Marquette coughs up two turnovers down the stretch in overtime loss to Wisconsin

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Photo by Alex DeBuhr

Forwards David Joplin (23) and Olivier-Maxence Prosper defend a rebound in Marquette men’s basketball’s 80-77 loss to Wisconsin Dec. 3 at Fiserv Forum.

That notable second-statement win of the non-conference schedule was right there for the Marquette men’s basketball team.

Instead, the Golden Eagles (6-3) are going home without that win after back-to-back turnovers on inbound passes in the winding seconds of overtime handed Marquette a 80-77 loss to in-state rival Wisconsin (6-2) Saturday afternoon at Fiserv Forum.

“Really disappointed locker room in there,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. “We’ve been in a few close games here where we’re one foot away from winning, but Wisconsin deserves a lot of credit. At the end of regulation and overtime, we had some open looks that we just didn’t make or knockdown for guys that we feel are good shooters. We just got to keep working and getting better.”

The Badgers, who won their first game in Milwaukee since 2016, snap a 13-game home win streak for the Golden Eagles.

“Heck of a college basketball game and really at the root of why these two institutions continue to do this (rivalry) is that right there,” Wisconsin head coach Greg Gard said. “It’s a great win all around. I was really proud of our guys.”

Wisconsin began the extra period of action with a 5-0 run on a junior guard Jordan Davis 3-pointer and a layup from senior guard Tyler Wahl, which forced Smart to call a timeout.

Out of the timeout, junior forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper hit two free-throws and sophomore guard Kam Jones sunk a step-back 3-pointer to tie the game at 77-77 with 32 seconds left.

Then with 3.5 seconds left, sophomore guard Chucky Hepburn worked the baseline looking for a shot before bouncing a pass to junior guard Max Klesmit in the paint for a jumper to give Wisconsin back the lead at 79-77 lead.

“That was a toughness basket,” Gard said. “He willed his way in. I saw the arms on him and they’re (referees) not going to call that and they should at that time, let the players decide the game. And he made a heck of a play there to get that ball loose and get it up on the rim.”

With not much time on the clock, Smart drew up an inbound pass play call with junior guard Tyler Kolek working the baseline looking to make a hail mary pass. But instead, Kolek’s pass was intercepted by Wahl, who would keep some hope alive for Marquette as he only hit one of two free throws.

Down three, the Golden Eagles once again coughed up the inbound pass as Wahl intercepted the ball and held it as time expired giving the Badgers the victory.

“We got to find the right guy to make that pass and make that catch,” Smart said. “We’ve worked on it some in practice but nowhere near enough and it’s my job to find out who would make sense to have make that pass.

“And they defended it well. But we’re just trying to throw the ball half court so we can have a little bit of time because there’s only 3.5 (seconds) and then to two some seconds left.”

The Badgers came out firing in the first half, hitting eight of their first 11 shots from the field, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, to take a 19-13 lead into the under-12 media timeout.

After the Golden Eagles brought the game within three at 23-20, Jones capped off an 8-0 run for Marquette hitting a 3-pointer to tie the game up.

Wisconsin broke the scoring open in the final minute of the half. Hepburn knocked down his fourth 3-pointer of the afternoon in the final seconds of the half to give the Badgers a 41-30 halftime lead.

Hepburn finished a perfect 6-for-6 from the field with 16 points in the first 20 minutes.

Wisconsin shot nearly 70% from the field in the first half compared to Marquette’s 52.2%.

“There was a tendency that we had, almost a hesitancy to fly around and be everything we need to be in the defensive,” Smart said. “And I don’t know why exactly.”

Marquette picked up its defensive presence in the second half, chipping away at Wisconsin’s lead. The Badgers were without their star guard for most of the half as Hepburn left the game seconds into the half with an injury. He returned later in the game.

The Golden Eagles rallied and closed a 16-point deficit at the 7:04 mark of the half when sophomore forward David Joplin hit a layup to bring it within two, 63-61.

“With Chucky down, it put us out of rhythm for a little bit and (with) Marquette we allowed them to get to the rim a little bit too much, they did a good job of spreading us out and attacking the gaps,” Gard said.”

Despite its offensive struggles with Hepburn’s absence, Wisconsin didn’t let up its lead.

Part of this also came from the Golden Eagles not being able to take advantage of several opportunities to take a lead.

But Marquette was able to retake the lead at the 1:52 mark when Kolk forced a steal and found sophomore guard Stevie Mitchell in transition for a fast-break layup, which forced Wisconsin to call a timeout. It was the Golden Eagles’ first lead since the 18:33 mark of the first half.

Wisconsin quickly retook the lead after Hepburn hit another 3-pointer over sophomore forward Oso Ighodaro.

The 6-foot-9 Ighodaro would tie the game at 70-70 with a poster dunk to which the Golden Eagles’ defense responded with a defensive stop forcing overtime.

Hepburn led Wisconsin finishing 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting with four rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Jones led Marquette with 26 points on the night while tacking on six rebounds, an assist and a steal to his performance.

Saturday’s loss marks the third time this season Marquette has lost a close game to an opponent down the stretch. Smart said it comes down to improving on the little things in his team’s late-game execution to pull out a win.

“We always say solid on defense, take care of the ball and make your free throws. The team that does that at the end of the game has a great chance to win. It was a couple of times we weren’t solid enough,” Smart said. “We got to be more solid defensively, thought our guys took care of the ball pretty well (overall). Then, on the offensive end just continuing to understand what we want and executing exactly what we’re trying to do.”

Marquette (6-3) will finish its four-game homestand Tuesday when NC Central travels into Fiserv Forum. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. CST on FS2.

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