Marquette rallied to down Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Monday night, getting the 89-56 victory at the final horn.
Yes, that sentence said “rallied.” The Cougars led Marquette by four points with 12:30 left in the first half, and they held a 17-16 lead three minutes later after a Jalen Henry tip-in put SIUE back out in front. The Golden Eagles outscored SIUE 29-10 the rest of the way til the break, which included a 10-0 run that took the game from tied at 20 each to a 30-20 Marquette lead.
The Cougars showed a bit of life at the start of the second half, immediately scoring the first four points of the frame to trim the lead to 14, and an and-1 for Brandon Jackson at the 14:45 mark cut the lead one point further. Three straight dunks - two from Luke Fischer and another from Jajuan Johnson - jammed the lead quickly to 19. SIUE answered that with a jumper from Henry, but the next seven points came off of Marquette hands, and that put the Golden Eagles up 24 with 11:14 to play.
That was pretty much it for the game. The lead would never dip back below 20, and after a Haanif Cheatham three-pointer made it a 32 point game with 7:07 remaining, the lead never dropped below 30 again.
The biggest issues for Marquette coming into the game were 1) can Luke Fischer respond after his worst shooting night of the season and 2) can the Golden Eagles put together a definitive defensive statement against a not very good SIUE team? The answer to the first question is “yup,” as the senior from Germantown went 7-for-14 in the game, including a 4-of-6 mark in the second half. As for the second one, Marquette held the Cougars to fewer than 0.80 points per possession, so yeah, I think that’s some pretty great defense.
Jajuan Johnson’s 14/2/5 with two steals earned him KenPom MVP honors for this game, but Sam Hauser (11/9/2/1/1) and Haanif Cheatham (19/4/1/2) had some pretty nice nights as well. Matt Heldt played some pretty great minutes, recording six points, five rebounds, an assist, and a block in 14 minutes of action and was generally a fireball of effort on both ends of the court.
How about some highlights, courtesy of FS1 and GoMarquette.com:
Up Next: Marquette will take a week off for Christmas before reconvening in the Bradley Center next week Wednesday to kick off Big East action against Georgetown. The Hoyas are 7-4 on the season after beating Syracuse on Saturday, and they’ll still host UNC Greensboro between now and then.