Marquette Wire

Frustration mounts in tight win over Stetson

Henry Ellenson records 12th double-double despite lackluster play

Johnson+scored+a+game-high+22+points+%28Photo+by+Brian+Georgeson%2Fbrian.georgeson%40mu.edu
Johnson scored a game-high 22 points (Photo by Brian Georgeson/brian.georgeson@mu.edu

Johnson scored a game-high 22 points (Photo by Brian Georgeson/brian.georgeson@mu.edu

Johnson scored a game-high 22 points (Photo by Brian Georgeson/brian.georgeson@mu.edu

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“There’s no two ways about it. We are a very, very, very immature team.”

Marquette men’s basketball head coach Steve Wojciechowski made it perfectly clear that Wednesday’s 74-60 victory over Stetson in a mid-season tune-up was disappointing to everyone.

In front of a small crowd at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, the Golden Eagles let a 26-point halftime lead dip as low as nine in the second half. After combing for 30 points in the first half, Marquette’s three leading scorers of the season – Henry Ellenson, Luke Fischer and Duane Wilson – combined for two points in the second half en route to the team being outscored by 12.

Entering the game as 19-point favorites against the No. 297 team in KenPom, the Golden Eagles jumped out to a 24-2 lead, including a perfect 4-for-4 from three-point range. Ellenson went 2-for-4 from the field for 10 points and grabbed five rebounds in the first half. Fischer was a perfect 3-for-3 for 10 points, while Wilson was 4-for-6 for 10 points of his own. Marquette led 47-21 at halftime.

“If we stopped the game at halftime, we all would have felt great,” Wojciechowski said. “Our guys played hard, they played the right way, they played together, they played good defense, and then I’m not sure what team showed up after halftime.”

The team that showed up after halftime allowed the Hatters to immediately go on a 19-2 run. The lead was cut to 49-40 in favor of Marquette with 14:47 to go in the game.

“It’s maddening because we can look so good and then it’s like we’ve been taken over by demons,” Wojciechowski said. “We have to have leadership and we have to have a maturity that’s beyond our years, so we’ve got to figure that out.”

Haanif Cheatham and Jajuan Johnson were the only players to show up motivated in the second half. Cheatham netted nine of his 13 points in the second half, while Johnson scored 13 of his game-high 22 points in the half.

“In the second half, I wasn’t expecting to play that much because I wasn’t expecting to come out that flat,” Johnson said. “Coach just kept running plays for me.”

The freshman Cheatham, meanwhile, grabbed a career-high nine rebounds despite missing time early in the game due to a right groin injury. He acknowledged his amplified propensity for crashing the boards, though he was more concerned with the team’s porous second-half effort.

“It’s very frustrating,” Cheatham said. “Even when you win, you’re supposed to feel good but we don’t feel good after this one. There’s almost 10 games left in the season and we’re having these loops of up-and-down rollercoasters. We just hate feeling like that.”

Ellenson recorded his 12th double-double of the season, finishing with 12 points and 11 rebounds. He also had six of the team’s 15 turnovers and was out-played by Stetson’s 6-foot-7 center Brian Pegg, who had 13 points and 12 rebounds of his own before fouling out.

It was a disappointing showing for Ellenson against a bad Stetson team after an impressive performance against St. John’s last weekend, in which he had 16 points and 18 rebounds.

“I thought he played young in the second half,” Wojciechowski said. “I don’t care how young you are … I’ve been around Kyrie Irving, Jabari Parker, Luol Deng and you go down the list. Those guys looked like freshmen, and it’s not like (Henry) has a group of seniors around him that can prop him up when he’s playing like he’s an 18-year-old. So he can play better, and he knows that. He will, and we need him to.”

Marquette will need Ellenson and the rest of his teammates to overcome their immaturity by Saturday morning when the team takes on a nationally respected Butler team. The Bulldogs dropped out of the AP Top 25 for the first time in seven weeks due to a tough run in conference play that included four losses against ranked opponents. The Bulldogs and Golden Eagles are currently tied for seventh in the BIG EAST, so Saturday’s matinee is pivotal. Seniors Roosevelt Jones and Kellen Dunham provide Butler the type of leadership and grit that Marquette has been missing all season.

“Dunham is as good a shooter as we’ll play against, and Jones is as unique a player,” Wojciechowski said. “They’re a veteran, tough, disciplined group … we’re going to have to put together 40 minutes and fight like crazy.”

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