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Marquette Wire

Ighodaro’s late-game floater the dagger in Marquette’s 71-65 overtime win over Villanova

Oso+Ighodaro+scores+past+Eric+Dixon+in+Marquettes+71-65+win+over+Villanova+in+the+Big+East+Tournament+quarterfinals.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics.%29
Oso Ighodaro scores past Eric Dixon in Marquette’s 71-65 win over Villanova in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

NEW YORK — Shaka Smart didn’t care Oso Ighodaro hadn’t scored a field goal.

He didn’t care his senior forward was 0-for-4 from the field, or that his two points up to that point had come from the charity stripe with three minutes left in the second half.

He didn’t care he had David Joplin — who scored the Golden Eagles’ first five overtime points and finished with 14 — and Kam Jones — who led Marquette with 18 — as options to hit a game-determining bucket.

None of it mattered. Smart knew who was getting the ball when everything was on the line.

The No. 3 seed Marquette men’s basketball team was leading sixth-seeded Villanova 67-65 with 18 seconds left in overtime, when the ball was tipped out of bounds, giving both teams a chance to draw up a play.

On the ensuing possession, the Golden Eagles inbounded the ball to Ighodaro, who sized up Wildcat big man Eric Dixon and hit a hookshot floater to put Marquette ahead 69-65.

“That’s exactly what we were trying to do,” Smart said when asked if he drew the play up to give Ighodaro the shot. “He’s a warrior. I’ve never coached a more conscientious player that wants to do well for his team and teammates.

“And so he gets down a little bit when the plays don’t go in. But we’ve got ultimate belief in him.”

His basket — and first field goal of the night — sealed Marquette men’s basketball’s 71-65 win over Villanova in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

Game goes to overtime after overturned call

The Golden Eagles were tied with the Wildcats 58-58 with two seconds left in regulation after a rollercoaster second half filled with numerous lead changes and runs.

Smart called timeout to draw up a play that would win the game with a basket. And it nearly worked.

Ighodaro — one of the best playmaking centers in the country — threw a backdoor pass to Jones who cut to the basket with milliseconds left on the game clock.

Jones, who for the last month has been proficient in nailing important layups, put the ball high off the glass and into the hoop. In response, the Marquette bench cleared and every Golden Eagle celebrated in pandemonium with each other and Jones.

But after a lengthy review the referees overturned the call on the floor — which was that the basket was good — and the game went to overtime.

“Initially we thought that the basket was good and so we thought the game was over. But the longer it took to review it, obviously you’re preparing for the possibility that you have five more minutes to play,” Smart said.

“And, again, the guys, there were really good eyeball contracts between one another talking about what we needed to do next.”

The overtime period started with Joplin’s two baskets, and had an important three from Chase Ross — who scored 11 points — before Ighodaro hit his game-sealing floater.

“During that overtime, I told the guys in the locker room, our guys showed who they are. Incredible character, togetherness, toughness,” Smart said.

“Anytime you have a shot that goes in and you’ve got a high of feeling like you won and then it gets taken away from you, that can be dangerous, but I liked the look there in our guys’ eyes.”

Smart provides update on Tyler Kolek’s availability

Smart was not clear about when Marquette All-American point guard Tyler Kolek would be cleared to play, but he did say he will be back next week for the NCAA Tournament.

“Tyler has been practicing. Tyler is eager is to come back. But probably the most conservative person in the room is our trainer and our doctor. And that’s how it should be. So to this point, he’s not been cleared to play the game. And we’re confident that that will change soon. We don’t know if that soon as in tomorrow,” Smart said.

“I think what our guys are showing these last couple games, and even the two games we lost without Tyler, is that we can compete with anyone, even while he’s recovering.”

Marquette now faces No. 7 seed Providence in the Big East semifinals Friday night at 7 p.m. CST after the Friars upset No. 2 seed Creighton Thursday.

“It’s going to be a heck of a war. I didn’t get a chance to watch the whole game tonight, but the parts that I did see, they were just scrappy and tough. And they had a nastiness about them to go grab the game and take the game,” Smart said.

“So we’re going to have to take the toughness plays that we played with tonight that helped us win the game, we’re going to have to multiply those. And we’re going to need these guys and the rest of our guys to understand that, hey, tonight’s over, go back and get our rest and go after tomorrow.”

This article was written by Jack Albright. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @JackAlbrightMU.

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About the Contributor
Jack Albright, Executive Sports Editor
Jack Albright is a sophomore from Charlton, Massachusetts studying journalism. He is the Executive Sports Editor of the Marquette Wire for the 2023-24 school year. In his free time, Jack likes to hang out with friends and watch Formula 1. He is excited to write fun stories about all things Marquette athletics and oversee new types of digital content.

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