SI.com 2003 Men's NCAA Tourney 2003 Men's NCAA Tourney


Diener party

Marquette sophomore scores 26 in OT win over Mizzou

Posted: Saturday March 22, 2003 6:50 PM
Updated: Sunday March 23, 2003 12:50 PM
  Travis Diener Travis Diener has scored 55 points for Marquette in two NCAA tournament games. AP

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Marquette's Steve Novak was an unknown freshman when he entered Saturday's game with 19.7 seconds to go in regulation.

He left Indianapolis as the perfect complement.

Novak made three 3-pointers and the Golden Eagles hit all of their shots in overtime to pull away from Missouri 101-92 and reach the Midwest Regional semifinals.

"It was the Steve Novak show," Marquette coach Tom Crean said.

For Novak, a Wisconsin native, the storyline read like a movie script.

He came into the game only after starting forward Robert Jackson fouled out and scored nine of his 14 points in the final five minutes to lead the third-seeded Golden Eagles (25-5) into the round of 16 for the first time since 1994.

It's only the second time Marquette has advanced beyond the second round since Al McGuire coached the team to the 1977 national championship. The Golden Eagles will face either Indiana or Pittsburgh on Thursday in Minneapolis.

SI's Seth Davis

Without having to say a word, Marquette point guard Travis Diener told teammate Steve Novak that he would be looking to get the 6-foot-10 freshman forward the ball right away in overtime. Novak understood.

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Some Marquette players celebrated by dancing, but Jackson grabbed Novak and gave him a big hug near midcourt.

"Steve had good matchups. We felt he could guard inside at that point," Crean said. "We felt it would be a little tougher to guard him."

Novak proved it after Travis Diener and Dwyane Wade did most of the work for the first 40 minutes.

Diener finished with 26 points and five 3-pointers, while Wade had 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Their performances offset Missouri's one-two punch of Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson. Paulding scored 36 points and made nine 3-pointers, both career highs, while Johnson added 28 points and 18 rebounds.

But the reason the Tigers (22-11) didn't reach the regional semifinals for the third straight year was Novak, virtually ignored by Missouri.

Saturday, March 22, 2003
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"You don't want Diener and Wade to have a chance to beat you," Tigers coach Quin Snyder said. "Novak just came up big."

His catch-and-shoot 3-pointer from the left wing just 21 seconds into overtime broke an 80-80 tie. His second, 44 seconds later and almost from the same spot, broke an 83-all tie. The third, with 2:03 to go, gave Marquette a 93-89 lead and a boost of confidence.

"Travis gave me a look and nodded," Novak said. "He gave me the confidence to knock them down. The ball just ended up in my hands."

Novak's teammates followed his lead.

Marquette made six straight shots from the field and all six free throws in overtime, then finished off the Tigers by holding them scoreless for a decisive 2:01 stretch.

"It's tough to beat a team when they're hitting their shots and playing like that," Paulding said.

Marquette led most of the way, taking the lead on Diener's 3-pointer with 15:52 left in the first half. The Golden Eagles never trailed again, but the Tigers fought back with a 9-2 run in the last five minutes of regulation and finally tied it when Johnson made two free throws after Jackson fouled out.

That's when the gangly Novak entered.

"I thought we had a good matchup with Kevin [Young]," Snyder said.

After Wade missed a short jumper in the lane and Paulding a 15-foot runner as time expired in regulation, both potential game-winners, Novak made the Tigers pay for their defensive mistake.

He opened the overtime with a flourish and finished as the Golden Eagles' hero.

"One thing I tried to do on Thursday was get everyone in in the first half," Crean said. "You never know when you're going to need someone to step up."

 
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