With five minutes left in the first half, Markus Howard went down with what appeared to be a hip injury. He was helped off the field by two coaches, unable to put pressure on his right leg.
It seemed like a dagger to the heart. An already listless Golden Eagle squad with another excuse to fall further into oblivion. They trailed Creighton by 12 at the half. The Jays were shooting 70.4% from the field. Khyri Thomas held Rowsey to 7 points. The freshman big man, Jacob Epperson, was perfect from the field - 5-5 - and was putting a ton of pressure on the rim for the first time since Martin Krampelj went out.
Although Marcus Foster was having a seemingly off night and got hit with two early fouls, it was trending well for the Bluejays, especially with Thomas being able to focus on Rowsey only - he’d switched on and off Rowsey and Howard for the first 15 minutes - and they’d scored 19 times on 15 assists.
The Jays led 53-41. All the momentum in the world in front of 18,495 folks adorned in white and blue.
Then it all came crashing down, but gently so.
Once Wojo went to a zone defense in the second half you could hear audible groans coming from every corner of the CenturyLink Center. Although Creighton’s been highly efficient against the zone this year, they’ve hit troubled waters when they’re watching the defense stand in place.
As they mounted three turnovers and a missed 15 footer in the first four possessions and the Golden Eagles came storming back, you could feel the frustration that was leftover in Kansas City against Baylor come storming back.
Led by Rowsey, Sacar ‘The Real Deal’ Anim (h/t Sam Newberry), and Sam Hauser, the Golden Eagles chipped away more and more until they’d finally broken free and captured the lead with 11:21 left after a 3 from Jamal Cain.
At this point the Bluejays tried their damndest to play catch up. From that 11:21 point on, there would be 7 ties, 10 lead changes, and a whole bunch of #BigEastAfterDark moments.
One of which was when Matt Heldt hit an and-one, made the free throw, and put Marquette up 74-72 with 7:21 left. Golden Eagles with all the momentum.
Khyri Thomas decided to take over from there on out. From 7:21 to 4:31 he went on a personal 10-0 run, with two treys, a mid range jumper from the free throw line, and then a boisterous dunk off a Marcus Foster defensive rebound and outlet.
Khyri kept ‘em in the ballgame, since Sacar Anim matched him nearly pound for pound in the ordeal. At the end of it, the Jays had a slight edge at 82-80.
The crowd swooned, rocked, and rolled. Deafening stuff, but nothing Rowsey’s never dealt with. After Tyler Clement missed a wide open three pointer at the top of the key, Andrew Rowsey managed to track it down, get his offense going, and lay the ball in to tie things up.
Khyri answered it, continuing his offensive mayhem, putting the Jays on top 84-82. Hauser answered on the next possession, then Ronnie Harrell Jr. missed a trey, and Rowsey miss, Rowsey offensive rebound, and a jumper by Greg Elliott.
84-82, Golden Eagles.
Might I add, at this point, that Marquette managed to grab 13 offensive rebounds and scored 20 (!!!) second chance points. They were on a mission from some sort of omnipotent being to pummel the glass with all their might. They did this with somewhat surgical precision. They did this and allowed all the air to escape from a hostile crowd.
Offensive rebounds are killers. Scoring after you get them? Turns an arena into a cemetery.
Creighton’s struggles against the zone continued. Khyri Thomas’s struggles against the zone were nonexistent. After he tied the ballgame up at 86-a-piece, Marquette tabbed none other than Sacar ‘The Real Deal’ Anim to take care of business as he buried a mid range jumper from just to the right of the charity stripe, putting the Golden Eagles on top 88-86.
With 50 seconds left, Marcus Foster attempted to tie things up, but the ball bounded off his hands and went out of bounds. Marquette fell victim to the same voodoo spell as the ball bounded off of Sam Hauser’s foot on the other end, giving the Bluejays the ball back with 23 seconds remaining.
Although Khyri Thomas had the hot hand, McDermott went with Foster to shoot the game tying shot. From about 18 feet out Foster let it go, only to watch it bound off the iron. After a scrum to get the rebound, Elliott found the ball in his hands.
After Creighton was forced to foul twice, eventually sending Sam Hauser to the line with 6 seconds remaining, it became clear that this game that looked so, so good for Creighton just 20 minutes prior, had wriggled out of their grasp.
Hauser made both free throws.
Creighton threw a full court pass only Elliott - again - to end up with the ball in his hands. He’d dribble it out, ending the ballgame.
Wojo has no update on Markus Howard but he's at the hospital now and is getting some tests taken.— alex sindelar (@crimebait) February 18, 2018
Marquette has an interesting dilemma going forward. They’re not very good when their two best players are on the court together.— Matt DeMarinis (@mjdemarinis) February 1, 2018
Through 10 conference games:
w/Andrew Rowsey on the court: +31
w/Markus Howard on the court: -4
w/both on the bench: -4
w/both on the court: -38