Davidson had its eyes on claiming the first major upset of the 2013 NCAA tournament, but Vander Blue would simply not let it be. The Marquette guard drove down the throat of the Wildcats' defense to score a game-winning basket with one second remaining, giving the Golden Eagles a 59-58 victory in their round of 64 East Region matchup.
Down by four points with 20 seconds remaining, No. 3 seed Marquette scored five points in the waning seconds to pull out a victory. First, it was Jamil Wilson, who knocked down a clutch three-pointer to bring the Eagles within one point, and then a turnover by Davidson's De'Mon Brooks gave Marquette one last chance.
Taking the dribble down the left side of the floor, Blue, who had made only 4 of 14 shots prior, went up for a difficult contested layup. It bounced off the backboard, cradled around the rim and fell through to give the Eagles a breathtaking victory.
Blue finished the contest with 16 points, leading the way for a Marquette squad that shot just 34.5 percent from the field on Thursday. Wilson shot only 4-of-13 from the field for 14 points, but the final three made everyone forget about his questionable performance.
Davidson, meanwhile, lost despite a sterling game from forward Jake Cohen. The Wildcats' leading scorer had 20 points, including 12 in the second half, but his turnover after Blue's layup is what will leave a lasting impression. Brooks fell just shy of a double-double with 11 points and eight rebounds, but missed six critical free throws that could have made a difference in the outcome.
Missed opportunities will undoubtedly be what Davidson looks back on after this game. The Wildcats shot only 14-of-22 from the free-throw line and coughed the ball up 11 times in a game where possessions were at a premium. Each mistake, minor at the time, culminated in a multitude of blunders down the stretch to give them a loss.
On the other hand, Marquette can exhale. The Eagles will now face off against No. 6 seed Butler in the Round of 32 and, most importantly, can say they avoided becoming the first paradigm-shifting upset of the Big Dance.
Vander Blue's shot elicited the reactions from Twitter one might expect. Here is a look at a few of the best:
Thank you Vander Blue, bracket saver! #MarchMadness— Cindy Brunson (@CindyBrunsonAZ) March 21, 2013
Vander Blue saved Marquette big time!— Greg Jennings (@GregJennings) March 21, 2013
vander blue just busted out the automated external defibrillator on my bracket %CLEAR— Chris Long (@JOEL9ONE) March 21, 2013
ESPN's Twitter feed came through with one of the everlasting vestiges of March Madness:
Though last-second buzzer-beaters seem to be a regularity in the NCAA tournament, ESPN Stats & Information gave a very interesting fact about Blue's shot:
Vander Blue's go-ahead layup for Marquette was the 1st go-ahead shot by anyone in final 10 seconds of an NCAA Tournament game since 2011.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 21, 2013
Community star Daniel Pudi apparently could not contain his "cool cool cool" during this contest:
Pants are soiled but I don't care. Craziest comeback I've seen in forever. Kudos to Davidson for playing tough and Marquette for no quit.— Danny Pudi (@dannypudi) March 21, 2013
Chris Sheridan of Sheridan Hoops did not think Marquette deserved the win:
First of all, Marquette had no business winning that game against Davidson. But congrats to my Warriors. #ihategoldeneaglesnickname— Chris Sheridan (@sheridanhoops) March 21, 2013
Whether the Eagles deserved it or not, they got the victory—and that's all that matters in March Madness.
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