Three days after avenging their worst loss of the year by thumping DePaul in Chicago, YOUR shorthanded Marquette Golden Eagles -- who took the floor without Matt Heldt (knee injury) and Sandy Cohen III (undisclosed naughtiness) -- helped themselves to another slice of revenge pie by outlasting the Bluejays of Creighton, 66-61, tonight in Omaha.
Marquette looked ready for payback in the first half, as Haanif Cheatham opened the scoring with a 3-ball from the corner and Luke Fischer added two buckets to push MU to a quick 11-4 lead. But Marquette went cold after a tip-in by Jajuan Johnson gave the Golden Eagles a 17-9 advantage; Creighton rattled off the next 10 points -- with 6 coming at the hands of Cole Huff -- to claim its first lead of the game, 19-17. A 3-pointer from Henry Ellenson snapped that streak, and then it was Creighton's turn to go frigid from the field, as the Jays missed all nine of their 3-point attempts in the half and turned the ball over 11 times to boot. Buoyed by Johnson's 13 points -- and, by the way, we're petitioning to have Jajuan's first name legally changed to "Top 50 Recruit Jajuan" -- and Ellenson's 11, Marquette was up double digits, 39-29, at intermission.
Creighton stayed frosty to start the second half, missing its first four attempts from 3-point range, and Ellenson's 3-pointer staked MU to its biggest lead of the game at 44-29 with 17:54 to play. But the turnover bug bit MU big time once again, as Marquette coughed up the ball 5 times in the first 8 minutes of the second half, and when Creighton FINALLY started hitting shots -- Isaiah Zierden broke the drought with 9 minutes to go -- it was just a matter of time before the Bluejays took the lead.
NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND.
Before that, though: it certainly didn't help things that Marquette was on the business end of perhaps the bullshittiest bullshit flagrant foul call in the history of bullshit, as Ellenson was whistled for making contact with a Creighton player's neck as he attempted to corral a loose ball between his legs. (I'm not describing it well. You had to see it. It was bullshit.)
Anyway, even though Marquette's offense went into a shell for a solid 9 minutes in the second half, missing all of its attempt from the field from the 13-minute mark until Duane Wilson managed a lay-up with 4 minutes to go, Marquette still found itself clinging to a 58-56 lead with time trickling away. After a miss by Mo Watson, Wilson converted another tricky layup to boost MU to a four-point lead, and then some fantastic D kept Creighton at arm's length the rest of the way. Free throws from Wilson and Ellenson salted the game away, and Marquette wins (and covers! If you're into that sort of thing).
Ellenson was a beast, as per usual, with 22 and 11 for his 49th double-double of the year (unscientific). Top 50 Recruit Jajuan Johnson nearly joined the double-double party with 15 and 9, and Wilson notched 14.
With the win, Marquette improves to 18-10 overall and 7-8 in the Big East -- and, no, thankyouverymuch, I don't want to think about how things would be looking if we'd just TCB'd against DePaul at home in January. Creighton drops to 17-11 and 8-7.
National Marquette Day and a visit from the top-ranked (for now) Villanova Wildcats comes on Saturday. Let's keep this train chuggin'.