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Novak's Effort Lifts Marquette

Freshman enters late but makes all the difference with 14 points in a 101-92 overtime win over Missouri

March 23, 2003|From Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Marquette's Steve Novak was a virtually 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 three-point baskets and the Golden Eagles made 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 story line 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 overtime 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 play either Indiana or Pittsburgh on Thursday in Minneapolis.

"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 three-pointers. Wade had 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

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

But the reason Missouri (22-11) was denied reaching the regional semifinals for a third consecutive year was Novak, virtually ignored by the Tigers.

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

Marquette made six consecutive and all six free throws in overtime, then finished off the Tigers by holding them scoreless for a decisive two-minute stretch.

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