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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Kolek comes up once again as Marquette holds off upset in Big East Tournament quarterfinals

Junior guard Tyler Kolek (11) finished with a near double-double in No. 6 Marquette men’s basketball’s 72-70 overtime win over St. John’s in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

NEW YORK — No. 6 Marquette looked to have locked its spot into Friday night’s Big East Tournament semifinals when sophomore guard Kam Jones hit a 3-pointer with 25 seconds winding down in the second half.

But in March, nothing is a given.

A miscued Marquette foul led St. John’s guard AJ Storr to hitting three free-throws followed by an open layup from Dylan Addae-Wusu, which sent the game into overtime.

Tyler Kolek proved why he was named the conference’s player of the year in the extra-five minute period.

Kolek bailed out the top-seeded Golden Eagles (26-6, 17-3 Big East) from a first-round upset by scoring seven of the final 11 points in overtime to defeat the No. 8 seeded Red Storm (18-15, 7-13) 72-70 at Madison Square Garden.

Marquette’s 10-point comeback from halftime is the largest deficit it has overcome this season.

Statistical leaders

Kolek narrowly missed out on his fourth straight double-double as he paced Marquette with 19 points, nine rebounds and six assists on the afternoon.

Olivier-Maxence Prosper added 16 on 7-of-11 shooting and four rebounds. Two other Golden Eagles finished in double-digits, as Jones and Oso Ighodaro chipped in 11 and 10 points respectively.

David Jones and Addae-Wusu led St. John’s with 16 points a piece.

Joel Soriano, who on Monday was named the conference’s most improved player of the year, posted a Division I-leading 25th double-double with 12 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

Game of runs 

Marquette’s offense was humming in the opening seconds of the first half as it hit each of its first three shots.

Both teams then locked in on defense over the next few minutes before Prosper blew the roof of Madison Square Garden open with back-to-back dunks. Following his second dunk, Prosper was assessed with a technical for his celebration at the rim.

Then St. John’s took over.

The Johnnies found momentum halfway through the opening half after junior David Jones hit a jumper to put them up 16-15 at the 12:50 mark.

Marquette then went into one of its scoreless droughts, this time close to seven minutes long, as St. John’s broke open the game to 27-16. Ighodaro ended the drought with floater inside the paint, giving Marquette some life.

The Red Storm out-rebounded the Golden Eagles 25-15 in the first half as they led 36-26 going into the locker room.

Brown’s halftime speech sparks comeback

Prior to returning to the court for the second half, sophomore walk-on guard Cameron Brown addressed the team in the locker room.

“He was on us,” Jones said. “He told us ‘Just do what we do.’ In the first half, we was taking shots within the first pass, first screening offense and we hadn’t really been doing that all year, so we can’t come to The Garden and get brand new. Got to stick to our foundation, stick to what we do and we’ll be fine.”

Brown’s speech seemed to work as the Golden Eagles came out like a different team.

Behind an increased defensive identity, Marquette opened the half on a 16-2 run to get within two at the 15:18 mark. St. John’s, meanwhile, began the half 0-of-14 from the field.

“When this group here has clarity about us and really plays through being connected with each other, we can play with anyone in the country,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. “We got away from that early on, but we got that back and that’s what allowed us to win.”

First-year Chase Ross drained a 3-pointer to tie the game at 38-38.

“I thought Chase Ross gave us a huge lift as a freshman coming in here playing with great poise,” Smart said.

The Golden Eagles slowly worked to break the game open. Kolek hit a step-back triple to put Marquette up 50-47 with 7:18 remaining.

But St. John’s wouldn’t go away as both sides exchanged baskets and leads over the final minutes.

After Storr hit his three free-throws, Ighodaro coughed up a turnover on the inbound pass but Prosper stole it back.

Bench effect 

First-year guard Chase Ross stepped up off the bench for Marquette Thursday going a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond the arc.

He said after his buried his first triple in the first half, his nerves of playing in his first Big East Tournament appearance were calmed down.

“It’s The Garden, it’s the most famous arena in the world so it’s a lot of nerves that come into it,” Ross said. “When I buried the first the first three, I was like ‘Okay, I’m good. This is what I play.”

Kolby King was an X-factor for the Johnnies in the first half .

The 6-foot-2 first-year guard entered the contest scoring a combined five points in his last three games. He surpassed that by scoring eight points in just nine minutes in the first half.

“To see Kolby come out in this setting, I think it was great because our shortage of guards. We had to give — Posh has to get a breather. You’ve got Dylan out there handling the ball a lot. It was refreshing to have him come off the bench,” St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson said.

Next up:

Marquette will take on No. 4 seed UConn in the first of two semifinals Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. CST (FS1).

The Golden Eagles split the regular season series with the Huskies, with both teams winning on their home floor.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU. 

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