Sophomore center Chris Otule was a perfect nine-for-nine from the field and finished with a career high 19 points in Marquette’s 96-65 victory over the Longwood Lancers.
Playing for the first time in a week, the Golden Eagles looked fresh and prepared as they shot over 54 percent from the field and forced 18 turnovers in the contest. They also scored a season-high 58 points in the paint and scored 36 fastbreak points in the win.
Two first half runs of 15 and 18 gave Marquette a 50-27 lead at halftime, thanks in part to 12 Lancers’ turnovers which the Golden Eagles turned into 17 points. It was also a balanced attack in the half as eight players scored at least four points in the half. Otule led the team with 10 points at the half.
“I was just trying to do what I always do,” Otule said of his performance. “I tried to play with deep catches and be patient, and I think today I really emphasized that a lot. The last few games I tended to rush it a lot and worry about the wrong things but today I was patient and that helped.”
Otule was just one made basket away from tying Wesley Matthews’ school record for most field goal makes without a miss. Matthews connected on all 10 of his field goal attempts in 2009 against Rutgers.
Marquette also rebounded the basketball well, grabbing 49 boards compared to 28 for the Lancers. After games of 22 and 19 rebounds against Milwaukee and Gonzaga, respectively, the Golden Eagles had 23 rebounds in the first half and finished the contest with a season-high 16 offensive rebounds.
Freshman Vander Blue, who did not record a rebound but played stifling defense all afternoon, said the team had been working on rebounding all week long in practice.
“[Rebounding] was a major key,” Blue said. “We were pretty upset with how we rebounded against Milwaukee . We felt that we were much better so we really emphasized this week closing, taking up space, finishing possessions and getting rebounds.”
Joe Fulce also returned from a knee injury that had kept him out of the last four contests. After having his knee drained earlier in the week he showed no ill effects, scoring nine points and grabbing six rebounds.Head coach Buzz Williams praised Fulce and said his reserve forward will be important going forward.
“He was 200 times better today than he was in the previous games that he’s played this season,” Williams said. “And it’s actually because he has flexibility in his knee. We’ve got to manage that the best that we can because we need him. He helps us. He can rebound out of his area and he can make shots.”
Maybe the loudest cheer of the afternoon from the 13,869 fans on hand came when walk-on Rob Frozena scored on a reverse layup with under a minute to go and the game out of reach. He added a free throw to finish with three points, his first of the season.