No. 20 Marquette 65, Pittsburgh 61
All season long, Marquette has found ways to win the close games.
It's opening round game in the Big East tournament was no different.
Paige Fiedorowicz scored 14 points and Tatiyiana McMorris added 13 for the 20th-ranked Golden Eagles in a 65-61 win over Pittsburgh.
The team improved to 6-2 in games decided by five or fewer points this season.
''It's been the whole year,'' Marquette coach Terri Mitchell said. ''We give ourselves a chance and we trust one and another. I have to get my hair highlighted a little more this year because of all the gray they cause.''
The Golden Eagles (23-7) will face fourth-seeded Rutgers in the quarterfinals Sunday. There was never any concern even when they trailed by seven midway through the second half.
''Even if it's a close game no one shows signs of doubt,'' Fiedorowicz said. ''We have great passers and penetrators and everyone steps up to the occasion.''
Trailing 44-37 midway through the second half, Marquette rallied despite leading scorer Angel Robinson sitting on the bench with four fouls.
Jasmine Collins hit back-to-back layups to make it a three-point game.
Marquette was down 53-49 after Taneisha Harrison's 3-pointer with 8:02 left. The Golden Eagles scored the next nine points to take a 58-53 advantage on McMorris' pullup in the lane with 4:16 left.
Pitt was able to get within two twice, but Collins' layup with 15.7 seconds left sealed the win.
Harrison scored 27 points while Shayla Scott had 11 points and 13 rebounds to lead Pitt (14-17).
It's been a stellar season for the Golden Eagles. They beat two top-10 opponents (West Virginia and DePaul) in the same season for the first time in school history. Marquette is trying to earn its first NCAA tournament berth since 2007, the last time the Golden Eagles had 20 wins in a season.
This was the second tight meeting between the teams this year. Marquette edged Pitt in overtime on Jan. 29. McMorris banked in a 3-pointer at the end of regulation to force the extra session.
Trailing 63-61 with 40 seconds left, Pitt threw the ball away after a timeout. Instead of fouling, the Panthers let Marquette work the clock down and Robinson drove the lane before passing the ball to Collins for her uncontested layup.
''They made a great play and went inside to the kid for the layup and that really killed us,'' Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said. ''We did want to foul, but you get to a certain point and then you don't want to foul and take your chances with good 'D'.''
Pitt couldn't convert on the other end. The Panthers had lost four straight games before beating South Florida in the opening round of the tournament.
Marquette jumped out to a 14-4 lead before Pitt finally got going.
''For 34 minutes it was a really good game,'' Berenato said. ''I did think people thought it would be a blow out after the first six minutes.''
The Panthers scored the next 13 points with the final eight coming from Harrison. She hit consecutive 3-pointers and a layup to give Pitt a 17-14 advantage.
She hit another 3-pointer with 1:29 left in the half that banked in to give Pitt a 30-22 advantage - it's biggest of the period. The senior guard could only throw up her hands and smile as she made six of her first seven shots and had 16 points at the half.
The Panthers led 30-23 at the break.