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The Senior Night Triumph: Marquette 66, Xavier 59

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Cain, John, and McEwen go out in their final home games with a win.

NCAA Basketball: Xavier at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It was shaky at times, it wasn’t fun to watch at times, it was intriguing at times, and it was definitely Division 1 college basketball all the way through to the end.

On Saturday night, a wasted 8pm start time on Senior Night in a pandemic, YOUR Marquette went out and snagged a 66-59 victory over Xavier to send Jamal Cain, Ike Eke, Theo John, and Koby McEwen out in style. MU is now 13-13 at the end of the regular season, with an 8-11 record in Big East action.

You probably won’t get an Xavier fan to tell you the same thing, but I thought this game was good. Marquette played really hard right out of the gate, going up 17-7 on Xavier on a three-pointer by Greg Elliott. I can’t say this happened early in the game, as it was at the 9:56 mark of the first half. Remember when I said that the game wasn’t fun to watch at times? Yeah.

It stayed around seven to nine points for most of the first half before Xavier cut it down to just five late. Elliott hit another three right before the intermission to put Marquette up eight, 32-24. Dawson Garcia scored with 17:14 to go to put things back to that eight point margin.... and then things started to slip.

A three from Xavier’s C.J. Wilcher with 12:27 to go — less than five minutes later — knotted the game at 38. That’s a 10-2 run by the Musketeers, a team that needed this win to stay alive in the NCAA tournament discussion. The two sides traded buckets, with Xavier re-tying it at 40-all, but Marquette never gave way. Garcia got an and-1, and MU was back in front. A dunk by Theo John put Marquette up seven with just over seven to play, and a resounding hammer of a slam by Justin Lewis with 4:53 to go made it 58-51. Not safe, sure, but it felt trending in that direction.

Paul Scruggs scored twice, and Marquette completely lost Wilcher in transition for an easy layup to cut the lead to 60-57 with 3:13 left. Two more minutes wound off the clock with neither team scoring before Scruggs pulled the visitors within one.

D.J. Carton answered with.... calling what he did a layup doesn’t quite explain it. He got in deep. He stopped. He went up strong. It went in. Technically, a layup. Much more adult sized than just a layup. Adam Kunkel missed a three on the other end, Carton made some freebies, XU missed some chances, and that was that. Hard fought team victory, just like you want to see.

Carton had 16 points to lead the way, although Jamal Cain (13), Greg Elliott (12), and Dawson Garcia (11) all broke into double digits, too. Carton, Cain, and Garcia all tied for the team lead in rebounds at seven, while Koby McEwen and Theo John — yes, that Theo John — matched for the team high in assists with four.

How about some highlights, courtesy of FS1 and GoMarquette.com?

Up Next: The Big East tournament bracket is just freshly out, and so we know that Marquette will open up their postseason play as the #9 seed against Georgetown in the first round of the conference championship. That game will be on Wednesday, March 10th, with a 2pm Central time start, presumably on FS1.