Sometimes, when you have a young and inexperienced team with a first year head coach, you can look at a six point loss in double overtime to a team holding onto one Associated Press top 25 vote and say “y’know what, they fought like hell, it just didn’t go their way.”
That is not the story of Marquette’s 75-69 loss to Creighton on New Year’s Day. This time, the Golden Eagles get no credit for fighting their way into a double overtime situation and ending up on the short end of the stick. Everyone in that locker room, coach and player alike, has to look at this one and say “yeah, this is our fault and we should have done better, there’s no excuse for what happened.”
Facts are facts: Marquette lost this game repeatedly.
- After Darryl Morsell and Justin Lewis scored on MU’s first two possessions of the game, Creighton ran off a 15-2 run that took up most of the first quarter of the game. Alex O’Connell’s bucket in the lane at the 10:44 mark of the first half put Creighton up 17-7.
- After Marquette trimmed the margin to just three on a basket from Oso Ighodaro with 2:20 left in the first half, Creighton held MU scoreless the rest of the way and tacked on three points of their own to make it six, 30-24, at the intermission. That’s not where MU lost this game. This is: On Creighton’s first three possessions of the second half, Ryan Hawkins, O’Connell, and Hawkins again hit three-pointers from the corner right in front of the CU bench, essentially the very exact same spot three times in a row. 39-24, 18:33 to play. And then Ryan Kalkbrenner scored on CU’s next possession, so it was 41-24, a 17 point margin, Creighton’s largest of the game.
- IN EX [expletive] PLICABLY, Ighodaro tied the game at 56 with 88 seconds to go in regulation, and again at 58 with 40 seconds left. The Bluejays had absolutely no idea what to do with him all game long, and the two-man game between Ighodaro and Tyler Kolek was chewing them up. After Olivier-Maxence Prosper forced a turnover from Hawkins on the sideline and a bunch of fouls by the Bluejays to chew some clock, Marquette had six seconds to get literally any shot in the known universe to win the game. The Bluejays flustered them just enough that Justin Lewis was barely able to get a three-pointer off in time, but he missed it long.
- Kolek buried a three-pointer on MU’s first possession of overtime, his only make on six attempts in this game, and with 3:04 left in what became the first OT, Morsell put MU up five on the nicest looking midrange jumper that you’ll ever see. Just don’t screw it up. SURPRISE, they screwed it up. Marquette would not connect on another field goal for the rest of the first overtime session, but two free throws from Tyler Kolek left MU up three, 67-64, with 11 seconds left. Kolek then tried to draw a charge off Hawkins right in front of the Bluejays’ bench, and he did lose it out of bounds.... but it went off Kolek. Okay, fine. 3.3 seconds left, CU inbounding. Foul. Do not let them shoot a three. CU inbounds, Ighodaro is VERY CLEARLY playing to not foul, and O’Connell gets off an off-balance but ultimately much easier shot that he should have gotten off, and swish, we play five more minutes.
- Justin Lewis found the bottom of the net for just the fourth time all game on the first possession of the second overtime.... and that would be it for Marquette on this day. The Golden Eagles would not score again. Morsell missed a three, Kolek missed two triples, O-Max missed a long ball, Lewis committed a turnover. Meanwhile, the Jays went up three with 1:55 to go, and got the stops they needed to close the Golden Eagles out.
Does the coaching staff need to take a good long look at themselves about why they didn’t foul immediately on the inbound at the end of the first overtime? Sure, absolutely, I will never understand why they didn’t. I get with 1.1 to play why you don’t because that’s a catch and shoot. 3.3? Nah, I don’t see it. Foul him.
But, and this is the important thing, that lack of a foul there is not why Marquette lost the game. Sure, it seemingly would have won them the game right there, but they committed many and varied missteps across the entire breadth of the other 49 minutes and 56 seconds and so that one tiny window of decision making does not actually matter.
In other words: Don’t want to have the game decided on a decision to foul or not foul up three? Cool, don’t fall behind by 17 largely because you forgot that defending corner threes is a good idea for 90 seconds.
The only tragedy of this game is that we will not get to remember this one as The Oso Ighodaro Game. A game high 22 points on 10-for-12 shooting, plus five rebounds, an assist, and a block. He was legitimately great, almost to the point of making you ask “are we sure that Kur Kuath and his shot blocking should be playing at all?” and not just in this game but in general.
Can I interest you in some highlights courtesy of Fox Sports and GoMarquette.com?
Up Next: I don’t know what Marquette needs to figure out between now and their next game to avoid a 0-4 start to Big East play, but they don’t have that much time to figure it out. Providence comes to Fiserv Forum on Tuesday night, and the Friars (12-1, 2-0 Big East at sunrise today) are mauling DePaul in Chicago by 20 as I type this. Tipoff is set for 8pm Central time on FS1.