Well, Golden Eagles did about everything that was asked of them. The Ft. Hood Wounded Warriors were never going to go down quietly after making it to this point, but the combination of the Marquette alumni’s talent and preparation carried them to a comfortable lead and a ticket punched to play the winner of Team Colorado vs. Purple & Black (Kansas State’s alumni team) tomorrow afternoon.
It took a while for the offense to get to scoring. By the end of the first quarter the Marquette alums found themselves down by 4 points. The Golden Eagles slowly started to find their footing as time ran out in the first half. Elgin Cook proved yet again what a valuable go-to scorer he is. He provided the team with 16 crucial points on an efficient 6-9 shooting. Andrew Rowsey gave Marquette its biggest lead of 10 with 2:30 left in the first half by going on a personal 6-0 run. He even gave the fans a little bit of nostalgia with a 4 point, slightly modified version of #TheThing.
Most of the team’s first half success came as a result of their defensive efforts. We harp time and time again about how the most prepared teams are the ones who emerge victorious in The Basketball Tournament. Marquette’s commitment to staying on the same page is what has led to their success in previous years, and it shows on defense. They set up tremendous half courts traps that led to a number of turnovers, they had good communication on screens, heck, even Rowsey showed that he can make good rotations. Any drought on offense was limited by their tough mindset on the other end.
Fans might’ve even considered tuning out early had it not been for the sequence that finished the first half. In a 2-for-1 opportunity Maurice Acker launched a deep and ill-advised three that fell short. Ft. Hood then scored to cut the lead to 5 with the Golden Eagles having a chance to extend the lead with the last shot, but with :18 left, Rowsey drove to the basket and dumped it off to Cinmeon Bowers, who had a wide open layup. Bowers must’ve thought a little bit too much because his shot trickled off the iron and the Wounded Warriors made a layup with less than 10 seconds left. 3 point lead, but there’s still more.
Bowers wanted to give Acker a shot at a last second heave, but made a lazy pass that landed right in the hands of Ricardo Artis II, who quickly pulled up for a long two and chiseled what could’ve been an 8 point halftime lead down to 1. Just like that, the Golden Eagles need to clamp down at half.
The second half began with both teams going tit-for-tat in a more sloppy fashion. The Golden Eagles let Ft. Hood stay in the contest with some bad turnovers and even a technical foul. But as the quarter drew to a close, the firepower for the Marquette alumni started to take over. Fastbreak opportunities for Ft. Hood resulted in blocks, defensive miscues on Marquette’s part were not taken advantage of, and Andrew Rowsey started to hit more of his shots in good rhythm. It all resulted in our guys building a 12 point lead going into the final stanza.
The fourth quarter was more of the same, highlighted by spectacular fastbreak alley oop from Derrick Wilson to Lawrence Blackledge. With the depth available to Coach Joe Chapman and the relative ease of the game, they should be more rested than their opponent tomorrow. Oh, and Jamil Wilson wasn’t even playing. He’ll be back on Sunday due to a wedding, and #WeddingSzn needs to be respected by all.
Just about everyone had a great game overall, but Mo Acker was the only player who really struggled from the floor. I’ll give the game MVP to Dwight Buycks, who scored 23 points, the last of which won Marquette the game thanks to The Elam Ending, on 6-9 shooting with 7 assists, 2 turnovers, and 2 steals. He was the head honcho of the third quarter run that separated them from the Wounded Warriors.
With Self Made getting their lunch money stolen by Sideline Cancer, a regional final matchup between Marquette and the hometown favorite Aftershocks on Sunday is looking more and more likely. But they know as well as anyone that no TBT team can be easily overlooked.