Luck runs out for Golden Eagles

Heading into Marquette and Notre Dame’s faceoff Saturday, many figured it would be a shootout. The two teams entered the game tied for fifth in the country in 3-point field goal efficiency at 40.8 percent.

Surprisingly the two teams combined to go 7-for-44 from behind the arc, resulting in a sloppy, hard-fought, low-scoring overtime thriller between two teams fighting for NCAA Tournament berths.

Marquette played in its fourth overtime game in five matches, but Notre Dame got the best of the Golden Eagles this time, notching a 63-60 victory.

“Congratulations to Notre Dame,” coach Buzz Williams said. “That’s not how we wanted to finish the season at home, but it is what it is.”

Junior forward Carleton Scott knocked down one of Notre Dame’s three 3-pointers as time expired to force overtime. With the Fighting Irish on a late-season surge to make the NCAA Tournament, Scott’s jumper may have sealed the deal.

“We played everything the right way,” Williams said. “I mean, it’s just the way it went — scrum for a loose ball, somehow it falls to him. It was a good shot. But I wasn’t upset with our kids on how we defended it.”

With the victory, the Fighting Irish finished the season 21-10 overall with a Big East record of 10-8.  They locked up the No. 7 slot in this week’s tournament and will play the winner of Seton Hall and Providence.

Despite the loss Saturday, Lazar Hayward and the Golden Eagles are confident heading into the Big East Tournament.

“We finished this out, we’re going to New York next week and then we’re going to keep going,” Hayward said at the end of his senior day speech, which drew roars from the remaining fans in the Bradley Center.

Marquette finished the season at No. 5 in the conference with a Big East record of 11-7.  It will await the winner of Tuesday’s first-round game between No. 13 St. John’s and No. 12 Connecticut.

“We need to keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing, keep working,” senior guard David Cubillan said. “When we were 2-5 everybody said ‘We’re done,’ but we didn’t change anything. We just kept working.”

The Golden Eagles played both the Red Storm and the Huskies on the road this season, and defeated each by two points. Ironically, Jimmy Butler hit the game-winning shot in both contests.

Connecticut appears to be the more daunting task as it has proven its ability to knock off tough opponents. Despite entering the Big East Tournament with a record of 17-14 overall and 7-11 in the Big East, the Huskies have knocked off then-No.1 Texas, then-No. 3 Villanova and then-No. 8 West Virginia.

None of that matters now, though. Following the loss to Notre Dame, Williams knew that it wasn’t his team’s best performance and in order to be competitive in the upcoming Big East Tournament, something will need to change.

“I think it was God’s way of showing us one more time before we left the Bradley Center that if we’re not going to be exactly who we have to be on both ends of the floor, then we get beat,” said Williams. “It doesn’t matter who we play, where we play, what time we play — if we’re not us, we will lose. And if we are us, then I like our chances.”