Lexington KY – With no timeouts left to set up a final play, Marquette coach Buzz Williams asked the officials to check the clock to see if the ball had gone out-of-bounds before the 5.5 seconds showing on the clock. While the referees reviewed the play, Williams drew up a final play to have the ball go to his best driver, Vander Blue (pictured), in the backcourt and the referees added 1.2 seconds – and that made all the difference.
The 6-foot-4 Blue took the ball in the backcourt as his teammates scattered, went to his weaker left hand to drive 50 feet to the basket, and put in a left handed lay-up over 6-foot-10 Jake Cohen with 1.0 seconds to play – a basket that would not have counted if the clock had still said 5.5 when he caught the inbound, but enough with the extra 1.2 seconds that were added.
With 1:10 to play in the game, no one would have believed the game would come down to a last second shot.
For almost 39 minutes, Davidson had no problem with Marquette’s press, and Marquette could not hit a three-pointer in building a 49-40 lead, and still led 54-48 with 1:10 to play when JP Kuhlman missed the second of two free throws. To that point, Davidson had only nine turnovers and Marquette was one of 12 on three-pointers. With Marquette forced to foul Davidson, the only team in the country to shoot over 80 percent from the free throw line this year.
Trent Locket grabbed the rebound, kicked it out to Vander Blue to start the break, and he dished the ball to Jamil Wilson several feet behind the three-point line. Wilson was only two of 11 for the day including missing his only two three-pointers, but he drained the three to make it 54-51 with 1:02 to play.
Davidson once again broke the Marquette pressure, and Jake Cohen made Marquette pay for the gamble, hitting De’Mon Brooks for a layup to make it 56-51 Davidson with 41 seconds to play.
However, Marquette responded again, with Blue pulling up himself this time to hit another three with 27 seconds left to make it 56-54.
Again, Davidson had no trouble with the press and Marquette had to foul Nike Cochran, who hit both free throws to make it a two score game at 58-54 with only 20 seconds left.
Davidson put a soft double team on Marquette point guard Junior Cadougan to make him take several seconds to get down the court, then found Wilson, who made it three consecutive three-pointers in 52 seconds to cut the margin to 58-57.
Marquette, with no timeouts remaining, had no option but to try one last press. The double team came quickly on Brooks, who had to rush a pass down the left sideline to a streaking Kuhlman, who reached with his left hand to try to save the ball and ended up firing it down the court to 290-pound Davante Gardner, who found himself 80 feet from the basket with no timeouts left and only 5.5 seconds left to get to the other end of the court.
Suddenly a whistle blew and changed the equation.
Brooks had gone out of bounds before saving the ball, meaning the clock should have stopped at 6.7 seconds left to set up the final heroics for Blue.