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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

No. 10 Marquette fights back against No. 19 Creighton to hold its place atop Big East

(Photo courtesy of Marquette Athletics.)

With over 18,000 fans in attendance, the atmosphere at the CHI Health Center was like a Big East championship game at Madison Square Garden in March.

In this regular season dogfight, No. 10 Marquette defeated No. 19 Creighton 73-71 Tuesday night in Omaha to sweep the season series. 

“This is such a hard place to come in and win,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart told ESPN Milwaukee broadcasters Steve “The Homer” True and Tony Smith in a post-game radio interview. “We got down early, but our guys showed amazing fortitude (and) stay(ed) together.” 

With the win, Marquette (22-6, 14-3 Big East) is now 14-3 in conference play and holds a two game lead in first place. 

Kolek clutch 

With 29 seconds left to go in the game, junior guard Tyler Kolek drove to the paint and made a clutch floater over junior center Ryan Kalkbrenner. Marquette then took the lead 71-69 and made several free throws to seal the win for the Golden Eagles. 

“He’s got a lot of nuts,” Smart said to FS1 College Basketball Analyst Nick Bahe after the game. “He’s a tough guy. He’s a guy you want on your side.” 

Kolek scored 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting in the second half alone, while also dishing out four assists. 

Statistical leaders 

Sophomore guard Kam Jones led the way for Marquette netting 19 points on 3-for-9 shooting from beyond the arc.

Kolek and junior forward Oso Ighodaro each added 18 points.  

“Tyler and Oso did a phenomenal job leading us and putting their arm around their teammates and saying ‘Hey, hang in there, stay together, this is what we need to do,’” Smart said. 

Senior guard Baylor Scheierman recorded a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds for the Bluejays. Sophomore guard Ryan Nembhard also netted 16 points on 5-for-8 from the floor.  

Early offense for Bluejays 

It was a back-and-forth affair in the first few minutes of this contest. While Creighton’s offense found its spark, Marquette struggled to finish around the rim. 

Creighton went on an 8-0 run near the end of the first half and led by as much as 12 points. 

Marquette responded with a 10-3 run to cut their deficit to five, but Creighton’s offense continued to thrive as the Bluejays went into the locker room leading by eight points.  

Creighton shot 53.3% from the floor compared to the Marquette’s 45.2%. The Bluejays’ bench outscored the Golden Eagles’ bench 10-2. Creighton also scored 12 points off Marquette’s six turnovers, and also shot 10-for-13 on two-point baskets in the half. 

Scrappy defense leads to scorching offense 

Marquette came out of the locker room aggressively, going on an 8-0 run to begin the second half.

The Golden Eagles forced five turnovers in the first few minutes of the final frame while scoring 10 points in the paint.  

“That early second half run that we made, we got 11 deflections in four minutes,” Smart said. “We were getting our hands on the ball like crazy and that was huge for us.” 

As Creighton began to respond, Marquette’s offense kicked into high gear, going on a 13-0 run with contributions from Jones and Ighodaro in a span of over six minutes. 

Then Marquette’s offense went into a drought, giving Creighton an opportunity to get back into the game. But, with tough defense and some timely free-throws down the stretch, the Golden Eagles were able to hold onto the win.

Marquette forced nine turnovers while recording seven steals in the second half alone.

Next up: 

Marquette will return home as it plays host to DePaul (9-18, 3-13 Big East) Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CST. The Golden Eagles defeated the Blue Demons 89-69 at Wintrust Arena in January. 

This article was written by Kaylynn Wright. She can be reached @[email protected] or on Twitter @KaylynnWrightMU.

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About the Contributor
Kaylynn Wright, Assistant Sports Editor
Kaylynn Wright is a sophomore from Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin studying journalism, and she is an Assistant Sports Editor for the 2023-2024 school year. Outside of the Wire, she enjoys reading and watching baseball, specifically the San Francisco Giants and the Boston Red Sox. She is excited to meet new people and continue to create high-quality sports content for the Wire.

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