Marquette suffers yet another oh-so-close setback

After Saturday's narrow loss, Marquette's path to a ninth consecutive NCAA tournament is simple: The Golden Eagles must win three games in three nights to take the Big East tournament and an automatic bid.  

Tom Lynn/Tom Lynn/AP

MILWAUKEE — Hunched over, leaning against the scorer’s table, Jamil Wilson had his hand over his face. The moment hit him and the entire Marquette roster like a ton of bricks.

Sure, the Golden Eagles likely had to win the Big East tournament to get into the NCAA tournament regardless of Saturday’s result, but Marquette had just ended up on the wrong end of yet another heartbreaking loss.

Marquette rallied in regulation to play its Big East-record sixth overtime game of the season, but failed to execute on the final possession of double overtime to drop a 91-90 decision to St. John’s at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

After D’Angelo Harrison tied the game with a NBA-range 3-pointer with 57 seconds left in double overtime, Todd Mayo missed everything with a shot. He then committed a foul to foul out and send St. John’s to the line with 19.5 on the clock.

Red Storm freshman guard Rysheed Jordan hit one of two free throws to put St. John’s ahead, leading to a Marquette timeout with 13.4 to play.

"Most of the time we do want to play against a broken defense," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said of why he called timeout. "I think with Todd fouling out, that changes us offensively. I wanted to manipulate who had the ball."

Williams drew up two plays, one for a man-to-man defense and another for a zone look. St. John’s stuck with the 2-3 zone it played on every overtime possession.

As it turns out, the guy taking the final shot for the Golden Eagles was their fifth option. Derrick Wilson, a 39.6 percent shooter, ended up with the ball and missed a baseline jumper as time expired.

"We were going to get the ball to the high post for Davante (Gardner), set a fade screen for Jake (Thomas), a fade screen on the backside for Jamil (Wilson) and a slip for Deonte (Burton). We kind of did some of that.

"We got it to one side to the next. I don’t remember when Jamil had it and we followed it with a ball screen — I don’t know if they trapped it and that’s what led to Jamil passing it to Derrick. Obviously, Derrick was wide open."

Marquette overcame a six-point deficit with 22 seconds left in regulation, as Gardner hit two free throws to cut it to four and Thomas stole the inbounds pass and scored with 9.4 to play.

Orlando Sanchez missed the front end of the one-and-one for St. John’s, allowing Mayo to score at the buzzer to force overtime.

Williams elected to call timeout before the final possession of overtime, too. Mayo ended up getting stripped on a shot attempt to send Marquette into its second-straight double overtime.

The Golden Eagles are the sixth seed in the Big East tournament and will play Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. Milwaukee time. If Creighton beats Providence later Saturday night, Marquette will face Xavier. The Friars would be Marquette’s opponent if they upset Creighton.

"Everybody is 0-0," Williams said. "Whether we were the four seed, five seed, six seed — I think all of those teams in the middle all still have work to do."

Marquette’s path to a ninth-consecutive NCAA tournament is simple: The Golden Eagles must win three games in three nights to take the Big East tournament and an automatic bid.

"I would say where we are at right now, that’s probably the case," Williams said.

Red Storm 91, Golden Eagles 90

Change of venue: If Marquette is chosen to host an opening-round game in the NIT, the Golden Eagles will not be able to play at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

A school official confirmed the on-campus Al McGuire Center would be the site of NIT home games, as the Bradley Center will be occupied hosting an NCAA tournament regional.

The capacity at the Al McGuire Center is listed at 4,000, a big drop off from the 18,850 people the Bradley Center holds for college basketball games. Marquette has averaged 15,327 at home games this season with its smallest crowd being 13,372.

Marquette has never played a regular season or a postseason game at the Al McGuire Center. It hosted Lewis University in an exhibition game when the home of the women’s basketball team and the practice facility for the men’s basketball team opened in 2004.

Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter