Crowder guides Marquette win
The senior forward had 27 points and seven rebounds to lead Marquette to an 82-65 win over Rutgers on Wednesday night. His big game came after he was named Big East Player of the Week on Monday for his 29-point, 12-rebound effort in the Golden Eagles’ win over Connecticut on Saturday. In the two games, he is 19 of 27 from the field for Marquette (23-5, 12-3).
“I’m just doing whatever it takes to win games at this time of the year,” he said. “We want to have a lot of momentum going into the Big East tournament and then roll that into the NCAA tournament.”
Crowder, who is being mentioned as a candidate for Big East Player of the Year, said he was happy to be an honorable mention all-conference pick in the preseason. But he also used that as motivation.
“I knew I was capable of more,” he said. “It’s been in the back of my head since we were in New York for the preseason meeting.”
Buzz Williams said Crowder is playing as well as any player he’s coached in his four years at as coach at Marquette.
“He’s playing at a very high clip,” he said. “His efficiency numbers are staggering. He’s in a really good space emotionally, physically and mentally right now.”
Darius Johnson-Odom added 21 points for Marquette.
The win was the fourth straight and 11th in 12 games for the Golden Eagles and it kept them tied for second place in the Big East with No. 20 Notre Dame, which beat West Virginia 71-44 on Wednesday. The top four teams earn a double-bye for the conference tournament.
Crowder said getting the double-bye was key to Marquette having a lot of success in the postseason.
“If you can get the double-bye, the chance of winning the tournament are much higher,” he said. “Last year, we were on the other end of it and had to play right away. We want to change that this year.”
Jerome Seagears had 14 points and Gilvydas Biruta added 12 for Rutgers (12-16, 4-11), which lost for the sixth straight time, including three in a row to ranked teams. The Scarlet Knights were routed by Notre Dame on Feb. 15, but held its own against No. 2 Syracuse before losing 74-64 on Sunday.
Rutgers coach Mike Rice said Crowder and Johnson-Odom were tremendous and his young team could not stop them. Rutgers starts three freshmen and one sophomore.
“They have men, we have boys,” he said. “They were tremendous on the break and were scoring on layups.”
Rutgers, which trailed nearly the entire game, trimmed the lead to 58-52 with 11:30 remaining when Dane Miller scored on an offensive rebound.
But Marquette responded with a 12-2 run to push the lead to 72-54 with 7:40 remaining when Johnson-Odom stole the ball and scored on a dunk. Crowder had six points during the run, including a nifty reverse layup.
Rutgers, which had 23 turnovers, could get no closer than 14 points the rest of the way. Marquette, which had 12 steals, scored 31 points off the turnovers.
Vander Blue added 10 points for Marquette.
The Golden Eagles, known for their slow starts, jumped out fast against Rutgers, hitting seven of their first eight shots, including three 3-pointers, and took a 21-6 lead when Todd Mayo scored on a driving layup with 14:51 remaining.
But Rutgers used a 23-12 run to trim the lead to 33-29 when Miller scored on a driving layup with 7:16 remaining.
Marquette ended the half on a 13-6 run for a 46-35 lead.
Johnson-Odom and Crowder combined for 32 points in the first half as Marquette forced 14 turnovers and scored 18 points off them.
Marquette forward Davante Gardner missed his sixth straight game with a sprained left knee.