All five Marquette starters scored in double figures on Monday night as the Golden Eagles powered past the St. Francis Red Flash, 78-65. Marquette moves to 8-3 on the season with one more game left before the start of Big East play.
It was a good thing that all five starters got at least 11 points in this one, as MU was reduced to only seven scholarship players for the game. Katin Reinhardt sat out with a leg injury, while Markus Howard was sidelined as a result of concussion protocol. That left Marquette with just two subs after Traci Carter departed the squad last week, and MU’s subs were not particularly helpful on this night. Duane Wilson played 21 minutes, but racked up his fourth foul with more than 12 minutes left, while Matt Heldt managed to snag two fouls in just seven total minutes of action.
Things got off to a good start for Marquette, scoring their first 18 points all on three pointers while taking a nine point lead after seven minutes, and extending that lead to 13 on their first pair of two-point baskets of the game. SFU bounced back with a pair of triples of their own and a free throw to wipe that lead down to just six, but the Golden Eagles’ offense kicked back in. Marquette outscored the Red Flash 17-5 over the next five minutes to push the lead to 18.
Things seemed to be going well, right?
Well, the final three minutes of the half ended up being an omen for the second half. St. Francis cut the lead to just 11 on a pair of freebies from Jamaal King with six seconds left before the break, and then they dropped it to seven at the 16 minute mark of the second half on a jumper from Keith Braxton. Again, it was 18 with 23 minutes left in the game.
After it turned into a six point game for a second, Marquette went on a 9-0 run to regain control of the game when Andrew Rowsey canned a triple to make it a 15 point margin again with 11:20 remaining.
All good, right?
A 12-3 run put SFU right back in this thing when Randall Gaskins, Jr., pulled the Red Flash within six on a three-pointer with 5:12 left, and Isaiah Blackmon brought it back to six again with a pair of free throws with 3:44 left. Marquette responded, though: Trey by Sam Hauser, second chance layup by Jajuan Johnson (although Wojo wanted to burn clock instead), another #SammySplash, and a three by Rowsey made it 78-63 with 75 seconds left. Somehow, a game that seemed to be edging towards the brink of disaster got ramrodded back into the safe column very, very quickly.
This game shouldn’t have been so close to in doubt as late as it was, even with Reinhardt and Howard out. God bless them, but St. Francis is a sub-300 KenPom team. Marquette should have been able to take care of them with just seven guys. Technically they did, but the Red Flash put one hell of a scare into them.
It’s not all bad, to be honest. KenPom’s game page says the Golden Eagles allowed less than 0.90 points per possession across the whole game. That’s good! In fact, after allowing more than 1.50 per trip down the court in the second half against Wisconsin, I’m happy to see any performance that’s below a point per possession. It’s just that they kept allowing SFU to keep going on runs in between holding them down that makes you pause before being too excited about it.
Up Next: Well, at least Marquette gets some time off to rest after so many guys had to log big minutes tonight...... Wait, what? They have to play again on Wednesday against SIU-Edwardsville? And there’s a real chance that Reinhardt and Howard won’t be available again? DAMMIT.