Marquette essentially did nothing right in the second half, burning down a nine point lead with 23 and change to play and a six point halftime advantage on their way to a 70-62 loss to DePaul on Saturday afternoon. The Golden Eagles are now 16-12 overall and 7-9 in Big East play with two games left to go.
The Golden Eagles will need to win their final two games to finish at .500 in league play, which is not a recipe for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament. As of Saturday morning, MU was appearing in just 31 of 87 projections on Bracket Matrix, and a loss to the ever-so-slightly woeful Blue Demons will not encourage the other 56 bracketologists.
Throw a dart and pick out what was bad for Marquette in this game. You don’t have a shortage of talking points. After holding DePaul to just 30% shooting in the first half, the Blue Demons shot 46% after the break, largely content with taking the ball inside. Only five of their 26 second half shots came outside the arc.
If you’re thinking that 46% sounds like pretty good defense, you’re not wrong. However, MU’s defensive rebounding was largely AWOL, allowing the Blue Demons to get to 44% of their misses in the game and a shocking 56% of them in the second half. Holding DePaul under 50% shooting is absolutely meaningless if you let them grab up more than 50% of the shots that they missed for a second chance. Sure, they only had four second half points after halftime, but at some point, it stops being about the points and starts being about the time of possession with the Blue Demons holding onto a lead.
Marquette’s offense was also a total disaster. After a passable first half thanks to how badly things were going for the Blue Demons, Marquette’s offense short-circuited in the second half. The Golden Eagles shot just 35% in the final 20 minutes and just 28% (5-of-18) from long distance. Both after the St. John’s game and on the radio on Thursday, head coach Steve Wojciechowski said that the team is better when Andrew Rowsey is a distributor. After four straight games with over five assists and back-to-back games with eight assists, Rowsey finished this game with just one helper while shooting a horrid 5-for-14 from the field and 3-of-11 from the arc. He had just two attempts, both misses from long range, in his limited action in the first half, and Lord only knows what possessed him to let fly like that after halftime. There’s also the issue of why he was allowed to shoot like that.
That brings us to Markus Howard ’s return to the lineup. It’ll be a cold day in hell before I complain about the sharpshooting sophomore being available to play for the Golden Eagles. However, the last three halves of basketball was a shining white light on the topic of Marquette struggling when Howard and Rowsey play together. Howard came off the bench in this game, playing 16 first half minutes with Rowsey held to just four because of two personal fouls. The pair played nearly the entire second half together, and yes, as we discussed, everything went completely sideways on Marquette after halftime.
I don’t have anything else to say that’s not a fact here. Whatever your emotion or thought process is following this game, I can not offer any counterpoint to it at this juncture.
Marquette returns to action on Monday night in Washington, D.C., where they will take on a Georgetown squad that has lost their last two games to fall to 5-11 in Big East action. At this point, Marquette is playing to salvage an NIT bid out of this nightmare.