NEW YORK (AP) — Tyler Kolek scored all 19 of his points after halftime, including the tiebreaking free throws with 15.8 seconds left, and No. 6 Marquette rallied for a 72-70 victory over feisty St. John’s in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper added 16 points, several on highlight-reel dunks, and the top-seeded Golden Eagles (26-6) advanced to play 11th-ranked and fourth-seeded UConn or fifth-seeded Providence in the semifinals Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
Marquette has won seven straight and 12 of 13, reaching the Big East semifinals for the fourth time overall and first since 2019.
But this one was anything but easy.
The Golden Eagles, who trailed by 14 late in the first half, had to turn their defensive intensity way up to avoid an upset. They escaped when Posh Alexander’s good look at a 3-pointer for St. John’s glanced off the front rim at the buzzer.
Oso Ighodaro had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Marquette, making several key plays down the stretch. Kam Jones added 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting.
Dylan Addae-Wusu and David Jones each scored 16 to lead eighth-seeded St. John’s (18-15), which beat No. 9 seed Butler 76-63 in the first round Wednesday.
Although the Red Storm have won a Big East Tournament game in six of the past seven years, St. John’s still hasn’t reached the semifinals since winning the school’s third championship in 2000.
St. John’s nearly erased a 10-point deficit in the final 29 seconds last Saturday at Marquette, falling short 96-94 only after O’Mar Stanley missed a potential tying free throw with 2.4 seconds left.
This one featured a wild finish, too.
Addae-Wusu, a major thorn in Marquette’s side during all three meetings this season, scored nine straight Red Storm points down the stretch and 11 of their last 14 in regulation.
His layup tied it 61-all with 4.6 seconds remaining, aided by a terrific screen from big man Joel Soriano.
Kolek’s off-balance attempt from 3-point range at the buzzer was an airball. Prosper grabbed the miss and dunked it, with officials initially ruling the basket good. But replays clearly showed the dunk came too late and it was quickly waved off, sending the game to overtime.
Kolek, the Big East player of the Year, scored seven of Marquette’s 11 points in the extra period — five at the free-throw line. St. John’s was 0 for 7 from the field in OT, getting all nine of its points at the foul line.
Soriano finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds for his 25th double-double this season, most in the nation. But he hobbled off with an apparent leg injury with 3.9 seconds to go in OT following a scramble for an offensive rebound, and the senior center wasn’t on the floor for the Red Storm’s final play.