Marquette men’s basketball lost to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament semifinals on Friday night, 81-79.
That much is not in dispute at this point.
Pretty much anything else you want to say about this game can be disputed.
Here’s what we witnessed from The Garden:
- 57 personal fouls recorded
- 85 free throws attempted
- Nine technical fouls
- Three ejections
- MTV’s Dan Cortese
- Referee James Breeding needing to jot down notes to explain and discuss things with his fellow gentlemen in stripes
- Markus Howard missing six free throws but still shooting enough to break the Marquette single season free throws made record.
- A partridge in a pear tree
I think that about covers it.
Before we dive into the most noteworthy portions of this game, I want to discuss what happened up until three players were ejected with 13:15 remaining. Let’s be honest: The game was radically changed by the ejections. Okay? Cool.
With 10:17 left in the first half, Marquette led by 12 points. With 3:50 left in the half, Marquette led by 10 points. At halftime, Marquette led by three. With 14:56 left in the second half, Seton Hall led by two.
That is a 14 point swing in just a shade over 15 minutes of game time. Did a whole mess of other things happen in this game that clearly and obviously affected the outcome? Yes. That’s not in doubt, and I’m not trying to say it’s not.
But let’s make this very, very, very, very clear: Marquette had an opportunity to absolutely step on Seton Hall’s throat after 10 minutes were played, and they did not do that. They spent the next 15 minutes letting the Pirates back into the game. When you allow a 14 point swing across that much time and lose by two, nothing that happened after that point really affected the outcome as much as letting that swing happen.
Okay. Just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page.
So, yeah. At the 12:48 mark of the second half, Myles Powell drove to the rim, where he was fouled by Sacar Anim. Theo John may or may not have made contact with Powell as he fell to the court, and quite honestly, I’m willing to believe that John did put a hand on Powell and even pushed him, but mostly as self-defense to make sure that Powell didn’t land on him as opposed to violently shoving him. It wasn’t a big deal.
Except Powell decided it was and jumped up and started hollering at John. The Marquette big man barely reacted as everyone else on the court started to separate the two sides. Sandro Mamukelashvili took the opportunity to run in and shove John from behind, and Sacar Anim found himself in a shouting match with Powell after John had already been removed from the situation.
The results, at least according to the PBP: John, Anim, and Mamukelashvili were all issued Flagrant 2 Technical Fouls and immediately ejected from the game. Well, immediately as in it took the refereeing crew about five minutes to sort this all out. Powell was issued a Class A Technical Foul for starting the whole thing, although probably more for jawing at Anim, as the two had an incident in the first half. Powell was issued a Flagrant One foul in the first half for an absurdly unnecessary elbow to Anim’s chest, and Anim was issued a technical foul for clapping in Powell’s direction following the whistle.
The real problem here was that after Seton Hall had gone up by two with 14:56 to go, Marquette had put themselves up five a moment before all of this, and the score was officially 53-50 favoring MU when it happened, and two free throws from Howard shortly afterwards made it 55-50. In short, you can make the argument that Marquette may have righted the ship after the Hall comeback. Except we’ll never know, because the referees ejected what could easily be called Marquette’s two best defensive players with just under 13 minutes left. The lead just kept slipping and slipping and slipping away from Marquette, and eventually, it just became too much to try to fix.
You know what the crazy part about the whole deal is?
It almost wasn’t too much to fix.
Seton Hall led by six with 61 seconds left.... and then Marquette scored five straight points. Shavar Reynolds got fouled with five seconds left.... but only managed to hit the second one. The Golden Eagles somehow managed to put themselves in a position to win a big dumb ugly stupid terrible basketball game that everyone will remember forever for being big dumb ugly stupid and terrible on one final shot.
And Markus Howard got a good look at a stepback triple to win it.
The good news is that after beating St. John’s on Thursday night, this game just did not matter that much. Sure, a win would be good for the ol’ NCAA tournament profile, and it would have been fun to advance to the Big East title game for the first time in program history. But it’s not a requirement or anything.
Up Next: Marquette’s spot in the NCAA tournament is already set in stone. It’s a thing that’s happening, so we’ll just have to wait for Sunday evening to see where they actually end up.