If you want someone to blame, blame one of the co-managers of Big East Coast Bias, our sister site that takes the full conference view of the Big East.
The odds of back to back crushing and unlikely losses can't be THAT high, right? #mubb— Robert O'Neill (@RobertONeill31) January 12, 2017
That tweet came at with about two minutes left in regulation or so, as Marquette clung to a six point lead. You’ll all remember that Marquette probably should have beaten Seton Hall on their trip to New Jersey 10 days ago, and they didn’t, which is what Rob is referencing.
As you all know now, Seton Hall wiped away that six point margin to send the game to overtime, but Jajuan Johnson scored five points in overtime and MU used four free throws from Katin Reinhardt in the final 30 seconds to grab an 89-86 victory over the Pirates.
The Golden Eagles are now 2-2 in Big East play, which is pretty good, all things considered. A win against DePaul on Saturday, and they’ll have three wins heading into the death stretch that is at Butler, at Creighton, and home against Villanova. and I’ll happily take 3-5 in the first eight given that schedule.
Things probably shouldn’t have gotten to overtime, and I don’t mean because Marquette was up five with 30 seconds to play. Khadeen Carrington knocked down two tough shots to provide the firepower for Seton Hall on either side of a missed pair of free throws by Haanif Cheatham, and that’s how we went to the extra session knotted at 77. No, I mean Marquette was up 14, 22-8, a little more than midway through the first half on a triple by Reinhardt. From there, the Pirates went on a 15-0 run to answer a 15-0 run by Marquette and take a 1 point lead. Look, if MU had eventually lost the 14 point lead, say, sometime in the second half, you’d say, “hey, SHU’s trying out there, too. It happens.” But it took the Pirates less than five minutes of game action to wipe it away like chalk on a chalkboard. That’s bad. Thankfully, the Golden Eagles responded to that punch in the nose and ended up leading by five at the half. Too bad that didn’t help them at the end of regulation, though.
You know who was really great in overtime? Matt Heldt. The sophomore big man was forced into action when Luke Fischer picked up his fifth foul with 33 seconds left in regulation, and he made repeated big defensive plays for MU. His biggest play of the night might have been the offensive rebound with 1:17 left in overtime. Desi Rodriguez had just hit a long range bomb to cut MU’s lead to just one, but Heldt wrapped up a miss by Reinhardt and split his two free throws. It might not seem like much, but it rescued one point for the possession and when Angel Delgado turned it over on the other end, Marquette’s path to victory was becoming clear.
Marquette didn’t really have an answer for Delgado in this game. The SHU big man went for 14 points and 19 rebounds in the losing effort. High scoring marks for the visitors go to Rodriguez, who finished with 30 on 10-of-21 shooting.
Markus Howard was the guiding light for the Golden Eagles on the night, finishing with 22 points along with one rebound, one steal, and six assists. The most surprising line of the night belongs to Haanif Cheatham. The sophomore from Florida went for 17 points, seven rebounds, and five assists and played every single second of the 45 minute encounter, the only player to pull that off. The reason why it’s surprising is he honestly looked kind of bad most of the night. Sure, he had his moments cutting to the rim for layups, especially the and-1 that extended Marquette’s lead to 10 with 3:53 to play. But Cheatham appeared hesitant and unsure of himself a lot as well, and definitely nothing like the confident guy who earned rave reviews as one of the best freshmen in program history a year ago.
Up Next: DePaul comes to town on Saturday. The Blue Demons are 8-9 overall and 1-3 in Big East play after Billy Garrett rescued them with a last second and-1 layup against Providence on Tuesday night. If you remember last year’s home game against DePaul, then you’re like me and glad to see he got that out of his system before coming to Milwaukee.