In the end, Marquette Golden Eagles didn’t have enough to figure out a way to win in their first trip to Pauley Pavilion. UCLA Bruins scored the final six points of the game to ice out the Golden Eagles and send them off to Big East play on a 69-60 defeat. Marquette is now 4-2 on the season with nothing but conference action left.
In the first half, it was the turnovers that bit the Golden Eagles in the ass. 12 times in 33 possessions, MU’s opportunity to score ended with the ball going the other way. Marquette shot the ball fantastically well, connecting to the tune of a 64% effective field goal percentage, but all that got them was a 36-34 deficit at the break. You can make a serious case that this game goes a hell of a lot differently if just six of those possessions end up as shots and just two of them go in the bucket.
Marquette even cranked up the defense in the second half, going from allowing UCLA to shoot 46% from the field to holding them to just 35.7%. That’s a hell of an effort to counteract letting yourself down in the first 20 minutes. Unfortunately, the Bruins did the same thing going the other way. MU came into the game shooting 36% from behind the three-point line, making use of sharpshooting freshman big men Dawson Garcia and Justin Lewis to bolster their numbers. In the final 20 minutes of this game, the Golden Eagles attempted 11 long range shots — right about in their season average for half a game — and made none of them. D.J. Carton, Greg Elliott, and Jamal Cain all went 0-for-3, while Garcia and Dexter Akanno each contributed one miss each. The two-point shooting wasn’t much better, as MU shot just 28.6% from the field in the second half.
And yet... Marquette led, 54-52, with 8:04 to play. The game was tied, 56-all, with 7:12 to play. After UCLA led by as many as seven with 4:31 to go, a very smooth pull up jumper from Koby McEwen on a slick feed from Theo John made it a 63-60 UCLA lead with just 2:50 remaining.
This game was right there for Marquette to take it.
But Johnny Juzang scored his only two points of the second half for UCLA late in the shot clock on the Bruins’ next possession to make it a five point game. McEwen had a layup attempt blocked, and Cain couldn’t get a three to fall to take advantage of a UCLA turnover. Chris Smith got McEwen to foul out as he hauled in an offensive rebound, and he split the freebies to make it a six point game with 44 seconds left. Carton missed a three on the other end, and that was pretty much that.
It was a really good game, propped up by an absolutely amazing announcing performance by Hall of Famer Bill Walton. If you were blindfolded and sat down in front of the game and just listened, you might have thought that you were listening to the Marquette radio call of the game based on how much Walton praised the Golden Eagles players, effort, and hell, university, history, and tradition, too. This was a fun game to watch, and Walton on the call made it all the better.
It just didn’t end the way that we wanted it to end.
D.J. Carton led the way with 18 points for the Golden Eagles, although UCLA held him scoreless in the final eight minutes. Four different players had at least five rebounds in the game, led by seven from Jamal Cain. Dawson Garcia struggled from the field, shooting just 3-for-12, but he dropped in all six free throws to finish with 12 points, and four rebounds.
Up Next: Marquette will not return home quite yet, as their next outing is also away from Milwaukee. They’ll be in Omaha to tangle with Creighton for the first Big East game of the season for both squads. The Bluejays are currently ranked #8 in the country, and are coming off a road loss to #5 Kansas earlier this week and a 24 point home demolition of in-state rival Nebraska on Friday.