Done in one

The broken bones in Travis Diener's left hand were not responsible for another Marquette debacle in the first round of the Conference USA Tournament.

The absence of one player, not even a member of the C-USA All-Decade team, should not doom an entire team.

Texas Christian's aberration at the free throw line Wednesday in Memphis was not the problem either.

The Horned Frogs, which entered the game shooting a league-worst 59 percent from the charity stripe, made nine of their last 10 attempts. But those points came in a seven minute span.

No, the real reason Marquette lost to TCU, 60-57, in overtime — and had any hope of an NCAA tournament berth extinguished — was that it could not break the Horned Frogs' press.

"We struggled getting our spots in the pressure," head coach Tom Crean said in a statement after the game.

The effectiveness of TCU's 1-2-1-1 full-court press was painfully clear when Marquette tried to inbound the ball underneath its own basket with 18.8 seconds left in the extra session and the score tied at 57.

Senior forward Todd Townsend made a short pass to Steve Novak in the left corner, and instantly the junior forward was surrounded by Marcus Sloan and Nile Murry.

Novak tried to pass the ball to a teammate, but instead it deflected off Sloan's outstretched arms and Murry picked it up in front of his own bench.

Without hesitation, Murry passed to Corey Santee and the senior guard buried a three-pointer with 12.8 seconds left to win the game.

Santee, who hit a game-winning three-point shot on the same court Jan. 15 to upset Memphis, had been 1-for-12 from behind the arc up to that point.

In a last-ditch effort to send the game into a second overtime, Novak tried to get a shot off from the top of the key.

However, he jumped before he had control of the ball and it squirted out of his hands and into the arms of a TCU player in the paint.

Novak struggled in the waning minutes of the game, but in the first half he was the only thing Marquette had going for it.

If not for his 13 points in the first 20 minutes, it is highly unlikely the Golden Eagles would have gone into the locker room at halftime trailing only 34-28.

Novak's long-range marksmanship — he was 4-for-5 from behind the arc — helped pull Marquette back into the game after the Horned Frogs snatched the early lead.

TCU was up 7-0 before Marquette even attempted a shot and had 10 points on the board before Novak scored the Golden Eagles' first basket.

The Horned Frogs quick start was a result of their full-court pressure and sharp shooting. TCU had six steals and scored 12 points off of Marquette's seven turnovers in the first half.

Add that to six three-pointers in the first 12 minutes, and it looked like the rout was on.

But then the Horned Frogs backed off the press and couldn't make a shot. After starting the game 14-for-26 from the field, they missed 25 of their next 28 attempts.

This allowed Marquette to get back in the game and take its first lead, 44-42, on a layup by sophomore guard Dameon Mason with 5:11 to play.

Marquette led by as much as seven, but TCU resurrected the full-court press with under three minutes to play, and the Golden Eagles' advantage evaporated.

The Horned Frogs applied constant pressure, picked off desperation heaves, raced to the basket and then drained the free throws after getting hacked on the way to the hole.

With the score knotted at 50 and time winding down, junior Joe Chapman had a chance to win it, but neither his runner in the lane nor senior Marcus Jackson's put-back attempt dropped.

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Mar. 10 2005.