Floor slaps: Cheatham and Fischer bounce back in OT win

Cheatham bounces back

Haanif Cheatham started the BIG EAST season playing well below his usual standard. He scored a total of 10 points in three games on 3 of 19 shooting. The worst night came in Marquette’s devastating loss at Seton Hall when he failed to score a single point. When the Pirates came to the Bradley Center Cheatham flipped the script. He scored seven points in the first half and added two assists despite seeing two of his first three shots get blocked. The sophomore finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

“He came out and battled, and stayed in the gym and, you know, just came out and played big for us tonight,” Katin Reinhardt said. “It was a huge lift.”

In addition to his offensive contribution Cheatham chipped in lock down defense and played all 45 minutes.

“Haney’s our best defender,” Steve Wojciechowski said. “It’s very hard not to have him on the floor.”

Free throw shooting

The Golden Eagles entered Tuesday’s contest as the No. 2 free throw shooting team in the country at 81.9 percent. But it was poor free throw shooting late in the game that allowed Seton Hall to force overtime. Marquette went 12 for 17 from the line in the second half, including missing four of the last eight. Cheatham missed a pair with just 16 seconds to play. Both Howard and Katin Reinhardt entered the game having missed just one free throw all season, but both missed one in regulation. It was Reinhardt, however, who hit the final four free throws to seal the deal in overtime.

“Growing up, I dreamed about knocking down free throws down to seal the deal,” Reinhardt said. “I’m very confident in the way I shoot free throws so I didn’t have any doubt that those were going to go down.”

Howard continues to impress

Head coach Steve Wojciechowski was once again blown away by the youngest player in Division I basketball.

“Markus is just a bad boy. I mean, 17-years-old, are you kidding me?” Wojciechowski said.

Howard scored 22 points and notched six assists with no turnovers to help pace the win. The freshman has scored 14, 21, 22 and 22 in the first four BIG EAST games of his career.

“Markus has established himself as incredibly important to our team,” Wojciechowski said. “I love Markus’s competitive spirit and he’s like that on a daily basis. That’s why he’s going to be a hell of a player.”

Heldting the opposition

“I tell you, Matt Heldt, what a performance,” Steve Wojciechowski said. “He didn’t play in the second half then he’s playing the whole overtime. Not only is he playing it but he makes a number of critical plays.”

Heldt played less than a minute in the second half, entering the fray with 33 seconds remaining in regulation after Luke Fischer fouled out. The sophomore big man was tasked with slowing the BIG EAST’s top center and best rebounder, Angel Delgado. Heldt was no pushover though, coming up with big defensive moments on back-to-back possessions – forcing a miss from Delgado and drawing a charge from Khadeen Carrington that fouled Carrington out of the contest.

“That was really fun,” Wojciechowski said. “I’m happy for Matt because there’s nobody in our program who works harder or has a better attitude. Without him tonight, we lose. That was a great job by Matt.”

Clutch Fischer

Despite fouling out in the final minute of regulation Luke Fischer was huge for Marquette in the second half. The senior had 10 points and seven rebounds in the second half and played a massive part in holding Delgado to 3 of 11 shooting from the floor.

“He was really a terrific presence for us during that time (the second half),” Wojciechowski said.

Duane Wilson returns

Redshirt junior Duane Wilson returned to action Wednesday night after missing two games with a groin injury. His first contribution was an impressive block of a Seton Hall 3-point attempt. He got into foul trouble late in the first half but finished the game with six points and provided defensive relief when Desi Rodriguez got hot in the second half.

Best stat line

Markus Howard: 22 points, 4 for 6 from 3-point range, six assists, zero turnovers

Stat of the night

Haanif Cheatham and Markus Howard played a combined 87 minutes of a possible 90

Up next

Marquette will host DePaul on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Bradley Center. The Blue Demons are coming off their biggest win of the season, a one point win against Providence, but the Golden Eagles are 16 point favorites according to KenPom.