MILWAUKEE (AP) Steve Novak scored 23 points, as Marquette withstood a 3-point barrage by Andre Owens to beat Houston 76-55 Wednesday night.
The Golden Eagles (19-9, 7-8 Conference USA) opened a 13-0 lead to start the game, saw it shrink to four points early in the second half and then pulled away to beat the Cougars (18-11, 9-6).
Owens had eight 3-pointers and 27 points for Houston, which had won its previous four games and six of seven. The Cougars also had been in contention for a top-four spot in Conference USA, which would have guaranteed a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
Houston coach Tom Penders was assessed a double-technical foul and ejected with 1:23 left.
The victory was the first in two games for Marquette since Travis Diener suffered a broken left hand that will keep him out for the rest of the season.
Todd Townsend added 15 points for the Golden Eagles, while Joe Chapman had 13 and Dameon Mason 10. Chapman also had five assists.
Owens, who had five 3-pointers in the first half, made two more early in the second to help Houston cut a 12-point halftime deficit to 39-35 with 15:24 left.
Ryan Amoroso scored seven straight points to give Marquette a 48-35 lead with 9:35 left. He completed a three-point play after he scored off a pass by Chapman and then scored on a putback after a missed shot on Marquette's next trip down the floor.
Penders' ejection came moments after Chapman made a 3-pointer as time on the shot clock expired.
Novak made four straight foul shots to give Marquette a 72-50 lead.
Marquette made its first 13 foul shots, including nine in the first half, and made 28 of 30 for the game.
Houston was hampered by 25.8 percent shooting from the field and poor rebounding in the first half, which ended with Marquette ahead 35-23. The Golden Eagles outrebounded the Cougars 23-9 in the first half.