It was just a few weeks ago that this writer said this Marquette Golden Eagles basketball team would lose some games they shouldn't and win some games they shouldn't as well. Friday night's loss to the Belmont Bruins falls into the first category. Luckily for head coach Steve Wojciechowski, Monday night's contest against the IUPUI Jaguars did not.
Marquette begins to mature
The young Golden Eagles showed that they have grown in just the three days since the loss to Belmont as they were able to hold off IUPUI on Monday after overtime at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. It was never easy for Marquette, but they managed to pick up an incredibly difficult win.
Tight game throughout
The game was close wire-to-wire; neither team was every able to assert any control over the game, and neither the major conference power nor the plucky mid-major could hold a lead at halftime.
In the opening period, Marquette center Luke Fischer was the primary offensive outlet on his way to 17 points on the night. Yet, the Golden Eagles could not prevent IUPUI from scoring either, and were forced to try and rectify that situation by switching to a 2-3 zone in the second half.
Marquette makes smart switch to 2-3 zone
The zone paid immediate dividends, and Marquette's defense improved in the second half. Although the game remained tight, the Golden Eagles played far better than they had in the opening installment, lending the game the idea that their superior athleticism and size would eventually allow them to pick up the win.
Yet, the Jaguars would not go away and Marquette has yet to learn how to close out a game. Over the game's final minutes, they wasted a number of possessions and missed some crucial free throws as they allowed IUPUI to tie the game up again. With less than a minute left, the game was knotted up at 69.
Neither team can find a winning basket
Marquette came downcourt, searching for a go-ahead bucket. The ball found its way into the hands of Duane Wilson, and he drove the lane before throwing a crazy shot at the backboard which was deflected out of bounds. The Golden Eagles retained the ball, but could do nothing with it. IUPUI raced downcourt, looking to Darell Combs, the veteran guard who poured in 21 points on the night. However, Combs' shot at the buzzer was blocked by Marquette's Sandy Cohen III, sending the game to overtime.
Marquette holds on in overtime
The extra period was not a clinic in finishing. No, IUPUI managed merely two points over the final five minutes, and the Golden Eagles didn't show much scoring prowess either. Yet, freshman phenom Henry Ellenson provided some critical free throw shooting on his way to 18 points while shooting 9-12 from the line. After his free throw, Duane Wilson finished an and-one after a strong drive through the lane with merely 15 seconds on the clock. The guard made his free throw to extend the lead to 75-71, and clinch the game for Marquette.