TAMPA, Fla. – Jae Crowder made two big 3-pointers down the stretch and Marquette overcame cold shooting and a 16-point second-half deficit to rally for a 59-58 victory over South Florida on Wednesday night.
Crowder finished a 26-9 run with a long 3-pointer that gave the Golden Eagles (15-9, 6-5 Big East) their first lead since the opening minutes of the game, then made another to make it 59-55 with 1:28 remaining.
Marquette shot 39 percent from the field and nearly let the game slip away by struggling from the foul line in the closing seconds. The Golden Eagles missed seven consecutive free throws in the final 1:03, finishing 7 of 19 from the line.
Crowder scored 14 points and Jimmy Butler added 12. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick led South Florida (8-17, 2-10) with 16 points and 13 rebounds.
Marquette, coming off three losses in four games to ranked opponents, was held to a season-low point total. The Big East's top scoring team missed 13 of its first 17 shots and trailed by as many as 11 in the opening half.
USF shot 68.4 percent in taking a 31-24 halftime lead. The Bulls built the advantage to 44-28 before being outscored 31-14 over the final 14 minutes — a stretch in which Marquette used its trapping full-court press to speed up the game and force turnover after turnover while limiting USF to just four field goals — none in the final three minutes.
Marquette prevailed despite getting just seven points from Darius Johnson-Odom on 2-of-6 shooting. The Golden Eagles' leading scorer also struggled from the foul line, missing four straight free throws in the final 17.1 seconds keeping South Florida's hopes alive.
Fitzpatrick went to the foul line with 1.1 seconds to go, hoping to make the first and intentionally miss the second to give USF a chance to tie the score. The 6-foot-8 sophomore wound up making both, when he banked in the second shot instead of clanking it off the rim.
Augustus Gilchrist finished with 11 points for South Florida, which shot 38.5 percent in the second half.
Crowder was 5 of 6 from the field, including 4 for 5 on 3-point attempts. Joseph Fulce came off the bench to score 10 points for Marquette.