MILWAUKEE – Pittsburgh coach Jamie Dixon said his team needed to do three things in order to beat No. 18 Marquette Saturday. The 16th-ranked Panthers did none of them.
Vander Blue scored 19 points to lead the Golden Eagles to a 79-69 win over Pittsburgh, handing the Panthers just their second loss in nine games.
Marquette shot 57 percent (26 for 46) from the field, went 22 for 29 from the free-throw line and outrebounded Pittsburgh 33-24.
“There were three things we wanted to do,” Dixon said. “Hold them under 40 percent defensively; we didn’t come close to that. We wanted to keep them off the free-throw line; we certainly didn’t come close to that. Then obviously the rebounding, we got outrebounded, so simply put, the 10-point loss is really pretty easy to see.”
Lamar Patterson scored 19 points to lead Pittsburgh (20-6, 8-5 Big East), which entered the game fifth in the nation in scoring defense (54.4 ppg). Tray Woodall added 10 points and eight assists.
The Golden Eagles (18-6, 9-3) got their 23rd straight home win, the fourth-longest active streak in the nation. They also won the teams’ previous meeting this season, 74-67 in overtime at Pittsburgh on Jan. 20.
“I think if I were to say our best performance on the road in Big East play would be at Pitt, and I thought our best performance at home in a Big East game thus far would be Pitt,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. “I think they’re one of the top two or three teams in our league.”
Blue, Marquette’s leading scorer, was 7 of 8 from the field and 3 for 4 on free throws to go with six rebounds for the Golden Eagles, who moved into a tie with No. 15 Georgetown atop the Big East.
On Monday, Blue made just three shots and scored seven points in a 63-55 loss to the Hoyas.
“I had sort of a weird feeling about how I played at Georgetown,” Blue said. “I felt like we could’ve got that one there. That was a big one. . I just wanted to make sure I was mentally and physically there right out of the gates to give us the boost and energy that we needed to win. I was just thinking, take what was given to me, don’t force anything and just play with unbelievable energy.”
Davante Gardner finished with 14 points for Marquette and scored 10 of his team’s 11 during a key stretch late in the game. Gardner started his scoring spree when he tipped in his own miss to give the Golden Eagles a 63-50 lead with 6:35 to play.
Woodall missed a 3-pointer but Pittsburgh got the offensive rebound. The Panthers also got the rebound on a miss by Talib Zanna, and then Dixon was called for his first technical of the season with 6:05 to play.
“That was my first one in I don’t know how long,” Dixon said. “I congratulated them on that. There was no bad language. I’ll be sure to pass that onto my mom.”
Gardner made both free throws, and after a 3-pointer by Patterson, he sank two more from the line to give Marquette a 67-53 lead with 5:45 remaining.
Fifteen seconds later, Patterson turned the ball over and then received a flagrant foul call. Derrick Wilson made one free throw, Gardner was fouled, and made two more free throws for a 70-53 lead with 5:13 left.
After a free throw by Patterson, Gardner capped his offensive outburst with a layup off a pass from Jamil Wilson for Marquette’s biggest lead, 72-54, with 4:14 to go.
Pittsburgh scored eight of the next 10 points and got within 74-62 on a layup by Woodall. But the Panthers missed their next three shots and fell behind, 76-62, on a dunk by Jamil Wilson with 2:00 to go.
In the first half, a jumper by Trent Lockett gave Marquette a 28-18 lead with 7:19 to go.
Pittsburgh responded by scoring the next seven points to trim the deficit to 28-25 after a layup by James Robinson with 5:37 left.
But that’s as close as the Panthers would get, as Marquette scored 11 of the final 13 points of the half for a 42-29 lead at the break.
“I thought we got the ball around the basket and didn’t finish well,” Dixon said. “We normally finish those, but for whatever reason, we didn’t. I don’t know what that reason was.”