WASHINGTON, DC — Defense was the story of the game as Jim Boeheim’s Syracuse secured the first Final Four bid of the 2013 NCAA Tournament, defeating Marquette 55-39 in the match up of Big East schools.
The game was proof that the 2-3 zone of Syracuse can shut down any team regardless of how many times they have seen it. The Orangemen closed every gap against a Marquette team that had diced up Miami’s defense just two days prior.
Syracuse allowed just seven points in the first 14 minutes until Marquette finally found a spot for 290 lb. big man Davante Gardner to hit a few shots to cut the Orangemen’s lead from 19-7 to 21-18 before a three-pointer gave Syracuse a 24-18 lead heading into the half.
Unfortunately, the outlook did not improve much for Marquette in the second half as the path to the basket remained blocked.
President Obama was looking on with NCAA President Mark Emmert and a host of Secret Service agents as well as long-time aide and former Duke contributor Reggie Love.
The game was a rematch of the contest won earlier this season by Marquette. In that match up, the Golden Eagles used their bulk to overcome the length of the Orangemen. Gardner was able to hoist 26 points points for Marquette despite only attempting seven shots. As in that contest, the Golden Eagles were able to out-rebound Syracuse.
On Saturday, however, the length and quickness of Syracuse proved too much for the Golden Eagles as Marquette was forced to rely on a 3-24 effort from beyond the arc.
Syracuse was led by forwards James Southerland and C.J. Fair (pictured) who contributed 16 and 13 points a piece for the Orangemen.
Gardner and guard Vander Blue paced the Golden Eagles, contributing more than two-thirds of Marquette’s total points as they each produced 14.
Syracuse will now advance to the Final Four where they will face the winner of the Michigan-Florida match-up to be played Sunday.