NEW YORK – Junior Cadougan came off the bench to score 15 points to lead Marquette to a 67-61 come-from-behind victory over 20th-ranked West Virginia Wednesday night in a Big East tournament second round game at Madison Square Garden.
Cadougan was one of four players to give Marquette a spark off the bench, the Golden Eagles’ using a 32-16 advantage in bench scoring to help overcome a 10-point deficit early in the second half.
The Mountaineers (20-11) seemed to be in control of the game after taking a seven-point lead into the locker room at halftime and then extending it to 10 on a Truck Bryant 3 with 17:47 remaining, making the score 41-31.
And West Virginia still appeared to be in pretty good shape two minutes later when Joe Mazzulla hit another 3, but then the Mountaineers went ice cold.
For the next 13 ½ minutes West Virginia made just one field goal – a Casey Mitchell 3 with 11:08 to go - during a span that saw the Mountaineers miss 16 of their next 17 shots before John Flowers finally converted a reverse layup with 1:44 left to pull West Virginia to within four, 61-57.
"We made some shots in the first half and then the second half we didn't make shots," said West Virginia coach Bob Huggins. "We don't have people who can drive it to the basket, that's not the kind of guys we have so it's we have to depend on making some shots."
Unfortunately West Virginia missed them from everywhere: short jumpers, 3-point jumpers, put-backs, tip-ins, layups, you name it. But despite their shooting woes, the Mountaineers still led by one, 55-54, with 5:50 to go before Darius Johnson-Odom nailed back-to-back 3s to give Marquette a 61-55 lead with 3:53 showing on the clock.
However, missed Marquette free throws kept it a one-possession game after a pair of Bryant free throws with 31 seconds left got the Mountaineers to within three, 64-61.
After his second made free throw, Bryant was able to steal the inbound pass before putting up a wild shot at the basket that ricocheted off the backboard right into the hands of Dwight Buycks, who got the ball out to Cadougan at midcourt where he was fouled by Kevin Jones in an effort to keep the Golden Eagles from scoring an easy basket.
Cadougan hit both free throws to put Marquette ahead by five, and another free throw by Jimmy Butler with 15 seconds remaining iced the game for the Golden Eagles.
"Shoot 22% the second half you're not going to win," said Huggins. "You're not going to win in this league doing that."
Cadougan, averaging just 3.2 points per game, finished 4 of 7 from the floor while adding 7 of 9 from the free throw line. It’s the second time this year a Marquette player has had a career game against West Virginia.
The first time around back on Jan. 1, it was Jae Crowder’s 29 points on 12 of 14 shooting that led Marquette to a 79-74 victory over WVU in Milwaukee. That game also went down to the wire with Marquette making the plays at the end to defeat the Mountaineers.
Odom chipped in with 11 and Davante Gardner, another reserve, scored 10.
Jones led West Virginia with 15 points, but 13 of those came in the first half. Despite having the hot hand, the junior forward only managed to take three shots in the second half and finished the game 5 of 9 shooting.
Flowers sat most of the first half with two fouls bt still finished with 11 points while Bryant added 10.
West Virginia, which beat Louisville 49-25 on the glass last Saturday in Morgantown, was out-rebounded by Marquette, 32-29.
"Rebounding comes down to basically who wants it more and they showed that they wanted it more and they didn't really do a great job of boxing us out but it all came down to who wanted the rebound more," said Jones.
In addition to West Virginia’s tough shooting night, another telling stat in the game was the Golden Eagles’ 16 points off of 13 Mountaineer turnovers.
This marks the first time since Bob Huggins’ return to West Virginia that the Mountaineers are one-and-done in Big East tournament play. Last year, West Virginia won its first-ever Big East tournament title by defeating Cincinnati, Notre Dame and Georgetown after earning a double-bye to begin the tournament.
Marquette will face No. 3 seed Louisville Thursday night in the Big East quarterfinals.
The other quarterfinal matchups will feature No. 1 seed Pitt against Connecticut at noon, No. 3 seed Syracuse against St. John’s at 2 p.m. and No. 2 seed Notre Dame against Cincinnati tomorrow night at 7 p.m.
West Virginia will await its postseason destination when NCAA tournament pairings are announced on Sunday.