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Updated: Saturday, January 31, 2004 7:59 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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Marquette 77, (4) Louisville 70

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Troubling abdominal pain. A bad ankle. And now a thorn in the side.

Rick Pitino returned to the sidelines and Francisco Garcia overcame an injury to score 20 points, but fourth-ranked Louisville had its winning streak snapped at 16 games with a 77-70 loss to Conference USA nemesis Marquette.

Pitino, the Cardinals' coach, missed one game to undergo a battery of tests for a problem he called "urological related." While it caused severe abdominal pain, it was not deemed serious.

Arguably the best player in the conference, Garcia missed Wednesday's win over Houston due to a sprained ankle. He returned to lead the team in scoring but went just 5-of-16 from the floor.

Taquan Dean also played despite a groin injury. The point guard had just four points and no assists in 21 minutes.

"He told me he could go, but to be honest, I didn't think Francisco looked that good either," Pitino said. "We would have lost by 25 without them. We had to try and get the best out of both of them."

Marquette became the Cardinals' thorn in the side, posting its second straight win at Freedom Hall. Louisville had won 16 consecutive home games since its last loss to the Golden Eagles.

"As usual, when we play Louisville, it's been a great game," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "We have tremendous respect for them - always have and always will. For us, this is a great win."

Steve Novak hit eight 3-pointers en route to a career-high 30 points for Marquette, which snapped a three-game skid. Taking a page out of teammate Travis Diener's book, Novak was 9-of-16 from the floor - 8-of-13 from the arc.

"He's one of the best shooters in college basketball," Pitino said. "He was extremely hot, but it was a poor job on our defense. There is no rhyme or reason that he had several looks."

Marquette went 11-of-21 from 3-point range, a performance that reminded Pitino of Louisville's surprising loss to Butler in last season's NCAA Tournament.

"We lost the game tonight the way we lost to Butler last year - not guarding the 3-point line," said Pitino, whose team went 5-of-34 from the arc.

Crean was thrilled with the overall performance of Novak, the 6-10 sophomore forward who had eight rebounds and three steals in 37 minutes.

"The great thing about his performance is how committed he was to defense and rebounding," Crean said. "He's been getting better in all those areas. He deserves it and he works very hard."

Louisville went 1-for-16 from 3-point range in the first half and trailed, 30-27. After spurts by both teams, the Golden Eagles took the lead for good, 56-55, on a 3-pointer by Novak with 6:12 remaining.

The Cardinals were within 68-64 after Larry O'Bannon's 3-pointer with 1:46 left but didn't get any closer as the Golden Eagles made 9-of-10 free throws over the final 2:33.

Luke Whitehead had 14 points and 19 rebounds for Louisville, which shot just 33 percent (21-of-64). O'Bannon was 2-of-12 - all from behind the arc.


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