Well, that was unpleasant.
After a tie at halftime, Marquette managed to lead by seven, 61-54, with 5:06 to go. The Golden Eagles would be outscored 15-7 over the rest of the game, with the final three points coming on an absolutely meaningless and useless Markus Howard three-pointer at the horn, leaving DePaul with the 69-68 victory at Wintrust Arena.
Marquette is now 18-11 on the season and 8-9 in Big East play. They have lost five of their last six games since picking up a win to earn their way into the Associated Press poll for the first time this season, and the win was over a Georgetown squad that was shorthanded to start with and missing their two best players due to injury. The Golden Eagles will have to figure out a way to win their final regular season game in order to finish at just .500 in league action after starting 7-4.
The first two minutes of the game were a clown show of hilarious levels going in both directions, and it should have been a bigger moment of ominous portend. Instead, we saw Marquette jump out to a 9-2 lead, and thought things were getting going. They were not, as the Blue Demons scored the next eight to take their first lead of the game. The Golden Eagles rolled with the punches, building an eight point lead, 25-17, with 7:30 to go. It’s a Big East road game, that’s perfectly acceptable.
Letting DePaul take a 32-31 lead with 1:16 to play? That’s not acceptable. A Markus Howard free throw with 39 seconds left before intermission knotted the show up as the two teams went into the locker room.
Romeo Weems recorded a layup with 17:52 to go in the second half, giving DePaul a 36-33 lead. The Blue Demons did not record another field goal until Jaylen Butz put in a stickback with 10:09 to go. Right before that happened, the score was 47-39. Marquette held DePaul without a field goal for almost eight full minutes, and their sum total of accomplishment for eight minutes of high quality defense was...... a 14-3 run. That’s it. A full 20% of the game, and all MU had to show for it was a 14-3 run. DePaul should have been hammered into the earth where no one would ever be able to find them..... and MU was only up eight, and actually only six, 47-41, after Butz broke through for the Blue Demons.
Still, it seemed like Marquette might still have a hold on this game. Koby McEwen buried a three, one of two on the night for him, to push the margin to seven with 8:16 to go. Brendan Bailey answered a DJ Williams layup with one of his own to make it 54-57 with 7:00 exactly left to play. Markus Howard answered a Darious Hall putback with a three on the other end to make it a 58-51 game, but 13 seconds later, there was Charlie Moore, bombing in his only made three-pointer on seven attempts on the night.
58-54, 5:45 to play.
Free throws from Howard and one from Jayce Johnson got it back to a seven point margin. But Marquette would go a minute and a half without scoring at all, and needed two free throws from Howard to get it back to 63-58. The Blue Demons kept inching closer.
Jalen Coleman-Lands buried a three. Howard coughed it up, and Weems laid in an absurd lob feed from Moore to knot the game at 63 with 1:38 to go. Seriously, I have absolute zero idea, with how that pass was thrown and how long it took to get to Weems, and how he had to catch, land, and go back up, as to how Weems actually managed to get a shot to go in with Marquette’s defense doing literally absolutely nothing to stop him.
Marquette answered with two free throws from Howard on a call that the refs had been giving to Howard all night, and then Brendan Bailey collided with Darious Hall on the other end in a very foolish manner. Hall knocked in his two throws to tie the game at 65.
Time out Marquette.
As far as I can tell, there was one thing drawn up in the huddle: Give it to Markus Howard and let him do whatever he wants. Literally no one else in a gold jersey 1) had any idea what to do out of that timeout or 2) had any interest in doing anything resembling taking a look at the rim. Given Steve Wojciechowski’s propensity for quality opportunities out of timeouts over the past few years, I’m gobsmacked as to how horribly this possession went, and that’s BEFORE Markus Howard was easily rejected by Weems.
And then Marquette forgot that they should foul after Charlie Moore grabbed up the loose ball. Seriously, Moore looked surprised that he was just standing quietly by himself with no one charging him.
Moore sank his throws, Marquette came down the court with a timeout to burn, never even looked at Markus Howard as Brendan Bailey rushed a triple from the top of the arc, Moore grabbed the rebound, sank his throws after a foul from Greg Elliott, and that was that.
Well, mostly that. Howard coughed it up one last time but Hall wandered out of bounds before the clock actually expired. Thus Symir Torrence got to flip a long inbounds to Howard for that aforementioned useless three-pointer.
Howard finished with 31 points thanks to that final gift, but he ended up 8-for-21 from the field. Before the gift, he had an effective field goal percentage of 42.5% on the night. You’d like to be able to say that the rest of the team was 22% or something, but no, they were 44.6% on the evening. DePaul wasn’t a good team at all on this particular night, either. The Blue Demons finished shooting 30.4% from the field, and just 18% from long range. Still, at the final horn, they had done enough to be the winners. Charlie Moore was just 3-for-15 from the field, but he led them in scoring with 15 points. Five different Blue Demons tallied at least 10 points in the game, and none of them were noted double-double machine Paul Reed. He sat this one out with a hip injury, and DePaul still made Marquette look like goofs.
Up Next: Oh, fun, a trip to Madison Square Garden against 1) St. John’s, who historically has given Steve Wojciechowski fits and they happen to be coached by 2) Mike Anderson, who absolutely is not going to let his guys go quietly into the night to close out his first regular season in charge in Queens. What a fun recipe for Marquette to try to salvage not finishing conference play with a losing record.