This is part three of a three-part series looking back at the top 27 moments of the 2011-2012 Marquette basketball season. Today’s moments are the top nine of the year. This list was compiled by Mark Strotman and Andrei Greska.
Click here for moments 19 through 27.
Click here for moments 10 through 18.
9. Crowder’s last second heroics propel MU over Washington
On the heels of a major road win over Wisconsin, the Golden Eagles had their backs against the wall in New York City. Participating in the Jimmy V Classic, Buzz Williams opted not to call a timeout after a Terrence Ross 15-footer banked in to give Washington a one-point lead with 19 seconds left. It turned out to be a good decision, as Vander Blue found a wide-open Crowder, who knocked down a 3-pointer with 6.3 seconds left. Marquette was crushed on the boards, 41-28, after losing Chris Otule in the opening minutes, but hung around long enough to make Crowder the hero. The win moved Marquette to a perfect 8-0, thanks in large part to 18 points and eventual game-winner.
8. Second half near-comeback at Syracuse sets tone for season
Coming off a heart breaking meltdown at Georgetown, Marquette was looking to get its mojo back against the No. 1 team in the country in Syracuse. No such luck after the first half. The Golden Eagles went into the locker room down 37-19, having been outscored 75-38 in the previous 35 minutes by the Hoyas and Orange. What followed changed the complexion of the season. Instead of packing up and mailing it in, Marquette churned out one of its best halves of the season, storming out to a 15-5 run in the first six minutes and was within five with 90 seconds left. Although Marquette would come up short, the grit and heart displayed in Syracuse turned the tide for the rest of the season.
7. Down 18-2, MU takes down Cardinals with yet another comeback
Of all the impressive comebacks Marquette had in 2011, none was more impressive than its 74-63 win over Louisville. A 32-12 run to close the first half, sparked by Davante Gardner, gave Marquette a four-point lead at halftime. The Final Four-bound Cardinals made a run midway through the second half to pull within two, but a pair of three-point plays by Gardner extended Marquette’s lead to pull away. The 280-pound forward finished with 17 points against Gorgui Dieng, who dealt with foul trouble much of the afternoon. Darius Johnson-Odom had 19 points in the win, and Todd Mayo provided three 3-pointers off the bench. Jae Crowder had his usual stat-stuffing afternoon, going for 14 points, 11 rebounds and six steals.
6. Crowder, DJO dominate in Senior Day win over Georgetown
After three consecutive losses on Senior Day in Buzz Williams tenure, the upper classmen finally got a perfect sendoff with a resounding 83-69 victory over No. 12 Georgetown. Jae Crowder beasted his way to 26 points and 14 rebounds while fellow senior Darius Johnson-Odom chipped in 17 points of his own. The win sealed a second place finish in the Big East, Marquette’s best ever, and completed an unblemished home conference record. It always sucks to say good bye to players you’ve grown to love, and these two were no different, but going out with the ‘W’ put a perfect cap on one of the best ever Marquette regular seasons.
5. Freshmen carry their own in road win over Wisconsin
Typically a hostile road environment is when your veteran leaders step up, but that was not the case in Madison last December. Starting in place of the suspended Junior Cadougan, freshman Derrick Wilson locked down on Preseason All-American Jordan Taylor, and did not turn the ball over in 20 minutes. Freshman Juan Anderson had a career-high five rebounds and two points in seven minutes. To cap things off, freshman Todd Mayo scored 14 points, including a key floater in the final minutes to extend Marquette’s lead. The 61-54 win over the Badgers was a major confidence booster for all three, especially Wilson and Mayo.
4. Crowder arrives on the national scene in win over Connecticut
Playing without its two injured big men, Marquette faced the daunting task of containing two future NBA centers in Andre Drummond and Alex Oriakhi. Enter Jae Crowder. The senior put on a show for ESPN putting in a career high 29 points while grabbing 12 boards and all the while guarding either of UConn’s posts. No play encapsulated his game more than his momentum swinging 3-pointer-and-1. Although Jae would miss the free throw, the lead was pushed to nine and Marquette wouldn’t be threatened again. This was Jae Crowder’s coming out part to the national media and the start of his campaign for Big East Player of the Year.
3. Marquette runs off seven straight conference wins
Following a pair of weekend losses to then-No. 9 Georgetown and No. 1 Syracuse, many wondered about the future of the short-handed and undersized Marquette squad. What the Golden Eagles had in store was a seven-game winning streak, including two wins over eventual NCAA Tournament teams and a number of comebacks. Marquette would go on to win 12 of 13 games, but it was the seven-game stretch where the Golden Eagles figured out their post-Chris Otule style. It set the tone for the rest of the season.
2. Despite suspensions, Marquette rallies at West Virginia
Two big men out? Uh oh. Three starters suspended for a half? Gulp. The sixth man suspended for the other half? Game over, right? Wrong. Marquette went into Morgantown, West Virginia for the final time, possibly ever, as handicapped as a team could be, on the heels of victories in 12 of the past 13 games. Without Darius Johnson-Odom, Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan, Marquette made do with a paper thin line-up in the first half and only trailed by 13 points. When the suspended starters were released from the pen, Marquette stormed back from a 15-point deficit to will their way to victory in one of the most hostile environments in the country. On top of the delicious victory, Jae Crowder annihilated potential Big East Player of the Year Kevin Jones, putting up 26 points while holding Jones to just 12. This win was about as good as it gets, and almost made you want to dance, didn’t it?
1. Crowder’s charge/3-point combo sends MU to Sweet 16
When Marquette needed its leader in crunch time, Jae Crowder delivered, as he had done all year. The Golden Eagles had just answered a 12-3 Murray State run with a 9-2 run of its own to take a 3-point lead, 51-48, with just under five minutes to play. But the game still hinged on every possession. It was then that guard Jewuan Long drove to his right toward the basket, beating Todd May off the dribble. Waiting for him was Crowder, who took a charge to give Marquette possession. He followed it up with a dagger of a 3-pointer on the other end to give the Golden Eagles a six-point lead. The closest the Racers would get the rest of the way was four, with Marquette advancing to its second straight Sweet 16 with a 62-53 victory over the Racers.