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No Markus Howard? No Problem: Marquette Beats Georgetown, 74-71

Sam Hauser records a career-high 31 points as the Golden Eagles survive in DC despite being without Markus Howard for the final 37 minutes of play.

NCAA Basketball: Seton Hall at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 15 Marquette Golden Eagles (15-3, 4-1 Big East) took a punch when Markus Howard was sidelined with lower back tightness at the first media timeout of the evening. They bent, but didn’t break, and Sam Hauser delivered a career-high 31 points as Marquette battled to victory over the Georgetown Hoyas (12-6, 2-3 Big East), 74-71, on Tuesday night in Washington, DC. Mac McClung scored 24 points to lead the Hoyas.

Howard attempted two shots early on, but it was clear his back issues were limiting his mobility, prompting his exit from the game after just three minutes. Both teams struggled to find their bearings after Howard’s injury, with both offenses struggling to generate open shots and maintain possession. McClung and Hauser provided a spark offensively for their respective teams, with the former racking up Georgetown’s first 10 points and the latter scoring nine of Marquette’s opening 11. A sequence of four consecutive threes, two by each team, shortly after, broke the scoring open.

The scoresheet was well balanced for Marquette throughout the first half. Five Golden Eagles scored in the opening fifteen minutes, and all five scored more than five points, and Hauser led the way with nine. For Georgetown, meanwhile, McClung was the only Hoya to record more than five points. McClung was the star of the show until Kaleb Johnson scored 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting at the end of the half, sparking a late Georgetown run to give the Hoyas a 40-37 lead at the half.

The Hoyas remained hot out after the break, with McClung extending the lead to eight, their largest of the game, by converting on 3-of-3 free throws after being fouled on a three-point attempt. Marquette answered with a quick run, capped by Joey Hauser’s and-one layup, to tie it up midway through the half. That run would extend to 17-3 as the Golden Eagles took a six-point lead, 57-51, prior to the under-eight timeout. McClung and Govan answered with three-pointers of their own, tying the game at 60 points apiece.

The teams exchanged blows from there, with Hauser delivering some haymakers down the stretch. He converted an and-one layup after following his own miss to extend the lead to three. Then, with just over a minute remaining, he hit a go-ahead turnaround jumper from midrange, making it 72-70 Marquette. McClung responded by splitting a pair of free throws. Georgetown got a stop on the defensive end, leading to a layup attempt by Akinjo with 11 seconds left, but he was blocked by several Marquette defenders.

Georgetown put the ball in Akinjo’s hand on its final possession, and the freshman drove to the rim but was again blocked. Sam Hauser hit two free throws to make it 74-71 with 2.3 seconds remaining, and McClung’s half court heave missed at the buzzer.

Three Golden Eagles finished in double figures in addition to Sam Hauser. Theo John recorded 14 points, while Joey Hauser and Sacar Anim added 10 apiece.

Jessie Govan finished with 14 points despite scoring just four in the first half. James Akinjo dished out eight assists and committed just one turnover, though he managed just 1-of-10 shooting.

After the game, Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said he did not know the severity of Howard’s injury or any timetable for a return.

Marquette hosts Providence (11-6, 1-3 Big East) on Jan. 20, and Georgetown will host Creighton (10-7, 1-3 Big East) the following day.