The BMO Harris Bradley Center, known for years as just the Bradley Center, has been the Marquette Golden Eagles' home since the year its grand opening in 1988. They have had a few seasons with undefeated home records playing at Brad’s place, and have constantly ranked in the Top 25 in average attendance in all of college basketball. Over 3.5 million fans – mostly Marquette fans – have seen the Golden Eagles play at this venue. Even in a down year this past season, Marquette still managed a respectable 12-4 home record, and are 71-13 at home in the past five seasons. In case you cannot tell, Bradley serves as one of the toughest venues for any opponent to play at.
Bradley has seen more than its fair share of memorable basketball games, having been around for a young 26 years. The Golden Eagles have had some perfect home records in that time. The 1995-96 season comes to mind, the sensational 2002-03 Final Four season, and even the 2012-13 Elite Eight year. The eight years Marquette spent as a member of the old Big East Conference served up some fantastic servings, but there is an entree that really stands out before then.
One has to go back to the days when Marquette was part of the good ol’ Conference USA, where schools such as Cincinnati and Louisville were the common foe. The Cardinals are the point of interest here. Marquette and Louisville had many intense games between the years 1995-2013, starting the year both schools played in Conference-USA, to the dismantling of the old Big East.
It was the 2000-01 season, a forgettable one for both the Golden Eagles and the Cardinals. Marquette finished the year with a record of 15-14 and Louisville a disappointing record of 12-19. Neither season was a notable one by any means. However, this was the last season for all-time great Louisville coach Denny Crum and just the second season for highly successful Marquette coach, Tom Crean.
On February 24, 2001 the two teams clashed inside the BMO Harris Bradley Center. Two and a half weeks earlier Louisville beat Marquette by 10 points at Freedom Hall. This game would be far more exciting than its prequel. Marquette was led by guards Brian Wardle and Cordell Henry, both 1,000+ point scorers in their careers and Louisville by small forward Erik Brown and guard Marques Maybin.
Near the end of regulation the game was tied up 55-55 thanks to a Maybin three. The game went to overtime with Marquette trailing by four with 20 seconds to play. Henry scored with 16 seconds to go and again with three seconds left to push the game to a second overtime at a score of 65-65. Henry came up big again with 23 seconds left in the second overtime, tying the score on a free throw at 70 apiece. Louisville guard Reece Gains looked to draw a foul on a last second shot, but no call was called and the game moved on to triple overtime. In the third extra frame, Brown broke a 74-74 tie with a basket at the 33 second mark and added to the lead hitting one of two free throws with five seconds left to make the score 77-74. Marquette’s Henry failed to come up clutch again as he missed two free throws with four seconds left. The Golden Eagles still got one more chance with a Brian Wardle three that fell short at the buzzer. Louisville stole a win at Brads, 77-74 in triple overtime.
Although the Golden Eagles lost, this game was still an exciting one and the first triple overtime game in Marquette’s storied history. In addition, Marquette guard Brian Wardle set a Marquette record for most minutes played in a game. He played the entire game, all 52 minutes. A memorable game in an unmemorable season for both teams. This game served as one of the few thrilling moments of that 2000-01 season, and continues to be one of the most thrilling Marquette games to ever take place at the Bradley Center.