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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Rowsey, Howard heroics keep Marquette’s NCAA Tournament hopes alive

Dean Bibens
Photo by Helen Dudley
Senior Andrew Rowsey (right) scored 1,000 points in a Marquette uniform. He is only the fifth player in NCAA history to score 1,000 points with two different teams.

After trailing the Bluejays by double-digits for much of the game, a trio of Markus Howard 3-pointers brought the Golden Eagles back into the game to set up senior Andrew Rowsey’s signature moment.

With 3:21 left and Marquette up 71-70, Rowsey picked up his dribble and could not find an open teammate. The lone senior chucked up a prayer from the “Al” logo about five feet from the 3-point line, not fully realizing where he was shooting from.

“I was hoping Coach (Al) McGuire was looking down from heaven and would help that ball find the bottom of the net,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said.

Wojo’s prayer to McGuire was answered, as Rowsey swished the 3-pointer and combined with Howard and Hauser to score 43 of Marquette’s 48 second-half points to deliver a much-needed 85-80 win in Marquette’s final game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The win was far from certain for most of the game. The Bluejays went more than 17 minutes — from the 8:00 mark in the first half until the 10:38 mark in the second half — without surrendering the lead.

Then Rowsey and Markus Howard took over. After scoring his 1,000th career point in the first half, Howard scored 16 points in the final 15 minutes. The two sharpshooters combined for 51 points.

“Sometimes you have to tip your cap to him,” Creighton head coach Doug McDermott said.

Freshman Jamal Cain and sophomore Sam Hauser also had 3-pointers in the second half to help Marquette shoot 10 of 12 from distance. The scoring came despite Creighton’s assertiveness on defense, especially in the passing lanes.

“Defenses are really keying in on Andrew and (me), and Sam as well,” Howard said. “They were being really aggressive in passing lanes, so we just had to work to get open.”

Rowsey and Howard combined for 13 assists as well, including four assists in the final 11 minutes.

“Those guys draw a lot of attention, and because they draw a lot of attention, other things can open up for other guys,” Wojo said. “They didn’t force it when they had two guys on them … When your backcourt combines for 13 assists, that means the ball is moving and they’re making in general the right plays.”

Sam Hauser was one of the primary beneficiaries, scoring 18 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Howard attributed the 13 combined assists to players like Hauser’s abilities to create space.

“When defense was collapsing, we were able to find guys that were wide open,” Howard said. “When guys are stepping up like that, it’s really easy for Andrew and I just to make those plays.”

Creighton senior Marcus Foster, who scored 29 points, kept the Bluejays in the game with two threes in the last 30 seconds, at one point bringing the game to 81-78. However, Marquette thwarted a Foster 3-pointer with 13 seconds left that would have tied the game.

“I’d rather (Foster) pull that to the top, but we didn’t have any timeouts left,” McDermott said. “He panicked a little bit in that situation, but he certainly fought tooth and nail to keep us in the game.”

Marquette removed any doubt with four free throws in the final 15 seconds.

Junior forward Khyri Thomas came up big for Creighton, finishing the night with 24 points and nine rebounds, but only five of those points came in the second half. That defensive shift resulted in the second half scoring spree, according to Wojo.

“Our defense jumpstarted our offense,” Wojo said. “At the start of the second half, we weren’t sharp as we were capable of being defensively, and then we started to string some stops together.”

In the first half, Creighton shot 47 percent, preventing any sustained runs. In the second half, Marquette limited the Bluejays to a more pedestrian 42 percent shooting from the field.

“Our energy wasn’t there (in the first half),” Wojo said. “We competed much harder in the second half.”

Depending on the results of the Butler-Seton Hall game, Marquette could be either the sixth or seventh seed in the BIG EAST Tournament. A Seton Hall win would force Marquette to take on DePaul. A Butler win would give Marquette the No. 6 seed and a date with Providence.

“We were in the same position last year coming off our five games,” Howard said. “I think we’re learning from what we did last year … We know what to expect.”

Rowsey said prior to the game that he still had one goal he hasn’t accomplished — making another appearance in the NCAA Tournament. And thanks to that prayer from the Al McGuire logo, Marquette is a step closer to doing what McGuire did nine times.

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