MILWAUKEE–"It was a dream come true," Jae Crowder said of his senior day experience. "I'm on cloud nine."
It is easy to see why Crowder was so pleased, as his 26 points, career high 14 rebounds, and five assists led the Golden Eagles to an 83-69 victory over the Georgetown Hoyas. Saturday's game marked Crowder's fifth 20-point performance in Marquette's last seven outings and his fourth double-double in that time span.
Because of his elevated level of play, Crowder has become many analysts' favorite for Big East Player of the year. Buzz Williams was very straightforward when asked about his senior forward's production down the stretch.
"What he has done speaks for itself," Williams remarked.
Darius Johnson-Odom was also very thankful for a great team showing on Saturday. "Senior day was great, just because the past two senior days we lost," Johnson-Odom said. "It always feels better once you get a win."
Johnson-Odom was instrumental in the Golden Eagles' victory, and his 17 points made him Marquette's 13th leading scorer of all time.
Also getting into the mix offensively were sophomores Vander Blue and Jamil Wilson. They put up 13 and 11 points, respectively, and were a combined 9-11 from the free throw line.
The most influential bench performer for the Golden Eagles against the Hoyas was, without a doubt, Davante Gardner. He provided an immediate emotional spark as soon as he stepped on to the court with 11:17 remaining in first half. Gardner also provided a more tangible impact on the game, scoring eight points and grabbing eight rebounds in only 15 minutes of play.
Another way Gardner affected the game was by getting the Georgetown big men into foul trouble. Georgetown center Henry Sims and forward Otto Porter both fouled out, as the Hoyas were called for 29 team fouls. Georgetown's numerous fouls correlated directly to 45 Marquette free throws, 33 of which found the bottom of the net.
Conversely, the Golden Eagles committed 19 fouls and the Hoyas were a mere 14-25 from the charity stripe. The disparity in free throws proved to be the difference in the game, as Georgetown hit more total field goals and three pointers than Marquette.
Hoyas coach John Thompson III asserted that the Golden Eagles' ability to reach the free throw line stemmed from their run-and-gun offensive style. Regarding Marquette's success in the open court, Thompson III said, "A lot of it led from poor decisions on offense, which then led to transition baskets for them, or fouls in transition."
In their previous two games, the Hoyas' defense allowed only 87 combined points to Notre Dame and Villanova. On Saturday, the Golden Eagles were able to put up 83 points against Georgetown's stingy defense. Thompson III felt that Marquette's offensive onslaught was simply more than Georgetown could handle. "We didn't do a good job of taking away what we new was coming," Thompson III said.
The Golden Eagles' win on Saturday locked up sole possession of second place in the Big East standings. It also marked the first time in school history that Marquette was able to go undefeated in conference games at home.
Though he has played his last game in front of Golden Eagle fans at the Bradley Center, Darius Johnson-Odom is looking toward the future rather than the past. "We're trying to focus on winning the Big East Championship now," Johnson-Odom declared. "The regular season is done with, and we're on to the next."
Senior Day success
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