First half dominance propels Marquette

Marquette (3-0) took down intrastate rival Wisconsin-Green Bay (1-1) 89-69 last night behind a stellar first half performance in the final regional game of the CBE Classic.

The Golden Eagles hung 53 points on the Phoenix, the most points Marquette has scored in one half all season, in the opening stanza, building a 20 point cushion and never looking back.

“Marquette came out and kind of threw the first punch and it took us a while to respond,” UW- Green Bay coach and Marquette alum Brian Wardle said. “They were the agressors and attacked, attacked, attacked from the start.”

Junior forward Jae Crowder led Marquette in scoring and rebounding putting in 17 points and nabbing nine boards in 24 minutes.

“I think he’s going to be tremendous for us down the stretch,” junior guard Darius Johnson-Odom said. “He’s a 6-foot-6 power forward, but he has the body of a linebacker. He gets rebounds and tip-ins. He’s very active on the floor.”

Crowder did his damage off the bench, coming in as the sixth man for the third consecutive game.

“He’s going to end up, and I’ve said this before, being the heart and soul of what we’re about because he has such a great feel for what we’re doing,” coach Buzz Williams said. “I love him. I think he’s really good. Like grown man good. He’ll end up playing starter and finisher minutes.”

Freshman guard Vander Blue poured in a career high 14 points on seven of 10 shooting from the field while senior forward Jimmy Butler notched 13 points of his own. Marquette shot 52.5 percent from the field as a team, outscoring the Phoenix 52-22 in the paint.

Marquette opened the game with a slowish start, reminiscent of the Bucknell game Sunday but quickly picked up the pace with a pair of threes from senior guard Dwight Buycks.

Up 8-3, the Golden Eagles broke the game open with a 9-1 run that included contributions from Johnson-Odom, Crowder, Butler and Buycks.

The lead hovered around 12 points for the next four minutes until a monster jam from Johnson-Odom shook Marquette — and the Bradley Center — out of its doldrums.

Marquette would go on to outscore UW-Green Bay 22-15 in the first half and went into the break with a healthy 53-33 lead.

“Arguably we were as good as we’ve been in the first half,” Williams said. “In the second half we were average at best.”

Crowder led all scorers with 11 points at the half, with Blue and Buycks each adding ten of their own. The 53 points scored were the most scored in one half this season for Marquette.

The second half saw a much slower contest. UW-Green Bay’s Bryquis Perine put in back to back threes to cut the lead to 16 with 16 minutes left to play.

“We can’t let up at all,” Butler said, “and I feel like we let up in the second half.”

It wasn’t until a Buycks lay-up ignited a 10-3 run to put the Marquette lead at 23 that the Golden Eagles went into cruise control.

Freshman forward Devante Gardner put in all 11 of his points in the second half, recording double-digit figures for the third consecutive game.

Marquette will take on South Dakota on Saturday afternoon before going on the road for the first time all season to take on the No. 1 ranked Duke Blue Devils.