Early in Wednesday’s Marquette vs. DePaul Big East Tournament matchup, it seemed like the result was a foregone conclusion. The Golden Eagles pulled off a 72-69 victory, but it was anything but easy.
Marquette had turned a 10-8 DePaul lead into a 25-12 Golden Eagles lead, Andrew Rowsey was on fire from long range, and it seemed that the knockout punch would come early.
While Marquette continued to lead for the first half (and ultimately the entire game), DePaul kept fighting, even though they trailed 39-27 at the half.
After chipping away for most of the second half, the Blue Demons finally knotted up the gam at 61 after an emphatic Max Strus dunk with six minutes to play. It would be the last time the game was tied. Rowsey scored five straight points to pull Marquette out of the fire and make the deficit ultimately insurmountable.
To DePaul’s credit, as has been the case so many times this year, they were competitive. Strus and Marin Maric had 22 points each, Eli Cain had 12 and 10 assists, and the Blue Demons turned it over just five times in the second half. However, it just wasn’t enough. Strus got a good look for a three in the final seconds that would have given DePaul the lead, but the shot was off.
For Marquette, a backbreaking loss was avoided as they live to play another day. They’ll meet the Villanova Wildcats in Thursday’s quarterfinal affair. Rowsey finished with 25, Sam Hauser had 16, and Sacar Anim had 14. Markus Howard registered just four points.