It took a lot longer than it should have, but Marquette eventually held off a pesky Southeastern Louisiana squad, 64-53 to improve to 2-0.
Junior forward Davante Gardner led the Golden Eagles with 18 points and the team shot just 42.3 percent for the game, despite shooting 57.9 percent in the second half.
The Golden Eagles had 18 assists on 22 made baskets (81.8 percent), a number coach Buzz Williams was very happy with. He said the team aims for about 64 percent.
Senior forward Chris Otule also chipped in 10 points and five rebounds. Williams called Otule and Gardner “outstanding” through the first two games and said the team will look those two as much as it can this year.
Marquette looked out of sorts all game, rarely getting a basket when it needed to.
“We were inept at times (on offense),” Williams said. “When we do what we do in practice, we’re OK. When we don’t do what we do in practice, we’re bad.”
The Lions were within two points as late as 4:10 left in the game after a free throw from Jan Petrovcic made it 53-51. But a pair of layups by Gardner and two free throws from senior guard Trent Lockett made it 59-51 with 2:17 left.
A three-point play from junior forward Jamil Wilson with 1:07 left stretched the lead to 62-51 and effectively ended the Lions’ upset chances.
It wasn’t like Southeastern Louisiana lit up the scoreboard either. It shot just 35.2 percent from the field and its leading scorer, Brandon Fortenberry, scored just nine points.
“I don’t feel like they caught us off guard because we know what kind of a team they were,” Otule said. “We were just looking for more opportunities to get stops.”
Marquette led by just three points, 32-29 at halftime and shot 33.3 percent in the half. The Golden Eagles trailed for the first time this season after a layup from Jeffrey Ricard made it 35-34 Southeastern Louisiana just 2:16 into the second half.
Marquette is off until Monday when it will take on Butler in the first round of the Maui Invitational at 2:30 pm Central time. The Golden Eagles will take on either Mississippi State or North Carolina in their second game.