Golden Eagles down Green Bay for fourth win of season

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Redshirt senior Koby McEwen (25) shoots a jump shot over Green Bay’s PJ Pipes. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

The Marquette Golden Eagles defeated the Green Bay Phoenix by a score of 82-68 at Fiserv Forum Tuesday night to close the team’s five-game homestand.

Redshirt senior guard Koby McEwen led the way for the Golden Eagles with a Marquette career-high 28 points to go along with three rebounds and four assists. With his extremely efficient shooting, McEwen went 10-for-16 from the field and 5-for-9 from behind the arc.

It was a slow start for both teams, as they shot a combined 3-for-14 through the first four minutes of play. Marquette was ice cold from there, converting on just one of its first seven attempts from distance.

First-year forward Dawson Garcia eventually got into a rhythm in the first half to help build an early lead for the Golden Eagles. He scored 10 of his 18 points within the first 13 minutes of action. Garcia would also finish with seven rebounds on the night.

After strong defensive performances to start the season, the Golden Eagles allowed 33 points through the first 2o minutes of play, allowing the Phoenix to shoot 44% from the field. Despite lapses on that side of the ball, Marquette was able to head into the break with a 40-33 lead.

The Golden Eagles clearly made adjustments at halftime and Marquette came out strong on offense and defense. Green Bay missed five field goals to open up the half and the Golden Eagles were eventually able to build their lead to 14.

“We talked a lot about our defense, because that’s been our calling card early in this season,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “I didn’t feel like we were playing as hard on the defensive end as I’m accustomed to seeing our team play, and Green Bay capitalized on that.”

The Phoenix did not back down. The team went on a 10-0 run spearheaded by senior guard PJ Pipes to trim the lead to just four. Pipes led Green Bay with 22 points, seven rebounds and one assists. He shot 8-for-15 from the field and also hit four threes, three of which came in the first half.

Marquette responded to the second half run and never gave up the lead. They outscored the Phoenix 42-35 in the second half and shot lights out from the field at 54%, while going 6-for-9 from three-point territory.

The Golden Eagles also stifled a Green Bay offense that shot 38% from three in the first half, limiting them to just two threes in the final 20 minutes of play.

“We’ve been in this position before, a lot of our guys have, but we do have a lot of new guys, so it’s up to the older guys to bring those young guys with us and just let them know … teams are gonna make runs and we gotta put the fire out as quick as we can,” redshirt senior guard Koby McEwen said. “Once we got them under control, our guys sealed the game and we got a win.”

McEwen’s performance tonight comes as an addition to a string of impressive performances early this season. Garcia was the hero in the season opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff with 19 points, first-year forward Justin Lewis cemented his name in Marquette history with 18 points and the game-winning tip against Wisconsin and now McEwen has made his mark.

Wojciechowski said having the possibility of a different player stepping up each game has offered a lot of balance to the team.

“We talk a lot about being balanced offensively and on any given night, it can be different guys that, when you look at the stat sheet, lead us in scoring,” Wojciechowski said. “And we just want the ball to find the best shot and the guys who have it going or guys that we’re gonna go to.”

Marquette will now hit the road for their first game away to face UCLA.

“We need to prepare really well,” Wojciechowski said. “UCLA’s an outstanding team, outstanding program, it’ll be our first road game, which is always a new experience for the new guys, but hopefully they’ll be able to meet that challenge head on.”

The Golden Eagles will face the UCLA Bruins Friday at 8:30 p.m. Central Standard Time. The game will be telecasted on the Pac-12 Network.

This story was written by Nick Galle. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @thenickgalle