Just Win Baby: No. 25 Marquette 69, Seton Hall 62

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Using the power of Free Throws, Marquette pulled away from The Hall in a game that shouldn't have been this close.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled scouring of Twitter for fake dead girlfriend dirt to bring you some news about a basketball game that we're certain does exist.

After a couple of pulse pounding, nail biting, and nerve racking contests to open the Big East season, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles (and their fans) were hoping things would be a little bit easier Wednesday night against Seton Hall. However, I am noticing a trend. It seems that making things easy just isn't something that this team is really into.

The first half saw some very good MU defense, coupled with some head-scratchingly poor MU offense. In the early going, Seton Hall played a 2-3 zone that it appeared they had never practiced. It was extremely soft, and Marquette was able to exploit it to get out to a quick 12-4 lead. But Ralph Willard's kid must've said something right in the under 12 timeout, because Seton Hall went on an 8-0 run over the next 3 minutes and prevented this one from getting out of hand early.

A 7-0 spurt from Vander Blue in the closing minutes of the half put Marquette back up by 10 at the break. The first half saw the Pirates make just 4 shots, and turn the ball over 13 times. Yet somehow it was "just" a 10-point lead. It really felt like a quick run to start the second half would be enough to push this game in the direction of a rout.

An early run out of the half was exactly what happened, but unfortunately it was Seton Hall that was the one making it. The Pirates drilled five 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes of the half, cut the lead back to just 3 and forced Buzz Williams to call a timeout.

Haralds Karlis sunk a pair of free throws to get The Hall to within 1 of the lead with 9:09 to play. But Marquette converted for 3 points on their next 3 trips down the floor -- via a Davante "and 1", a Lazar/Jae-style "trailer" 3-pointer for Juan Anderson, and a "Nooo.... YES!!!" 3-pointer from Todd Mayo -- and pushed the lead back out to 7. From there the "Drunken Hobbit" Jim Burr and the officiating crew did a good enough job blowing their whistles to keep the Golden Eagles heading to the free throw line, where they were able to keep the lead intact.

So, it wasn't exactly the walk in the park that we hoped it might be, but Marquette gets the W and the issue was never really in doubt. Golden Eagles now 4-0 in conference play. Who would've guessed?

Other notes:

  • Lately, Jamil Wilson has proven to be very effective knocking down the mid-range jumpers. This is making him particularly useful in attacking the 2-3 zone.
  • On the other hand, Jamil has been particularly ineffective when shooting from distance. On the season, he's shooting 36%, which is better than his percentage from last year. AND if you take out his 4-5 eruption at Green Bay, then Wilson is shooting just 29% from 3-point land. He has hit just 3 triples since that GB game, was 1-6 at Pitt on Saturday, and was 0-4 Wednesday. Bottom line: Jamil needs to shoot less 3s. Not that this is a new concept.
  • Junior Cadougan didn't seem to show any lingering effects from his rolled ankle over the weekend. However, fouls put Derrick Wilson on the floor for a good portion of the first half and part of the second. Wilson again acquitted himself well, with 2 assists, no turnovers and some good on-ball defense. He did, however, miss both of his FG attempts.
  • Seton Hall dressed only 8 players for this game due to injuries. And they would lose both Fuquan Edwin and Eugene Teague to fouls throughout the game. At one point their walk-on (who may or may not have been a team manager that they lent some shorts to) was up and ready to check in, before Coach Willard called him back.
  • MU really did seal this one at the free line. They made 24 FTs, while Seton Hall only SHOT 17. And 15 of Marquette's last 18 points came from the the line.
  • The 3-Ball was really the thing that kept Seton Hall hanging around. They were hitting at a good clip for most of the game. In all they went 9-25, but that includes the desperation heaves late in the game.
  • Because I know you were wondering: Haralds Karlis (who scored a career high 14 points in this one) is from Latvia.
Jae Crowder Player of the Year of the Game: The difference maker for MU on Wednesday was Davante Gardner. The big fella led all scorers with 17 points, made 5-8 from the field, 7-8 from the line, grabbed 5 boards and handed out 2 assists. More importantly, all of his baskets seemed to come in big spots, much like vs. Pitt.

Joe Fulce Undersung Eagle of the Game: Trent Lockett, Glue Player. Trent sneakily led the Golden Eagles in rebounding, while scoring 5 points and 2 helpers... and a dunk. I think I'm beginning to see what it is that Lockett does for this team.

Davante "Big Smoove" Gardner Smooth Play of the Game: It wasn't just one play, but a series of plays that drew my eye in this game. Late in the 1st half, with the MU offense bogged down and taking jumpers on their last 5 possessions, Vander Blue finally got the ball. On back to back trips, he put his head down and converted tough finishes around the rack. Then he buried a triple with the half expiring. His little run sent MU to the break up 10, instead of just 3 (or worse). It was a huge spot in the game.

Up Next: Could this be the last dance with the Cincinnati Bearcats for the foreseeable future? With conference futures uncertain, Marquette travels to Cincinnati on Saturday for what could be the last match-up with their old foes. That tips off at 6:00 CST, on ESPNU.
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