Eagles come up short against Marquette
Marquette players Vander Blue and Juan Anderson believe the Golden Eagles play to the level of their competition.
If that is the case, Marquette’s performance is about to get a lot better because it begins Big East Conference play Tuesday against Connecticut.
And it will have to, as the Golden Eagles (9-3) will enter league play coming off a sloppy 75-66 win over North Carolina Central on Saturday.
Marquette won despite committing a season-high 20 turnovers and couldn’t put away the Eagles until late in the game.
“We tend to play to the level of our competition, whether it’s against Butler or losing to Green Bay,” said Blue, who led Marquette with 16 points. “We need to come out and throw the first punch. Come Tuesday night, we’ll be ready.”
Marquette got a nice boost Saturday from Todd Mayo, who was academically ineligible for the first 10 games of the season. Mayo scored 12 points and grabbed a rebound and scored late in the game.
“Todd is playing well,” Anderson said. “It’s like he’s been out there with us the whole season.”
Marquette coach Buzz Williams called Mayo’s rebound and put-back the key play in the game.
“From that point forward, they only scored twice more,” he said. “We have to be able to play like that. We have to be able to execute.”
Williams was frustrated by the turnovers, saying many of them were players “trying to be the hero.”
“You can’t turn it over 30 percent of your possessions,” Williams said. “You can’t trade baskets for most of the game and be any good. It is hard to win in any league doing that.”
Marquette overcame its turnovers by shooting 60 percent for the game, hitting 24 of 40 shots, including 5 of 11 3-pointers. Junior Cadougan also scored 16 points for Marquette.
North Carolina Central coach LeVelle Moton said the game was a learning experience for his team.
“We’ve got to learn, against bigger opponents, the margin of error is zero,” he said. “When it was (tied late) and we didn’t execute, it forced us to have a bad possession. They came down and got an easy look.”
Jeremy Ingram scored 20 points and Stanton Kidd had 19 for N.C. Central (6-7), which lost for the third time in its last four games. N.C. Central had 13 first-half turnovers, but just two in the second half as it mounted its comeback.
N.C. Central went on a 10-2 run to cut Marquette’s lead to 54-53 when Ingram hit a 3-pointer with 11:03 remaining. Ingram’s driving layup with 6:27 left tied the score at 60-60.
Marquette built its lead back to 60-55 when Anderson hit two free throws at the 8:06 mark, but Ingram hit another 3-pointer and scored on a driving layup with 6:27 left to tie the score at 60-60.
Marquette scored the next seven points, including four by Cadougan, to grab a 67-60 lead with 3:08 remaining.
Ray Willis’ 3-pointer trimmed the lead to 67-63, but Cadougan hit two free throws with 2:26 left and Blue hit a 3-pointer from the corner to push the lead to 72-63 with 1:30 remaining and put the game away.
Ingram said N.C. Central didn’t execute at the end of the game.
“Even though we got open shots, they weren’t the shots that we wanted,” he said. “The game wasn’t really being called our way. We just wanted to drive aggressively, but they didn’t call it, so we just ended up taking jump shots.”
Marquette 75, NCCU 66
Percentages: FG .464, FT .667. 3-Point Goals: 8-22, .364 (Ingram 4-8, Kidd 2-5, Ferguson 1-1, Willis 1-5, Jawara 0-1, Chapman 0-2). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 0. Turnovers: 15 (Ingram 3, Willis 3, Kidd 2, Chapman 2, Ferguson 2, Houston, Jawara). Steals: 10 (Ingram 4, Chapman 2, Jawara 2, Kidd, Houston). Technical Fouls: Ingram.
Percentages: FG .600, FT .815. 3-Point Goals: 5-11, .455 (Blue 3-5, Lockett 1-1, Mayo 1-1, Taylor, Jr. 0-1, Anderson 0-1, Cadougan 0-2). Team Rebounds: 2. Blocked Shots: 3 (Otule, Mayo, J. Wilson). Turnovers: 20 (J. Wilson 6, Cadougan 5, Blue 3, Mayo 2, Gardner 2, Lockett, Otule). Steals: 8 (Cadougan 3, Mayo 2, Taylor, Jr., Otule, Blue).
A—13,600. Officials—Gary Prager, Chris Beaver, Jeffrey Anderson.