Marquette hangs on to beat Butler
Davante Gardner hit two free throws with 4.7 seconds left and third-seeded Marquette held on to beat No. 6 seed Butler 74-72 in the East Regional of the NCAA tournament on Saturday night.
Gardner's two free throws pushed the Golden Eagles' lead to 74-70, but a Butler full-court pass to Andrew Smith went for two points when Marquette was called for goaltending.
On the ensuing inbounds play, Marquette (25-8) threw the ball away and allowed Butler a final shot. A last-resort inbounds pass to Smith was wild, and he could not recover to get off a good attempt. His shot-put heave from 22 feet screamed off the backboard.
Vander Blue led Marquette with 29 points, 19 of which came in the second half. His 3-pointer with 1:21 to play tied the score at 69.
Rotnei Clarke had 18 points in the first half as Butler opened a 35-27 lead.
Clarke, a senior playing in his first year at Butler (27-9) after transferring from Arkansas, was 6 of 9 from the floor before halftime and 3 of 6 from 3-point range.
Marquette couldn't stop Clarke from getting off his shot. His release is one of the quickest in the game and it showed in the first half.
But Clarke fell on his wrist early in the second half and did not score in the final 15 minutes. He finished with 24 points.
Butler held a comfortable lead throughout much of the first half and led by as many as nine points in the second at 41-32 with 16:13 to play.
The Golden Eagles took their first lead of the second half at 60-58 with about seven minutes to play on a Blue basket.
Blue had 10 points for Marquette (24-8) at halftime.
The Golden Eagles led 15-12 with 13:04 to go in the first half, but Butler answered with a 9-2 run to take a 21-17 lead with 9:49 to go.
NOTES: Marquette has qualified for three Sweet 16 appearances in a row. Each of the last two seasons, the Golden Eagles have lost in the Sweet 16. ... The Golden Eagles avenged a Nov. 19 Maui Invitational loss to Butler. Clarke hit a running 30-footer as time expired to give the Bulldogs a 72-71 win in that game. ... Despite the loss, Butler is 11-3 in its past three NCAA tournaments dating to 2010. The Bulldogs were national runners-up in 2010 and 2011 before missing the field of 68 in 2012. ... Butler finished its season with 27 wins for the sixth time in school history. Sixth-year coach Brad Stevens coached four of those teams.
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