Blue true again as Golden Eagles avoid upset

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Vander Blue bailed Marquette out again.

In near identical fashion to an overtime win against St. John’s in the regular season finale, the junior guard helped the Golden Eagles overcome a less-than-stellar performance against a lower ranked team.

With just 6.7 ticks left, Blue drove to the basket for a contested layup that dropped in with one second on the clock. He then intercepted the ensuing inbound pass to seal the improbable 59-58 win and ensure Marquette would move on to the NCAA Tournament’s third round.

With 1:49 left, Davidson looked poised for a major upset. The Golden Eagles were desperately fouling the best free-throw shooting team in the country, and after a pair of charity strikes from Nik Cochran, the Wildcats led by seven.

Blue knocked down a pair of free throws to cut the lead to five points, but JP Kuhlman made one of two to bring it back to six.

Then, Jamil Wilson rose up to knock down a huge three-pointer that cut the deficit in half with one minute left. De’Mon Brooks answered, however, with a wide-open layup that put Marquette back down by two possessions with 41 seconds to go.

Blue cut it to a two-point deficit with his second three-pointer of the game, and after a pair of Cochran free throws, Jamil Wilson struck again with another three-pointer.

With the Cats up by one point with 11 seconds left, Brooks took the inbound pass and tried to feed Cochran downcourt. He led his man too far as the ball bounced out of bounds, setting up Blue’s dagger.

Blue finished with 16 points, none bigger than his final six, but went just five for 15 from the field. Wilson finished strong as well with 14, going four of 13 from the field.

The Golden Eagles shot just 27.6 percent for the first half, and rebounded to shoot 41.4 percent in the second. Marquette only turned the ball over nine times, but surrendered nine points off those turnovers.

While the rest of the team struggled, Chris Otule played the role of unsung hero, keeping Marquette in the game with his first career double-double. The redshirt senior finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Jake Cohen led all scorers with 20 points, but his final field goal came with 6:26 left in the game to give Davidson a nine-point lead.

The Wildcats surprisingly missed eight of their 22 free throws, which helped the Golden Eagles out substantially down the stretch. Marquette’s bench scored 23 points in the form of Wilson and nine points from Davante Gardner compared to just seven points from the Davidson bench.

The Wildcats started hot, knocking down their first four three-pointers, but would connect on just two of their 11 remaining attempts.

With the win, the Golden Eagles advance to the round of 32 and will play Butler Saturday. The Bulldogs knocked off Bucknell 68-56 in the bracket’s earlier game.