It makes sense after games like this to point to the most recent thing that happened and blame that event on the loss. Marquette choked away a 13 point lead that they earned halfway through the second half. Myles Powell went nuts and the offense had absolutely no answer. The final 10 minutes are a good portion of the reason why they lost, 73-64 on Wednesday night, but it is nowhere close to the main reason.
14 turnovers in the first half. There’s the takeaway. Seton Hall pressed, but none of them came as a result of it. They even backed off of it because it wasn’t forcing any. The turnovers came in the half court. It was dumb passes, it was driving directly into double teams, it was just letting the ball slip through their hands. The Pirates were gifted around five easy buckets that allowed them to stay within two possessions going into the half. If Marquette cuts that number in half, which would still be considered a poor performance handling the ball, Marquette wins easily.
The first four possessions resulted in cough ups. Three of them came at the hands of Sam Hauser. He had a terrible start to the game and allowed Hall to keep up the pressure on Markus Howard. As it turns out, when no one else proves to be a viable offensive weapon, you can throw 3 guys on Howard and still be fine.
It wasn’t just Sam, either. Everyone was invited to the turnover party, which is not the suburban backyard paradise that the name suggests. Markus had some really silly miscues. So did Joey Hauser. So did you, if you accidentally ate meat today and are a practicing Catholic.
The funny thing is that every other part of the first half was about perfect. Ed Morrow was an animal on the glass against a team that’s normally tough to beat in that area. After early game jitters, Sam started making his shots. Brendan Bailey gave a huge boost off the bench. But those turnovers created a sinkhole that the team couldn’t fully escape, not even when they eventually got up 13.
The little bit of momentum led to a second half run that would’ve all but buried the Pirates had the halftime margin been larger. Most of it even came with Markus Howard on the bench with foul issues. The Elder Hauser caught fire and Seton Hall was slow to come up with an answer for him. The lead was “only” 13 because of those turnovers, but a 13 point lead is a 13 point lead.
After the under 8 timeout transpired, Marquette scored a total of two points. Only one turnover was committed, but the offense went completely stagnant. It seemed like everyone just assumed that Markus would take over just because he was in the game. Quincy McKnight was draped over him like the blanket I have over my head that I’m using to forget about my pain. Howard did his best to create as much space as he could in dire situations, but all it amounted to was a 2-for-10 performance from the field tonight.
The defense reasonably held him off for long enough, but with the lead in sight, Myles Powell smelled blood. He scored 10 points without missing a shot on 4 straight possessions that spanned a minute and a half. On a magic trick more morbid than the Joker’s, a seven point lead turned into a three point deficit. Marquette missed six straight shots, all of them horrible looking, after that and the game was over.
That sucked. Do you want to feel better? I want to feel better. Click on this link if you want to feel better. Don’t read below this unless you clicked on the link.
PSYCH. That didn’t make you feel better. In fact, it probably hurt a little bit. Good. I brought it up for a reason.
There was a time earlier in the year, hell, just last month, where this team pulled games out of their ass on a nightly basis due to clutch performances in the final minutes. One of those games was the home game against Seton Hall, in fact. Part of the reason why I don’t buy much into the theory that players/teams either do or don’t have a “clutch gene” is because of the mental gymnastics it would take to explain this trend reversal in those terms. I don’t think this development is entirely random, but I’m not about to declare Marquette unable to close out games because of this stretch.
I truly don’t know where to put the blame for the turnovers, though. Other than that huge issue, the offense runs perfectly. For 110 of the 120 minutes played during this losing streak, the offense is creating, and making, open shots. It’s not like Wojo should be drawing up differently plays because the cough ups aren’t coming as the result of aggressive offense. I don’t know if dribbling the ball is on the coaching, but part of the mental aspect is. If you want to put some of that on Wojo, that’s fine. I just think there’s a big portion of it that he just can’t control, which partially gives me hope that the turnovers will at least subside by the time the tournaments begin a week from when you’re reading this.
As I write this, Georgetown is losing to DePaul. By a lot. That’s something you don’t want to do. It’s Senior Day on Saturday, so hopefully they can bounce back before the Big East tournament. The reason losing streaks like this feel so bad is because they’re not normal. This is still a very good team, and the last week doesn’t move The Needle Of Expectations back much.