NEW YORK – Pat Connaughton scored 18 points on six three-pointers and Jack Cooley had two big offensive rebounds in Notre Dame’s game-changing run as the 24th-ranked Irish beat No. 12 Marquette 73-65 on Thursday to reach the Big East tournament semifinals for the fourth straight year.
Unfortunately for the Irish (25-8) the road has ended there each time – the last two times against No. 4 Louisville, who they will face in tonight’s semifinals at Madison Square Garden. The second-seeded Cardinals, the tournament’s defending champions, advanced with a 74-55 win over Villanova.
The teams had quite a meeting in the regular season with Notre Dame prevailing 104-101 in a five-overtime epic.
Jamil Wilson had 16 points and Junior Cadougan added 14 for the third-seeded Golden Eagles (23-8), who shared the regular season title with Louisville and top-seeded Georgetown.
The second half was one of lead changes and more lead changes. There were 13 in all and the last one came at 52-50 when Notre Dame’s Garrick Sherman converted his own miss with 6:32 to play.
No. 4 LOUISVILLE 74, VILLANOVA 55: In New York, Russ Smith scored 28 points to lead Louisville into the Big East tournament semifinals.
Smith and the defending champion Cardinals (27-5) harassed Villanova into 25 turnovers. JayVaughn Pinkston had 21 points for the seventh-seeded Wildcats (20-13).
No. 5 GEORGETOWN 62, CINCINNATI 43: Otto Porter Jr. scored 18 points and No. 5 Georgetown advanced to the semifinals.
No. 19 SYRACUSE 62, No. 17 PITTSBURGH 59: James Southerland had a second straight great effort from three-point range and Michael Carter-Williams scored Syracuse’s last seven as the Orange held off Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals.
ILLINOIS 51, MINNESOTA 49: In Chicago, Brandon Paul scored 25 points and hit a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to lead Illinois past Minnesota in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
Illinois (22-11) led by as much as 12 but was trailing by three when D.J. Richardson nailed a three with 47 seconds left to tie it at 49.
IOWA 73, NORTHWESTERN 59: Devyn Marble scored 19 points to help Iowa hold on for an important opening-round victory over Northwestern.
Mike Gesell added 11 points for the Hawkeyes (21-11).