With a little bit of something from almost everyone on the active roster, Marquette got a 91-83 victory over Creighton in the 2016-17 regular season finale. Marquette wraps things up with a record of 19-11 overall and 10-8 in Big East play.
With the win (and other assorted results around the Big East), Marquette finishes in a four-way tie for third place in the league this season. As a result of tiebreakers, the Golden Eagles are the #4 seed in the Big East tournament and will kick things off in the quarterfinal round against #5 seed Seton Hall on Thursday at 1:30pm Central time.
Marquette’s offense was rolling all game long with the Golden Eagles shooting over in 50% in both halves and 50% on threes for the game. They played just enough defense, holding Creighton to just 49% shooting for the game. Generally speaking, you think of the Jays as a team that can fill it up from downtown, and you’d be right. Creighton is the eighth best three point shooting team in the country this season, but Marquette limited them to just 29% long range shooting on 28 attempts in this game.
Jajuan Johnson got Marquette off to a hot start, scoring eight of his team high 20 points in the first three minutes and shoving MU out to an 11-2 start out of the gate. A triple from Sam Hauser shortly thereafter pushed the lead to 10 for the first time, but Creighton wasn’t just going to turn tail and head home. An and-1 layup from Justin Patton cut the lead to just two points at the 8:26 mark, but then it was Marquette’s turn to go nuts again: Four points from Duane Wilson and a triple each from Hauser and Markus Howard jammed it back to 11, and Johnson capped off the half with one last long ball to make it 52-42 at the break.
The lead quickly escalated to 15 early in the second half on a three-pointer from Andrew Rowsey, but Creighton answered with a 10-0 run punctuated by a Khyri Thomas trey to make it a five point game again. This is what this game turned into: Marquette looked to assert themselves, Creighton counter-punched for a while, Marquette buckled, but never broke. A 13-2 run made it a 80-64 game after another three from Hauser, and a layup from Katin Reinhardt pushed the lead to 18, the high water mark in the game.
At that point, there was 6:38 left, and you’d like to think that Marquette rolled easily into the garage with the win. Nooope, not with this team. By the 2:09 mark, the lead was only 10, and that’s when Marquette started missing free throws. Jajuan Johnson (80% on the season) missed a front end, and Markus Howard (88%) missed two different front ends as Creighton started tightening the screws in the final minute. Finally, after a Thomas putback made it a six point game with 14 seconds left, Marquette got the inbounds to Andrew Rowsey, and the junior transfer canned both of his freebies, and by then, Creighton was out of time. A pair from the stripe from Howard made it official after that.
Five different Golden Eagles scored in double figures, including all three seniors: Jajuan Johnson had that team high 20, Luke Fischer finished with 13, and Katin Reinhardt had 12 off the bench. Sam Hauser had a nifty day, going for 11 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and a steal, and Matt Heldt’s seven rebounds, five on the offensive end, were invaluable. Duane Wilson had a seven point, three assist, two steal afternoon, but the gold star for the day might just belong to Markus Howard. The now 18 year old (his birthday was Friday) may have saved his best college basketball game for the final home game of the year: 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting including 2-of-5 from long range, seven rebounds, nine assists, and two steals. It was a masterful performance from the youngster from Arizona, particularly after his first three long range attempts didn’t fall for him. Howard didn’t let it get to him, particularly in a game that Marquette very much needed to win, and found lots of other ways to both help his team (the rebounds and assists) and score as well. Eventually he even made his last two treys to finish up the day with a perfectly respectable 40% shooting number behind the arc.
How about some highlights, courtesy of FS2 and GoMarquette.com?
Oh, and one more highlight that didn’t make the package. After the game, head coach Steve Wojciechowski grabbed the house mic to thank everyone for all of the support this season, as did Luke Fischer. Then the big man from Germantown did this.
Up Next: Onwards to Madison Square Garden to face the Pirates. Marquette went 1-1 this season against Seton Hall, and they’re the early favorite to win in the Big East quarterfinals as well. MU is probably assured of making the NCAA tournament at this point, but getting one win in New York is probably the safe move.