There were so many plays that epitomized Marquette's inaptitude on the boards in the Golden Eagles' 71-64 loss to Winthrop that it is impossible to choose just one.
With just under seven minutes to play in the game on Saturday, Marquette had whittled Winthrop's lead to seven points. It was the smallest lead in nearly nine minutes, but they were never really in danger.
After Winthrop's Torrell Martin missed a three-point shot, James Shuler skied over Joe Chapman to get the offensive rebound and was fouled by Chapman in the process. In short order, the lead was back to nine.
The next time Martin missed a three-pointer, no one blocked him out and he got his own rebound. He did not miss the second shot, and the lead was back to a comfortable 11.
Finally, when Marquette cut the lead to seven with 4:57 to play, Martin missed yet another shot. But this time Craig Bradshaw was there to get the offensive rebound, and he scored on a tip-in.
"Before the game our main goal was to box out … and crash the boards on the offensive end," said Bradshaw, who collected eight rebounds and the Blue & Gold Classic MVP award.
When the final horn sounded, Winthrop had more offensive rebounds (22) than Marquette had total rebounds (21) and a 39-21 overall advantage on the boards.
"We won the battle of the glass," said Winthrop head coach Gregg Marshall. "We said that was the number-one key coming in. I thought our tenacity on the glass and for loose balls was a major advantage for us. It gave us countless second and third chance opportunities."
The Eagles scored 21 second chance points off those offensive boards 14 more than Marquette which proved to be the difference in the game.
It is important to keep in mind that Winthrop is not a rebounding juggernaut by nature. In the first round of the Blue & Gold Classic they had only three more rebounds than IUPUI.
Marquette can only blame itself for its rebounding inefficiency.
"We're not physical enough right now when the shot comes up," said Marquette head coach Tom Crean. "That is a mindset, and it's positioning, I guess. We're not doing enough to keep people off the glass, and we're not doing enough to get our own."
He later added: "I don't look out there and see a guy who is going to be one of the top five, six, seven, eight in the league in rebounding, so we are going to have to have it as a team."
What is so disheartening about the team's play versus Winthrop is that 24 hours earlier it appeared the Golden Eagles had solved their rebounding woes and achieved Crean's goal.
After losing the battle of the boards to both a Division II and a Division III school in the exhibition games, Marquette outrebounded Rice 42-31. And it was not just one person. Five people had four rebounds or more.
But the total number of rebounds overshadowed a pair of statistics that would come back to haunt Marquette the next night. The Golden Eagles surrendered 16 offensive rebounds to Rice, and the Owls had twice as many second chance points (18) as the Golden Eagles (9).