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Dec 23, 2012 2:24 PM by AP

Gardner Leads Marquette Past LSU 84-80

Marquette used free throws to help erase the bad taste of a two-point loss at Wisconsin-Green Bay earlier this week.

The Golden Eagles shot a season-best 96 percent from the line, making 24 of their 25 free throws, in an 84-80 victory over LSU on Saturday.

"Free-throw makes are always a good indicator of our mindset, and of our mentality," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said.

Davante Gardner came off the bench to score a season-high 19 points and made all nine of his free-throw attempts, including six in the final 36 seconds.

Junior Cadougan and Vander Blue each scored 17 points and Jamil Wilson added 11 for Marquette (8-3), which shook off Wednesday's 49-47 loss and won its 15th straight home game.

"I think it just speaks to the character of our kids," said Williams, whose team jumped out to a 17-3 lead. "Green Bay beat us. We were bad. I was bad. Our players were bad. They beat us. And I thought the way our team responded on Thursday was superb. We did the right things in practice on Friday. And then today, we started out like gangbusters."

Andre Stringer finished with a season-high 20 points for LSU (7-2). He had a career-high six 3-pointers and became the first Tiger with six in one game since Marcus Thornton did it on Feb. 24, 2009.

The Tigers, in a stretch of 17 days between home games, also got 18 points and seven rebounds from Anthony Hickey.

"We fell into a hole early and we didn't execute on defense as well," Stringer said. "Their guys got open for a couple jumpers, got out on the break and discouraged us a little bit. But we regrouped at the half and came back, played with a lot of fire as we always do and got back in the game."

After two Gardner free throws gave Marquette an 80-76 lead with 35.2 seconds remaining, Charles Carmouche lost his dribble off his foot with Trent Lockett guarding him. Gardner picked the ball up, was fouled and sank two free throws for an 82-76 lead. He added two more for an 84-78 lead with 9.6 seconds left.

"I was trying to figure out what we were running," said Carmouche, who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. "It kind of got loud; I couldn't hear coach."

Marquette equaled its biggest lead of the second half, 74-62, on two free throws by Cadougan with 3:33 remaining. LSU managed to get the deficit to 78-76 on Carmouche's free throws with 40.7 seconds left, but that would be the closest the Tigers would get.

"I think a lot of times, games are about several runs," LSU coach Johnny Jones said. "We've just got to make sure we get stops and put ourselves in position to make ours."

LSU, which trailed by 21 late in the first half, used a 27-6 run to get back in the game. Consecutive 3-pointers by Hickey and Stringer capped a 10-0 run and tied the score at 49 with 14:55 to play.

The teams then traded runs, beginning with Marquette. A one-handed floater off the glass by Cadougan capped an 8-0 run for a 57-49 lead with 12:51 to play.

LSU answered with nine points in a row. A free throw by Carmouche gave the Tigers a 58-57 lead with 9:35 left, their first since holding a 3-2 edge in the first minute. Then it was Marquette's turn for a 9-0 run, capped by another Cadougan basket for a 66-58 lead with 7:49 left.

"You just have to be mentally tough and just maintain," Cadougan said. "We can't just hang our heads down."

In the first half, Marquette shot 51.5 percent from the field and held a 17-3 lead after scoring 15 unanswered points. The Golden Eagles made seven of their first 10 shots, including a 3-pointer by Lockett, while LSU missed seven of its first eight.

Two free throws by Chris Otule gave Marquette its biggest lead, 43-22, with 5:12 remaining. That's when LSU started its comeback, as the Tigers scored 11 of the final 13 points of the half to get within 12 at the break.

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