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Floor slaps: MUBB season ends in NCAA Tourney first round

Sindarius+Thornwell+defends+Sam+Hauser+during+Marquette%27s+game+Friday.
Sindarius Thornwell defends Sam Hauser during Marquette's game Friday.

Sindarius Thornwell defends Sam Hauser during Marquette's game Friday.

Photo by Maggie Bean

Photo by Maggie Bean

Sindarius Thornwell defends Sam Hauser during Marquette's game Friday.

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The end

Marquette men’s basketball’s 93-73 loss in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to South Carolina doesn’t look great on paper. But with 6:20 to play, it was a seven-point game, and no team had ever led by double digits. Marquette took the first lead and carried it all the way into the second half. The Gamecocks took over the game in the second half, but Marquette stuck around, always taking one step forward and two steps back. Though the final box score looks brutal, it was anybody’s game before the under four timeout hit.

“Obviously they’re a team that plays very hard and is incredibly physical,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “They were allowed to play really physical tonight. I thought over the course of the game that wore us down and where they were able to get separation in the second half.”

 

A thorn in Marquette’s side

Scouting South Carolina certainly wasn’t hard to do. Just one quick look at the team’s numbers, and it was clear who you needed to stop – Sindarious Thornwell. The SEC Player of the Year lived up to the hype and then some. He racked up game highs in points (29), rebounds (11), offensive rebounds (seven) and steals (three). He was unstoppable from the midrange, he earned seven free throw attempts and he was the best defender on the court from start to finish. It will be a long time until Marquette runs into a player who plays as complete a game as Thornwell again.

“He’s a monster,” guard Andrew Rowsey said. “Hats off to him; he’s a great player. He has a bright future. That is the second time I’ve played against him, and both times I played against him he has showed me what he is about. He’s gonna have a great career.”

 

Not so neutral

Greenville, South Carolina is about 100 miles from Colombia, South Carolina. However, if you were in the Bon Secours Wellness Arena Friday night, you would have guessed it was a venue in Colombia. The crowd wasn’t just pro-Gamecocks; it was a rowdy home crowd not at all unlike any high-major home game for a quality program. The 16,000 seat arena certainly had Marquette fans in it, but there was no way they could keep up with the impressive South Carolina contingent.

“Felt like an away game almost,” forward Jajuan Johnson said. “The crowd was loud, and every time they made a run you could hear them.”

“It was just like a regular BIG EAST road game for us at Villanova,” guard Duane Wilson said. “We fought hard, but I think they fed off their fans at times. But we were prepared for it, so that’s not an excuse.”

 

Senior send-off

Friday night marked the end of the Marquette road for Jajuan Johnson, Luke Fischer and Katin Reinhardt. Though the three all took different routes to this point, they will all end their careers as Golden Eagles and have their names in the history books in some way. Both Johnson and Fischer scored more than 1,000 points for Marquette, and Reinhardt was the hero when Marquette defeated No. 1 Villanova in January.

“I thought back to my very first game right away and just how many great memories I’ve had playing for this university and the love I have for it,” Fischer said. “I’m really going to miss it. It’s been a heck of a two and a half years playing here, and I wouldn’t want to play anywhere else.”

Johnson said he feels the same way. He added, “Marquette, I’m a Golden Eagle for life.”

“Beating the No. 1 team is a surreal feeling that I’ll never forget,” Reinhardt said. “God gave me the ability to knock down those few big shots and knock down those free throws. I’m just happy to be a part of the program. I consider myself a Golden Eagle now.”

 

Best line of the night

Jajuan Johnson: 16 points on 3 for 5 from 3-point range, six rebounds, three assists and two steals – all team highs

 

Stat of the night

Marquette turned the ball over 18 teams, allowing South Carolina to outscore the Golden Eagles 25 to seven on points off turnovers.

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1 Comment

One Response to “Floor slaps: MUBB season ends in NCAA Tourney first round”

  1. Tobias on March 18th, 2017 2:13 pm

    Ridiculous for South Carolina to be given home court advantage in a 7 vs. 10 game. NCAA pretty much handed the game to the Gamecocks.

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