Lewis, Morsell help lift Marquette to securing No. 5 seed

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Photo by Collin Nawrocki

Graduate student guard Darryl Morsell (32) drives to the basket in Marquette’s men’s basketball’s 85-77 over St. John’s March 5.

With BIG EAST Tournament implications on the line Saturday night, the Marquette men’s basketball team defeated St. Johns 85-77 at Fiserv Forum in the teams BIG EAST regular season finale.  

“I was really happy for our seniors, to win on senior night against a really good St. John’s team that would just not go away,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “Our guys hung in there and continued to battle. I thought in our last game against DePaul we got disconnected and that never happened tonight.” 

With the win, Marquette clinches the No. 5 seed and a first-round bye in the BIG EAST Tournament. The Golden Eagles will now take on Creighton in the quarterfinals March. 10.  

With Greg Elliott, Darryl Morsell and Kur Kuath all being introduced before the game in honor of Senior Night, it was the young buck Justin Lewis who carried the freight once again for the Golden Eagles, posting a game-high 28 points.  

Marquette came out the gates with intensity on both ends, starting the game on a 10-0 run and forcing St. John’s to call an early timeout. 

Morsell was feeling it early for the Golden Eagles, putting up eight quick points on 4-for-5 shooting to start the game.  

After starting the game going 0-for-5 from the field, St. John’s shot 41.2% from the field in the first half to keep things from getting out of hand early.   

Lewis also had a huge first half for Marquette, putting up 17 points in the opening frame.

With a combined 30 points from Lewis and Morsell in the first half, Marquette led 42-35 at the break over the Red Storm. Julian Champagnie chipped in 10 points for the Johnnies.  

St. Johns started the second half strong, cutting the Marquette lead to 48-46 with 17:05 left in the second half.  

It was a back-and-forth battle at Fiserv the entire second half, with neither side leading by more than double digits. 

Marquette was getting quality minutes and key contributions from its bench in the second half from the likes of first-years Stevie Mitchell and David Joplin.  

Joplin finished with five points on 2-for-6 shooting in just six minutes of play.  

“Jop is a guy who comes in and knows his role, which is to shoot and score,” Smart said. “I think he’s going to be one of the best scorers in the BIG EAST in time as he continues to grow and improve in areas.” 

A 3-pointer from Mitchell at the top of the key gave Marquette a 69-61 lead with 7:36 left to play.   

Despite struggling for most of the game from the 3-point line, Lewis provided Marquette with a much needed 3-pointer in the corner right in front of the Marquette bench to give the Golden Eagles a 76-67 lead with 2:02 to play.  

Marquette shot 7-for-22 (31%) on the night from beyond the arc.  

Lewis would then do his diligence at the free-throw line, sinking four-straight at the charity stripe to help ice the game down the stretch.  

As a team, Marquette went 20-for-25 (80%) from the free-throw line throughout the game.  

Alongside his 28 points on 9-20 shooting (4-for-7 from the 3-point line), Lewis finished with seven rebounds and two blocks to lead the Golden Eagles.  

“Justin, I feel is one of the most improved players in our league,” St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson said.  

Morsell added 20 points on an efficient 8-for-14 shooting to go along with six rebounds and four assists.  

Kuath was the only other Marquette player to finish in double figure scoring, posting 12 points and collecting seven rebounds on the night. 

With the win, Marquette finishes the season with a 13-3 record at home after going just 7-7 at Fiserv last season. 

Elliott, who has played five seasons for Marquette, finished with eight points and six rebounds in what could be his last game at Fiserv Forum.  

“I’ve got to rank it at one or two (tonight’s game) in terms of my favorite games played,” Elliott said. “It still hasn’t hit me that this might be my last game at Fiserv yet.” 

Elliott will have one more year of athletic eligibility following this season.  

Up next, Marquette (19-11) will take on Creighton March. 10 at 1:30 p.m. CST in the BIG EAST Tournament Quarterfinals in New York City.

The Blue Jays completed the season sweep over the Golden Eagles winning both games by a combined total of seven points.  

“Both of those games we certainly had our opportunities, but I thought Creighton went and took those games down the stretch,” Smart said. “Basically, the postseason started today, we knew we had to win to put ourselves in a better position and the guys did a great job of doing that.” 

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