Badgers survive Marquette in defensive battle

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Badgers survive Marquette in defensive battle

Photo by Cassie Rogala/cassandra.rogala@marquette.edu

Photo by Cassie Rogala/cassandra.rogala@marquette.edu

Photo by Cassie Rogala/cassandra.rogala@marquette.edu

Photo by Cassie Rogala/cassandra.rogala@marquette.edu

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Frank Kaminsky had a quiet day by his standards through the first 39 minutes on Saturday afternoon. Marquette double and triple-teamed the 7-foot center all day long and held the player of the year candidate to merely 12 points.

But, with 48 seconds remaining, Kaminsky received a pass from Traevon Jackson behind the 3-point arc directly in front of his own bench and sent home a dagger to put his team up nine and seal No.2 Wisconsin’s 49-38 victory over Marquette in the 121st meeting between the in-state rivals.

The Golden Eagles were overmatched against the Badgers, but played with valor on the defensive end and stuck around with Wisconsin for most of the game. Marquette stifled a Badgers team that normally shoots close to 50 percent from the floor to just 32 percent on Saturday.

“I thought our guys played really hard and were tremendously active in the zone,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “I thought we were able to make them uncomfortable offensively.”

The zone did give Wisconsin fits for stretches of the game. Marquette’s stingy defense also forced 11 turnovers against a team that averages only nine giveaways per game.

“There’s some things we could’ve done better,” Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan said. “There are things you can do with smaller, quicker guys to rotate and do some things. The size enabled us to get some offensive boards, but their quickness kept us from getting direct lanes to the basket.”

Marquette crept back into the game several times, but was unable to string together the necessary possessions to overtake the Badgers. Its best shot to take back control came with about 11 minutes left thanks to a small scoring punch off the bench.

Trailing 32-25, Cohen hit a corner three to cut the lead to four. After an immediate answer from Bronson Koenig, Burton countered with a three from the top of the arc to put Marquette within four again. Two minutes later, Cohen hit two free throws to cut the deficit to just two, but that was the closest Marquette ever came to pulling ahead.

41 seconds later, Josh Gasser hit a three to put Wisconsin back up by five. Over the next four minutes, two Traevon Jackson jumpers and a Kaminsky jump shot extended Wisconsin’s lead to 11 and put the game out of reach for good.

Once again, Marquette was exposed on the glass. The Golden Eagles suffered many rebounding mishaps and lost the board battle by a 41-27 margin. Wisconsin earned 14 offensive rebounds, but failed to make Marquette pay with only five second-chance points.

The Golden Eagles were even more frazzled when they had the ball. Matt Carlino was the only player in double figures with 18 points. The next leading scorers were Steve Taylor Jr. with six, Sandy Cohen with five, Juan Anderson and Deonte Burton with three, Duane Wilson with two and Derrick Wilson with a lone free throw.

The Badgers held Marquette to a ghastly 28.9 percent from the field and forced 10 turnovers. Marquette took the first lead of the game at the 18:50 mark, but lost it with 17:36 in the first half and never regained it.

Wojciechowski tabbed poor decision making as the culprit for the offensive struggles.

“Our offense let us down,” Wojciechowski said. “We’re not a juggernaut offensively by any stretch. The thing that killed us the most on offense was our poor decisions that led to some really tough shots.”

Many of Marquette’s missed baskets came in the paint, as the Golden Eagles put an emphasis on getting into the midst of the Badgers’ tall defense. This led to many contested, wild lay-ups that stymied any offensive momentum.

“We wanted to attack the paint,” Wojciechowski said. “It’s harder to do against them because they’re huge and that’s not necessarily the personnel we have. You have to get the ball in the paint and once we get in there we have to make better decisions.”

Kaminsky led the Badgers in scoring with his 15 points, but the player of the game was Gasser. He scored 12 points on 4-of-9 shooting, but each of his threes killed a Marquette run and quieted the raucous crowd at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

“His two stare downs (in the first half) got the other guys moving a bit,” Ryan said. “Josh never gets cheated.”

Despite another tough loss to a quality Big Ten opponent, Wojciechowski’s club has exhibited its grit and heart over the past two weeks. The Golden Eagles will try to take that identity into its Dec. 16 matchup with Arizona State at the Bradley Center. The game will be Luke Fischer’s Marquette debut.

“I think our guys, since we left for Orlando, have shown a great deal of fight,” Wojciechowski said. “We want that to be who we are. We want to be fighters, we want to be guys who compete and have great competitive spirit. I think our guys have had that and if we can couple that with better decision making, we have a chance.”

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