Todd Mayo's challenged three-pointer fell short from the right wing with 13 seconds remaining, and Xavier hung on to knock Marquette out of the Big East Tournament by a final score of 68-65. The Musketeers likely locked up a bid to the NCAA Tournament with the victory, while Marquette appears headed to the NIT, missing the tourney for the first time since 2004-05.
Deonte Burton led all scorers with a career-high 23 points, but it was Xavier's balanced scoring effort that put it over the top. Each of the Musketeers' six scorers had at least six points, and Justin Martin and Semaj Christon led them with 19 and 18, respectively.
Mayo was absolutely dominant in the second half after struggling in the opening 20 minutes. He scored 19 of his 21 points in the final frame and did everything he could to keep Marquette afloat.
Xavier opened the second half attacking the rim aggressively and stretched its advantage to a game-high four two minutes in. Christon appeared to extend the lead to six when he threw an alley-oop to Jalen Reynolds, but he instead committed his third foul by charging as he lobbed the pass. Back-to-back buckets by Marquette evened the score at 36 a minute later.
Burton continued to score at will for Marquette, with eight points in the first four minutes. A layup by Mayo tied the game at 41 with 15:30 to go. Xavier grabbed momentum back almost immediately however, after Matt Stainbrook converted a three-point play. Martin hit a three-ball on the ensuing Musketeers' possession to give them their largest lead of the night at 47-41.
Mayo picked up his game over the next few minutes and cut the Xavier lead to one with a transition three and an assist on a Jamil Wilson layup. With just over 10 minutes remaining, he recovered a long rebound and went coast-to-coast to give Marquette the 48-47 lead. A Christon jumper gave the Musketeers the lead right back at the other end though. Two straight baskets from in close, including a massive slam from Reynolds, stretched their advantage to five at the under-eight media timeout.
Marquette kept chipping away in the post, but a nifty pass from Christon to Isaiah Philmore pushed Xavier's lead back to four and caused Buzz Williams to call timeout with 5:16 remaining. Stainbrook added a layup on the next possession to extend the lead to six, but Mayo answered right back with a three-ball. At the final media timeout, Xavier led 57-54.
Stainbrook made a pair of free throws out of the break, but Derrick Wilson drove the lane to cut it back to three again. The lead shrunk to one when Jamil Wilson nailed a jumper in the lane. Martin drew a foul at the other end though, and the Musketeers led by three with 1:31 remaining.
On the next Marquette possession, Derrick Wilson was injured as he drew contact and was undercut at the basket. Xavier coach Chris Mack selected Jamil Wilson to shoot for Derrick, and that move paid off, as he missed both attempts. Martin was fouled by Juan Anderson at the other end, and he converted to extend Xavier's lead to five.
Mayo wouldn't let the Golden Eagles go down easy. He quickly attacked the basket and narrowed the deficit to 63-60 with 41 seconds to go. Christon made two free throws, but Mayo hit a wide-open three to cut the lead back to two. Marquette again fouled Christon, and the first team all-Big East selection made one of two.
Mayo missed his three, and Xavier made enough free throws to close out the three-point win.
Marquette opened up an early lead behind Burton and tons of paint points. The Golden Eagles led 21-13 with 8:39 remaining, and 20 of their first 27 points came from the painted area. However, Christon led the Musketeers on a late charge and it was Xavier that led 31-29 at intermission. Christon had 11 points while Burton led all scorers with 13.