Marquette beats Eastern Illinois for second straight win

D.J.+Carton+%2821%29+looks+to+make+a+play+while+being+guarded+by+EIU+guard+Josiah+Wallace+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics.%29+

D.J. Carton (21) looks to make a play while being guarded by EIU guard Josiah Wallace (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

The Marquette Golden Eagles defeated the Eastern Illinois Panthers Friday night 75-50. They have now earned their second win of the season.

Marquette was led by their defense, as they held EIU to a field goal percentage of just 26%. They were also dominant on the glass, outrebounding the Panthers 50 to 31.

“We should be a good defensive team, we should be a really good rebounding team,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “And the offense will come.”

First-year forward Dawson Garcia was once again dominant on offense for the Golden Eagles with 16 points and eight rebounds. Garcia shot the ball well, going 5-for-10 from the field and 3-for-4 from beyond the arc.

Garcia said he has felt really comfortable with the team through his first two games and the upperclassmen have been doing a great job of showing him the ropes.

Marquette also got contributions from the backcourt. Redshirt senior guard Koby McEwen had 14 points, five rebounds and one assist and sophomore guard D.J. Carton had 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists off the bench.

With newcomers and first-year players stepping up, Wojciechowski said he has liked what he has seen so far in terms of team chemistry.

“Well we have really good guys, and they’ve gravitated towards one another, they’ve been good teammates and they’ve showed good enthusiasm,” Wojciechowski said. “And those are all things that are important for any really good team.”

Wojciechowski also said the team is hungry to learn and is committed to improving in order to reach their ceiling.

Senior forward Theo John continued to be a daunting presence down low after recording a double-double against Arkansas-Pine Bluff Wednesday. The Minnesota native flirted with another double-double, totaling nine points and nine rebounds, while adding two blocks.

A lot of work was done in the paint by the team as a whole, as MU found their way to the free throw line 34 times on the night, sinking 22 free throws. Eastern Illinois made 11 free throws on 18 attempts.

For EIU, senior guard Josiah Wallace did his part to keep the Panthers within striking distance, posting 15 points, four rebounds and two steals. Senior guard Mack Smith added 12 points and senior guard Kashawn Charles added another 10 points off the bench, but their efforts were not enough to overcome a strong Marquette foundation.

The Golden Eagles have been playing extremely balanced basketball through their first two games. After having six scorers in double figures on Wednesday night, Marquette had four in double figures against the Panthers.

MU has blown out their first two opponents, winning by an average margin of 33.5 points. Their schedule is about to get a lot tougher though, as the team will now go onto play Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Green Bay and UCLA before starting conference play against Creighton Dec. 14.

“Focus is gonna be very high, just like it was the past couple weeks, and we’re just gonna get ready for Oklahoma State first,” Garcia said.

Wojciechowski said the team will need to improve between now and Dec. 1 for their matchup with the Cowboys.

“We certainly understand, and our guys understand, that Oklahoma State will be a huge test for us,” Wojciechowski said. “They’re a really athletic team, they’re well-coached, they have who most people consider the top freshman in Cade Cunningham … they’re gonna be very good, and that’s gonna be a tough test for us.”

The Golden Eagles will play Oklahoma State on Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. Central Standard Time at Fiserv Forum. The game will be telecasted on FS1.

This story was written by Nick Galle. He can be reached at nicholas.galle@marquette.edu or on Twitter @thenickgalle