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 in New York to reach the Big East tournament semifinals for the fourth consecutive year.
Unfortunately for the Irish (25-8) the road has ended there each time, the last two at the hands of Louisville, who they will face in tonight's semifinals at Madison Square Garden.
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.
Illinois 51, Minnesota 49: Brandon Paul scored 25 points and hit a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer to lead Illinois to a victory over Minnesota (20-12) in the first round of the Big Ten tournament in Chicago.
Illinois (22-11) led by as much as 12 but was trailing by three when D.J. Richardson nailed a 3 with 47 seconds left to tie it at 49. That basket came after the Illini missed four shots on the possession.
The eighth-seeded Illini will face No. 3-ranked Indiana in today's quarterfinals.
Nebraska 57, Purdue 55: Shavon Shields scored 19 points; Brandon Ubel added 16 points and eight rebounds, and Nebraska beat Purdue in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
The Cornhuskers (15-17) hung on after Purdue's Terone Johnson missed two shots in the closing seconds and will meet No. 10 Ohio State in the quarterfinals today.
They started the second half on a 9-0 run to turn a two-point lead into a 39-28 advantage and withstood a late push by the Boilermakers (15-17) to come away with a surprising victory.
Iowa 73, Northwestern 59: Devyn Marble scored 19 points to help Iowa hold on for an important victory over Northwestern (13-19) in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
Mike Gesell added 11 points, including a clinching three-point play with 1:41 left as the Hawkeyes (21-11) continued their late-season push for a spot in the NCAA tournament with their eighth victory in 10 games.
Butler 73, Dayton 67: Rotnei Clarke scored 21 points, and Butler advanced at the Atlantic 10 tournament with a first-round victory over Dayton.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs will need to win four games in four days if they want a conference tourney title in their first — and perhaps last — season in the A-10.
Clarke shot 6 of 12 from behind the 3-point arc and added five assists. Fellow senior Andrew Smith had 18 points and six rebounds.
Butler was 10 for 24 on 3-point tries, while the Flyers attempted just four. Josh Benson had 18 points to lead 12th-seeeded Dayton (17-14, 7-9).
The Bulldogs (25-7, 11-5) will face fourth-seeded La Salle in Friday's quarterfinals.
Butler, the national runner-up in 2010 and '11, could be headed along with Dayton to join the breakaway Big East basketball schools.
Ball State fires Taylor: Ball State has fired coach Billy Taylor less than 24 hours after losing to Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference tournament.
There had been speculation all season that Taylor was on his way out, but when the Cardinals won five straight and seven of eight to advance to Cleveland in the tourney, some thought Taylor may have saved his job.
The Cardinals were 15-15, including 8-8 in conference play. Taylor went 84-99 in six seasons.
Athletic director Bill Scholl called it a "difficult decision" and said a search would begin immediately.