Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Marquette basketball didn’t look particularly great for most of if not all of the first half, let that drag on into the second half, but thanks to Markus Howard, the Golden Eagles pulled out the win at the end.
That’s roughly what happened on Thursday night at Walt Disney World, as Marquette pulled out the 73-63 win over Davidson in the opening round of the 2019 Orlando Invitational. Marquette moves to 4-1 on the season and on to the tournament semifinals.
The first half was a wild bunch of nonsense, and that’s the nice way of putting it. Marquette and Davidson combined to miss the first 15 three-point attempts of the game. That doesn’t really even start to scratch the surface of the lousiness of it all, to be honest, but you get the point. Thanks to Markus Howard connecting on a looooong range triple right before the horn, though, Davidson had just a one point lead, 26-25 (like I said, it wasn’t good) at the half.
Marquette came out of the locker room hot, though, and before two minutes wound off the clock, the Golden Eagles were up by four. Of course, that lead didn’t last very long. Davidson quickly wiped that lead away, and from there.... we got a really good game, actually. Marquette would make a few shots, Davidson would make a few shots. Marquette would go up a point or two, and then Davidson would go up a point or two. You can make critiques about whether you liked what was happening for the Golden Eagles, for sure, but it was a pretty quality 20 minutes of basketball.
As mentioned, Howard hit a long three at the end of the first half for the first long ball make of the game for either team. That turned into a big storyline for the second half. The Golden Eagles connected on five of seven attempts from long distance to start turning the game in their direction.... and Davidson did not. After missing six times from outside the arc in the first half, the Wildcats proceeded to miss nine more three-point attempts in the second. That made them 0-for-15 for the game, as the final horn would sound without a single Davidson long range make. This is a big deal, as Bob McKillop’s teams had made at least one three pointer in 809 straight games coming into this one dating back to January 1994. That streak came to an end at the hands of the Golden Eagles.
It was a three-pointer from Howard that tied the game up for the final time with 3:56 to go. He scored on Marquette’s next possession to give the Golden Eagles a lead they would never relinquish, and after a Brendan Bailey steal immediately afterwards, Howard found Sacar Anim in the corner for a verrrrrrrrry long two, and MU had a four point lead with 2:47 to go.
From there, Marquette just came up with a few more stops and a few more buckets to pull away late and win by 10. Howard wasn’t super amazing, connecting on just 11 of his 26 shots on the day. However, he did hit half of his long range shots to finish with an effective field goal percentage of 52% on the night, and that’s A-OK with me. MU’s star guard added four rebounds and two assists to his 40 point night as he kinda sorta dragged MU kicking and screaming to the win.
Up Next: Marquette will take on USC in the semifinals on Friday. The Trojans beat Fairfield, 54-47, in their opening round game on Thursday to move to 6-1 on the season. Tip-off is set for 3:30pm Central time, and it looks like it’ll be on ESPN2.