NEW YORK – Pat Connaughton scored 18 points on six 3-pointers and Jack Cooley had two big offensive rebounds in Notre Dame's game-changing run as the 24th-ranked Fighting Irish beat No. 12 Marquette 73-65 on Thursday night to reach the Big East tournament semifinals for the fourth straight year.
Unfortunately for the Irish (25-8) the road has ended there each time — the last two times against No. 4 Louisville, who they will face in Friday night's semifinals at Madison Square Garden. The second-seeded Cardinals, the tournament's defending champions, advanced with a 74-55 win over Villanova.
The teams had quite a meeting in the regular season with Notre Dame prevailing 104-101 in a five-overtime epic.
This will be Notre Dame's last chance to win the Big East tournament since it is leaving for the Atlantic Coast Conference next season and the Irish will try to do it in the fluorescent green uniforms they unveiled this week.
Jamil Wilson had 16 points and Junior Cadougan added 14 for the third-seeded Golden Eagles (23-8), who shared the regular season title with Louisville and top-seeded Georgetown.
The second half was one of lead changes and more lead changes. There were 13 in all and the last one came at 52-50 when Notre Dame's Garrick Sherman converted his own miss with 6:32 to play.
Those were the first points of Notre Dame's 9-2 run. Cooley, an all-Big East selection, came up with two big offensive rebounds. The first he put back for a 54-50 lead and the last was one he fed Connaughton for a closing 3 that made it 59-52 with 3:30 left.
Both times the 6-foot-9 Cooley, who had six points and six rebounds, pumped his fist and the second time he did it after raising himself from the court where he made the feed to Connaughton, who had a season-high 21 points and six 3s in the second-round win over Seton Hall.
Sherman finished with 16 points and six rebounds.
Notre Dame was able to offset a 42-31 rebound disadvantage by going 18 of 21 from the free throw line, led by Jerian Grant's 8-for-9 effort among his 17 points. They forced Marquette into 16 turnovers while committing just seven themselves.
Notre Dame led 29-25 at halftime after an opening 20 minutes that saw Marquette take a 17-4 lead only to see the Irish close it on a 25-8 run. Notre Dame started the game 2 for 17 from the field and Marquette closed it by making 3 of 17 from the field.