Marquette falls to NC State, 77-73

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It was a tale of two halves for the Marquette Golden Eagles Saturday.

After holding the North Carolina State Wolfpack to 25 points in the first half, the Golden Eagles allowed 52 in the second._MG_9273

“I thought we were really good in the first half and arguably the worst we’ve been since I’ve been here in the second half,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said.

The Wolfpack used a 21-8 run to start the second half and defeated Marquette 77-73 at the Bradley Center.

“They started really strong in the first four minutes of the second half, which is typically when we play our best,” Williams said.

The final score didn’t quite do justice as Marquette hit some late threes and N.C. State missed several free throws. Dwight Buycks missed a three with two seconds left to seal the Wolfpack victory.

Darius Johnson-Odom put Marquette (6-2) up 36-25 with a 3-pointer to end the first half, but the Wolfpack (6-1) came storming back to start the second frame.

After shooting 37.5 percent from the field in the first, N.C. State lit it up in the second, outscoring Marquette by 15 while shooting 71.4 percent from the field.

“It’s tough knowing a team shot 72 percent,” senior guard Maurice Acker said. “It comes down to us not guarding the ball and letting them do what they want to do.”

Wolfpack forward Tracy Smith, the team’s leading scorer this season, was held in check in the first half, but came out firing in the second, scoring 17 of his 19 points. He added 11 rebounds to complete the double-double.

“I told him he wasn’t playing hard enough,” said N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe about Smith’s first half performance. “But he can handle that and then he was patient as well.”

Marquette opened the second half sloppy, turning the ball over on its first four possessions and didn’t score until Lazar Hayward hit a free throw at the 16:06 mark.

Hayward scored 15 points but struggled inside against N.C. State’s low post, turning the ball over five times.

“It starts with the returning guys,” Jimmy Butler said. “We have to set the tone and I don’t think we did that today. As a team we just have to get better and we can’t let that keep happening.”

Butler recorded a double-double and led the Golden Eagles with 19 points and 12 rebounds.

Marquette returns to the Bradley Center Tuesday night to take on in-state foe Wisconsin-Milwaukee.