Chicago, IL – Carrying a two-game losing streak into its Saturday afternoon game at DePaul, Marquette hoped to get back to its sweet-shooting ways that saw the Golden Eagles enter the game leading the Big East in three-point shooting percentage (.417) and three-point shots made per game (10.2). Shaking off a slow start that saw them trailing 14-7 six minutes into the game, the Golden Eagles heated up from behind the three-point arc, converted on a season high 14 made three-pointers and outlasted the Blue Demons 92-79 to improve their record to 15-8, 6-5. DePaul saw its mark fall to 8-15, 1-9.
“They (Marquette) are probably close to lethal for a number of reasons,” said DePaul Coach Dave Leitao. “First, they share the ball so well. Secondly, they have a multitude of people who can knock down shots. When they’ve won this season, they’ve played real good offense.”
Marquette turned the ball over three times while falling behind early, and Marquette Coach Steve Wojciechowski was quick to pull four of his starting five players, everyone but wing Haanif Cheatham. “I didn’t feel that our first group got us off to a great start,” said Wojciechowski.
Spearheaded by junior guard Andrew Rowsey, the Marquette second unit made its presence felt immediately running off an 18-0 scoring streak that staked the Golden Eagles to a lead they would never relinquish.
Rowsey took some time getting his footing with Marquette after transferring to the Milwaukee school from North Carolina Ashville. In fact, he played only one minute in Marquette’s 79-61 loss to Michigan on November 17. But the 5-10 sharpshooter has been on fire of late. Beginning with Marquette’s 83-58 victory over DePaul on January 14, a span of six games, Rowsey had connected on 60 percent of his field goal attempts, 59 percent of his three-point field goal attempts and averaged 16 points per game. He bolstered those numbers on Saturday by making six of eight field goal attempts and five of six three-point attempts en route to a team-high 22-point performance.
Rowsey also excels at the free throw line. Entering the game with the Big East’s top free throw shooting percentage, Rowsey made all five of his free throws against DePaul and finished the game with a glittering 93 percent mark from the line for the season.
At 5-10, Rowsey is a scoring guard trapped in a point guard’s body. A sure ball handler, Rowsey does his best work off the ball where he knows how to free himself from behind the three-point arc for catch and shoot opportunities. He’s quick to square up on the catch and he employs a high release to compensate as much as he can for the relatively low release point that comes with a player his size. Rowsey is a master at the shot fake and when he sniffs out a defender hunting his shot to block, Rowsey will lift him into the air with a shot fake, wait for him to come down and continue his jump shot into contact to usually get the foul call.
Rowsey had plenty of help in the three-point shooting department as six different Golden Eagles recorded a made triple. Two of those, freshman Markus Howard and senior Katin Reinhardt, connected on three each.
“It all starts with how you guard the ball,” said Leitao in trying to explain his team’s struggles in allowing an average of 87.5 points in the two games against Marquette. “You have to do it with a more aggressive mindset than we had today. I don’t know if I remember a stretch today where I felt comfortable with our defense. We weren’t able to take away their rhythm.”
Marquette was led defensively by center Luke Fischer, a 6-11 senior who came into the game as the conference’s fourth best shot blocker with a 1.3 per game average. Fischer was at his basket protecting best against DePaul showing excellent range getting to shots from all areas of the paint and finishing with a career-best seven blocks.
“A number of Luke’s blocks were big,” said Wojciechowski. “Two in particular in the second half took away a put-back and lay-up.” Asked after the game why his team had the difficulty it did with Fischer, Leitao said, “We didn’t bring the ball to him enough and shot-lift him enough.”
Wojciechowski was pleased to see Cheatham break out of a mini-slump that saw him score in single digits the last three games. Cheatham scored 15 points against DePaul and played with more confidence than he had in recent games. “When Haanif is at his best, he’s a guy who can stuff a stat sheet,” said Wojciechowski. “While he doesn’t have the explosiveness of some of our guys, he can impact the game in multiple ways.” Speaking to the Marquette coach’s point, Cheatham tied Fischer with a team-high eight rebounds and his four assists tied Reinhardt for team honors.
DePaul was led offensively by junior Tre’darius McCallum. The junior college transfer scored from all three levels and had it going behind the three-point arc where he made four of seven attempts. McCallum started the season misfiring on his first 18 shots from distance. Resisting the temptation to take the three-point shot away from him, Leitao allowed McCallum to work out the kinks to his shot and the native of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina has repaid him. “Tre has done as good a job as anyone could possible do coming from a junior college and finding his place for us,” said Leitao. “As the season has gone along, the three-point shot has become a legitimate weapon for him.”
Marquette resumes play on February 7 when it hosts Butler. DePaul returns to action on February 8 when it travels to Xavier.
This article was written by Tom Osowski, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can subscribe to our RSS feed from the upper right corner of our home page, follow us on Facebook, or on twitter.
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