Marquette’s offense erupts with five double-digit scorers in win over Central Michigan

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Photo by Forster Goodrich

First-year forward Ben Gold finishes a dunk in Marquette men’s basketball’s 97-73 win over Central Michigan Nov. 10 at the Al McGuire Center.

After taking down Radford in the season opener, Marquette hosted the Central Michigan Chippewas in its second game of the week.

While the Golden Eagles were still recognized as the home team, the venue changed as they played their first game inside the Al McGuire Center since 2018.

“(I was) really excited about first of all the opportunity to play in front of our students in this unbelievable atmosphere, it’s a rare game for us playing here at the Al,” head coach Shaka Smart said. “The way the students supported us, the atmosphere, it was really fun, unlike any college game that I’ve been a part of in a while.”

Behind that crowd and a career high 23 points from sophomore forward David Joplin, Marquette improved to 2-0 on the season with a 97-73 win.

“I told Zach (Wrightsil) before the game I could just feel it, the energy, the atmosphere and I just wanted to come in and attack. Last game I did alright in some areas but offensively I wasn’t who I am,” Joplin said. “I had a meeting before the game with coach (Smart) and he just told me be yourself.”

Joplin got out to a hot start for the Golden Eagles as he scored nine of the first 15 points to give Marquette a 15-6 lead heading into the under-16 media timeout.

In the midst of that hot streak, first year guard Chase Ross threw down an emphatic one-handed dunk off an assist from junior guard Tyler Kolek.

“He (Ross) just brings a lot of defensive energy and that obviously carries over into the offense,” first-year forward Ben Gold said. “He’s a high flyer, he gets out in transition and just gets the crowd going.”

Smart’s squad kept up the momentum following the timeout as they would out score the Chippewas 27-4 to take a 45-15 lead with just under six minutes to play in the half.

Central Michigan gain some traction towards the end of the half scoring 12 of the final 14 points of the half, cutting the Marquette lead to 18 points at halftime, 47-29.

The Golden Eagles began the second half fast as they went on an 11-6 run, including five points from Gold.

That effectively put the game away, as the Chippewas would only get as close as 19 points with just 6:26 in the half before cruising to a 97-73 victory.

The Brookfield, Wisconsin native would knock down four of his six threes in the final 5:19 of the game, after behind held scoreless in the second half until then.

“You just got to keep going, stay aggressive, I got to be a killer the whole game, that’s my role,” Joplin said. “We’re all big on roles for our team, we think of ourselves as all role players so my role is to be aggressive, be a killer and take what the defense gives me.”

Marquette had five players finish with double figure scoring including Joplin, with junior forwards Oso Ighodaro and Olivier-Maxence Prosper finishing with 10 and 13 respectively, while Ross and Gold each scored 11 points.

“I thought there were stretches where our guys were passed the ball well, I think we had 26 assists and Tyler (Kolek) really moved it around well, other guys (also) passed the ball well,” Smart said.

The Golden Eagles also forced the Chippewas into 22 turnovers, including 13 steals and scored 28 points off those turnovers.

“The whole week we’ve been talking about we just need to take care of the ball, there were a couple of plays last game (against Radford) where we just got a bit careless (with the ball),” Gold said. “Today we just managed to keep control of the ball, but also force them into turnovers.”

Meanwhile, for Central Michigan, junior guard Jesse Zarzuela led the team in scoring with 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the field (54.5%).

Marquette (2-0) will be back in action Tuesday as it takes on Big Ten foe Purdue on the road in West Lafayette, Indiana at 7:30 p.m. CST as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.

“Obviously we go up in weight class in a major way in for our next game and we go on the road,” Smart said. “There will be a lot of areas to look at where we need to continue to grow if we want to put ourselves in position to try to win that game.”

This story was written by Jackson Gross. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @JacksonGrossMU.