Tyler Kolek and David Joplin each scored 17 points, and No. 6 Marquette moved into the Big East championship game for the first time by holding off No. 11 UConn 70-68 on Friday night.
Playing with three key players on the bench in foul trouble for a large chunk of time down the stretch, the top-seeded Golden Eagles (27-6) opened a four-point lead on a 3-pointer by Olivier-Maxence Prosper with 3:39 left and then held on at raucous Madison Square Garden.
UConn had a chance to tie or win in the final 10 seconds, but coach Dan Hurley elected not to call a timeout as his team brought the ball across halfcourt.
Jordan Hawkins missed badly on a contested, desperation 3 at the buzzer — and Golden Eagles coach Shaka Smart jumped high and pumped his fist in celebration.
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Marquette limited the fourth-seeded Huskies (25-8) to two points over the final 3:50 and kept them scoreless for the last two and a half minutes, winning for the first time in four semifinal appearances at the Big East Tournament since joining the league in 2005.
Kam Jones added 14 points and Prosper scored 11 for the Golden Eagles, who will face No. 15 Xavier or No. 24 Creighton for the title Saturday night.
Adama Sanogo had 19 points and 11 rebounds to pace the Huskies, who had won six straight and nine of 10.
Marquette, the top seed in this tournament for the first time, has won eight in a row for the first time since the 2018-19 season.
Kolek, Joplin and Golden Eagles starting forward Oso Ighodaro were all on the bench with four fouls for a while before getting back in the game with a little more than two minutes remaining. Marquette didn’t score for the final three and a half minutes, but still managed to hang on.
Hawkins, averaging 16.5 points per game, was held to five on 2-for-11 shooting – including one of eight from beyond the arc.
And before Hawkins missed at the buzzer, Joey Calcaterra had a good look for UConn at a potential go-ahead 3 from the corner with 41 seconds left, but it bounced off the rim.
Kolek and Joplin hit consecutive 3s to start the second half, and Marquette opened a 10-point lead when Joplin drained another 3 and then made all three free throws after getting fouled by Sanogo behind the 3-point line with 14:45 left.
But the Huskies answered quickly.
When they trimmed the deficit to four, a screaming, fired-up Hurley came flying off the bench onto the court at a timeout, waving his arms to urge on rocking UConn fans. Jones was jawing nose-to-nose with Sanogo right in the middle of Connecticut’s forming huddle before an official came zipping in to break it up.
UConn tied it at 60 on a 3 by Calcaterra with 9:22 left, and again at 64 on Alex Karaban’s putback with 6:34 to go.
Chase Ross drained a tiebreaking 3 for Marquette with 6:13 to play, and the Huskies never pulled even again.
It was the first Big East Tournament meeting between these programs, which split two games during the regular season.
Kolek, the Big East Player of the Year, had 14 points and four assists in a first half that featured eight lead changes and four ties. The teams went into the break even at 38-all.
UConn: Fell to 10-5 in Big East semifinal games, but is certainly playing well heading into the NCAA Tournament and appears talented enough to challenge for a trip to the Final Four. The Huskies were looking for their 11th trip to the Big East title game and first since Kemba Walker took them on that memorable run to the 2011 crown. Connecticut spent 2014-20 in the American Athletic Conference before returning to the Big East.
Marquette: Has won 13 of 14 overall. The school’s only league tournament crown came in 1997, with four wins in four days at the Conference USA championship in St. Louis.
Marquette split two close regular-season matchups with Xavier and swept Creighton.