sixth-seeded Irish will next play Louisville on Friday in the third
meeting between the schools this season, one of which was a five-overtime
thriller won by Notre Dame last month.

Marquette (23-8) went on a 6-1 stretch to finish the regular season tied atop
the conference standings with Georgetown and Louisville, but failed to win in
this event for the second consecutive year.

Jamil Wilson led the Golden Eagles with 16 points, while Junior Cadougan and
Vander Blue netted 14 and 12, respectively, in the loss.

“We have to be a lot better than we were today,” Marquette head coach Buzz
Williams said of his team’s NCAA Tournament prospects. “This part of the
season is over, but we need to learn from it and grow from it and then flush
it out and begin to prepare for whoever we’re going to play next week.”

The second half featured 11 lead changes in the first 10 minutes, and it
remained close until a Connaughton 3-pointer capped a 9-2 run that gave the
Irish a 59-52 lead with 3:33 to play.

The Eagles pulled within five, 62-57, before another deep make by Connaughton
provided some cushion. The outcome was decided by Notre Dame making 8-of-10
free throws down the stretch.

The Irish came out wearing neon green uniforms with a camouflage pattern, and
their play over the first nine minutes was just as unsightly as they missed 15
of their first 17 shots.

They found themselves down, 17-4, following a Todd Mayo layup in transition
before hitting their rhythm by scoring on five straight possessions.

Notre Dame ended the half on a 15-3 run — sparked by Sherman’s six points —
and went into the break holding a 29-25 advantage.

Game Notes

Marquette committed 16 turnovers to Notre Dame’s seven … Notre Dame’s Jack
Cooley was held to six points. The First-Team All-Big East forward has scored
in double digits just once in his last five games.