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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

No. 5 Marquette routs Northern Illinois in season opener

Photo by Forster Goodrich
Chase Ross (2) scored 12 points in Marquette men’s basketball’s 92-70 win over Northern Illinois Monday night at FIserv Forum.

The lights dimmed, the song “Thunderstruck” rang out and the Marquette faithful began to cheer as the players made their way onto the court.

The 2023-24 season, one of most highly anticipated seasons in Marquette men’s basketball history, was officially underway.

In its season opener, No. 5 Marquette faced and defeated Northern Illinois 92-70 Monday night at Fiserv Forum.

“It’s great to be back in Fiserv Forum,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. “What an unbelievable crowd. (I’m) just so grateful for our fans… The energy that the crowd gave us particularly in the first half as we were making a couple runs, it felt like a Big East game from the standpoint of the atmosphere. (I) can’t thank our fans enough for making this place such a special place to play basketball.”

With the victory, the Golden Eagles (1-0) have now won 31 of their last 33 opening games. 

Warming up and breaking it open 

It wasn’t until halfway through the first half that the Golden Eagles’ offense began to heat up. But once it did, it never looked back. 

Sophomore guard Chase Ross kicked off a 10-2 run for Marquette after draining a three-pointer at the 10:30 mark, giving his team a 15-point lead.

“Chase has always been a great player,” Jones said. “Last year, he was a little timid sometimes. We all know Chase is a great offensive player and defensive player, so to just see him take that jump in his confidence is really what I’ve seen.”

Marquette continued to add to its lead as it finished the half with its largest lead of the night at 22 points.  

After the first 20 minutes, the Golden Eagles shot 61.3% from the floor while the Huskies shot 31.4%.

Kam Jones continues to shine

Jones, who was last year’s leading scorer, picked up right where he left off in this year’s opener.

As Marquette struggled to find its footing, Jones thrived from beyond the arc, scoring nine of the team’s first 13 points while going 3-for-3 from beyond the 3-point line.

“Kam, that’s my guy. I loved how he played tonight,” Sean Jones said. “Kam is a confident person. You can tell Kam was going to have a good game when you saw him this morning. He came into the Al (McGuire Center) real energetic (and) real happy like he always does… He played with pace, took his shots and made other guys better.”

The Memphis, Tennessee native finished 15 first-half points and added five more points in the final half. He also dished out four assists and went 5-for-5 from the charity stripe in 24 minutes of action. 

“He scored 20 tonight without breaking much of a sweat on the offensive end,” Smart said. “He had some very good defensive possessions, which is an area where we’ve really challenged him. He’s a heck of a player.”

Statistical leaders

Along with Jones, Kolek, Ross and senior forward Oso Ighodaro all finished in double figures with 14, 12 and 13 points respectively. Joplin also earned his first career start.

The Golden Eagles’ bench finished with 32 points with Ross as their leading scorer, who recorded a career-high in points.

“That’s a big reason to how we’re going to win games this year,” sophomore forward Ben Gold, who finished with nine points, said. “Whether we get in foul trouble or whoever it is, we have people to just come in and make an impact straight away. There’s no fall off.”

For Northern Illinois, junior guard David Coit led the team with 14 points and went a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. Senior guard Philmon Gebrewhit also added 11 points.

Shutting the door

Coming out of the locker room, the Golden Eagles’ offense stepped on the gas pedal once more to secure the win over the Huskies. 

In the final half, Marquette went on an 8-0 run started by Gold as he hit a three-pointer off a pass from Ross. Gold also capped off the run with a slam dunk that put his team ahead 73-51 with 9:57 left to play.  

The Golden Eagles finished shooting 52.2% from the floor and 36% from beyond the arc, while every player that saw the court scored.

“I love the fact that, for the most part, our guys all played unselfishly,” Smart said. “They played to help one another. They cheer for each other on the bench. And that’s who we are.”

Next up

Marquette will welcome Rider to Fiserv Forum Friday at 7:30 p.m. CST. 

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

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About the Contributors
Kaylynn Wright
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.
Forster Goodrich
Forster Goodrich, Staff Photographer
Forster Goodrich is a sophomore from Lyme, New Hampshire studying digital media. Forster works on the photography desk as a Staff Photographer. Outside of the Wire, he is on the club waterski team, and enjoys everything outdoors. He is looking forward to the upcoming basketball season and getting to photograph games at Fiserv Forum.

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