There’s no denying that Todd Mayo’s 3-pointer with 7 seconds to play in regulation will go down as one of Marquette’s biggest shots all season. It forced overtime Monday night against Georgetown and saved the Golden Eagles’ season for now. A 2-4 start would have spelled doom for a team still in search of a quality win. No matter how well Georgetown plays the rest of the season, it’s a quality Big East road win.
Mayo’s shot, and furthermore the entire play, was the biggest of the evening.
The best play of the night, however, came from freshman John Dawson.
The freshman, who played 31 fantastic minutes in the win, hit a wide-open 3-pointer with 2:59 remaining to give Marquette a 72-65 lead, essentially closing the door on the Hoyas and allowing the Golden Eagles to pick up their first Big East road win of the year.
To fully analyze that play, you have to go back one step and watch the possession prior.
Jamil Wilson is on the right wing and feeds Gardner, who flashed in the middle of the paint. That area was wide open all evening against Georgetown’s 2-3 zone, and it was clear that was where Marquette wanted to go. Gardner missed that floater but corralled his own rebound and threw in a patented circus shot to give Marquette a 69-65 lead. Note John Dawson on the left corner with his hands in the air calling for the ball. There’s no one within 10 feet of him. It’s also important here to note Chris Otule, who is sealing off center Moses Ayegba. Remember that later.
So after a Markel Starks missed floater on the left baseline (blocked by Gardner), Marquette got the ball back.
They proceeded to run the exact same motion, with Gardner flashing in the middle, and Otule once again sealing off Ayegba. As soon as Gardner received the ball from Wilson, Otule stopped his seal and moved over to forward Reggie Cameron on the left block (see below).
With Ayegba closing out on Gardner, one of the best passing centers in the country, Marquette’s big man knew exactly where to go. He actually had the option to hit Jake Thomas at the top of the key, as D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had sagged inside to help Ayegba, or go to Dawson, who again was left wide open.
Gardner turned and threw a pass to Dawson, as Smith-Rivera had retreated to Thomas, the more dangerous 3-point shooter and closer player. Meanwhile, Otule is on the left block sealing Cameron, leaving Dawson wide open for the 3-pointer, which he buried with confidence.
This isn’t a unique play against a zone, and Georgetown probably played the percentages correctly, crashing down on Gardner, who the possession before had scored from that same location, and choosing to defend Thomas once Gardner decided to give the ball up.
You can watch the entire play at the 0:50 mark of the highlights below.
This is the kind of ball movement Buzz Williams is talking about. There was a paint touch, the ball rotated twice, Otule sealed two different players in the post and it resulted in a 3-point make. If Dawson can use this game as a jumping point, it not only gives Williams more options at point guard, it also gives the Golden Eagles an additional outside threat. Dawson went 2-for-4 from beyond the arc in the win and turned the ball over just once in 31 minutes.
(All screengrabs courtesy of Synergy video)