HARTFORD, Conn. — Hard-luck Marquette finally won a close game on the road.
Jimmy Butler’s driving shot with 2.4 seconds left gave the Golden Eagles a 70-68 win over No. 19 Connecticut on Saturday. It was the team’s first road win of the season, and helped ease the sting of five Big East losses that have come by a total of 11 points.
Butler finished with 21 points, and Lazar Hayward scored 20 for the Golden Eagles before fouling out with 1:51 left in the game.
“It’s a really great feeling, because we were on the other end of that five times,” Hayward said. “It’s a very good feeling to finally be on the other side of that.”
Darius Johnson-Odom added 15 for Marquette (13-8, 4-5), which leads the nation in 3-point shooting and hit 9 of 24 shots from behind the arc.
Jerome Dyson had 18 points for the Huskies (13-8, 3-5), who have lost two straight after beating then-No. 1 Texas a week ago. Kemba Walker added 15 points and Stanley Robinson 13 for the hot-and-cold Huskies, who were blown out at Providence on Wednesday.
The Huskies were without head coach Jim Calhoun, who has missed four consecutive games on a doctor-ordered medical leave. They’re 2-2 with associate coach George Blaney running the team, and Calhoun is expected to miss Monday’s game at Louisville.
Connecticut had a three-point lead with 54.8 seconds left after Dyson hit a 28-footer with the shot clock expiring. But Dyson fouled Johnson-Odom on the other end behind the arc, and he hit all three foul shots to tie the game again.
Walker missed a runner in the lane with 21 seconds left, setting up Marquette’s final possession. With the clock winding down, Butler took the ball near the top of the key, drove to the right of the lane and hit a runner over the outstretched arm of UConn’s Gavin Edwards.
Hayward “was telling me as he fouled out, he was like, ‘You’ve got to take over, you’ve got to be the leader on the floor,”’ Butler said. “I was just, ‘OK, I got it,’ but I never knew it would come down to ‘I got it’ like I did. It just felt so good to be on the other end and hit a game winner late in the game.”
UConn had time to set up a final play, but a pass from Edwards to Dyson was tipped and Marquette’s David Cubillan came down with it just before the horn.
Marquette forced UConn into 16 turnovers while committing just three, which helped the Golden Eagles overcome a 44-25 rebounding deficit.
“That was one of our emphases this week in preparation for UConn is we cannot turn it over and we cannot take just good shots against UConn, we have to take perfect shots,” said Marquette coach Buzz Williams.
The Golden Eagles led most of the game, and hit their first three shots of the second half, all from behind the arc, to build what had been a five point advantage to a 43-33 lead.
Connecticut responded behind Robinson, who followed a missed free throw by Ater Majok with a bucket and hit another jumper to pull the Huskies within 47-46.
Kemba Walker’s jumper with 8 minutes left tied the game at 52, and Alex Oriakhi’s layup gave the Huskies their first lead of the half at 56-54.
The teams went back and forth from there.
“It’s been a case of that all year with this team,” Blaney said. “They seem to play in moments, they don’t seem to play full possessions. It’s the hardest thing to understand. It’s something that we have not had an answer for.”
Marquette opened the game by hitting its first two shots from 3-point range, and led for most of the first 20 minutes. Robinson’s 3-pointer pulled UConn to 25-20, but the Golden Eagles steadily built their lead, capitalizing on nine Husky turnovers.
They were up 30-21 when Butler dunked with just over 4 minutes left, and extended the lead to 13 when he hit a layup a minute later.
The Huskies closed the half on an 8-0 run to get back into the game.
“It’s been the story the whole season, where everybody doesn’t come out to play at the start of the game,” Dyson said. “We always get ourselves in a hole and then we have to play the rest of the game trying to get out of it.”