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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marquette earns 17th Big East win of the season

Photo by Katie Craig
Junior guard Tyler Kolek after cutting down the nets following No. 6 Marquette’s 96-94 win over St. John’s March 4 at Fiserv Forum.

It wasn’t smooth but No. 6 Marquette men’s basketball team concluded its regular season by cutting down the nets and confetti flying in the air inside Fiserv Forum.

With a nail-bitting 96-94 win over St. John’s (17-14, 7-13 Big East), Marquette (26, 17-3 Big East)  earned its 17th Big East win of the season, making it the most league wins in program history for the Golden Eagles.

“To be able to go 17-3 in this league with a group that was picked ninth and was certainly on the younger side says a lot about the character of our players and their willingness to stay connected through ups and downs,” head coach Shaka Smart said.

Marquette joins the 2011-12 Syracuse Orange as the lone two teams to win 17 league games in a singular season.

The Golden Eagles now look to cut down another net next Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Statistical leaders

Sophomore guard Kam Jones led the Golden Eagles with 23 points on 8-for-14 shooting. He hit five or more 3-pointers for the fourth time this season.

Four other Golden Eagles finished in double-figure margins. Junior guard Tyler Kolek added 18 followed by Stevie Mitchell’s 14, Oso Ighodaro’s 13 and Oliver-Maxence Prosper’s 10 points.

St. John’s was led by Dylan Addae-Wusu, who finished with 25 points, five rebounds and five assists. Posh Alexander also scored 18 points.

Taking it all in 

Following the game, Marquette celebrated its first outright Big East regular season title. 

As players and staff cut down the nets on both ends of the court, Jones joined Mitchell and first-year guard Chase Ross at half court taking in the moment with confetti angles.

“It’s pretty surreal. I’ll never forget that for the rest of my life,” Jones said. “I don’t think my teammates will either.”

Smart took in the celebration by standing at center court watching those in the program get their chance to walk up the ladder and cut down the net themselves.

“It’s really easy in your mind to feel something should happen or could happen or might happen or you’d like it to happen but for this team to go 17-3 is very unlikely relative to what pretty much anybody thought this time last year, the summer, fall (or) even starting conference play,” Smart said.

“I’ve never been around a group that care’s so deeply about one around and that’s really carried our team. Now it’d be really interesting to see how we can turn a page and attack the postseason.”

Hot start

In each of the last two games, the Golden Eagles have had trouble establishing early leads.

That wasn’t the case Saturday.

Kolek hit a 3-pointer off a bounce to put MU up 11-9. Then on the next play, Kolek forced a steal and threw a pass up court for a Prosper layup.

Ighodaro extended the Marquette run to 15-0 with a dunk at the 14:00 mark to break the game open 22-9.

St. John’s made a push towards the end of the half to tighten the deficit to 53-47 at the break when Addae-Wusu knocked down a 60-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Big East champs scored its most points in the first half in front of a sea of fans donning championship blue. The previous mark was 52 against NC Central Dec. 6.

Holding on literally 

Marquette looked like it was ready to begin its celebration when it led 93-83 with 29 seconds to go.

But St. John’s had other plans.

Addae-Wusu converted a four-point play to make it 95-93. Then sophomore forward David Joplin missed both free-throws giving the Red Storm a chance to tie or take the lead.

O’Mar Stanley made the first free-throw attempt but missed the second after Smart called a timeout.

Kolek is Kam Jones’ choice for Big East player of the year

Along with his 18 points, Kolek finished with 10 assists and three steals in 35 minutes of action.

Over the last four games, Kolek has racked up a combined 78 points and 40 assists.

“He should be the unanimous player of the year for sure in the Big East,” Jones said. “The same people (voting), they didn’t have anybody on our team on any team, any mention or anything in the Big East (preseason) awards so I’m pretty sure I’m speaking for him too, it’s good to just tell them to shut up and don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Next Up

Marquette now heads out to New York City for the Big East Tournament.

The Golden Eagles will face the winner of No. 8 St. John’s vs No. 9 Butler Thursday at 11 a.m. CST at Madison Square Garden.

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

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About the Contributor
Katie Craig
Katie Craig, Staff Photographer
Katie is a Staff Photographer at the Wire. She is a first-year from Lakeville, MN studying digital media and minoring in advertising. In her free time, Katie enjoys photography and hanging out with her friends. This year Katie is looking forward to getting to know more people and improving her photography skills.

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