Things did not start out super fantastic for Golden Eagles, the team of Marquette alumni in the 2018 edition of The Basketball Tournament. A lot of shots went up early in their first round game against Johnnies, the squad of St. John’s alumni, but it took buckets from Jake Thomas and Maurice Acker late in the frame to pull the MU guys even with Johnnies at 16 at the end of the first quarter. Things continued on a rough patch for the first six minutes of the second quarter as it started to look like we were going to get a competitive but not particularly fun to watch game.
And then Jamil Wilson found a box of matches and exploded into flame.
After missing his first six three-pointer attempts of the game, Wilson splashed FOUR IN A ROW in the final three minutes of the half, including this one with time running out to put Golden Eagles up 39-33 at the break.
It was a personal 12-3 run for Wilson to put the MU team up heading into halftime, and the intermission did not cool him off at all. He hit his first two three-pointers of the second half to give him six straight makes from long range. The Johnnies weren’t going away, even though they had just seven players on their squad and refused to bring two of them off the bench for the entire game. A Jerel McNeal layup in the closing moments of the third quarter made it 58-54 favoring the Golden Eagles.
It was close for most of the fourth quarter, but two buckets from Oregon alum and Milwaukee guy Elgin Cook provided Golden Eagles an 11 point margin, 70-59, when head coach Joe Chapman called timeout to provoke the Elam Ending.
Surprising no one, it was two more threes from Wilson (and his only two pointer of the game as well) as he scored all eight points after the Elam Ending started to push Golden Eagles to the 78-67 victory over Johnnies.
Wilson finished with a game high 29 points on 9-for-16 shooting from behind the arc. Acker was the low-key star of the game, posting a double-double on 12 points and 12 assists, and Cook was a welcome addition to the squad, finishing with 7 points and 7 rebounds. McNeal had a rough shooting day (4-11, 0-4 from long range), but he finished with a tidy 9/8/4 line, plus two steals.
Here’s some highlights!
That brings us to Sunday afternoon’s game!
The Basketball Tournament
#3 Golden Eagles vs #11 Hall In
Hall In rolled out eight guys against the former Hoyas, but it was Quenton DeCosey, a four year Temple guy, who led the way for the former Pirates team. He had 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting, and added 13 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. The 6’5”, 205 pound forward was a handful for the Jack Attack defense, and Golden Eagles are going to have to try and find a way to contain him if they want to advance to Atlanta and the Super 16.
It was a very balanced offensive performance for Hall In on Saturday, with four guys scoring at least 11 points, and Jeremy Hazell joined DeCosey in double-double land with 18 points and 11 caroms. The big difference between Golden Eagles and Hall In in terms of style seems to be passing. The Marquette guys had 22 assists on 30 makes on Saturday afternoon, while the former Pirates squad only found 18 helpers on 36 buckets. If Maurice Acker and company can continue to find the open man — or in the case of Jamil Wilson, the hot man — then I think Golden Eagles can ply that and their 11 man roster depth to their advantage.
Seton Hall’s major advantage on Saturday was their rebounding. Hall In grabbed up over 40% of their missed shots, leading to 22 second chance points and an efficiency mark of 1.11 points per possession. Stopping DeCosey on the glass (five offensive rebounds out of his 13 total boards) will almost be more important than stopping his scoring, as all 10 of his made shots on Saturday came inside the arc. Shutting down Hall In inside will be crucial in general, as they had a 58-34 advantage in points in the paint against Jack Attack. Marquette has some big bodies on the roster in Cinmeon Bowers and Brett Prahl, so those guys might need to play a few extra minutes on Sunday if Golden Eagles are to advance towards that $2 million winner-take-all prize.
Whoever does win on Sunday will join Gael Force, the Saint Mary’s alumni in the Super 16. The SMC crew SMASHED Few Good Men, the Gonzaga alumni, by a 95-48 margin on Saturday night in the finale of the Spokane Hoopfest pod. The Super 16 doesn’t kick off until July 26th, though, so that’s a bit of off time for whichever team does win at the McGuire Center. They’ll end up playing whichever team pops out of the pod that includes the 7/10 game between Team Arkansas & Tim Thomas Playaz and the 2/15 game between HBC Sicklerville and the winner of the Talladega Knights/Queens Struggle play-in game. The remainder of the Northeast regional will be played out on July 20-22 at the Steinberg Wellness Center on the campus of LIU-Brooklyn.