for this game

Pitt ends struggles against Marquette when it counts

Mar 9, 2007 - 6:57 AM PITTSBURGH (Ticker) -- Aaron Gray and Pittsburgh avoided a third loss to Marquette at a most opportune time.

Gray scored 22 points and the 11th-ranked Panthers advanced to the Big East Conference Tournament semifinals with an 89-79 victory over the 19th-ranked Golden Eagles.

Pitt (26-6) had lost both meetings with Marquette in the regular season, a 77-74 overtime defeat on January 21 and a 75-71 loss on Sunday. The second loss to the Golden Eagles ruined the Panthers' chances to earn a share of the conference title.

"I thought we got a great effort from a number of guys," Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said. "We made good decisions and we took the right opportunities, and with the seven turnovers we had goes to show how good we played tonight.

"It was a great win against a very good team. I'm proud of how our guys played. I'm not surprised and we had a very good week of practice and we were definitely looking forward to this game."

Marquette played its second conference tournament game without second-leading scorer Jerel McNeal. The sophomore guard, who averages 14.7 points and 4.8 rebounds, injured his thumb in practice last Friday and has not played since, including Wednesday's win over St. John's in the first round.

Dan Fitzgerald scored 20 points, Wesley Matthews had 19 and Dominic James added 16 for the Golden Eagles (24-9).

"The energy wasn't there in the second half," Matthews said. "The first half we had it, the second half we didn't. That was the difference."

Another difference was at the free-throw line. Pitt was 27-of-41 from the line while Marquette took only 19, making 17.

"We came up short. We didn't have the same buzz on defense in the second half," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "Most games are usually won by free throws. It's a tough pill to swallow. That's the way it was and that's the way the game was called and we'll just deal with it. We missed two free throws and they shot 41."

Sam Young had 17 points and Mike Cook added 16 for Pitt (26-6), which will face No. 15 Louisville in the semifinals on Friday.

The Panthers were handled easily by the Cardinals, 66-53, on February 17. Pitt was 3-of-21 from the arc and the final score does not indicate how thoroughly Louisville dominated the game.

"Attacking the zone is going to be important as Louisville plays a 2-3 zone and we have a very tough opponent and we're looking forward to the challenge," Dixon said. "It's a new season and we always take one game at a time."








  • BIG EAST TOURNAMENT
    AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
    NCAA BB BIG EAST TOURNAMENT
    FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
    --- --- -----
    MARQUETTE (19) 37 42 79
    PITTSBURGH (11) 40 49 89 FINAL

    Mar 9 12:05 AM
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  • BIG EAST TOURNAMENT
    AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
    NCAA BB MARQUETTE (19) 37
    PITTSBURGH (11) 40 HALFTIME

    Mar 8 10:50 PM
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    Marquette vs. PittsburghMar 8 10:03 PM
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    Marquette vs. PittsburghMar 8 5:35 PM