Men’s Basketball: UConn falls short to Marquette in Big East Tournament 70-68

1
89
Sophomore guard Jordan Hawkins is escorted off the court by coach Dan Hurley after missing a three point shot that would have won UConn a spot in the Men’s Big East Tournament finals.  Photo by Erin Knapp/The Daily Campus

In another exciting production of the Big East Tournament, the advertisement was a true head-to-head battle between the two of the titans of the conference. With Marquette, you had the opportunity to be a step closer to becoming kings of the conference. Business may have been taken care of against St. John’s, but UConn would be a completely different challenge.

The Huskies were eying this opportunity all season and while the cameras were pointed on them, the scoreboard didn’t read a win in the Huskies favor.

Friday night’s first half forecasted a close game. It felt exactly like advertised. UConn may have been shooting the ball at nearly a 50% rate but the program was lacking in several key areas. They didn’t have their usual massive rebounding advantage with both teams being tied at 15 and worst of all, they were missing the contributions of star guard Jordan Hawkins, who had just three points in the first half.

Adama Sanogo, a junior forward, stands at the free throw line before taking his first of two shots after being fouled.  Photo by Erin Knapp/The Daily Campus

“That was the defensive key to the game. I thought both teams missed some really good looks from three that, you know, could have swung the game either way. But I thought on Hawkins, Omax Prosper and whoever on our team on him did a phenomenal job,” said Marquette head coach Shaka Smart.

While players like Hawkins were struggling to get in a groove in the first half, Tyler Kolek was just getting started. As the Big East Player of the Year, the Golden Eagles junior showed why he was deserving of his accolades as he put up 14 points, three rebounds and four assists on 5-6 shooting as he remained the focal point of the Marquette offense despite dealing with foul trouble.

In the second half, the Golden Eagles continued to pound a tough UConn defense, finishing the matchup with 47% shooting from the field. While players like Adama Sanogo and Alex Karaban remained as pivotal options in a tightly-contested game down the stretch, other options like Nahiem Alleyne, who’d put up nine points in the first half, and Hawkins were practically nowhere to be found.

When the game clock read 14:45, it showed two realities for both teams. The 56-46 score reflected a struggling Connecticut lineup with no momentum in their favor, while it showed a Marquette roster that was ready to put the nail in the coffin of their opponent’s Big East championship dreams.

UConn continued to fight back with an offensive sequence started by Karaban. After a series of buckets from the Huskies, a Joey Calcaterra 3-pointer tied the game with 9:26 left in the game. Of course, the fight wouldn’t stop there and both teams continued to battle for a chance to play in the conference’s championship round. UConn’s final bucket of the game would come at 2:38, a putback layup from Sanogo. 

From there, the offense would dry up and there was no more to give from the Huskies. The dependable shot of Calcaterra was off, missing two important 3-pointers in under two minutes of action. It also didn’t help that a key catalyst of their team, Andre Jackson, was out of the game with foul trouble, yet they’d have to play without one of their on and off court leaders.

“Obviously, Andre, to have him as a non-factor with the foul trouble, that hurt, obviously, a lot as well. He’s [the] heart and soul of the team and one of our best players,” said UConn coach Dan Hurley.

While Marquette would have the opportunity to solidify their victory with one last successful possession, they’d give UConn some hope with a missed bucket from Kolek. As Tristen Newton grabbed an offensive rebound with ten seconds left, there would be no timeout from Hurley and the Golden Eagles locked up the Huskies for the win, forcing Hawkins into a hail mary jumper that would fall short.

Overall, despite a 19 point outing from Sanogo and a tied game in the first half, it wasn’t the result that the Huskies were looking for and they’d once again go 1-1 in the Big East Tournament, identical to their record in 2021 and 2022. 

Just like last year for the Huskies, they now have their eyes set on the upcoming NCAA tournament with conference play now in the rearview mirror. What remains to be seen as far as what UConn can do in the basketball wars of a ruthless tournament can only be dictated by their leader and the squad he’s helped assemble for these very games.

“I think that we’re going to go into the tournament next week and feel like we have as good a chance as anyone to make a deep run,” said Hurley.

Senior guard Tristen Newton jumps to make a layup against Marquette at the semi final round of the Big East Tournament. After a continuously close game, Marquette beat UConn 70-68.  Photo by Erin Knapp/The Daily Campus

1 COMMENT

  1. hurley should be ashamed. terrible coaching in the final 5 minutes. half the opposition is sitting there with 4 fouls, sanogo was having his way inside and you let your squad take 3 after 3 after 3. piss poor. and no timeout to setup a play at the end, so another two missed 3’s and you lose. weak. feels like another early exit in march for this squad, they’re a year away maybe, if Hurley can get his act together, but i’m doubtful at the moment. sure marquette played decently, and we had two no shows ourselves, but still could’ve won this one it feels like. BTW, Hawkins not a big time player just yet. Right now, Sanogo is the only NBA talent in this team. they’ll be lucky to make the sweet sixteen.

Leave a Reply