Turnovers halt Marquette’s upset bid against Xavier

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Turnovers halt Marquette’s upset bid against Xavier

Bluiett scored a team-leading 23 points for Xavier (Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@mu.edu)

Bluiett scored a team-leading 23 points for Xavier (Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@mu.edu)

Bluiett scored a team-leading 23 points for Xavier (Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@mu.edu)

Bluiett scored a team-leading 23 points for Xavier (Photo by Ben Erickson/benjamin.a.erickson@mu.edu)

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It’s tough to win any game on the road when you turn the ball over 19 times. Marquette found out it’s even more difficult when playing the No. 6 team in the country, as the Golden Eagles couldn’t hold onto a half-time lead despite a career day from freshman guard Haanif Cheatham. Xavier’s J.P. Macura hit two straight three pointers in the final three minutes to put Marquette away, 90-82.

Cheatham shot 7-for-9 and a perfect 5-for-5 on free throws for 21 points, one point behind Henry Ellenson for the team lead. Cheatham got into foul trouble in the first half, forcing him to only play 21 minutes.

The Golden Eagles didn’t get much help from their bench, as Traci Carter (two points) and Sandy Cohen (three points) were the only players to get on the score sheet, and both only two-for-seven combined from the field.

Macura’s three-pointers were the icing on the cake for a solid game from the sophomore guard. His 20 points were a season high and was the first time he’s scored more than 15 points since Nov. 17 against Missouri.

He wasn’t the only Musketeer the Golden Eagles struggled containing, as Edmond Sumner and Trevor Bluiett each eclipsed the 20-point plateau as well, scoring 22 and 23 points respectively. Sumner proved to be a tough challenge for Marquette’s guards, using his 6-foot-5 size to drive the lanes for easy dunks. Bluiett was excellent from long-range, shooting 5-for-6.

Marquette had a strong first half, a far cry from the last match-up when the Golden Eagles gave up 21-straight points. Marquette took over this time, going on a 17-1 run featuring strong ball movement, good rebounding from Ellenson and Luke Fischer and balanced scoring. The Golden Eagles led 39-35 at the break.

Xavier got out to a strong start in the second half, eventually tying the game at 45. The two teams traded blows for most of the second half, as the teams were still tied at 72 at the final media timeout. The Musketeers outscored Marquette 18-10 in the final four minutes, thanks to six points each from Macura, Bluiett and Myles Davis.

The Golden Eagles turned the ball over three straight times in the final minutes, as regular starting point guard Carter was nowhere to be found. Head coach Steve Wojciechowkski had Sandy Cohen running the point instead.

A late three and an and-one by Duane Wilson kept the game interesting in the final 30 seconds, but his missed free-throw (he went 0-for-3 on the day) with 12 seconds remaining kept it a two-score game.

Marquette has another opportunity for a top-25 resume-building victory Wednesday when Providence comes to Milwaukee. The Golden Eagles defeated the Friars 65-64 on the road in the first match-up thanks to a last-second block by Ellenson on Naismith Player of the Year candidate Kris Dunn. Ben Bentil, who was injured against DePaul, returned to Providence’s lineup today against Villanova.