LAHAINA >> Markus Howard scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half, Andrew Rowsey added 20 and Marquette opened the Maui Invitational with a 94-83 victory over Virginia Commonwealth today.
Marquette (2-1) started slow, but got rolling behind Rowsey, who had 15 points in the first half. Howard, the nation’s top 3-point shooter as a freshman last season, struggled in the first half before catching fire. He made 4 of 9 from the arc in the second half and finished with seven assists, leading the Golden Eagles into the Maui semifinals against No. 6 Wichita State or California.
Sam Hauser added 20 points and Marquette hit 13 of 36 from the arc overall.
VCU (2-2) caused some problems with its pressure defense — 17 Marquette turnovers — but had trouble slowing the Golden Eagles shooters.
Malik Crowfield led the Rams with 17 points.
VCU has a new coach in Mike Rhoades, an assistant under Shaka Smart on the 2011 Final Four team. New coach, but the Rams still play that always-in-your-face “Havoc” defense that drives teams crazy and into mistakes.
VCU opened the season with wins over Grambling State and North Florida before losing to Virginia on Friday.
The Golden Eagles are coming off their first NCAA Tournament appearance under Steve Wojciechowski, but lost two senior starters and two key reserves from that team.
Marquette beat Mount Saint Mary’s in its opener, but lost by 15 to No. 19 Purdue last Tuesday.
Both teams were creating a bit of havoc in a first half filled with runs. VCU went on an early run, Marquette scored 12 straight points during a 20-5 spurt to go up eight and the Rams rallied back.
Marquette led 45-44 after a first half filled with 21 combined turnovers.
Howard, who hit 54 percent of his 3-pointers last season, missed all four of his attempts in the first half.
He kept firing, as good shooters do, and the shots that were missing before started dropping, helping the Golden Eagles build a 73-64 lead midway through the second half.
The Rams tried to claw their way back, but the Golden Eagles had an answer every time they got close.
Marquette took better care of the ball against VCU’s pressure in the second half and proved it can be a handful when its perimeter shooters are knocking down shots.
The Rams created some problems defensively, but allowed too many good perimeter looks against a strong outside-shooting team.
Marquette faces the winner between No. 6 Wichita State and California in the semifinals on Tuesday.
VCU gets the Wichita State-Cal loser on Tuesday.