Published February 26, 2013
| Sports Network
Milwaukee, WI – Davante Gardner scored a career-high 26 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead a spirited bench effort for Marquette, as the 22nd-ranked Golden Eagles topped No. 12 Syracuse, 74-71, in a pivotal Big East battle.
Both teams were coming off losses on Saturday, as the Orange had their 38-game home winning streak stopped by Georgetown. They had a chance to spoil Marquette's lengthy run at Bradley Center but were outscored by 10 over the final nine minutes to fall two games back of the conference-leading Hoyas.
Marquette (20-7, 11-4 Big East) stayed firmly in the regular season title race by winning its 24th straight home game. Gardner and the other Golden Eagles reserves totaled 55 points, with Jamil Wilson adding 12 points and seven assists in the victory.
Gardner finished 7-of-7 from the field and 12-of-13 from the foul line, where Syracuse was outscored, 29-5.
"There was a huge disparity at the foul line. Some of it was right, some of it I don't know about," Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. "That happens sometimes."
C.J. Fair had 20 points and James Southerland chipped in 15 for the Orange (22-6, 10-5), who face another ranked opponent, Louisville, on Saturday.
Syracuse led most of the first 30 minutes and were on top, 53-46, before Marquette, which lost to Villanova over the weekend, used a 15-2 flurry to mount a comeback.
Gardner appropriately put in the go-ahead basket for two of his 18 second-half points, and Todd Mayo added a pair from long range during the stretch, including one to beat the shot clock.
Junior Cadougan, the only Marquette starter to score in double figures, capped the run with two free throws for a 61-55 lead with 3:37 on the clock.
A Michael Carter-Williams jumper had the Orange within four, but Gardner answered at the other end and the Eagles sealed the win by hitting 11-of-14 from the foul line over the final 90 seconds.
Marquette was not as efficient early, missing nine consecutive shots and committing three turnovers during a 13-0 run late in the first half that gave Syracuse its largest lead. Fair started the 7 1/2-minute stretch with a dunk and ended it with a layup for a 25-14 cushion.
The momentum shifted slightly in the final four minutes, as the Eagles pulled within three by halftime. Gardner scored seven points, and Jake Thomas added a 3-pointer while being fouled for his first points since Dec. 22.
"I was really happy for Jake," Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said of the former walk-on and his four-point play. "At the time that was a huge swing of momentum."
Wilson's alley-oop dunk cut the deficit to 32-29 heading to the break, and a Cadougan jumper less than two minutes into the second half put the Eagles in front.
After trading baskets, the Orange scored eight straight, including back-to- back 3-pointers from Southerland for a 44-37 lead.
Marquette improved to 15-0 at home and plays host the final time this season on Saturday against Notre Dame ... Cadougan totaled 12 points and four steals ... Carter-Williams finished with 14 points for Syracuse, which received 25 points from its bench ... Marquette reached the 20-win plateau for the eighth straight year.