Dream deferred

Tom Crean's goal was simple. He wanted his team to seize the night and make the most of its opportunity to kick off March Madness in front of a nationally television audience on ESPN.

Monday's game at the Bradley Center also provided the Golden Eagles with a chance to prove that their losses against Saint Louis and Texas Christian to close out the conference season were anomalies.

The Golden Eagles failed to achieve any of those objectives and now have six months to contemplate how a season that started with 13 wins in 14 games ended with a 54-40 loss to Western Michigan in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament.

"I would never have pictured, never have dreamed … (at) the beginning of my senior year going out like this, especially losing at home," senior forward Todd Townsend said.

The Broncos were able to build their lead and hold onto it for one simple reason: they made a few shots and the Golden Eagles couldn't buy a basket.

The Broncos shot just 37 percent from the floor, but when compared with Marquette's 28.6 percent it seemed like they couldn't miss.

Marquette (19-12) was even more horrendous from the field in the second half. The Golden Eagles hit just 22.6 percent of their shots and missed all 12 attempts from behind the arc.

"You cannot let your offensive woes carry over to the other end," head coach Tom Crean said, "and give up easy baskets and turn the ball over the way we did and win a game, you just can't do it."

Steve Novak in particular struggled from the field, making only one three-pointer and missing his other eight attempts from the field.

"We were looking at one of the best three point shooters in the country," said Western Michigan head coach Steve Hawkins, of Novak. Defending him "was a huge priority."

"We knew that he was a very good shooter and we could see that Mason was a tremendous athlete who can get to the basket and Townsend did a lot of damage down low."

Mason had no trouble jump-stopping his way through the Western Michigan defense towards the basket and Townsend grabbed seven rebounds, but just like the rest of the team, they struggled to get the ball to fall through the basket.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Mar. 15 2005.