Crowder's early fouls too much to overcome in loss to No. 5 Pittsburgh

Published Jan. 8, 2011 5:15 p.m. EST

By Paul Imig

January 8, 2011

Through the first 12 minutes of Marquette's Saturday afternoon matchup with Pittsburgh, the game was tied.

Then, Jae Crowder picked up his second foul and things changed quickly.

Crowder had to sit the rest of the first half as the nation's No. 5 team turned that tie game into an 11-point halftime deficit for the Golden Eagles.

Marquette would never get any closer than the eight points by which the final score was decided, losing 89-81.

"We shouldn't be so dependent upon one player who's playing his third Big East game, but we are," coach Buzz Williams said of Crowder, a junior college transfer in his first year with the team. "For him to pick up his second foul with 7:54 to go, playing eight minutes without him, it changes our team.

"We outscored them in the second half and we were fouling them in the last three and a half minutes. Even if my opinion didn't count, statistically you could look at it and kind of understand the value that he gives to us."

Crowder scored a career-high 29 points in his Big East debut a week earlier and is the Golden Eagles' top rebounder this season. He finished with 10 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes against the Panthers.

This was Marquette's first loss in the Big East this season after previously defeating West Virginia at home and Rutgers on the road. The eight-point differential is also the most the Golden Eagles have lost by, with the team's four earlier losses all being by five points or less.

Going into Pittsburgh and getting a win -- where the Panthers have won 18 in a row and 49 of its last 50 games -- became an ever tougher challenge when Pittsburgh hit a season-high 60 percent from the field against Marquette.

"We could never run them off their routes," Williams said. "They play kind of like the (NFL's Pittsburgh) Steelers play; they run a play every dead ball, they run a play after every made basket. That's what they're going to do."

Williams added that allowing Pittsburgh to connect on 10 3-point shots when they've averaged just a little more than six makes per-game, was going to make leaving with a win that much harder.

"If you can score 30 percent of your points from three, you're going to have a hard time beating anybody like that," he said.

Despite being out-shot from the field 60 percent to 41.5 percent, the Golden Eagles had 15 more attempts in the game than the Panthers.

Those extra shots came as a result of Marquette forcing 10 turnovers while only committing two, as well as grabbing 15 offensive rebounds compared to Pittsburgh's nine.

"They do such a great job on the glass, I wouldn't have thought we would've beat them on the offensive glass," Williams said. "If that was the only thing that you could tell me, I would be happy with it."

There won't be much time for Williams and his players to think about the loss as they travel back to Milwaukee to host No. 14 Notre Dame on Monday night.