NEW YORK — The question every time is how a day-night performance plays out, as the sixth-ranked Marquette men’s basketball team had more than two halves — plus little else — in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals Thursday. Madison Square Garden.
What kind of fire-and-brimstone speech did the coach give at halftime that led to such a spectacular turnaround?
Well, it shows the motivation behind the spirited play of the Golden Eagles, after a lackluster first half there was no head coach shaka smart,
It wasn’t even one of MU’s scholarship players that lit a spark under the team as it rallied from a 14-point deficit and claimed a 72–70 victory over St. John’s in overtime.
box score:Marquette 72, St. John’s 70 (OT)
Yes, it was 5-foot-11 walk-on guard Cameron Brown, despite the heavy brace he’s been wearing since a knee injury in the off-season, who stood tall in the New York Knicks’ locker room at MU’s have possession Top seed of the tournamentAnd gave a passionate speech.
The Golden Eagles will play Connecticut in the semifinals on Friday night.
“Our theme was passion for the game and the entire tournament,” Brown said. “I was gushing about the passion that we had.
“Even before the start of the season, when the coach was not there, we played a few games against each other and we competed. We talked about how some alumni called us pretty boys, they called us a little soft. We felt like we had something to prove.
“And that is the passion that we have for each other. To prove that we can do it ourselves. From that point on, I just said that when we go out and play against any other team, we need to carry that same passion. Because no one else there believed us.
Marquette fell behind St. John’s by 14 points in the first half
That chip-on-the-shoulder mentality has served MU (26-6) well this season. from a team selected to finish ninth in the pre-season to become outright Big East champions for the first time.
But early in the afternoon against eighth-seeded St. John’s (18-15), the Golden Eagles looked out of sorts.
One of the best offenses in the country had nine turnovers and shot 4-for-19 on three-pointers in the opening 20 minutes. The Golden Eagles’ defense allowed the Red Storm to pull down 10 offense rebounds.
St. John’s jumped out to a 34–20 lead in the first half, and the home fans went berserk in the building in which the Red Storm play a handful of regular-season games.
MU fought back to within 36–26 at the break.
“We knew this was one of our worst stops,” Smart said. “And we knew we had to lead with the defensive end of the floor.”
Tyler Kolek Has Another Clutch Performance As The Golden Eagles Battle
The Golden Eagles have talked throughout the season about how the connection between each one of them is their biggest advantage in the program.
That’s why he feels comfortable calling on walk-on teammates like Brown, who include the Big East’s Player of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year and three guys who made the All-League team.
“They’re all my brothers,” said Brown. “We have all been there for each other at different times. I got hurt a bit and they are there for me.
“It’s just a matter of trust and going with each other. We’ve always supported each other, never let each other down and we always believed that if we stick together and be a group If we stay as we are, we can do anything.”
The flip switch was done. MU held St. John’s goalless through the first four minutes of the second half.
“I think it’s our resilience,” said MU’s Olivier-Maxense Prosper, who had 16 points including several highlight dunks. “That’s what we’re about. It doesn’t matter how down we are or whatever, we feel like we can come back and win any game. That’s our relationships, how we feel about each other and how connected we are.
“That’s how we came out in the second half. We came out with that belief and that energy. And that’s how we were able to come back and win this game.”
big screen in the garden accepted Tyler Kolek named Big East Player of the Year At the beginning of the second half. It seemed to be serving as a reminder to him. He had 12 points, six rebounds and four assists, along with 19, nine and six in the second half.
“Just kind of got out on my own,” Kolek said. “To stop focusing on individual circumstances and start focusing on people and everything else. On the defensive end, his motivation, my motivation and just play free.
Marquette survives and moves on after wild finish
The Golden Eagles finally fought back to tie the game at 38–38 when freshman Chase Ross, who had a strong performance off the bench with nine points in his first postseason game, hit a three-pointer at the 15:41 mark. took advantage.
It was a tight game the rest of the time.
MU’s Kam Jones, who went just 4 for 16, seemed to seal the game with a three-pointer for a 60–56 lead with 25 seconds remaining.
“As soon as I shot it, I knew it was good,” Jones said. “I feel the same way about all my shots until the ball tells me different.”
But the Red Storm’s AJ Storr was fouled on a three-pointer by Stevie Mitchell and made all three free throws.
St. John’s then stole the inbound pass, but Prosper stripped it right back and was fouled with 12 seconds left. He made 1 of 2 free throws for a 61–59 lead, but that opened the door for Dylan Ade-Wusu to break through the Golden Eagles defense to tie the game.
Prosper tipped in Kolek’s miss at the buzzer, but a review proved it came after time expired.
Marquette finds a way to win in overtime
Neither team found the separation in overtime, and Kolek missed two free throws with 15 seconds remaining to give MU the winning margin. It was another clutch performance for Kolek in a season full of them.
“Tyler’s a guy, down the stretch, if we can get the ball in his hands we know he can make a good shot for us,” Smart said. “Today was the day when we missed many good shots. We shot under 40% from the field, under 30% from three. But to find a way to win a game like that is a big deal.”
St. John missed two three-pointers in the waning seconds of overtime, and the Golden Eagles survived and advanced.
“We’re getting better at closing out close games as the year progresses,” Jones said. He said, ‘We lost a few matches at the beginning of the season. Purdue. Mississippi State.
“So just growing up. People like to label us a ‘young team’. Just keep learning and growing and we’ll get better.”
More:Is there any way for Marquette to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament?
More:Marquette won four games in four days in the 1997 Conference USA tournament. What can the current Golden Eagles learn from this?
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This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Marquette defeats St. John’s in overtime, 72-70, in Big East Tournament