Madison Square Garden—Marquette came out of the tunnel draining baskets, in other words Xavier didn’t have a chance tonight.
Marquette (28-6) jumped out to a huge lead and never looked back, beating No. 15 Xavier 65-51 on Saturday to win its first Big East championship after 18 years in the conference.
Tyler Kolek scored 20 points and collected eight boards as the top-seeded Golden Eagles dominated a Big East final from the opening the tip off.
“Marquette is a special place that has had a special basketball program for a long, long time,” coach Shaka Smart said as he accepted the championship trophy. “We’re so proud to bring a championship back to Milwaukee.”
Kolek, the Big East player of the year, who promised his team would prove doubters wrong before the season hugged his family, his high school coach, and friends as confetti floated through air after the game.
“All the moments they’ve been through with me have led up to this moment right here,” Kolek said. “To share that with my high school coach, my brother, my dad, my two best friends, it’s special. There is no better feeling.”
The Golden Eagles took a 39-24 lead into the break and just disrupted the Musketeers offense in the last few minutes of the half.
David Joplin finished with 12 points. Kolek was selected the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Marquette led from start to finish and built a 27-point lead (54-27) with 13:18 left in the game. Xavier(25-9) got within 13 points (63-50) with 3:04 left in the contest, but the early lead was to huge to overcome.
Adam Kunkel poured in 12 points to lead the Musketeers, who had their five-game winning streak snapped. Leading scorer Souley Boum was held to one point on 0-for-9 shooting and was just fatigue.
“I thought tonight there are times when their effort level and their quickness, their togetherness, their communication, it was like there were six players on defense against us,” Xavier coach Sean Miller said. “We couldn’t get a good shot, and that is to their credit.”
This was the Golden Eagles first Big East title game since the conference dropped football in 2013.