Louisville, Ky. • It took a while for Jae Crowder and Marquette to get going.
When they finally did, however, Murray State’s hopes of making its first trip to the regional semifinals never stood a chance.
Crowder scored six points during a decisive 14-2 run late in the second half, and No. 3 seed Marquette held on for a 62-53 victory that sends the Golden Eagles to the West Regional semifinals Thursday in Phoenix. Crowder finished with 17 points, 12 in the second half, and 13 rebounds, and Darius Johnson-Odom added 17 for Marquette (27-7).
Isaiah Canaan had 16 points for the sixth-seeded Racers (31-2), who fell just short of their first trip to the regional semifinals for the second time in three years. Jewuan Long added 12 points, and Ed Daniel tied a career high with 14 rebounds.
Donte Poole, Murray State’s second-leading scorer, managed only seven points, half his average. Poole was playing with a nose broken by an inadvertent elbow during Thursday’s game.
Marquette had a decided size advantage — Racers coach Steve Prohm joked Crowder and Johnson-Odom were missing spring practice somewhere — but it was out of sync for much of the game. Murray State, meanwhile, got stronger as the game went on, bolstered by a decided “home court” advantage. When Long made a layup to put the Racers up 46-41 with 7:43 to play, the crowd responded with the kind of roar usually reserved for that other Kentucky team.
But Marquette has made a season out of late runs — Villanova, anyone? — and this game was no different.
Todd Mayo made a pair of free throws, and Crowder banked in a jumper off the glass. Davante Gardner, who missed eight games at the end of the season with a left knee strain, followed with a layup and a pair of free throws to put Marquette back in front 49-46.
Ivan Aska briefly halted the Marquette run with a putback, but the Golden Eagles kept right on going. Gardner made another layup and then Crowder drilled a 3, sending the outnumbered Marquette fans into a frenzy. Even the university president, the Rev. Scott Pilarz, was pumping his fist and screaming, “We are! Marquette!”
Long made another layup to end the four-minute scoring drought, but it was too late. The Racers were just 2 of 12 over the last 7:43.