Just when Marquette looked like they were about to crack Friday night’s game wide open, New Hampshire came rolling right back in. An 11-1 run by the Wildcats just past the midway point of the second half left the visitors up 62-59, but Marquette’s leaders stepped up. Darryl Morsell and Justin Lewis scored every single one of MU’s next 16 points as the Golden Eagles had to fight allll the way to the end to get the 75-70 victory. The Golden Eagles are now 2-0, and that’s the most important thing about the entire experience.
Let’s summarily dismiss the first half quickly: It wasn’t particularly great with both sides averaging less than a point per possession. New Hampshire led by as many as six at two points, but thanks to a triple with three seconds to go before halftime, it was the Golden Eagles going into the break with a five point advantage.
That didn’t last, as Nick Guadarrama buried a three at the 17:02 mark to tie the thing up at 38. That closeness didn’t last either as Marquette went on an 12-1 run shortly there after capped by a big and-1 by Darryl Morsell to stake the Golden Eagles to a 9-0 lead. Morsell was fired up, and he definitely made it clear to the student section on that end of Fiserv Forum that he wanted to hear it from them.
You’re reading this after seeing that final score, so you know Marquette’s 53-44 lead did not last. In fact, that was MU’s largest lead of the game, and it immediately disappeared. New Hampshire kicked off a 14-5 run with a bucket in the paint from Blondeau Tchoukuiegno and capped it with another shot in the paint from Nick Johnson. 7:45 to go, all knotted at 58.
It’s not what you want.
A free throw from Oso Ighodaro briefly put Marquette up 1, and then New Hampshire got four straight free throws to fall, two each from Chris Lester and Qon Murphy to go up 62-59 with 6:30 to go... and that margin held til the five minute mark of the game, too.
That’s when Morsell and Lewis took over.
Morsell got MU going with a personal 7-0 run to put Marquette up 4, including a deft drive in transition through traffic for the final bucket of the burst, and Lewis tacked on the front end of a pair of free throws to make it 67-62. A three from Jayden Martinez reminded MU that the Wildcats weren’t going anyway, and Morsell answered with two more from the charity stripe. MU turned to Lewis to answer some Martinez freebies, and the younger half of Marquette’s Baltimore based combo toughed out a move into the lane to make it 71-67.
MU got the ensuing stop that they needed, but they couldn’t tack on more points. That led to a Guadarrama triple with just 27 seconds to go and thus MU was up just one. New Hampshire was forced to foul to extend the game, and Lewis calmly drained both shots. Tchoukuiegno missed UNH’s shot on the other end, Lewis hauled in the rebound to give him a double-double on the night, and then drew the foul and iced this thing with five seconds left.
It was not pretty. It was mostly fun. Hopefully needing to gut this out means Marquette grew a little bit tonight and that pays off down the road.
We do have to point this out: Marquette’s defense was bad in the second half. I don’t need to tell you that, because bad defense is how you give up a 14-5 run. Facts are facts: Marquette let New Hampshire shoot 54% on three-pointers after halftime and 46% on twos. This, after 36% and 24% in the first half. Credit where credit is due for the Wildcats for figuring it out, but if Marquette is going to hang their hat on being a defensive team this season, they can not have lapses like that.
I pointed out that Morsell was great down the stretch for Marquette, but he was great for 40 minutes for himself. He scored a career best 26 points on 8-for-12 shooting, and added three rebounds, five assists, and a steal. Justin Lewis got his second straight double-double of the season on 17 points and 11 rebounds. Oso Ighodaro didn’t score much, just three points, but he was great in the middle off the bench for 26 minutes, getting 12 points and swatting two shots.
Wanna watch some highlights, courtesy of GoMarquette.com and Fox Sports?
Up Next: Well, it’s bad news. On Monday, Marquette plays host to Illinois, the current #11 team in the country, as part of the yearly Gavitt Tipoff Games event between the Big Ten and the Big East. The Illini are also 2-0 on the year with easy coasting wins over Jackson State and Arkansas State. Star center Kofi Cockburn will still be suspended for Monday’s game due to a kerfuffle involving selling Illinois merch before he announced he would return to Champaign for his junior year.