Xavier powers through Marquette with 2nd half dominance

Photo by Valeria Cardenas/valeria.cardenas@marquette.edu
Photo by Valeria Cardenas/[email protected]

Tuesday night’s contest between Marquette and the Xavier Musketeers was close at one point. The Golden Eagles had a sizable lead early in the first half, but an offensive cold spell that endured for the back end of the first half and the entire second half allowed the Musketeers to pull away to a 64-44 victory at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The defeat represents Marquette’s lowest scoring total in a Big East game and the 20-point deficit ties for the worst losing margin in Big East play in program history.

The Golden Eagles were without leading scorer Matt Carlino for the second straight game and it showed. Marquette scored only 28 points in the final 32:29 after leading 16-5 in the first 7:31 of the game. Marquette went 10-of-39 (25.6 percent) in the final 32 minutes after shooting 8-of-13 (61.5 percent) from the floor in the early going.

It went downhill immediately for the Golden Eagles, as Marquette scored only nine points in the rest of the first half. Those struggles continued as Xavier outscored Marquette 36-19 in the second stanza.

Head coach Steve Wojciechowski admitted that playing without the team’s offensive leader was a difficult challenge.

“We do miss him (Carlino),” Wojciechowski said. “Especially on nights like this when they pack the paint. I thought we executed what we wanted to do early and obviously they adjusted to take away the paint from us. We weren’t able to counter that.”

The game became out of reach quickly in the second half. The Musketeers broke out to an 8-0 run in the first 1:19 of the half. Wojciechowski lost his cool and received a technical foul after an over-the-back foul was called on sophomore Luke Fischer during the run.

Jajuan Johnson pulled Marquette within nine points on a pretty layup with 13 minutes left, but that was the closest Marquette would ever get.

A pair of free throws from center Matt Stainbrook put Xavier up by 11. After a Marquette miscue, freshman J.P. Macura drilled a triple after an offensive rebound kept the possession alive to extend the lead to 14. Another turnover by Marquette on the other end led to an easy transition basket by Macura to put Xavier up by 16. Xavier outscored Marquette 19-6 in the first 10 minutes of the half to take an insurmountable 47-31 lead.

Redshirt freshman Duane Wilson led the Golden Eagles with 12 points, with most of those coming in garbage time. Juan Anderson was the only other player to score in double figures and had 11 points with nine rebounds. Marquette shot 34.6 percent from the field and an ugly 7-of-25 from the floor in the second half. Xavier shot only 38.2 percent from the field, but outshot Marquette from the 3-point line. Xavier went 6-of-15 from downtown, while the Golden Eagles were only 3-of-15 from deep.

Xavier was led by freshman Trevon Bluiett with 14 points followed by Stainbrook with 13 and Myles Davis with 10 points.

Marquette got Fischer involved early as he scored six points in the first five minutes of the game, but finished with only seven points on the night. Wojciechowski said he wants his big man to be more aggressive in getting to the rim.

“We want Luke to be aggressive, even if he misses a shot,” Wojciechowski said. “It’d be nice to get him to the free throw line more. You look at Stainbrook and those guys getting to the line nine times, it’s pretty good. Guess he has to attack the basket harder.”

Finding ways to win has become a challenge for Wojciechowski and his staff, especially without his team’s best player, but Wojciechowski emphasized that he won’t come up with reasons for the struggles.

“I don’t want to make excuses, but we have seven guys,” Wojciechowski said. “That’s what we have. My job’s not to think about reasons why we can’t win. My job is to think of reasons why we can win.”

Wojciechowski will try to find the winning formula Saturday in Omaha when the Golden Eagles take on the Creighton Bluejays.