Golden Eagles drop third straight conference game despite career game from Ighodaro

Redshirt+first-year+forward+Oso+Ighodaro+goes+for+a+dunk+in+Marquette+mens+basketballs+75-69+loss+to+Creighton+Jan.+1.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Marquette+Athletics.%29

Redshirt first-year forward Oso Ighodaro goes for a dunk in Marquette men’s basketball’s 75-69 loss to Creighton Jan. 1. (Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

After having 11 days off since its last game due to a cancellation against St. John’s Dec. 29, the Marquette men’s basketball team was back in action for New Year’s Day looking for its first win in BIG EAST play against Creighton. 

However, the Golden Eagles will have to wait three more days as they fell to the Blue Jays by a score of 75-69 in double overtime at Fiserv Forum.

In a game of many runs between the two sides, the Blue Jays, who hadn’t played since beating Villanova Dec. 17 themselves, ultimately escape Milwaukee with the victory despite blowing a 17-point lead in the second half.  

“We had the opportunity to win and weren’t able to close it out, and that’s what stings the most,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. “When guys fight and demonstrate the connectivity and the spirit necessary to come back from being down big like we were and then take the lead, you just want them and the team to be rewarded.” 

The Golden Eagles struggled offensively to start the game, as the team wouldn’t reach double figures until 9:03 left in the first half.

Graduate transfer guard Darryl Morsell contributed seven first-half points for Marquette after missing the Golden Eagles last game against UConn due to health and safety protocols. Morsell finished the contest with 13 points on 5-for-13 shooting from the field.  

After a low-scoring first 20 minutes, Creighton led 30-24 at halftime thanks to 10 first-half points from sophomore center Ryan Kalkbrenner. He would finish the afternoon with 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Blue Jays. 

Creighton came out the gates in the second half on fire, as the Blue Jays would hit three straight 3-pointers in the first 90 seconds to get their biggest lead of the game at 41-24 and force Smart to call a timeout.

As a team, Creighton would finish the game 11-for-31 from the 3-point line while Marquette went 5-for-19 from beyond the arc on the afternoon. 

After trailing by as much as 17 in the second half, Marquette would cut the deficit to just four with under eight minutes left to play. However, the Blue Jays would respond with a 5-0 run themselves to take a nine-point lead with 6:54 left in the game. 

The Golden Eagles continued to chip away after redshirt first-year’s Tyler Kolek and Oso Ighodaro traded buckets to bring Marquette back within three with under four minutes to play.  

“It’s easy playing with Tyler, he’s very unselfish,” Ighodaro said. “And he knows where to get you the ball. It doesn’t take much to get chemistry with him.”

The duo’s chemistry on the court was at its peak whether it was through handoffs or pick-and-rolls, resulting in an abundance of points in the paint for the Golden Eagles. Marquette outscored Creighton 44-26 in the paint despite the Blue Jays winning the rebounding battle 54-44.  

Ighodaro’s 20th point of the game tied things up at 58 a piece with 40 seconds left. The Golden Eagles would then get a chance to win the game with the last shot, but redshirt first-year forward Justin Lewis couldn’t get the contested 3-pointer to fall as time expired, resulting in Marquette’s first overtime game of the season. 

Lewis failed to reach double figures for just the second time all season, scoring nine points on 4-for-18 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds.  

Marquette would then take a 65-60 lead in the first overtime, their largest lead of the game, with just under two minutes left to play. This time, however, it would be Creighton’s turn to rally as the Blue Jays would tie things up at the buzzer after senior guard Alex O’Connell hit a 3-pointer to force a second overtime period. 

With just three seconds left on the clock before the shot attempt, Marquette decided not to foul and play out the remaining seconds.  

“We normally (foul) when there’s six seconds or less, but it was a unique situation with the ball being on the side there,” Smart said. “Obviously when you watch the play back you certainly want to do something different.” 

As the season trend has been all year for Marquette, the Golden Eagles struggled down the stretch and close games out. Meanwhile, Creighton continued their momentum in the second overtime period as they went onto outscore Marquette eight to two and made shots down the stretch to walk away with the 75-69 victory.

“They just hit shots (in double OT) and we didn’t,” Ighodaro said. “I thought we competed the whole overtime, but we need to finish it.”  

Ighodaro led the way for Marquette on the afternoon with a career-high 22 points on 10-for-12 shooting off the bench. The Chandler, Arizona, native also added five rebounds and an assist.

After starting the season 7-1, the Golden Eagles have now lost four of their last five games.  

With the loss, Marquette (8-6, 0-3 BIG EAST) will search for their first conference win when they host Providence Jan. 4 at Fiserv Forum. The Friar’s come into Tuesday night’s contest ranked 21st in the country.  

This article was written by Sam Arco. He can be reached at samuel.arco@marquette.edu or on Twitter @SamArcoMU.