Basketball may be a game of runs, but Marquette was able to win a marathon, double-overtime track meet against Xavier, 84-82, with the relay-like passing of a proverbial clutch baton from Kobe McEwen to Sacar Anim Wednesday night.
The victory came after Marquette (15-6, 5-4 BIG EAST) lost the services of Markus Howard, who went down after taking an inadvertent elbow to the face with 12:05 left in the second half. Howard was taken to the locker room soon thereafter and did not return. Coach Steve Wojciechowski told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’sBen Steele after the game that Howard was bloodied, but that there was no concern about a concussion. This season’s leading scorer in college basketball, Howard has at least three documented concussions in his basketball career, despite not yet being 21 years old.
Without Howard, McEwen scored the final 10 points for Marquette in regulation, though a 5-0 run for Xavier (13-8, 2-6 BIG EAST) after the first two of those McEwen points put the Musketeers in the lead, 58-53, with 1:46 left. That’s when McEwen went on a personal 8-0 tear, concluding with three made free throws to give Marquette a 61-58 advantage. Naji Marshall answered, however, hitting a clutch three with a little over two seconds left, forcing the game to a first overtime. McEwen scored all seven Marquette points in the first extra frame, but Marshall answered back with five of Xavier’s seven tallies as both teams went scoreless the final 1:26 of the period.
In the second overtime, Anim, who went 0-for-4 from the floor in the second half and missed the only shot he took in the first OT, finally found the touch. He scored Marquette’s first five points of the second set of bonus minutes, the last of which came on a three-pointer that gave him renewed confidence. After Xavier got back up, 76-74, Anim again scored five-straight points on a layup and another three, giving Marquette a lead it wouldn’t surrender. Zach Freemantle did make a late triple to pull the Musketeers back within one, 83-82, before Anim missed one of two free throws at the other end. However, with just over two seconds left again, Xavier struggled to get anyone open after a long baseball pass bounced between a number of hands. The Musketeers didn’t even get off a shot that might have forced a third OT.
Anim finished as the top scorer with 28. Howard had 18 before he left and McEwen had 18 as well, with all of McEwen’s points coming after the 5:01 mark in the second half. Five Musketeers reached double-figures, led by Quentin Goodin, who had 19. Tyrique Jones added 13 points and 15 rebounds.
The overtime game was the second-straight for Marquette, which lost at Butler in a mere single-OT thriller, 89-85, last Friday. That game also featured a clutch McEwen three to force an extra period.
Marquette will both hope to have Howard back, and to avoid having to play any more overtimes, when it faces DePaul Saturday at Fiserv Forum. Tip time is scheduled for 1 p.m. CST.
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