For most of third-seeded Marquette’s game against 14 seed Davidson today, it looked like the Wildcats would pull the upset. Davidson held a 25-23 lead at halftime, and though Marquette hung around, every time Davidson needed points to preserve their lead, they got them. From 11:48 in the second half all the way down to the game’s final seconds, they never trailed.
…Unfortunately for them, the final seconds of the game count too, and with a second to go, Marquette’s Vander Blue did this:
Davidson’s last desperation throw-in fell short, and what would have been the day’s first major upset was averted. But how did the game get to that point to begin with? Well, for one thing, as we mentioned, Marquette hung around. While Davidson managed to cling to the lead until the above layup, the Golden Eagles were hitting shot after shot to give themselves a chance – namely, three threes in the span of a minute to cut the deficit to one:
Second, Davidson threw it away… literally. Blue’s layup ended a possession that arose from a huge Davidson turnover with 6.7 seconds left. In an effort to bleed clock, the Wildcats attempted a long pass, rather than simply force Marquette to foul and go to the line (Davidson shot an uncharacteristically poor 14-for-22 from the line for the game, but went 7-for-8 in the final 2:25). The long pass did not end well. You can (sort of) see the result here:
Of course, it’s no guarantee that Davidson would have made the freebies if they’d let Marquette foul, and maybe Blue would have bled the clock down to a second remaining and hit a game-winner anyway, but… you can bet Davidson would give just about anything to go back in time and be able to find out. Davidson’s been an excellent program under coach Bob McKillop (you might remember the Elite Eight run they made five years ago with Steph Curry shooting the lights out), and they’ll probably be back in the tournament before too long. For now, though, this one hurts… and Marquette is the most relieved team in the country.