Crowder, Gardner spark Golden Eagles past Georgetown

This article originally was posted on SportsXChange.com.

With center Davante Gardner back in the lineup, Marquette has a balanced attack offensively and another body to use in the paint. As long as they has Jae Crowder on their side, the Golden Eagles also have one of the hottest players in the country.

Playing in his final game at the Bradley Center, the reigning two-time Big East Player of the Week led No. 8 Marquette to an 83-69 win over No. 11 Georgetown on Saturday, with 26 points, 14 rebounds and five steals. The victory helped the Golden Eagles clinch the No. 2 seed in the Big East Championship tournament.

“I think his numbers speak for themselves,” Williams said of his senior. “You get what you earn. I think Jae’s resume, our team’s resume, whoever’s healthy and whoever’s not speaks for itself.”

The story early was Gardner, who returned from an eight-game absence and sparked Marquette in the first half.

The 6-foot-8 Gardner played nine minutes in the opening half, scoring six points and grabbing eight rebounds to help the Golden Eagles to a 10-point lead at intermission. Marquette outrebounded the Hoyas 22 to 16 and scored 20 points in the paint, compared to just eight for Georgetown through 20 minutes.

“(Gardner) was looking a little nervous and I told him not to be,” Crowder said. “He looked good to me. He’s still trying to come back from how he was and he’s getting better and better every day.”

Gardner’s gutty performance in the first half carried the Golden Eagles into the second half. Marquette scored nine of the first 11 points out of halftime to build a 17-point lead two minutes into the half. Following two free throws by Vander Blue, Georgetown’s Jason Clark committed turnovers on successive possessions that resulted in a 3-pointer by Darius Johnson-Odom and an alley-oop from Crowder to Jamil Wilson for a dunk.

Junior forward Hollis Thompson pulled Georgetown back with five straight points, but committed his fourth foul with just under 17 minutes left, sending him to the bench.

A 7-2 run on the heels of Thompson’s spurt pulled the Hoyas within eight, 51-43, with under 15 minutes to play, but Gardner responded with two free throw makes to push the lead back to 10.

Down the stretch, it was Crowder who made sure the Hoyas did not accomplish a second come-from-behind win over the Golden Eagles.

Crowder scored 15 of his 26 points and made three steals in the second half that all resulted in Marquette baskets. Playing in front of seven NBA scouts, the performance surely pushed him to the front-runner position for Big East Player of the Year.

“I’ll never forget this day as a whole,” Crowder said of Senior Day. “Waking up in the morning, saying my prayers, knowing this is my last time playing for Marquette at the Bradley Center. Knowing that and knowing we got a win, it’ll always be with me through however many years I play basketball. These have been two of the best years of my life.”

Marquette forced Georgetown into 15 turnovers and scored 24 points off them, something Hoyas head coach John Thompson III said was the difference.

“I think our decision making wasn’t as good as it has been and I think that led into their success,” Thompson III said.

The Hoyas shot better than 62 percent in the teams’ first meeting, a 73-70 Georgetown win, but Saturday was a different story. Georgetown shot just 41 percent from the field and received limited production from Henry Sims. The 6-foot-10 senior was hounded by Gardner and Wilson all afternoon, and finished with five points and nine rebounds. He fouled out midway through the second half.

Jason Clark, who scored 26 points in the Jan. 4 meeting against Marquette, had 11 points and committed a season-high eight turnovers.

Senior Johnson-Odom finished with 17 points in his final game in front of the Marquette home crowd. Following a made free throw in the final minute, both Johnson-Odom and Crowder were substituted for and received a standing ovation, led by head coach Buzz Williams.

With his made 3-pointer early in the second half, Johnson-Odom passed current New York Knicks forward Steve Novak for 14th place on the Marquette all-time scoring list. Later in the game he passed forward Trevor Powell for 13th place on the all-time list.

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  1. Daybreak Doppler: Conference Tourney Time | PocketDoppler.com - March 5, 2012

    […] Marquette won as well on Saturday as Crowder & Gardner spark Golden Eagles past Georgetown. […]

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