Big days from Kam Jones and Oso Ighodaro are amongst the highlights for Marquette from Sunday afternoon as the Golden Eagles went into South Bend and snagged a 79-64 victory over Notre Dame. Non-conference play is now over, and Shaka Smart’s Marquette squad is now 8-3 on the year.
Both teams did a fantastic job getting points on the board as the game got going, with the game tilting slightly towards Marquette with a six point lead before Notre Dame wiped that away. They kept jousting, never letting it get too far one way or another, and if you were particularly invested in Marquette’s self-declared goals of consecutive stops and deflections, it wasn’t going particularly like Shaka Smart might want.
A bucket from ND’s Cormac Ryan with 5:43 to play put Notre Dame up 28-25, and maybe this is where the game officially turned. The Irish would manage just one free throw for the remainder of the first half while Marquette tacked on nine points on their end of the floor. Tyler Kolek stuck back his own missed shot, Kam Jones got to the rack, Oso Ighodaro got a dunk off a Kolek steal, then put a David Joplin miss up and in with 38 seconds to go. That sent the two teams to the locker room with the Golden Eagles leading 34-29. Not quite their largest lead of the afternoon, but just hang on a minute.
That 9-1 burst over the final five and change to end the first half turned into a 16-1 run by Marquette bridging halftime as MU scored the first seven points of the second period. Nothing fancy on the defensive end to get there, just a pair of quality stops and defensive rebounds. Marquette led by 12 at that point, 18:56 to play. This is why I said the game turned after Ryan’s bucket. Now instead of two sets of gunslingers staring at each other from opposite sides of the street, Marquette had a cushion to lean on.
They immediately needed it, as Notre Dame hit threes on consecutive possessions to slash the lead in half. MU answered with a three from Kam Jones, and with 14:27 to play, the Golden Eagles had responded to that punch in the nose and reestablished their 12 point margin, 51-39. Then they grew it to 15 on an and-1 for Olivier-Maxence Prosper.
And then Notre Dame shaved it in half again, getting the margin back to just seven thanks to a a pair of free throws generated by David Joplin being issued a Flagrant Two foul for something that wasn’t even whistled as a common foul in live action. ND’s Nate Laszewski was the victim of a forearm to the groin as Joplin went around/through Laszewski’s screen, and after he buckled over, the refs blew it dead to review it, and then ejected Joplin from the game.
Seemed very accidental to me, and the on screen definition from ESPN said “any non-incidental contact to the groin” is a Flagrant Two foul. Feels like that was the wrong call on a lot of levels, but it was what it was, and in this case, it was a 54-47 lead for Marquette with 10:41 to go.
Thankfully, Marquette got a stop on the ensuing possession for Notre Dame to limit the damage, and the Golden Eagles answered it with an and-1 layup from Prosper to get the lead back to 10 right away. The lead hovered in that area for a while, and it wasn’t the worst thing to trade buckets with the Irish. You’d like to see some stops, of course, but if they’re not getting closer, that’s not bad either.
An and-1 from Kam Jones sparked off an 11-0 run by the Golden Eagles… and ZOOM, Marquette was up 19, 4:16 to go. That was that. That run across halftime was just the space that Marquette needed to hold the Irish at bay long enough to drop the hammer at the end like that.
Kam Jones finished with 25 points on a perfectly fine 10-for-20 shooting that looks a little better when you know it’s a 60% effective field goal shooting day thanks to his long range shots. Jones also added six rebounds, two assists, and a block for a quality all around game. OMax Prosper joined Jones in double digit town with 14 points, while Tyler Kolek got there as well with 11 along with his four rebounds and six assists. The best day might have belonged to Oso Ighodaro, who had a somehow very quiet 16 points and 18 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end. Perhaps part of the quietness to it is the fact that Ighodaro had 10 & 10 already at halftime. He also had three assists and a steal as Ighodaro may still just be scratching the surface of what he can do for Marquette.
Up Next: First up, Finals Week. After that, a Friday night home tipoff against Creighton to open up Big East play. The Bluejays are currently on a four game losing streak and have to square off with Arizona State in Las Vegas on Monday night before coming to Milwaukee. That one is set to start on FS1 at 7:30pm Central time.