Marquette enjoys rare cakewalk in 70-52 win over DePaul

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For most of the season, Marquette has needed Markus Howard, Andrew Rowsey and Sam Hauser to shoot the team out of difficult situations.

On Monday night against the DePaul Blue Demons, the team hardly had any need for Howard and Rowsey, winning 70-52.

DePaul remained within two possessions of Marquette for the first five minutes, but then a 10-0 run later in the first half and strong bench contributions helped Marquette (13-6, 4-3) to a dominant 41-21 halftime lead.

“(Froling’s) offensive rebounding in the first half really gave us a shot in the arm and allowed us to get some separation,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “To get that type of contribution from the bench is really good.”

The first half success came despite a lack of production from Howard and Rowsey, who combined for one first half field goal on 1-for-5 shooting.

The duo combined for 18 points, the fewest this season from the two. Wojo said Howard has been ill for the last three days, leading to limited production in just 20 minutes of action.

After being outscored in the paint in all but one BIG EAST game, Marquette finished with a 26-24 advantage in paint scoring. Marquette also had more blocks Monday (6) than in the team’s previous two games combined (4). Sophomore center Harry Froling posted career highs with six points and nine rebounds on 3-for-4 shooting.

“My teammates tried to get me involved, Froling said. “I’m starting to get the flow of the offense now.”

The domination down low helped Marquette limit the Blue Demons (8-10, 1-5) to 29.9 percent shooting, including a dismal 18 percent shooting in the first half. DePaul junior Max Strus averaged 18.2 points per game entering Monday’s contest but only put up 10 points on 3-for-12 shooting.

“The first thing about defense is commitment and care,” Wojo said. “Our guys showed great commitment and care, both wanting to get stops and then executing the gameplan.”

Wojo described redshirt sophomore Sacar Anim and freshman Jamal Cain’s defense on Strus “really good.”

“That kid has been one of the best players in our league early in the season,” Wojo said.

DePaul wasn’t much better from the perimeter, missing its first 10 threes of the game. The Blue Demons did not hit a shot from beyond the arc until the final three minutes of regulation.

Sophomore Sam Hauser led the Golden Eagles with 19 points. Rowsey and freshman Theo John each had 11 points.

“Sam (Hauser) is a great player,” Wojo said. “From a consistency standpoint, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody more consistent than Sam in our league.”

Even with a 16-2 run at one point in the second half, DePaul could not cut Marquette’s lead below 16 points in the second half.

Marquette finds itself in a unique position following the rout over DePaul. The Golden Eagles will not suit up for another nine days. The only other nine-day break from games was between the Wisconsin and Northern Illinois games for final exams.

“We have to get our team healthy and fresh,” Wojo said. “School is going to start up again, so it will allow them to get back locked in as students and into a routine, which is disrupted when you’re on a break time.”

When the Golden Eagles hit the hardwood again, it won’t be for another nine days, when they will visit No. 11 Xavier Jan. 24 at 5:30 p.m. The Musketeers took the first meeting 91-87 to open BIG EAST play. Xavier will be Marquette’s sixth ranked opponent of 2017-‘18. Marquette’s only win was Jan. 9 against then-No. 13 Seton Hall.

Quick shots:

  • Wojo announced that freshman Ike Eke had back surgery last week. Eke, who is already redshirting the 2016-‘17 season, does not have an exact timetable for return.
  • Sophomore guard Markus Howard was “very much under the weather today,” per Wojo. Howard had his smallest point total in almost a year after being a gametime decision.