In an inspired performance without All-American point guard Travis Diener, Steve Novak scored 23 points and pulled down 8 rebounds to lead Marquette (19-9, 7-8) to a 76-55 victory over Houston (18-11, 9-6).
Marquette got off to a 13-0 run to start the game and never trailed as they cruised to the easy victory. Todd Townsend added 15 points, Dameon Mason added 13, and Joe Chapman poured in 10, including a 30 footer to beat the shot clock late in the second half that put the final dagger in Houston.
Andre Owens had 27 for the Cougars, including a fade away three pointer to pull Houston to within 12 points, 35-23 at halftime. Houston got to within four, 39-35, early in the second half, but was unable to stay with Marquette as they shot 28.1% from the field and were a dreadful 12-26 from the free throw line.
Houston coach Tom Penders was assessed two technical fouls and ejected with 1:23 to go in the second half. Novak calmly sank four free throws, and along with breakaway dunk, put the exclamation point on a great Marquette performance.
Marquette dominated Houston on the boards, outrebounding the Cougars 43-22. The lone blemish for Marquette were the 23 turnovers, but Marquette was easily able to overcome these with the rebounding edge and going 28-30 from the free throw line.
Marcus Jackson added 6 points and 8 rebounds and Ryan Amoroso added 7 points, including a key three point play to put Marquette up 46-35 in the middle of second half to help Marquette pull away from the pesky Cougars.
The loss was a huge one for the Cougars, who needed this game to add to their NCAA Tournament resume. Foul trouble throughout hindered two of the Cougars best players, Ramon Dyer and Lanny Smith, who were held to 5 and 4 points respectively, well below their season averages.
Marquette concludes the season Saturday against St. Louis on Senior Day at the Bradley Center. This will be the last regular season game for seniors Todd Townsend and Marcus Jackson, who will be honored after the game along with the injured Travis Diener.
Dominant without Diener
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