FLOOR SLAPS: Howard’s second-half spree helps Marquette defeat VCU


Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Markus Howard fouls out against Purdue. He had 22 points in Monday’s win vs. VCU.

Markus Howard did not have the ideal start to the Maui Jim Maui Invitational Monday afternoon, scoring four points in the first half on 2-for-8 shooting. The nation’s best 3-point shooter last year missed his first four attempts of the afternoon from beyond the arc.

All that changed in the second half, as Howard returned to his 2016-’17 self, scoring 18 points en route to Marquette’s 94-83 victory over the Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) Rams (2-2).

Here are the takeaways from the quarterfinal win:



The game started with VCU in clear control. Marquette struggled to deal with the Rams’ press, committing three turnovers in three minutes. VCU guard Malik Crowfield turned those errors into eight of his team-high 17 points, which elicited a timeout from Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski.

Marquette went on a 12-0 run over the next four minutes, but both sides committed some key errors throughout the half. The two teams combined for 21 turnovers, many of them unforced. Hauser and Rowsey each had four turnovers.

Although Marquette’s final defensive statistics were decent, the team’s first-half performance left plenty to be desired. The Rams shot 50 percent from the field and 46 percent from beyond the arc despite not having senior Jonathan Williams, who missed most of the first half after picking up three fouls in six minutes.



With almost seven minutes in the second half, Crowfield buried a 3-pointer off an assist from Williams to cut Marquette’s lead to six points.

The ball found its way to Hauser, who quickly put up a 3-pointer that clanged off the iron. Junior Matt Heldt snagged a contested rebound and shuffled it back to Howard, who shot an off-line three. Hauser rebounded it and found Rowsey in the left corner. Once again, Hauser snagged the board after Rowsey’s miss and immediately dished it back to the lone senior. On Marquette’s fourth attempt in 33 seconds, Rowsey drained the three-pointer.

Rowsey’s three will obviously be the flashiest stat, but the tenacity on the boards stunted a potential VCU run before it could begin. Fresh off grabbing only three offensive rebounds against Purdue, the Golden Eagles pulled down 15 boards that translated into 22 points.

All nine available scholarship players grabbed at least one offensive rebound. Hauser led the team with five offensive rebounds.

Meanwhile, VCU bullied its way to 14 offensive rebounds, although the Rams were only able to generate six points off them.



A better team might have been able to punish Marquette more severely for its occasional sloppiness, but VCU was not that team.

The Rams, under first-year head coach Mike Rhoades, are still figuring their lineup out after losing five seniors from last season, and it showed. VCU’s vaunted press defense, although occasionally effective, would often yield after a crossover or two from Rowsey. There were several times when Rowsey or Howard was able to dribble straight through the press and drop in a bucket before VCU could get set up in the half-court.

VCU was also cavalier with the basketball, committing 15 turnovers, most of which were unforced. Williams led VCU with four turnovers despite only playing 23 minutes.



Marquette had a 22-6 advantage in second chance points.



Marquette will play No. 6 Wichita State in the semifinal of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Tip-off is at 12:30 p.m. CT.