Marquette’s first 8:51 couldn’t have been much better. Todd Mayo’s layup gave the Golden Eagles an early 17-4 lead, and they looked ready to run past Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish would rally, with help from 11 Marquette first half turnovers, and run away with a 73-65 victory.
“I think when you get embarrassed on national TV with 11 turnovers against a team that doesn’t press, you hope that you respond in a much more positive way,” Marquette Coach Buzz Williams said.
The Golden Eagles responded well, going back and forth with Notre Dame in the second half.
They tied the game three times and even took a 48-44 lead with 9:34 to play, after Vander Blue scored five straight points on drives to the basket.
But the lead would be the Golden Eagles’ last. Notre Dame rallied again, sending the Golden Eagles home to prepare for the NCAA tournament earlier than expected.
“Notre Dame’s a smart team,” Junior Cadougan said. “They know how to play. We just have to stay poised and focused and not slip, especially at the end of a game.”
In the first half, a jumper by Tom Knight capped a 25-8 Notre Dame run, and the Irish held a 29-25 advantage at the break.
“We need to learn from our offensive inadequacies in the first half,” Williams said. “Our turnover rate was way too high. Our points-per-possesion were much better in the second half. That was because we didn’t turn it over as much.”
Pat Connaughton was deadly from beyond the arc knocking down six of the ten three-pointers he attempted to lead all scorers. Meanwhile Jack Cooley and Garrick Sherman dominated the glass with 12 combined rebounds to help Notre Dame win the battle of the boards 30-28.
Jamil Wilson led Marquette with 16 points off the bench, converting seven of his 15 field goal attempts on a night when the Golden Eagles lacked offensive consistency. Cadougan added 14 points, and Blue and Davante Gardner notched 12 and 11, respectively.
Sherman scored 16 points off the bench for Notre Dame. His surprise contribution, along with 16 Marquette turnovers, did the Golden Eagles in Saturday.
“He had a few key baskets,” Wilson said of Sherman. “He finishes well with either hand, so he kind of caught us slipping when we were small.”
Marquette can now look forward to Selection Sunday, as Williams said he’d have his team get some practice time in as soon as it returns to Milwaukee.