Lack of first-half offense leads to No. 18 Marquette suffering road loss

Graduate+student+guard+Darryl+Morsell+%2832%29+in+Marquettes+83-73+win+over+Villanova+Feb.+2.+

Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Graduate student guard Darryl Morsell (32) in Marquette’s 83-73 win over Villanova Feb. 2.

Entering the day on polar opposite sides of the BIG EAST Conference, the No. 18 Marquette men’s basketball team fell to the Butler Bulldogs by a score of 85-79 at Hinkle Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon.

“They (Butler) just outplayed us (and) they were the aggressors from the beginning,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. “Our guys have a lot of character so they fought and did a great job bringing us back, but it’s hard to come back and win when you dig yourself a hole like that on the road.”

Both teams struggled to find themselves offensively early in the first half with Butler earning the first field goal of the afternoon at the 17:58 mark off a 3-pointer from forward Bryce Golden.

The Golden Eagles then fell into a hole as the Bulldogs used a 14-4 run over a span of 2:43 to jump out to a 21-9 lead.

Despite entering the night 325th in the nation in 3-point percentage, Butler hit five of its seven shots from deep in the opening five minutes.

Marquette climbed back with 7:58 left to go in the first half after redshirt first-year forward Justin Lewis hit back-to-back 3-pointers to bring the score to 33-19.

Butler went into the locker room with a 42-27 lead, after Marquette turned over the ball in the closing seconds when Oso Ighodaro and Lewis collided on Tyler Kolek’s inbound pass.

Butler finished with 11 assists on 15 made field goal baskets in the first half, while Marquette had just three assists on 10 field goals.

The Bulldogs also ended with a 16-12 advantage inside the paint in the first twenty minutes.

Marquette began the second half on a 5-0 run to bring the deficit within 10, but Butler responded with back-t0-back baskets of its own.

After bringing the score back within 10 with 15:58 to go, the Bulldogs responded with a second-chance layup from Bryce Nze and back-t0-back triples from Simas Lukosius to go back up 18 forcing Smart to call a timeout.

Marquette got within seven when Kolek hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key off the offensive rebound from Ighodaro to make it 60-53.

Ighodaro then followed with a dunk to bring it to 60-55 after Lewis forced a turnover, forcing Butler to call a timeout.

Kolek splashed his fourth 3-pointer to bring the gap with 77-71, but Butler’s Chuck Harris pulled up with a jumper to expand the lead back up to nine. Lewis brought it within five with 1:06 to go on a catch and shoot 3-pointer from Kolek.

But Golden responded with a triple of his own, sealing the deal for the Bulldogs.

It is the first time since Jan. 20, 2020 that Butler has beaten Marquette.

“This game was not lost on the offensive end, it was lost on the defensive end,” Smart said. “Gave up 85 points, 42 and 43 in two halves. Can’t win that way, especially on the road.”

The Bulldogs out-rebounded the Golden Eagles 36-29 on the night, including a 11-5 advantage on the offensive boards.

Lewis led the way on the afternoon for Marquette with 27 points, nine rebounds and an assist. It is the 23rd time this season Lewis has reached double figures.

“He’s really grown his game and he’s a tough matchup,” Butler head coach LaVall Jordan said. “Earlier in the game I thought we did a great job of getting him off the three point line. It’s hard to do both, keep him off the 3-point line and foul line just with the the way he plays and the positions that they put him in.”

“Thought our guys did a better job in the second half. We lost him a few times and he had some tough,  threes over the top of us. When you 6’8″ and you can do that, that’s a really tough matchup. He’s really developed from last year to this year.”

Following a 7-2 record in the month of January, the Golden Eagles have lost two of three to open the month of February.

Smart said he wants to see his team respond “by coming together and by having a level of respect for what goes into winning.”

“What our guys failed to understand today is that when we don’t all play for each other and lose ourselves in a fight, we are an average team average and that was demonstrated today,” Smart said. “It was exacerbated by the fact that Butler did a great job attacking, they were aggressive and their guys were ready to go.”

Marquette (16-9, 8-6 BIG EAST) will not have much time to dwell on the loss as it hosts Georgetown Wednesday at Fiserv Forum. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST on FS1.

This article was written by John Leuzzi. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JohnLeuzziMU.