If I told you that Marquette threw away an early seven point lead, lost Markus Howard to a hip injury while trailing by six in the first half, and fell behind by 16 late in the first half, I’m guessing that you would be pretty sure that the second half ended in disaster and sadness, right?
NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND.
Powered by a career high 26 points from Sacar Anim, Marquette exploded out of the locker room after halftime, trimmed the deficit to just two possessions before the first media timeout, took the lead before the second media timeout, and held on to beat Creighton, 90-86.
This really happened.
Marquette is now 6-8 in Big East play, 15-11 overall, and the at-large NCAA tournament bid dream continues to live.
Early on, things were completely bananas at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, as Marquette connected on their first five shots of the game. The game was easily on pace for “first to 120 wins,” and everyone was running all over the place. The two teams settled in, and by “two,” I actually mean “one,” because Creighton suddenly realized that they can run Toby Hegner and Jacob Epperson on pick and rolls to the basket all day on Marquette. What was a 19-12 lead for the Golden Eagles turned into a 43-35 lead for the Bluejays when what appeared to be disaster struck for Marquette.
Markus Howard went up for a layup, collided with the Creighton defender, and went straight down to the court and, based on the diagnosis a little while later, landed directly onto his hip. Howard stayed down for a very long time, and when he got up, he wasn’t putting any weight on his right hip.
Over the next three and a half minutes, Creighton doubled their lead out to 16 points, and when we reached halftime, the lead was 12. If you turned the game off at that point, given that it was already 10pm Central or so, I don’t blame you.
Marquette came out of the locker room doing something that they really can’t do with Howard and Andrew Rowsey on the floor together: playing zone defense. It took the Creighton pick and roll completely off the board and fantastically stymied the CU offense. Rowsey went BONKERS on the other end, going on a personal 10-0 run to slash the lead from 13 to just three with 14:37 to go.
Creighton got their feet back under them, pushing the lead back to six on a steal and a dunk by Khyri Thomas, but then it was Sam Hauser’s turn. Two buckets from the sophomore, one of them from long range, made it a one point game, and then BANG — Jamal Cain put Marquette back out in front.
11:21 to play, though, and that is FOREVER.
The final stretch of the game was as exciting as you could possibly want. Neither side led by more than two points, and there were eight ties and five lead changes. The game winner ended up coming from, you guessed it, Sacar Anim, who had a nifty drive into a spin for the turnaround right handed floater that hit nothing but the bottom of the net to put MU up 88-86 with 1:13 to go. Things went whack-a-doodle from there, as Marcus Foster threw a pass out of bounds, and then Sam Hauser threw a pass between Matt Heldt’s legs. That led to Creighton getting one final chance to tie the game, and Foster, the guy you probably want taking the shot if you’re a Bluejay supporter, just.... missed. Not “the shot didn’t go down,” because it was way uglier than that. He missed it. Greg Elliott came up with the rebound, there was a whole bunch of inbounding drama because Creighton didn’t have enough fouls, and then Hauser iced it with a pair of freebies.
Can I interest you in a highlight package, courtesy of Fox Sports and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: Well, in order to keep the dream alive, Marquette needs to keep winning. They’ll be back in action on Wednesday night, hosting St. John’s for Al’s Night at the Bradley Center. The Red Storm have won four straight after beating DePaul in their last outing, and they won’t play again until coming to Milwaukee.