If the saying is “death by a thousand paper cuts,” then YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles experienced 999 paper cuts across the final 20 minutes and four seconds of Tuesday night’s 84-81 victory over Fresno State.
Yes, they won the game. Yes, it was their fifth straight win. Yes, they’re 7-2 on the season.
They also had no business winning this game after leading by 22 with 37 seconds left in the first half, which, I admit, makes no goddamn sense whatsoever.
Neither did the second half of this basketball game. After a relatively quiet first half from FSU big man Terrell Carter, he exploded for 15 of his game high 21 in the second half as Marquette had absolutely zero answer for him over and over and over and over and over and over again. Part of this was Luke Fischer picking up three fouls in a three minute window, giving him four total with 6:38 left to play. Marquette was clinging to a nine point lead at that point, and obviously, things got worse from there.
Another part of Marquette’s second half woes kind of just amounted to coming out of the locker room in bad shape. Fresno State assembled runs of 8-0 and 6-0 all in the first five minutes of the second half to trim a 19 point halftime lead down to just nine with 15:36 left in the game. I guess, somewhat fairly, you can give Marquette credit for not going into panic mode at that point. They answered the lead dipping below double-digits with a 7-0 run to push it back to 16..... which FSU answered with their own 7-0 run to send it back to nine. Yaaaaaay.
A pair of tip-ins from Fischer squeezed things back into double digit territory and all the way back up to 12 with 10:21 remaining, and from there, we began our long slow plod down to Paul Watson canning a triple to make it just a two point game with 39 seconds left. Things could have gone completely sideways for the Golden Eagles at this point, and to their credit, they didn’t. MU would hit six of their eight free throws following Watson’s bucket, and Fresno never got a chance to even tie the game. Jaron Hopkins threw in one last three pointer at the buzzer to make sure Marquette fans can’t pretend that they had this game well in hand.
For the second straight game, Marquette had blistering long range shooting in the first half followed by lousy shooting in the second half that averaged out to be a very nice night from behind the arc. MU hit four of their first five three-point attempts on their way to a 6-for-10 opening 20 minutes, which was fun. Going 3-for-10 in the second half? Not as fun. If you were wondering if Katin Reinhardt missed a lot of those, you’d be right. The grad transfer from USC hit his first shot of the game, a three pointer that made it 14-4 at the time, and then missed his next six shots, three of which were long balls after halftime. Reinhardt has now missed 15 of his last 18 three point attempts and is shooting just 25.6% from three and 27.4% overall. Please, I’m begging someone, please make him stop shooting.
Sam Hauser led Marquette with 19 points for the second straight game. The freshman from Stevens Point is currently ranked 19th in the country according to KenPom in offensive efficiency. This has something to do with being amongst the national leaders in defensive rebounding rate, turnover rate, and steal rate, and also probably a lot to do with his 52.3% three-point shooting mark.
Up Next: Those rodents from Madison make their way to the Bradley Center on Saturday afternoon. They’re sitting at 7-2 on the season, but they’ll be hosting Idaho State on Wednesday night.