Blue lifts Marquette over Davidson at Rupp Arena

Marquette's Vander Blue is congratulated by his team after hitting a layup that put the Golden Eagles up by 1 point with a single second left on the board. Marquette ended up topping Davidson 59-58. in Lexington, Ky., on Thursday, March, 21, 2013. Photo by James Holt | Staff

By Tom Hurley | @TomHurleyKernel

thurley@kykernel.com

Marquette junior guard Vander Blue collected the inbound pass and proceeded to run down the middle of the Rupp Arena court.

He skipped into the paint and released the ball from his fingertips.

A kiss of the glass that froze time and a little help from gravity and that was it.

It was in.

Marquette had avoided the upset.

Blue’s lay-up with one second left gave the No. 3-seed Golden Eagles a 59-58 win over 14-seed Davidson that seemed as unlikely two minutes prior as a loss did pregame.

“All I was thinking was if I get to the rim I got to finish … don’t make that and we probably lose,” Blue said.

Sharp shooting and zone defense saw Davidson open up a seven-point lead down the stretch as they threatened the upset.

Davidson started the game showing signs of what was to come as the Wildcats shot 4-of-4 from three-point range out of the gate.

One of those three balls came from senior forward Jake Cohen seven minutes in to give the Wildcats an early double-digit lead.

A 13-4 run helped the Golden Eagles get back in the game, aided by nine first half rebounds from junior center Chris Otule.

The Wildcats shot 34.8 percent in the opening stanza to a take a 25-23 edge into the locker room at halftime.

The two teams came out trading buckets in the second half before Davidson senior guard JP Kulhman hit a three in front of the Wildcats bench to make it 34-31 four minutes into the half. Blue replied with a three of his own, sprawling out on the floor after hitting the fade-away jumper.

The basket trading continued until the midway mark of the half when a 7-1 Davidson run put the Cats ahead, 45-39.

A hook shot from Cohen sent Davidson nine points clear in a stretch that saw Marquette missed seven straight shots from the field.

Otule grabbed his 11th rebound of the game and tipped the ball home to end the run and make it 49-42 with 5:22 to play.

Two free throws from Cohen restored Davidson’s seven-point advantage with 1:49 to play and the upset looked on.

Senior guard Nik Cochran drained two three throws with 20 seconds to play to put the Cats up by four.

Two free throws from Blue got the Golden Eagles to within five and then the team that had made one three-point in 12 attempts suddenly hit three back-to-back to stun the Cats.

The last of which, from junior forward Jamil Wilson, saw Davidson’s advantage shrink from four points to one with 11 seconds on the clock.

Marquette were unable to foul right away on the inbounds pass allowing junior forward De’Mon Brooks to throw the ball up court to 94 percent free throw shooter Cochran. The pass went long, causing Cochran to step out of bounds.

Down the stretch our game plan is (to) get the ball to (Cochran), he’s the best free throw shooter in the country,” Cohen said. “For the most part we did that but … De’Mon threw it a little too far. That’s how it goes sometimes.”

An official review on how much time had lapsed during the play allowed Williams to draw up a play with 6.7 seconds remaining.

That’s when Blue took over and made his game-winning shot.

“I’m not ready to go home, I know our team’s not ready to go home,” Blue said. “We got down by like seven with six minutes left and nobody ever panicked.”

Davidson got the ball back with one second on the clock but the hail mary pass was intercepted, enabling the Golden Eagles bench to pour onto the floor and celebrate their comeback victory.

“We’re thankful to still be standing,” Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said.

Cohen led all scorers with 20 points. Blue scored 16 points for the Marquette, with 14 points from Wilson while Otlue finished with 11 points to go with his 11 rebounds.