Golden Eagles tame Panthers, move to 9-3 in conference play

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The last five minutes of Marquette’s contest with Pittsburgh seemed to drain on and on, but in the end, the Golden Eagles pulled off an impressive 79-69 win over the Panthers.

On an afternoon dedicated to the 10-year anniversary of the 2003 Final Four squad, it was only fitting that the Golden Eagles put forth what Buzz Williams called their “best performance at home thus far.”

Like it did against DePaul, the offense came out in full force to open the game, but this time Marquette showed top defensive form as well.

Vander Blue played lights-out, going seven for eight from the field. Blue scored 14 of his 19 points in the first half, leading an early surge that would put the Golden Eagles in front big.

Down 28-18 at the 7:19 mark, Pittsburgh rallied with a 7-0 run that cut the deficit to 28-25. Then, a big three-pointer from Jamil Wilson and three free throws from Todd Mayo got the lead back to 12 at 1:36.

The Golden Eagles finished off the half with a little razzle dazzle. Davante Gardner fed a beautiful assist from under the basket out to Blue who knocked down the three to put Marquette up 42-29.

Pittsburgh never came closer than nine points the rest of the way as Gardner had a huge second half, leading Marquette with 12 of his 14 points.

The win keeps the Golden Eagles on pace with Georgetown and Syracuse at the top of the conference.

Marquette shot 56.5 percent for the game compared to Pittsburgh’s 41.7 percent. Junior Cadougan  dished six assists as the team assisted on 18 of 26 made baskets. Marquette also won the battle of the boards 33-24 and outscored Pittsburgh’s bench 39-26.

By handing the Panthers just their second lost in their last nine games, as well as their largest loss of the season, Marquette continued its 23-game home win streak.