Marquette senior guard Matt Carlino may want to continue performing in shootarounds the way he did leading up to the team’s first-round Big East Tournament game at Madison Square Garden.
The sharpshooter couldn’t buy one in warmups, yet he almost couldn’t miss once the shots counted for real.
Carlino hit a tournament record eight three-pointers on his way to 26 points as the ninth-seeded Golden Eagles led from start to finish in defeating the eighth-seeded Seton Hall Pirates 78-56 in the first game of the Big East Tournament. The eight threes tied the record for long balls with former Boston College and NBA star Dana Barros, back in 1989.
Even for someone who has hit 231 career threes, this performance came as a little bit of a surprise to Carlino, given how cold he was right before gametime.
“Actually, I couldn’t hit a shot in warmups,” admitted Carlino, who’s now shooting 43 percent from long range this season. “The basket definitely didn’t look as big as I thought it would in warmups, but I just started hitting them in the game.”
The Golden Eagles followed Carlino’s lead from the off, when he hit a three-pointer 23 seconds into the game to give Marquette a lead it would end up never relinquishing. Marquette scored the games first eight points, shot 56 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes and held a lead as big as 18 in the first half.
Instead of using the tournament as a springboard to salvage a once promising season, the Pirates looked as disjointed on offense as they have been in this recent stretch which has seen them go from NCAA Tournament shoo-in to one of the disappointing teams in the league. The only fight The Hall showed came right before halftime, when an 8-0 run – highlighted by back-to-back-threes by Sterling Gibbs and Isaiah Whitehead – cut Marquette’s 18-point lead to 10 with less than 15 seconds remaining in the half.
Marquette responded with a Steve Taylor, Jr. three which banked in off the glass right before the first-half buzzer, giving the Golden Eagles momentum and serving as the beginning of the end for the Pirates. Marquette opened its lead to 20 less than six minutes into the second-half, with the lead ballooning to as much as 27.
Following the Golden Eagles’ footsteps, the tenth-seeded Creighton Blue Jays also played inspired as as a higher seed as they defeated the DePaul Blue Demons for the second time in a three-week span, winning 78-63 to advance to the quarterfinals.
During its disappointing 4-14 conference season, Creighton’s biggest problem was slow starts, as they had fallen behind by double-figures in the first 12 minutes in eight of their 14 conference losses. There was no slow start for the Blue Jays tonight, as James Milliken, on his way to 22 points, scored 15 first-half points to give Creighton a slim 35-33 advantage at the half.
DePaul’s Tommy Hamilton IV hit a three to force the game’s eighth tie at 46, but the Blue Jays went on a 13-2 run after that to take control. Blue Jays center Will Artino, who started the majority of the season before coming off the bench in seven of the last eight games, spurred the run coming off the bench with a couple of layups on his way to nine points and eight rebounds. Artino’s dominance in the paint was one of the main reasons that Creighton scored 53 of its points either at the free throw line or in the paint.
The Blue Jays advance to the quarterfinals, where they will play the second-seeded Hoyas of Georgetown, who swept Creighton this season.
Creighton head coach Greg McDermott, however, thinks the Hoyas will see a different team on Thursday.
“The Hoyas have only seen us at their best for 20 minutes out of the 80 we played against them,” McDermott said. “If there’s one team we’d want to play again, it would be them, just because we played so poorly against them.”
Added McDermott: “Maybe they’re that much better than us, but at least tomorrow we’ll get another opportunity to find out.”
[Cover photo (Matt Carlino) courtesy of Elsa/Getty Images]