- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 15, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) — Sam Young scored 22 points to lead Pittsburgh to the Big East tournament championship game for the seventh time in eight years, this time with a 68-61 victory over No. 25 Marquette last night.

The seventh-seeded Panthers (25-9) will meet top-seeded and ninth-ranked Georgetown for the conference title for the second straight year tonight. The Hoyas won last year’s game 65-42. Pittsburgh has one championship game victory, over Connecticut in 2003.

Just like last season, Pittsburgh reached the title game without benefit of a first-round bye, beating Cincinnati and second-seeded Louisville in its first two games.

The Panthers appeared to have their straight win in the tournament sewn up early as they held Marquette (24-9) without a field goal, and to just two points, for an 11:38 stretch at the end of the first half and the start of the second.

Pittsburgh wasn’t exactly lighting it up offensively during that stretch, but the Panthers closed the first half on a 9-2 run and scored five of the first seven points of the second half to take a 40-24 lead with 18:09 to play.

The Golden Eagles chipped away at the lead and got within 56-52 with 7:03 left as Dominic James finally started to score.

Levance Fields had an assist and two free throws as Pittsburgh scored six points for a 62-52 lead with 4:33 left. The Golden Eagles had one more left in them and James scored the first and last points of a 7-0 run that made it 62-59 with 1:20 to go.

The Panthers were able to close it out by making six of eight free throws the rest of the way.

Ronald Ramon had 14 points and Field finished with 12 for the Panthers, who improved to 5-0 at Madison Square Garden this season.

Jerel McNeal had 17 points for Marquette while Wesley Matthews had 10 and James eight, all over the final 7:40.

The Golden Eagles missed 16 shots and committed four turnovers during their scoring drought. Their last field goal of the first half came with 9:30 to play.

Marquette shot 31.1 percent for the game (19-for-61), including going 8-for-31 in the first half (25.8 percent).

Marquette reached the semifinals for the first time with wins over Seton Hall and third-seeded Notre Dame.

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