No loss is easy to swallow. However, what can make a loss more tolerable is when the other team is clearly better. That was obvious tonight with the Marquette. With more experience, wing height and a strong defense Penn State appeared to be a tough matchup heading into the game. Tonight and throughout the NIT, Penn State has looked like a team that could have won games in the NCAA Tournament.
Penn State’s strengths were evident throughout the game. Tony Carr (6’5”) and Lamar Stevens (6’8”) expertly used their height all game to score 25 and 30 respectively with neither hitting a three. Carr was excellent at creating open looks for his teammates as well, as he finished with seven assists. It especially worked with Shep Garner, who finished with 19 going 5-of-8 from three.
While Carr and Stevens did hit tough shots throughout, much of the Nittany Lions’ offensive outburst can be attributed to MU’s subpar defense. The Golden Eagles allowed two wide open alley-oops down the stretch. It was the exact same play both times. And they had ran the play earlier in the game.
Marquette’s offense (what’s new) kept them in the game. While Sam Hauser continued to struggle, Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard led the way. Despite not shooting well from beyond the arc, Howard was able to drive through PSU’s defense consistently to score 21. In his final game, Rowsey stayed hot from beyond the arc (6-11 3PT FG) leading the team with 29 points and eight assists.
Behind most of the game Marquette never quit. Down 14 points, Hauser started to chip in, hitting three 3-pointers. After Rowsey’s final career usage of #TheThing, Marquette was able to cut the lead to four with 2:39 left. Carr was able to miss enough free throws to give Marquette’s comeback hope, but eventually hit enough close out the game.
The game marks the end of Andrew Rowsey’s two year run at Marquette. Filled with ups and downs, Rowsey’s Marquette career was definitely memorable. He has a lot to proud of, highlighted tonight by surpassing Dwyane Wade for most points in a season and surpassing Steve Novak for most 3-pointers in a season. For his final show, he was also able to throw in what the fans wanted, three editions of #TheThing. He walked off the court to well deserved “Thank you Rowsey” chants from the crowd, and it’s clear that Rowsey will be remembered as more than just a scorer, but a fierce competitor, too.