Rowsey scores 25 for Marquette, Strus misses game winner
By TOM CANAVAN
NEW YORK (AP) Marquette extended its streak of reaching the Big East Tournament quarterfinals every year since joining the league in 2005-06.
The Golden Eagles barely did it this year to keep their chances of making the NCAA Tournament alive.
Andrew Rowsey scored 25 points and seventh-seeded Marquette blew a 14-point lead and came back to outlast 10th-seeded DePaul 72-69 in the opening round of the tournament on Wednesday night.
"It's a great win for our team and our program," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "Really proud of our guys. We fought through a lot of adversity. Our guys showed great toughness. Obviously there's a lot of game pressure on us."
Sam Hauser added 16 points and hit two big free throws with 33 seconds to play as the Golden Eagles (19-12) handed the Blue Demons (11-20) their fourth-straight opening-round loss in the tournament.
DePaul had a chance to win the game in the final seconds but Max Strus, who scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half, missed an open 3-pointer with Marquette clinging to a 70-69 lead.
Rowsey got the rebound and was fouled, making two free throws with less than a second to play.
The win was the third straight for Marquette, which advanced to a quarterfinal showdown against second-seeded Villanova on Thursday night.
Marin Maric also scored 22 points for DePaul.
Strus drove the lane and dunked to tie the game at 61 with 5:46 to play.
Rowsey, who had only one second-half field goal at that point, hit a 3-pointer and a jumper to give the Golden Eagles a 66-61 lead.
"We were fortunate to have a guy like Andrew who doesn't feel game pressure," Wojciechowski said. "He's a fearless player. And he made obviously huge plays when we needed it the most."
Rowsey, who was 3 of 9 from the field in the second half, said the shots were there.
"It's more of just what the game presents," said Rowsey, who finished 8 of 20. "The game presented me an open 3 and then it presented me a drive to a pull-up. So I took what I saw and I made it."
Hauser's two free throws pushed the lead to four but Strus hit a long 3-pointer in front of his bench to make it 70-69 with 21.3 seconds to play.
Rowsey turned the ball over at midcourt with 11.5 seconds left and DePaul called its final timeout to set up Strus for his wide-open shot.
"We've seen him to knock down anywhere from 25 or 30 of those in a row, so Marin or anyone else would trust Max taking that shot," DePaul coach Dave Leitao said.
Rowsey hit three straight 3-pointers in an 18-2 first half spurt that gave Marquette a 25-12 lead midway through the first half and the Golden Eagles expanded the margin to 14 points at 29-15.
It looked like it would be an easy night for the Golden Eagles. It wasn't.
"Obviously we were a little bit short, as we have been a number of times this year," Leitao said. "So that makes it a little more painful to endure when you know you have chances to win and you don't."
WHERE DID EVERYONE GO
Despite having a second nor'easter hit the New York City metropolitan area in a week, the crowd for the St.-John's-Georgetown game was listed at 16,866. The crowd for the second game dwindled to a couple of thousand people by the middle of the second half. The attendance was the largest for the opening round since the league realigned in 2014.
DePaul: Next season.
Marquette: Face second-seeded Villanova in the quarterfinals on Thursday night. Lost both regular-season games.
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Updated March 8, 2018