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No. 11 Marquette beats Washington 79-77 at MSG

By Jim O'Connell
AP Basketball Writer / December 7, 2011
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NEW YORK—Most road trips for college basketball teams involve a quick in and out of a city unless they are playing in a tournament.

The Washington Huskies will face two ranked teams in a span of five days at Madison Square Garden, about as far as they can get from campus.

From a basketball perspective, the trip didn't start well with a 79-77 loss to No. 11 Marquette in the Jimmy V Classic on Tuesday night. Next up is No. 7 Duke on Saturday.

"We went to the 9-11 Memorial the first day we were here and I think our guys enjoyed that," Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said. "We played a game in Madison Square Garden tonight and I think they enjoyed that, although we would have loved to win. Now we'll see a TV show taped and a couple of Broadway shows, all in conjunction with classes they are taking. We are definitely trying to maximize the trip we end with Duke on Saturday."

The Huskies didn't sound like a team that had just lost a tough one, their third defeat in four games.

"I feel like the team is making a lot of progress," forward Darnell Gant said. "We're moving in the right direction rather than moving the other way -- then we would have things to work on. I feel like the team doesn't have anything to worry about right now. We just have to keep being together."

Jae Crowder hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 6.3 seconds to play to give the Golden Eagles the lead for good.

"We knew the play we were running from the previous timeout and came up with the situation that when they do score, get it out as quick as possible," Crowder said. "I did that and had a good look. It felt real good."

Darius Johnson-Odom had 23 points to lead the Golden Eagles (8-0) in an up-and-down game that included 15 lead changes and four ties over the final 12 minutes.

Crowder, who finished with 18 points, hit his only 3-pointer in four attempts 9 seconds after Terrence Ross had given the Huskies (4-3) a 77-76 lead with a nice move in the lane when he was closely guarded by two Marquette players.

"They're real physical, that's the way they play and you have to be ready for it," said Ross, who had 19 points.

Washington had a chance at one more lead change but Abdul Gaddy's long jumper at the buzzer was well off the mark.

Romar wouldn't say the Duke game is now a must-win.

"The pressure is there every game -- can we play at our best?" Romar said. "Tonight we didn't finish but I thought we played a pretty good game and if we do that we'll win our share. When we go out and play we have to concentrate on being at our best and we don't tack on, `By the way, we have to win this because of what's at stake.'"

Taking advantage of some porous defense, both teams scored time and again in the second half on drives and moves down low. That suddenly changed with about 5 minutes to go when both teams started playing defense, forcing each other to use up most of the 35-second shot clock.

Washington finished with a 46-32 rebound advantage, including 18-11 on the offensive end -- which led to a 19-6 advantage in second-chance points.

But Marquette, which lost center Chris Otule to a left knee injury in the opening minutes, was able to stay in the game by forcing 16 turnovers that were converted into 10 points. The Golden Eagles had 10 points on the break while Washington didn't score at all that way.

"I didn't do a good job when Chris got hurt but then we kind of got in a groove," Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. "It was hard to win."

Williams said Otule's injury was a sprain and he would be examined when the team returns to Milwaukee.

Marquette was 19 of 27 at the free throw line while Washington was 5 of 10.

"The free throws, that's what Marquette does," Romar said. "I thought we were very physical but we didn't get back in transition several times and that could be the difference in the game."

C.J. Wilcox had 13 points for the Huskies and Aziz N'Diaye had four points and 13 rebounds.

Marquette won at then-No. 9 Wisconsin on Saturday, had some travel problems getting to New York and then faced a taller team in Washington.

"I think we're whipped," Williams said. "I didn't think our energy level was what it was the first seven games. We need a day to get some juice back because we're not very good without juice."

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