COL BKB: Florida 68, Marquette 58

March 23, 2012 at 12:56 AM
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PHOENIX, March 23 (UPI) -- Bradley Beal touched off a late first-half run Thursday that propelled Florida into the NCAA regional finals with a 68-58 win over Marquette.

The Gators, who finished tied for second in the Southeastern Conference with Tennessee and Vanderbilt, will try to become one of the last four teams standing in the NCAA tourney when they take on Louisville Saturday in the West Region finals.

Florida is seeking its third national title in seven years under Coach Billy Donovan. The Gators are seeded seventh in the region while the Cardinals are fourth.

Marquette owned a three-point lead after Vander Blue made two free throws with 3:53 remaining in the first half but the Gators scored the final nine points of the period to take a 36-30 advantage at the break.

The lead grew to 14 points during the first 6:30 of the second half and Marquette could not recover.

There were four teams from the Big East Conference in action in the East and West regional semifinals Thursday and the league went 2-2 in those contests. The Big East, which began the tournament with nine teams represented, has only Syracuse and Louisville left.

Beal, who scored five points during the key surge that ended the first half, made 8-of-10 from the field and led the Gators (26-10) with 21 points. Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton had 11 each.

Jay Crowder paced Marquette (27-8) with 15 points. The Golden Eagles shot only 30 percent from the floor.

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