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Men’s basketball outlasts UTEP despite shooting woes

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Men’s basketball outlasts UTEP despite shooting woes

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

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Marquette walked away with a 76-69 win over the University of Texas at El Paso Tuesday night, but it wasn’t exactly the team’s prettiest win this season.

“We won ugly,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “A lot of teams would’ve lost today. It was a classic trap game. You come off a big win, everyone knows you have Wisconsin coming up and you want today to be easier.”

With five minutes left, the Miners were within two possessions of the Golden Eagles.

Marquette tightened its defense, however, not allowing a field goal for more than three of the last five minutes. At the same time, freshman Joey Hauser stepped up, scoring seven points in the final six minutes of action.

“I was looking to create a play for my teammates and myself,” Hauser said. “That was definitely a big spark for our team.”

“Joey was huge, especially in the second half,” Wojciechowski said. “We went to him more in the second half and let him be a playmaker (and) creator for us. He really did a good job of it.”

Then the Miners came back again, cutting the game within two possessions in the final minute, but the Golden Eagles hit five of their last six free throws to secure the victory.

Marquette leaped to a 13-2 lead at the beginning of the game, but UTEP fought back to cut MU’s lead to one possession several times in the first half.

“It wasn’t like we weren’t ready to play,” Wojciechowski said. “We were really ready to play. But when we took the starters off the floor, or at least a number of them, we have to be able to maintain that.”

UTEP freshman Jordan Lathon was particularly challenging for Marquette to stop, scoring 26 points on 8-for-11 shooting.

“He had a career day,” Wojciechowski said. “He’s a talented kid, and he’s going to be a heck of a player at UTEP. He was really good tonight.”

Marquette redshirt junior Sacar Anim helped the Golden Eagles limit UTEP star Evan Gilyard to 10 points on 4-for-15 shooting from the field and 1-for-8 shooting from 3-point range.

“(If) you were watching this team for the first time, you would’ve said, ‘No, he’s not even close to their best player,’” Wojciechowski said. “That means Sacar did a really good job.”

Turnovers continued to beleaguer Marquette’s offense, as five different Marquette players had at least two turnovers.

The Golden Eagles shot 49 percent from the field but struggled to shoot from the perimeter, a trademark of recent Marquette teams. MU shot 18 percent from three.

“We missed some shots that we normally make,” Wojciechowski said. “We had a lot of really good shots that we missed.”

The Golden Eagles also struggled to convert from the charity stripe, going 14-for-21 from the line.

Junior guard Markus Howard went from scoring 45 points against one of the highest-regarded defensive teams to missing his first four 3-pointers Tuesday night. He led the Golden Eagles with 21 points, but he did so on lackluster 35-percent shooting from the field and 25-percent shooting from the perimeter.

“It wasn’t exactly how we drew it up, but we move forward with a win,” Wojciechowski said. “A lot of teams would’ve lost tonight.”

Marquette will return to Fiserv Forum Saturday to host No. 12 Wisconsin. The in-state rival is coming off a nail-biting 69-64 win over Rutgers University Monday. Senior center Ethan Happ leads the Badgers with 17.7 points per game.

“Ethan Happ is playing as good as any player in the country,” Wojciechowski said. “I think he is a First Team All-American, and when that’s you’re starting point, that’s a pretty darn good starting point.”

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About the Writer
John Steppe, Executive Sports Editor

John Steppe is the executive sports editor for the Marquette Wire. He is a junior majoring in journalism and double-minoring in digital media and Spanish....

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