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Marquette gets statement win against Wisconsin

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Photo+by+Matthew+Serafin%2Fmatthew.serafin%40marquette.edu
Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@marquette.edu

Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@marquette.edu

Photo by Matthew Serafin/matthew.serafin@marquette.edu

With the clock winding down in the most pressure-packed moment of the season, Marquette was able to rely on its two big men to get the job done. Just the way you’d draw it up.

After making the go-ahead layup with half a minute to go, Luke Fischer grabbed one final rebound off a missed free throw to seal a 57-55 victory for Marquette. The win is the Golden Eagles’ first against the Badgers under head coach Steve Wojciechowski.

Henry Ellenson led the team in scoring with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and was vital in the Golden Eagles’ final possessions. Luke Fischer didn’t have his best game shooting (5-for-10) but played very sound defensively, keeping the Badgers on the perimeter for most of the game. Marquette scored 36 points in the paint for 63 percent of its scoring. Both players were on the floor nearly the entire game, playing 37 minutes each.

“I wouldn’t trade them for any front court in the country,” Wojciechowski said. “Luke’s been a rock of maturity for our team and in my mind, Henry is having as good if not better a freshman year than anyone in the country.”

When the Golden Eagles needed baskets to fend off the Badgers’ comeback in the final possessions, the ball always went to Ellenson. He scored the basket to put the Golden Eagles up two with a minute to go, and his drive to the lane half a minute later led to Fischer’s game winning layup.

“I just wanted to show who the best team in the state and the best player in the state is,” Ellenson told ESPN.

Fischer said that he thought coming into the game, the battle in the paint favored him and Ellenson.

“We had size down low,” he said. “Both of us have a couple of inches on their 4’s and 5’s. That’s been an emphasis of our team the past couple weeks, to play inside out. Our game plan didn’t change, to go through us right away.”

Marquette was able to shut down Wisconsin’s two leading scorers, Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes. The two combined for 7-of-29 from the field, and Sandy Cohen shut out Hayes (0-for-8) in the first half.

“I thought Sandy Cohen had a remarkable game,” Wojciechowski said. “(Hayes is) one of the most versatile players in the country, and I thought Sandy just followed him the entire night. That’s who Sandy’s becoming. He’s become our best perimeter defender.”

Haanif Cheatham drew the Koening assignment, and forced him to take some low percentage shots. Koening struggled from the field in the game on Wednesday against UW-Milwaukee as well, shooting 5-for-16.

“(I don’t know) whether it’s mental, whether they think they have to do so much more,” said Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan. “I think he’s feeling that he has to score X number of points. Not because we say it but I think he has made up his mind that that’s something he has to do for the team.”

The Badgers were forced to run the offense through Vitto Brown, who led the team with 15 points.

The victory is a huge résumé booster for Marquette, since the Badgers are their highest ranked KenPom victory by a large margin. Wisconsin was ranked No. 39 coming into the game, 18 spots higher than Marquette’s previous best win, Arizona State. With Chicago State and Presbyterian closing out the non-conference season, Marquette will have to wait until BIG EAST play for its next opportunity for a statement victory.

Marquette started off the second half on a tear, pulling away from the Badgers with a 12-2 run. Wisconsin began clawing back in the final seven minutes, partially due to some poor turnovers by Traci Carter. The Badgers scored seven straight to make it a four point game with six minutes remaining.

After alternating baskets twice, Wisconsin was able to string two makes together – from Brown and Hayes – to tie the game at 53. Ellenson gave Marquette the lead again with a minute left, but the Golden Eagles were unable to stop Hayes on the ensuing possession.

It came down to one final full shot clock possession for the Golden Eagles. Ellenson drove the lane and went for the layup, but missed. Fischer was standing just on the other side of the basket and was able to knock in the rebound easily.

“I was in the right spot at the right time,” Fischer said. “No one came to box me out, so I had a pretty easy offensive board and put-back.”

Wisconsin got one final full possession with just over 20 seconds to go, and Hayes went for the win with a three from the corner. He airballed the shot, which went straight to Duane Wilson under the basket.

The Golden Eagles went to the foul line twice in the final seconds, but missed each opportunity. Luckily, when Cheatham missed the first of his one-and-one, the ball bounced way out to Fischer. The Badgers fouled again, and this time Cohen missed the basket. Wisconsin took a timeout with 0.5 seconds left for one final lob that missed everyone.

The Golden Eagles are off for nine days before they return to the BMO Harris Bradley Center to play Chicago State. The 3-7 Cougars are ranked No. 339 in KenPom. Marquette’s only opponent ranked lower is Grambling State.

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