DePaul‘s Max Strus got wide open on a slip screen with four seconds left and Marquette leading by just one point on Wednesday night. The Blue Demons’ leading scorer was 4-of-9 from long range in the game to that point and 3-of-5 since halftime. He wound up, he let fly as Markus Howard made a valiant effort to pretend that someone was trying to cover Strus, literally every single Marquette fan watching saw the hell’s gate to The Darkest Timeline flutter into view.........
And the ball hit the front of the rim and bounced far, far away.
Andrew Rowsey grabbed the rebound, calmly sank two free throws, Strus’ prayer at the horn was nowhere close, and bada bing bada boom, Marquette somehow, essentially miraculously, finds themselves advancing to the Big East quarterfinals, 72-69.
None of this properly explains the absurdity of ongoing tomfoolery that was the final five minutes of this game. If you can think of a goofball situation that can occur in a basketball game, I think we saw it. Strus only had a crack at a game winner because Rowsey tried to split a double team with 12 seconds left when DePaul needed to foul to extend the game. An out of bounds call that was whistled in MU’s favor, but then overturned even though the FS1 cameras didn’t have a super-definitive view that definitely showed it going off Marquette. Strus canning one of the more absurdly off balance shots you’ll ever see in order to pull DePaul within one in the first place. A Blue Demon first colliding with Sam Hauser hard enough to tweak Hauser’s knee, but causing Hauser to get whistled for a travel, and then shortly afterwards, a Blue Demon landed on Hauser’s freshly bad knee while Hauser had the ball on the floor, but there was no foul call there, either. Tre’Darius McCallum trying to throw the ball off Markus Howard out of bounds, but the ball bounced off Howard and back into McCallum while both players were in the air above the out of bounds area.
THIS WAS JUST THE LAST FIVE MINUTES. I SWEAR TO YOU.
This doesn’t get into Marquette going up 14 late in the first half, letting it go back to 7 with 51 seconds left before Rowsey going nuts to push it back to 12 at the break. This doesn’t get into DePaul’s 11-0 run in less than four minutes midway through the second half to turn things back into a one possession game. This doesn’t discuss Rowsey canning a triple with his heels on the Big East Tournament logo on his way to 16 first half points. This doesn’t mention Strus’ big ol’ dunk that tied the game at 61 with 5:45 to go.
What even was this game?
Rowsey finished with a game high 25 points on 8-of-20 shooting, although he was 4-of-9 from long distance. He also had six rebounds and three assists. Sam Hauser added 16 points, including two crucial free throws late, and Sacar Anim had 14. For DePaul, they were led by identical 22 point performances from Strus and Marin Maric, with the latter man chipping in 10 rebounds as well. Eli Cain had a double-double for the Blue Demons, too, dishing 10 assists and scoring 12 points.
Marquette advances to the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, where they will play #2 seed Villanova. It continues MU’s streak of having reached the quarterfinals in every single season since joining the Big East, all the way back in 2006. However, the Golden Eagles have not reached the semifinals since 2010, and there is an argument to be made that Marquette will not earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament unless they snap that particular postseason drought. Again, that means beating Villanova, who did not play today.
But perhaps chalking up the win against the Blue Demons will be enough for that postseason berth. We won’t know until Sunday evening. For now, we can only look forward to the 6pm Central time tipoff against the Wildcats on Thursday night. Make sure you stock up on your heart medication and/or bourbon between now and then.