Marquette Men’s Basketball: An emotional Senior Day victory

Jae Crowder goes up for the layup. Photo by Elise Krivit/ elise.krivit@marquette.edu

Except for a 10-minute stretch in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 4, the Marquette Golden Eagles have dominated the Georgetown Hoyas this season. That trend continued in an 83-69 Golden Eagle victory on Senior Day Saturday.

Marquette (25-6, 14-4 Big East) led 39-29 at halftime and shot 48 percent for the game against a Georgetown (22-7, 12-6 Big East) defense that entered the game allowing opponents to shoot just 38.5 percent from the field.

Senior forward Jae Crowder recorded his 11th double-double of the season, finishing with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Crowder also had five steals and continuing his streak of at least one steal in every game since a win over Washington on Dec. 6.

Crowder had said before the game that he wouldn’t get emotional afterwards, but changed his tune a bit following the contest.

“It couldn’t have happened in a better way,” Crowder said. “It’s a dream come true for me, so I’m on cloud nine right now.”

On Sunday, Crowder and fellow senior Darius Johnson-Odom were named to the All-Big East First Team, marking the first time that two Marquette players were named to the first team in program history.

Coach Buzz Williams said that Crowder’s performance “speaks for itself,” and hinted that Crowder should be named the conference’s player of the year, an honor that will be announced today.

“You get what you earn,” Williams said. “I think Jae’s resume, our team’ s resume, whoever’s healthy and who’s not speaks for itself. Whoever wins the awards on Tuesday humbly and with the right attitude, we congratulate them.”

Johnson-Odom had 17 points on 5-of-12 shooting in his final game at the Bradley Center.

The senior guard said that he was happy with the team’s performance, especially considering how poorly it performed in a 72-61 loss at Cincinnati on Wednesday.

“(The win) gives us some momentum going into New York,” Johnson-Odom said. “That’s always a positive thing to have, and I’m glad we got that loss out of the way rather than lose in New York.”

Sophomore guard Vander Blue (13) and sophomore forward Jamil Wilson (11) joined the seniors in double-digit scoring, but the biggest surprise was an appearance from sophomore forward Davante Gardner.

Gardner, who hadn’t played since spraining his knee in a win at Villanova on Jan. 28, scored eight points and grabbed eight rebounds in 15 minutes of action on Saturday.

According to Williams, Gardner practiced 25 minutes on Friday and went about 55 minutes on Thursday and had done enough rehab to warrant some minutes on Saturday.

The win clinched the No. 2 seed for Marquette in the Big East Championship Tournament who will play either Louisville, Connecticut or Providence at 6 p.m. on Thursday. The second place finish is the highest for the Golden Eagles since joining the Big East in 2005-’06.

The 14 wins are also the most Marquette has had in a season in conference play.

The win over Georgetown was the Golden Eagles’ first on Senior Day since a 67-37 win over Florida Gulf Coast on March 4, 2008, and was the first win in the team’s last home game during Williams’ tenure.

For Williams, seeing his seniors leave the court at the Bradley Center one last time was extremely emotional.

“I’m really thankful and happy that I’ve had an opportunity to coach them,” Williams said. “Those kids really want to win and have been accountable on a daily basis.

“For it to happen on this stage with this type of magnitude for what was at stake in the game, it speaks to the heart of both those guys.”

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