Marquette outruns BYU, advances to third round

The Cougars were unable to replicate the historical comeback they had on Tuesday, when they came back from down 25 to beat Iona in the first round.

Jae Crowder finished with 25 points and a career-high 16 rebounds and Darius Johnson-Odom added 20 points in the Golden Eagles’ 88-68 win over BYU in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Just two days earlier, the Cougars had erased a 25-point first half deficit to defeat Iona 78-72 in the first round. It was the biggest comeback in NCAA Tournament history.

But Thursday’s deficit proved too much for the Cougars, as Marquette led by as many as 19 in the first half and used timely baskets from Crowder and Johnson-Odom to secure the victory.

The first half belonged to Crowder, who scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out two steals through 20 minutes to give Marquette a 15-point lead at intermission.

He connected on three 3-pointers, playing primarily on the perimeter against Noah Hartsock. Crowder’s quickness inside gave the 6-foot-8 Hartsock issues, as the BYU forward picked up three early fouls and was limited to 10 first half minutes.

BYU’s Brandon Davies picked up two fouls in the opening half, and was one of four Cougars with two or more fouls in the opening half. Davies had a team-high nine points in the first half, and had 19 for the game.

Despite a lackluster opening half, the Cougars clawed back like they had done on Tuesday. Marquette turned the ball over six times in the first four minutes of the second half. That allowed the Cougars to open the half on a 10-3 run, and pull within six.

Marquette responded with an 8-0 run, capped off by a breakaway dunk from Crowder that pushed the lead back to 14 with 14 minutes to play.

BYU cut the lead to as little as nine midway through the second half, but the Golden Eagles had a response for every Cougar run. One large disparity was on the glass, where the taller Cougars were outrebounded 48-32 by the Golden Eagles.

One of the main reasons for Marquette’s improvement on the glass was the play of Davante Gardner. After Jamil Wilson picked up his second foul six minutes into the game, Gardner came off the bench to score 12 points and grab five rebounds in 12 first half minutes. He did not factor much in the second half, as Marquette looked to shore up its defense, but his impact was felt in the opening 20 minutes.

With the win, Marquette will now face No. 6 Murray State, which won its opening round game against Colorado State earlier in the day.

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