Marquette tops DePaul, splits season series

The Marquette men’s basketball team defeated DePaul 80-69 Wednesday night at the Bradley Center. The victory marked the third in a row for the Golden Eagles, who failed to beat the Blue Demons in their last meeting Jan. 20.

In the first meeting, Mike Stovall hit a jumper with seven-tenths of a second remaining in the game to see a victory for the Golden Eagles vanish.

However, DePaul was unable to repeat its late-game heroics this time around and Stovall was unable to score one point.

Senior forward Lazar Hayward said the last game against DePaul didn’t weigh in his mind, but he definitely wanted to right that wrong.

Sophomore guard Darius Johnson-Odom opened the game with a 3-pointer, one of two in the first half, and went on to score 10 of Marquette’s first 11 points. From there the Golden Eagles never looked back.

“I think (the 3-pointer) set the tone pretty well,” Johson-Odom said. “We’re known for shooting threes, we’re a good shooting team. I think it’s what a lot of teams try to take away from us, but when we start, it’s hard to stop.”

Marquette dominated the paint by grabbing 23 rebounds in the first half. Johnson-Odom and Hayward scored a combined 22 of Marquette’s 32 points in the first half.

“I thought we played really well in the first half,” coach Buzz Williams said. “And I thought there was a stretch of six or eight minutes in the second half where may have been as good as we have been. I thought we were a lot better defensively in both halves.”

Marquette took the first half lead despite shooting 8-25 from the field. However, it was DePaul’s lack of free throw completions that hurt the team, shooting only 37.5 percent from the charity stripe.

In the second half, the Golden Eagles came out firing, scoring 21 points in the first eight minutes while only conceding six to the Blue Demons.

Johnson-Odom and Hayward continued their strong play, finishing with 19 and 21 points, respectively. The duo got help from Jimmy Butler, who scored 18 points of his own. Hayward led the team in rebounds with 14, while dishing out two assists. Hayward recorded his sixth double-double of the season.

“Gradually I have improved and I’ve learned what I need to do on the court,” Johnson-Odom said. “I’m starting to work harder in practice and just get better as a teammate.”

Junior Dwight Buycks scored 14 points, which is the first time since Jan. 6 the guard has scored in double digits.

But what really changed for the Golden Eagles this time against DePaul was their free throw shooting. Marquette hit a season-high 36 free throws, surpassing its previous high of 23 against North Florida back on Dec. 19.

The next game for Marquette is at Providence on Feb. 6.