The seventh-seeded Marquette Golden Eagles took on the 10th seed DePaul Blue Demons in the nightcap of a doubleheader on Wednesday. The winner would move on to play Villanova on Thursday at 7 p.m. For Marquette, this was a must-win game to keep its tournament hopes alive.
That is exactly what the Golden Eagles did. They took home a 72-69 win to move on to the second round. Andrew Rowsey led the way with 25 points for Marquette. DePaul’s Marin Maric and Max Strus contributed 22 points each.
Marquette Golden Eagles Survive to Beat DePaul, 72-69
Marquette got off to a hot shooting start in the first half. Rowsey had the hot hand early on, as he totaled 16 points in 19 minutes of action in the half. He hit from deep on three straight possessions in the middle of a 15-2 Golden Eagle run to take a 25-12 lead.
Maric had 11 points to keep DePaul close, but every time they tried to get something started, Marquette had an answer. The Golden Eagles shot 51.9 percent from the field while holding DePaul to only 33.3 percent.
The final two possessions of the half were disastrous for the Blue Demons. With 40 seconds left, Rowsey found Greg Elliott in the corner where he hit a three and got fouled for a four-point play. After a DePaul miss, Rowsey hit a floater from 18-feet away at the buzzer. This gave Marquette a 39-37 lead going into halftime.
The second half started out as bad as it could have for a team with a 12-point advantage. Poor shooting and foul trouble allowed DePaul to climb back into the game. Marquette picked up its 10th team foul with just under nine minutes left in the game. This put DePaul in the double bonus for the remainder of the night.
After a Sam Hauser layup gave the Golden Eagles a 52-40 lead with 13:35 left, they went scoreless for the next four minutes. DePaul went on an 11-0 run to get within a point. Maric scored eight of the 11 points during that run. With 5:45 left, after he nailed a three to bring them within two, Strus drove home a thunderous dunk to tie the game.
Marquette scored the next five to take a 66-61 lead but DePaul would not let the Golden Eagles get away. With 2:05 left, Strus made a three to bring his team within two. After a few empty possessions in a row for the Blue Demons, Strus again played the role of hero. Down 70-66 with just over a minute left, he nailed a three to bring them within one. They were able to come up with a steal with 11.5 seconds left.
Head coach Dave Leitao drew up a perfect play but lightning could not strike three times for Strus. He missed a three that would have won the game and Marquette corralled the rebound with 0.3 seconds left to seal the deal.
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