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Men’s Basketball Chokes Away Late Lead Against Seton Hall

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Seton Hall ended the game on a 7-2 run to down Steve Wojciechowski and the Golden Eagles.

Seton Hall ended the game on a 7-2 run to down Steve Wojciechowski and the Golden Eagles.

Photo by Austin Anderson

Photo by Austin Anderson

Seton Hall ended the game on a 7-2 run to down Steve Wojciechowski and the Golden Eagles.

NEWARK N.J. – It looked as if the Golden Eagles had passed their biggest test yet. Then it all came tumbling down.

Clinging to a 66-63 lead against Seton Hall with just 38 seconds left to play, Marquette only needed to stop the Pirates from getting a 3-pointer on its last possession. Instead, junior guard Khadeen Carrington drove to the hoop and banked in a layup over forward Sam Hauser, getting the bucket and the foul.

Carrington missed his free throw. Seton Hall forward Ismael Sanogo got the rebound and drew another foul. Sanogo missed his free throw, seemingly handing the advantage back to Marquette for a second time. In a flash, Carrington scooped up the rebound, dropped in a layup and drew a foul from center Luke Fischer. He then made a free throw.

The whole dramatic reversal took just 14 seconds of game action.

“We have a lot of guys hurting in the locker room because there were plays to be made and we were on the cusp of making them and didn’t,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said.

That’s the way Marquette’s 69-66 loss to the Seton Hall Pirates ended, with the team getting out-muscled on the boards and out-executed when it mattered most.

“We talked about rebounding prior to the game and one area that we really focused on was free throw block outs,” Wojciechowski said. “We have to make those plays in order to win. It’s plain and simple.”

Marquette’s biggest contributor early on was an unlikely one: graduate transfer Katin Reinhardt. The guard drained his first four 3-pointers, three of them from the left side of the court, and accounted for 12 of the Golden Eagles’ first 17 points. He finished the day with 17 points on 6 for 11 shooting.

Reinhardt was only shooting a little bit better than 30 percent coming into the contest, making his early eruption all the more surprising. He had gone 0 for 4 from deep in Marquette’s opening BIG EAST contest against Georgetown, but found his stroke against the Pirates.

“Obviously, a win would have made it a lot better, but it felt good,” Reinhardt said. “I’ve gone through some ups and downs this year. … I’ve been staying in the gym and doing everything I’ve been doing my whole life.”

Reinhardt didn’t keep Seton Hall down for long, though. The Pirates went on a 15-4 run starting at the 10:54 mark of the first half and ending in an Angel Delgado jumper with 5:06 left to briefly re-take the lead. During that stretch, Seton Hall went 7 of 11 from the field. Junior forward Angel Delgado led the way for the Pirates in those minutes, going 3 for 3 from the field for six points.

In fact, Delgado was a nuisance for Marquette all game long. He racked up 18 points on 9 for 13 shooting. Delgado also collected 12 rebounds. Such production is consistent with what Delgado did to Marquette last year, when he averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds in two contests against the Golden Eagles. Wojciechowski acknowledged that keeping Delgado off the boards and the score sheet with a limited front court was not an easy task.

“It’s a challenge for us and a challenge for everyone else in the league,” Wojciechowski said about defending Delgado. “He’s a load to prepare for, he’s a great player and I admire how hard he plays and how he rebounds the basketball.”

The lead traded hands several more times throughout the next few minutes and the halftime buzzer found Marquette trailing 33-32. This tracked closely with how last season’s contests against the Pirates went: Marquette had a combined first half point differential of only negative two against Seton Hall in 2015. That margin plummeted to negative 35 in the second half, though.

Old patterns appeared to recur as Seton Hall opened the second half on a 9-4 run, prompting a timeout from Marquette. However, unlike last year, the Pirates were not able to stretch their lead to more than eight points, a fact that did not escape shooting guard Haanif Cheatham’s notice.

“They kind of beat us heavy last year both times but this year we fought for 40 minutes,” Cheatham said. “We just couldn’t finish out the game.”

Freshman point guard Markus Howard catalyzed Marquette’s comeback starting at the 9:10 mark of the second half with a tough layup in traffic. Nearly a minute later, he drained a 3-pointer off of an offensive rebound from senior Jajuan Johnson to cut Seton Hall’s lead to two. After two missed shots, Howard drained a corner three and got fouled in the process. The ensuing free throw gave Marquette a 58-56 lead with 6:06 remaining, its first since the opening half. That sequence accounted for eight of Howard’s 14 points.

All that remained from there was for Marquette to put the game away, and Marquette definitely had myriad chances to do so even before the very end. Howard missed an open three with 2:23 left. Fischer missed a dunk on the next possession. Cheatham missed a layup with just over a minute to go. Finally, Reinhardt dropped in a layup to cap off his big day and stretch Marquette’s lead to three.

Even after Seton Hall retook the lead, Marquette still had chances to come back. Johnson tried to drive to the hoop, but had the ball stolen by Sanogo. Carrington then went 1 for 2 on free throws to stretch the Pirates’ lead to three, which meant that Marquette could tie with a three-point shot. Howard got trapped on the sideline and stripped by senior Madison Jones, snuffing out Marquette’s last gasp. Both Howard and Johnson had five turnovers.

“Seton Hall’s very good defensively,” Wojciechowski said. “They’re very athletic, maybe the most athletic team we’ve played. They do a lot of switching in their man defense and they cause a lot of problems but I don’t think we were as strong with the ball as we needed to be.”

“You’ve gotta play forty minutes. I mean, the things that we talked about and prepared for, we did not do for forty minutes.”

Those things that Wojciechowski talked about – boxing out, rebounding, avoiding turnovers – were done to a satisfactory level for roughly 39 minutes and 22 seconds. It still wasn’t enough.

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