Finish them

In the game's final 40 seconds, Marquette inbounded the ball twice leading by eight points. Both times the pass went to Steve Novak and both times DePaul was forced to foul the junior forward.

It is never a good idea to give Novak a trip to the free throw line — entering the game he was shooting 87.5 percent from the charity stripe this season — but Sunday it was especially unwise.

He had already staked the Golden Eagles to an early lead with a pair of three-pointers and finished 4-for-5 from behind the arc. Then he closed out the game by sinking all four free throw attempts to lead Marquette to a 67-57 victory.

Novak's game-high 22 points also kept Marquette's slim hopes of qualifying for the NCAA Tournament alive.

"Steve was hitting his shots early in the game," senior guard Travis Diener said. "That kind of opened up things for us in the second half.

"With most teams, with Steve how they guard him is they don't let him touch the ball. I think that was their game plan, but they just lost him a couple times, and when he gets going he's not going to miss too many open shots."

The same can be said of Diener and his cousin, DePaul senior point guard Drake Diener, who were playing against each other for possibly the final time.

Travis, who was blanketed by distinguished defender LeVar Seals for much of the game, finished with 15 points and dished out 7 assists in a team-high 36 minutes of action.

The Golden Eagles didn't guard Drake nearly as tight, and he scored a team-high 16 points.

With the Blue Demons trailing by nine with 8:14 to play, Drake sank a three-pointer and followed it up with a basket on his next trip down the court. After Novak made a pair of free throws, Drake sank another trey, trimming the lead to three.

"I probably get more upset when he gets an open shot than anyone I've played in my career because I know when he gets open it's going in," Travis said.

Drake's late-game run was not enough to overcome a less-than-inspired start by the Blue Demons.

Less then four minutes into the game DePaul head coach Dave Leitao was forced to call a timeout because Novak's threes and a trey by Diener paced Marquette to an 11-2 lead.

"From the point they got up 7-2, or whatever it was, and then we were playing from behind not just on the scoreboard, but we were playing from behind from an energy level and obviously from an execution level," Leitao said.

But just like Louisville's performance against the Golden Eagles Thursday, DePaul overcame Marquette's fast start and went on a surge of its own. The Blue Demons tied the score, 13-13, with 11:16 to go and kept charging.

DePaul took a 16-15 lead with 9:05 to play, but three minutes later they gave it back for good.

Junior Joe Chapman hit a three to put Marquette in front, 22-21, and Novak followed that with another three-pointer.

Marquette finished the game 8-of-17 from behind the arc and shot 51.3 percent from the field, but DePaul never went away and made a game of it at the end. Unlike three nights earlier, though, Marquette didn't buckle under the pressure.

"With Louisville everything went wrong," senior Todd Townsend said. "That's not a Marquette team because usually when we get a team down, especially at the end of a game, we usually finish them off. That's what we did (Sunday)."

This article appeared in The Marquette Tribune on Feb. 22 2005.