No. 16 Marquette looked like it was on its way to dismissing the recent woes of a two-game losing skid, up 64-55 with 4:40 left against Seton Hall.
Then the proverbial wheels fell off the Marquette wagon.
The Pirates would score the final 18 points of the game from that point forward and got a resume-building 73-64 win over the Golden Eagles in front of a raucous home crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
In that final 4:40, Seton Hall (17-12, 8-9 BIG EAST) went 5-for-5 from the field and made all six of its free throws. Myles Powell scored 10 of the Pirates' points in a row at one point during the run, en route to a game-high 34 points. Marquette (23-7, 12-5), meanwhile, went 0-for-10 over that stretch. All but three of those shots came from three-point territory, with the shots becoming progressively more forced as the Pirates' scoreless streak continued to expand.
While Marquette continued to play the same sloppy basketball in the first half it played in its previous losses to No. 23 Villanova and Creighton, committing 14 turnovers, it still held a 37-31 halftime lead. Sam Hauser had 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting before missing four of those 10-straight missed shots for MU during its end-of-game collapse. Markus Howard saw just 28 minutes of time in the contest and never found a rhythm, going 2-for-11 and scoring just six points. Both Howard and Hauser committed five turnovers, though Marquette's cold second-half shooting contributed more to the end-game woes than losing the ball. MU committed just four turnovers in the second half and just one during the fateful final 4:40, but it shot just 31 percent in the half, while allowing Seton Hall to hit at a 51 percent clip in the final 20 minutes.
The three-game losing streak is Marquette's longest of the season. It's not only guaranteed Villanova at least a share of the BIG EAST regular-season title, but put the Wildcats in control of their own destiny for the outright crown and the top seed in next week's BIG EAST Tournament. Before the losing streak, any combination of two Marquette wins and Villanova losses would have guaranteed Marquette a share of the championship. Now, Marquette has to both beat Georgetown at home in its regular-season finale Saturday, hope that Seton Hall can administer a similar upset to the Wildcats to the one it issued Marquette tonight, and has to root for a series of tiebreakers to go right to both secure a piece of the title and get the top seed.
The Marquette/Georgetown game is slated for a 1:30 p.m. start Saturday at Fiserv Forum.
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