Marquette suffers first loss of season at home despite comeback

Redshirt+junior+Guard+Greg+Elliott+%285%29+dribbles+the+ball+in+Marquette+mens+basketballs+67-56+loss+to+No.+4+UCLA+Dec.+11.+

Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Redshirt junior Guard Greg Elliott (5) dribbles the ball in Marquette men’s basketball’s 67-56 loss to No. 4 UCLA Dec. 11.

Despite flight issues and arriving to Milwaukee the day of the game, No. 4 UCLA had complete control for 40 minutes Saturday night at Fiserv Forum defeating, Marquette men’s basketball 67-56.

“Thought they (UCLA) played with terrific poise throughout the game, especially the way they came out and fought early,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said.

It is the first loss of the season for the Golden Eagles at Fiserv Forum.

The same poor shooting issues to begin a game in losses against St. Bonaventure and Wisconsin resurfaced for Marquette Saturday night against UCLA.

On offense, Marquette hit only 33.3% of its shots, including one of its first 10 attempts.

“It was going to have to be a phenomenal defensive game,” Smart said.

The Golden Eagles shooting woes early in the first half, allowed UCLA to build an early 11-4 lead into the under-16 media timeout.

Shortly after the timeout, the Bruins continued their momentum as junior guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. hit a 3-pointer in front of Smart forcing him to call a timeout. Jaquez’s shot moved the UCLA run to 18-3 over a span of nearly eight minutes.

“That was a team that you can’t really get in transition and that’s what they did,” redshirt junior guard Greg Elliott said. “They turned our bad shots and turnovers into offense. Really any mistake we made into offense and that is something that most good teams do.”

With two seconds remaining in the half, redshirt first-year guard Tyler Kolek found Elliott open in the right corner who went onto hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send Marquette into halftime trailing 35-21.

Despite shooting 22.6% from the field in the first 20 minutes, the Golden Eagles finished the half on a 8-0 run.

Smart made a starting lineup change at the start of the second half as Elliott replaced first-year guard Kam Jones.

The second half started with both teams trading basket for basket, keeping the score within 14 points at the 18:36 mark of the half.

Elliott kept Marquette in the game, shooting 3-for-4 from beyond the arc in the final 20 minutes. He finished the game with a career-high 22 points, three rebounds and two assists on 7-for-11 shooting from the field and 6-for-9 from the 3-point line.

“I think I missed my first two (shots) and I came out of the game, believe it was Kam Jones he told me ‘keep shooting they are good shots’ so I just remained confident like I tell everybody else so I had to do it myself. And I mean I shoot in here (Fiserv) a lot so I’m always going to be pretty comfortable here.”

Marquette would bring the deficit within nine with 47 seconds left after redshirt first-year forward Justin Lewis finished the second chance dunk.

The Golden Eagles would outscore the Bruins 35-32 in the second half, but late miscues and early offensive woes proved to be too much for Marquette.

Jaquez led the way on the night for UCLA with 24 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block.

“Just watching them from afar, I knew it was going to be challenging to defend him because he really just takes what you give him,” Smart said.

Marquette committed 11 turnovers, with UCLA scoring 19 points off of those turnovers.

“If you take those away —the points off turnovers — it’s actually a really, really good defensive game by us,” Smart said. ”

UCLA out-rebounded Marquette 32-22 on the night, including getting 10 offensive rebounds compared to Marquette’s four.

“It wasn’t as much being out of position, there was a couple where we weren’t where we needed to be but I think we were there and got hands on a lot but we did not corral them, we didn’t bring them in,” Smart said. “We’ve got to do a better job of of hitting the other player on a block out and keeping him from getting it and then going and grabbing the ball.”

Smart said despite Kolek’s shooting 2-for-26 shooting slump from the field over the last four games, there is no thought of removing him from the starting lineup.

“Absolutely not,” Smart said. “He’s one of our best offensive players, even when he doesn’t make shots. Tonight wasn’t his night at all from the standpoint just how he played, even though he had seven assists but too many turnovers.”

In Saturday’s game, Kolek went 0-for-5 from the field. Smart said Kolek’s struggles have come from “rushing those shots.”

Saturday night was the the fourth time overall both programs matched up against each other. With the win, the Bruins lead the all-time record 4-0.

Smart said there are “a lot of things we can take from this game.”

“Hopefully we can learn a lot from playing against them (UCLA) and for some things that they do,” Smart said.

Marquette wraps up non-conference play with an 8-3 record.

The Golden Eagles do not have much time to dwell on the loss, heading into finals break before Saturday’s BIG EAST regular season opener at Xavier. That game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. CST tip-off on FS1.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at john.leuzzi@marquette.edu or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.