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What Just Happened: Seton Hall 69, Marquette 66

The Golden Eagles let a winnable game slip through their hands in the final 38 seconds. Or did it happen before that?

NCAA Basketball: Marquette at Seton Hall Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Playing with a bit of house money in their first road game of the conference schedule, YOUR Marquette Golden Eagles let one slip away from them in New Jersey. Seton Hall scored six points in the final 30 seconds to swipe a 69-66 victory, sending both teams to a 1-1 record after two Big East games.

Where do you want to start with this one?

I guess we have to start with the final 38 seconds of the game, right after Katin Reinhardt took a sweet dish from Markus Howard and made a tough layup to put MU up 66-63. Marquette had been holding a lead since Jajuan Johnson and Markus Howard had back to back breakaways right around the three minute mark, and it looked like Reinhardt’s layup was going to provide MU with the edge they needed.

It definitely looked like that when Khadeen Carrington, he of the 51% three point mark coming in, took it to the cup instead of hoisting a triple. See, Carrington was 0-4 on long balls in the game, so maybe he felt this was the best option for him on this day. He made the shot, but more importantly, he drew a foul from MU’s Sam Hauser.

This wasn’t the worst thing in the world, as Carrington is a sub-65% free throw shooter. Somewhat expectedly, he missed the freebie. Teammate Ismael Sanogo picked him up, though, winning a scuffle under the basket to come up with the offensive rebound and another foul from Hauser. Sanogo to the line, and since he’s a worse FT shooter than Carrington, of course he missed, and, because Seton Hall is a great offensive rebounding team, Carrington came up with the loose ball. He put it up and in, Luke Fischer fouled him, and Carrington sank this freebie to put the hall up by two.

Ok, no big, right? 24 seconds left, lots of time to get a good look at any shot to tie, or maybe a wide open three to win. Yeah, well, Jajuan Johnson committed his fifth turnover of the game while in the air in the lane. That led to Carrington splitting a pair from the stripe as Reinhardt fouled to extend the game, and for some godforsaken reason, Markus Howard and Andrew Rowsey ran next to each other down the court with 10 seconds to play, leading Howard to make an ill advised pass which turned into his fifth turnover of the game. Horn, Pirates win.

If you want to be pissed about that, go ahead. And if you want to sing out, sing out. Seton Hall’s a really good offensive rebounding team (#57 in the country in OR Rate after the game on KenPom) and they’re a really lousy free throw shooting team (62%, #331 in the country). Putting them on the line late was a recipe for disaster for Marquette, as it put the Pirates in position to use their weakness to feed their strength.

BUT.

If you want to talk about how badly the last 30 seconds were played, we’re going to have to rewind a bit. Back to the 10:54 mark of the first half, when a Jajuan Johnson steal (he had six in the game, by the way) led to a dunk by the senior from Memphis and that put Marquette up 10, 22-12.

Yet somehow, Seton Hall was the team with the one point advantage at halftime. Michael Nzei put SHU up 33-32 with 1:29 left in the opening half, and then Marquette missed two shots and turned the ball over twice before halftime. Did they lose the game in the final 30 seconds, or did they lose it in that 11 minute span where they frittered away a double digit lead? Or maybe it was lost in the final 90 seconds of the first half where they just couldn’t put together a successful possession in four attempts.

Does it look bad to lose in this way? Yes. Are fans left with an awful taste in their mouth? Sure thing. Was it 100% avoidable because the game should never have been in doubt? You betcha. Like I said, if you want to be pissed about losing a winnable game, you’ve got reason to be pissed. I just don’t think you should be pissed about the final 30 seconds, that’s all.

Marquette was led on the day by 17 points from Katin Reinhardt, who opened up the game completely unconscious from long range. The grad transfer from USC hit his first four three-point attempts, with the last one putting MU up eight in the first half. He was joined in double digit land by Markus Howard (14), Luke Fischer (12), and Sam Hauser (11). Johnson finished with one of the weirder lines you’ll see: eight points, a team high eight rebounds, two assists, six steals, and five turnovers. I’m not even sure I’m upset about the turnovers. Seton Hall was led by 18 points from Angel Delgado, who also had 12 rebounds for yet another double-double for the big man.

We talked about this before the Georgetown game: I had this chalked up as a loss. Losing it when it was sitting there ready to be won is very bad, but ultimately, it doesn’t change the outlook for Marquette this season, not by much, anyway. Seton Hall comes to the Bradley Center in just 11 days, and if MU can win that one in front of a partisan crowd, then they’re coming out ahead in my book.

Before that, though.....

Up Next: ...... Marquette has to go visit Villanova. It’ll be a Saturday night contest at the Wells Fargo Center, and the Wildcats will have to take their 14-0 record and #1 AP poll ranking to Indianapolis for a game with Butler on Wednesday before hosting the Golden Eagles.