Golden Eagles fall to Huskies for second time this season

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First-year forward Justin Lewis (2) throws home a dunk against the UConn Huskies on Saturday afternoon (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

First-year forwards Dawson Garcia and Justin Lewis were the only two players to score in double digits for the Marquette Golden Eagles (11-13, 6-11 BIG EAST) as they came up short in the fifth game of their six-game road trip.

The University of Connecticut Huskies (12-6, 9-6 BIG EAST) secured a commanding 80-62 win behind the performances of sophomore guard James Bouknight and redshirt junior guard R.J. Cole. Bouknight had a game-high 24 points to go along with two rebounds, two steals and one assist. Cole posted 21 points, three rebounds, three assists and went 9-for-14 from the field.

“To me, as good as Bouknight is, Cole was the key to the game,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “He dominated his matchup and he was sensational throughout the game — not just his ability to make shots. He led his team, he defended at a high level and he was really, to me, the key to the game for them.”

The Golden Eagles finished the first half shooting 30% from the field, while the Huskies shot 52%. The impressive shooting performance through the first 20 minutes of play allowed UConn to jump out to a 38-21 lead by the break.

Following halftime, Marquette was able to eventually chip away at the lead to get it down to 11, but they would never get any closer. Connecticut responded with an 11-4 run to bring the lead up to 18 and never looked back.

“They got key second shots and broken-play points, where we would play pretty good first-shot defense and it ended up being a broken play and they got … baskets,” Wojciechowski said. “They also hit some tough shots, but that’s what a great player like Bouknight has the ability to do. … The things that we can control, we didn’t do as good a job on.”

Garcia had a team-high 18 points, eight rebounds and shot 5-for-10 from the field. In his first game back from injury, Lewis added 14 points, two rebounds, one block and one steal in his 21 minutes on the floor. The first-year forward played seven minutes against Creighton on Feb. 6, but had not played since.

“Obviously Justin’s been a big part of our team and he’s a good player,” Wojciechowski said. “Hopefully, the more time we have to practice with him and the more time he’s back, the better he’ll get.”

Wojciechowski also added that doctors have not implemented a minutes restriction for Lewis and he said his play time has more to do with his shape and conditioning since he has not practiced in a while.

D.J. Carton struggled against the Huskies. The sophomore guard has just two points and went 0-for-9 from the field. It was the first time this season that he was held scoreless.

After dropping 23 points off the bench when these two teams first met on Jan. 5, senior forward Tyler Polley had nine points, two rebounds and one assist. He went 3-for-7 from the field and 3-for-6 from 3-point territory.

UConn was also dominant in the paint, outscoring the Golden Eagles 40-24. Despite the discrepancy down low, MU was able to get to the charity stripe 21 times, converting on 14 of those attempts.

Marquette will now look to finish off the road trip at 8 p.m. Central Standard Time March 2 against the DePaul Blue Demons (4-12, 2-12 BIG EAST) at Wintrust Arena. 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.