This defeat is heartbreaking for Marquette fans.
All hope appears to have been lost on Saturday.
The Golden Eagles started off slow. With Andrew Rowsey picking up two early fouls, Markus Howard was forced into the game earlier than expected. The offense remained stagnant for a majority of the first half; however, Sacar Anim starred in a 17-3 run and Marquette went into the half up 33-28.
The offense, especially Rowsey and Howard, continued to be cold in the second half (shooting 5-18 from 3). Marquette’s leading scorers never got going, and they forced bad shots in an attempt to spark something. Sam Hauser was well-guarded and looked uncomfortable for much of the game. The struggles were coupled with a horrendous rebounding effort. The Golden Eagles were out-rebounded 49-30 and gave up 19 offensive boards.
Where was Harry Froling? In a game where MU was dominated on the glass, one would think they could have used Froling, who is considered to be the strongest rebounder between Marquette’s three centers. Rowsey and Howard struggled individually, but their struggles seemed enhanced when they were on the court together. The sharpshooters typically hurt the defense when they are on the floor together, but recently, they seem out of sync on the offensive end as well.
Entering the game last in the Big East standings, the DePaul Blue Demons did not have much to play for. While many last place teams are already thinking about next season, the Blue Demons came in focused and executed their gameplan.
DePaul’s first half was highlighted by strong defense. While they could not knock down shots, they were tough on the boards and on Marquette’s big three of Hauser, Howard and Rowsey. Recognizing their cold shooting night, DePaul’s second half strategy was to drive and dominate the paint. This led to a severe difference in foul shots with DePaul shooting 32 FT’s to Marquette’s 9. While Max Strus’ and Marin Maric’s dominated the glass, Eli Cain was the floor general they needed (1 TO) and Brandon Cyrus played exceptional defense.
With the season long over, this win will hopefully give the Blue Demons momentum and excitement heading into next year. Strus, Cain and Cyrus can all come back next year. While these three players might not lead DePaul to the top of the Big East they, do provide a core to push the team in the right (a winning) direction.
For a team that has struggled for so long, any sense of hope is significant.