Marquette hangs on to defeat DePaul, will face Villanova on Thursday

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Jalen Brunson, right, of Villanova pump fakes against Andrew Rowsey of Marquette during the 2nd half at the Wells Fargo Center on Jan 6, 2018.

Andrew Rowsey drilled back-to-back three-point baskets Wednesday night after Marquette had blown a 14-point lead, and the Golden Eagles held on to defeat DePaul, 72-69, in the opening round of the Big East tournament and advance to a quarterfinal matchup against Villanova.

The No. 7 seed Golden Eagles (19-12), who are believed to be on the bubble for the NCAA tournament, will take on the second-seeded Wildcats (27-4) at 7 p.m. Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

Rowsey led Marquette with 25 points, but his turnover with 11.5 seconds to play and his team up by one gave the Blue Demons (11-20) a chance for the upset. But Max Strus missed a three-point attempt and Rowsey iced the game with two free throws in the final second.

Strus scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half. Marin Maric also scored 22 points for DePaul.

Rowsey scoried 11 straight points to fuel an 18-2 first-half run that gave the Golden Eagles control of the game. Marquette led 29-15 with 5 minutes, 41 seconds left, and held a 39-27 advantage at intermission.

The Blue Demons gradually chipped away at the deficit, and a three-point basket and dunk on back-to-back possessions by Strus tied the game at 61 with 5:46 remaining. Rowsey answered with a pair of threes in the next minute to put Marquette up by six.

DePaul kept the heat on. After Sam Hauser hit both ends of a 1-and-1 with 32.3 seconds to play for a 70-66 Marquette lead, Strus knocked down another three to make it a one-point game at the 21.6-second mark. Rowsey then lost the ball in traffic on a steal by Brandon Cyrus, but Strus couldn’t convert a wide-open look to give his team the lead.

Villanova defeated Marquette twice during the regular season, winning 100-90 on Jan. 6 at Wells Fargo Center, and 85-82 on Jan. 28 in Milwaukee. Jalen Brunson paced the Wildcats in both games, with 27 points and eight assists at home, and 31 points on the road.

Markus Howard, who scored 37 points in the Jan. 6 game, managed just four points Wednesday night, making 2 of 6 shots from the floor.