Another Red Storm upset looked like it was a possibility, but in the end Marquette prevailed 57-55, and will now face Villanova in the Big East quarterfinals for the second straight season.
After trailing by as many as 14 points in the first half, St. John’s battled all the way back and held a 53-52 lead with 2:22 to play. Two possessions later, senior guard David Cubillan hit a three-point shot to put Marquette up for good. A half-court shot at the buzzer by St. John’s for the win was off target.
Now it’s a rematch against Villanova for the Golden Eagles. A year ago, Marquette rallied all the way back from a 16-point halftime deficit to take a one-point lead late in the game. However, its upset bid fell short as Villanova’s Dwayne Anderson hit a layup at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 76-75.
The rivalry between the two teams grew as Villanova escaped Milwaukee with a 74-72 win on Jan. 2 when Scottie Reynolds sank the go-ahead basket with 19 seconds remaining.
A week later at Villanova, the Wildcats almost blew a 22-point lead, but managed to hold on 78-76.
Marquette will look to snap a four-game losing streak against Villanova at 2 p.m. tomorrow in the Big East quarterfinals.
Here’s part five of five of our week long series of looking back at Villanova’s top 10 moments of the past year:
2. Dwayne Anderson beats buzzer and Marquette with layup- Mar. 12, 2009
Much like the NCAA tournament, Villanova received a serious scare in the first round of the Big East tournament. After building a 16-point halftime lead, it appeared as though the Wildcats would cruise to an easy win, but Marquette battled back and took a one-point lead with 1:36 remaining.
The Wildcats and Golden Eagles exchanged empty possessions, and then Villanova had one final chance. Reggie Redding dribbled the ball at the top of the key and found Anderson slashing along the baseline. Anderson laid the ball up against the glass as the buzzer expired. The ball danced along the rim until it finally fell into the net for a 76-75 Villanova victory.
1. Scottie Reynolds’ dash for Detroit- Mar. 28, 2009
Hands down, this was one of the best games in tournament history. Two Big East powers battled in Boston for a chance to the Final Four and what ensued was a classic.
The second half was back-and-forth the entire way, but never did that lead extend too far in either team’s direction. When things looked bleak, Anderson played the second half of his life and made every play necessary. When it looked like Villanova had the game, Reggie Redding threw the ball away and allowed Pittsburgh to tie it.
In the end it was Reynolds who came through. Redding got the inbounds in this time, and after Dante Cunningham caught it, he passed it to Reynolds, who dashed down the court before laying it up over Gilbert Brown. The basket meant a Villanova victory and trip to its first Final Four since 1985.
Here’s part four of five of our week long series of looking back at Villanova’s top 10 moments of the past year:
4. Dante Cunningham is drafted 33rd overall by the Portland Trail Blazers- June 25, 2009
Anyone who claims to have seen this coming before the season was a liar. Cunningham had carved out a nice college career through his first three seasons but did not seem like a serious NBA prospect. Then came his senior season and things changed. Cunningham developed a lethal jump shot that caused a jump in scoring average, earning him the Big East’s Most Improved Player and making him the best player on Villanova’s Final Four team.
So far, Cunningham has seen several minutes per game as a bench player for Portland and is averaging 3.4 ppg and 2.4 rpg.
3. Villanova destroys basketball powers UCLA and Duke- Mar. 21 and Mar. 26, 2009
Part of the reason that made 2009 special for Villanova was who they played in the NCAA tournament. After defeating American, the Wildcats had the chance to take on the storied program of UCLA. While UCLA may have had the history, Villanova had the victory as they tore apart the Bruins in front of a raucous Philadelphia crowd, winning 89-69. Both Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson had double-doubles for Villanova, and overall six Wildcats scored in double-figures.
Next up was a trip to the Sweet 16 where Duke was awaiting. After an evenly played first half, Villanova trounced the Blue Devils by outscoring them 51-31 in the game’s final minutes to win 77-54. Cunningham had another double-double while Scottie Reynolds led all scorers with 16 points. The Blue Devils shot just 26.7 percent from the field.
The two wins set up an Elite Eight matchup between Villanova and Pittsburgh.
Here’s part three of five of our week long series of looking back at Villanova’s top 10 moments of the past year:
6. Class of 2009 becomes winningest class in Villanova history- Mar. 2, 2009
By no means was Dante Cunningham, Dwayne Anderson, Shane Clark and Frank Tchuisi the most heralded class in school history, but they were the class with more wins than any other in the school’s history. A convincing win over Notre Dame gave the group that distinction.
The four Wildcats finished their careers with 102 wins and capped their four years with a trip to the Final Four. In many ways they exemplified exactly what Villanova basketball has become under Jay Wright – doing whatever is needed to win.
5. Villanova survives American in the first round- Mar. 19, 2009
The magical run that was the 2009 NCAA tournament almost was over for Villanova just when it started. It looked like the upset bug might bite the Wildcats as a scrappy American team led by Garrison Carr took a 10-point lead into halftime.
Villanova, though, turned things around in the second half and used a 15-0 run in the second half to take control and avoid the upset in front of the hometown Philadelphia crowd. Both Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson sparked the comeback for Villanova as each had 25 points, which was also a career-high for Anderson.
The Wildcats prevailed 80-67, and that second half was the beginning of a run that would end in the Final Four.
It’s just hours before the draft, and let’s take a step back from looking at the entire draft and focus on the Villanova Wildcats.
Two graduates have a chance to latch on with an NBA team: Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson. It appears that Shane Clark and Frank Tchuisi will have to look elsewhere.
Ever since exploding in this past year’s season opener against Fordham, Cunningham has been a target of NBA scouts. His improvement, leadership, physical ability, work ethic and jump shot have been his greatest strengths, while lack of size and a 3-point shot have hurt him.
His name has been mentioned with Detroit, San Antonio and Miami, but he also has worked out for Milwaukee, Oklahoma City, Utah, Charlotte, Minnesota, Portland and New York.
The second round is where he will be selected and combined these teams have 18 second round picks, more than half of the entire second round. Expect him to fall somewhere in the 40-50 range.
Prediction: Detroit Pistons, pick #44
It wasn’t entirely certain if Anderson would garner NBA interest, but he has worked out for both Charlotte and Oklahoma City. His greatest strengths are his work ethic, versatility and level of improvement. However, there have been doubts as to if he has enough offensive and defensive talent to play in the NBA.
It is probably a stretch to think Anderson will be draft but the Bobcats have the 54th pick, and in every draft a few guys are selected that no one else even had on their draft board.
Prediction: Undrafted, signs with Charlotte and plays in Summer League.
I’m off to Boston, but here are the articles dealing with the game form this week’s issue: