MILWAUKEE—The Golden Eagles captured their seventh consecutive victory on Tuesday night, defeating the Seton Hall Pirates 66-59 at the Bradley Center. The game also marked Seton Hall's fifth consecutive loss, as the Pirates dropped to 15-7 overall and 4-6 in Big East play.
Tuesday's game was yet another tale of two halves for Marquette (19-4, 8-2 Big East), as they followed up a 26 point first half with a 40 point second. After shooting a mediocre 40 percent from the field and turning the ball over 12 times, the Golden Eagles were lucky to trail by only four points at the break. The thin halftime deficit was due primarily to the 9-2 run that Marquette was able to mount in the last 4:32 of the half.
Coming out of halftime, the Golden Eagles got back into their sluggish ways, turning the ball over two times in the first three minutes. Down by six with about 14-and-a-half minutes to play, Marquette finally decided to kick it into gear and take control of the game.
After two Jae Crowder free throws, Vander Blue put the team on his back, scoring seven points in Marquette's next three possessions. First, he ignited the Bradley Center with a thunderous alley-oop slam in transition. Next, he drilled a contested three with only two seconds remaining on the shot clock. Finally, Blue concluded his streak of dominance with a fast break layup, giving Marquette their first lead on the night; a lead they didn't relinquish for the rest of the game. Four minutes later, the Golden Eagles found themselves ahead by nine, having just mounted a 20-5 run.
After the game, Blue talked about his impact on Marquette's win. “I think when I play like that and play well, I think it really helps our team,” Blue said. With 16 points and eight rebounds, the sophomore guard turned in his best performance in Big East play thus far in his career.
Not to be overshadowed, Jae Crowder registered his second consecutive and seventh total double-double this season with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Buzz Williams was very blunt when speaking of his senior forward, saying, “Jae is really, really, really, really good.”
Seton Hall's Herb Pope also had a solid game down low, scoring 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds. The Pirates used their six-foot-eight senior to take advantage of Marquette's lack of a true big man, as Davante Gardner didn't play due to a sprained knee. In the first half, Pope scored 10 points in just 12 minutes of play. He slowed down as the game wore on, however, as he was less effective after getting in foul trouble.
Marquette's ability to draw fouls and get to the free throw line has been key during this current win streak. In the last seven games, the Golden Eagles have forced their opponents to commit, on average, 20 fouls per game. This has led to consistent trips to the charity stripe, as Marquette is averaging just fewer than 21 free throw attempts per game.
All of those trips to the foul line made an enormous impact on Marquette's victory over Seton Hall. Though they hit fewer three pointers and shots from the field than the Pirates, the Golden Eagles were able to win by seven. Why? Because they shot 20-28 from the free throw line while Seton Hall was only 4-6.
If Marquette is to defeat a hot Notre Dame team in South Bend on Saturday, they will need to work for all 40 minutes to attack the Irish defense and earn their free throws. If not, the Golden Eagles will find it very difficult to keep their win streak alive. a