Late run from Rowsey not enough for men’s basketball against No. 6 Xavier

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Despite Andrew Rowsey's 31 points, Marquette could not defeat the No. 6 Xavier Musketeers Wednesday night at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. (Photo courtesy: Maggie Bean/Marquette Athletics)

The last time Marquette hosted a top 10 team, the Golden Eagles came back from a 17-point deficit to defeat No. 1 Villanova, 74-72, last January.

Wednesday night, Marquette’s comeback against No. 6 Xavier fell short, losing 91-87 in the final minute despite a late scoring surge from Andrew Rowsey.

Down six points with just under four minutes left, Rowsey answered the call, scoring 10 points in less than four minutes. Eight of the 10 points came consecutively.

“I just wanted to win, and I was doing whatever I needed to do to win,” Rowsey said. “And in that case, it was scoring (eight) points in a row.”

However, his luck ran out with 19 seconds remaining. After an offensive rebound bailed out his first miss, his second shot of the possession was off-line and went out of bounds off sophomore center Harry Froling.

“They were able to get key stops at key times,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “And we left a few points on the board that we would normally make. And when you combine those two things against a team like Xavier … you’re going to come out on the wrong end more times than not.”

Xavier hit its last six free throws to secure a victory.

“It could have gone either way,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “And fortunately we were able to make the plays down the stretch.”

Rowsey finished the night with a season high 31 points on 11-for-24 shooting and completely took over in stretches of the game.

“It was more of us than them,” Rowsey said. “We hurt ourselves down the stretch on defense and on offense.”

Freshman forward Jamal Cain also had a career night, scoring 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting including 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. Fellow freshman Greg Elliott also achieved a new career high, scoring eight points on 3-for-4 shooting.

“We gave some looks to some of their freshmen who stepped up and didn’t necessarily have that on the stat sheet prior to tonight,” Mack said. “Some of their freshmen made some really good plays (and) big shots.”

However, the rest of Marquette’s offense was inconsistent throughout the night. At one point, Marquette made seven consecutive shots in the first half but then missed 10 of its next 13.

“It’s not just not finishing,” Wojo said. “It’s four or five-point swings and obviously those things happen in the game, but we had a chance to seize momentum a couple times and we weren’t able to.”

Sophomore guard Markus Howard scored six of the team’s first 13 points but did not hit a 3-pointer until the 6:24 mark in the second half.

“We didn’t want it to be a game of ping-pong where they’re just going down hitting transition threes,” Mack said. “That’s where Marquette is at its best.”

Rowsey was the only player to surpass his average point production. “To hold two of the three under their average, that’s about the best we can ask for,” Mack said.

Xavier senior JP Macura scored 11 second half points to help Xavier distance itself from Marquette for large stretches of the half.

“He’s as competitive as any player I’ve ever coached,” Mack said. “It could be checkers, chess, it doesn’t matter; he wants to win.”

The Musketeers manhandled Marquette down low, outscoring them in the paint, 44-28, and out-rebounding them, 37-34.

“Obviously we have to protect our paint at a higher level,” Wojo said. “There’s a lot of things, so I wish it was just one thing we had to work on. There’s more than that. And a team like Xavier exposes you.”

Marquette will have a two-day break before continuing its homestand against Georgetown Saturday. The Hoyas had a 20-point lead against Butler Wednesday night, but a late Bulldog run handed first-year head coach Patrick Ewing a 91-89 double overtime loss.