In a true road game, Marquette defeated Cal State Fullerton 86-66 in the first round of the Wooden Legacy Classic Thursday. Jamil Wilson scored 24 points, including 20 in the first half, and Davante Gardner and Jajuan Johnson both added 18.
Wilson's breakout was key to Marquette's victory. He shot an impressive 10-for-14 and pulled down nine rebounds. He also made all three of his three-point attempts and looked for his jump shot regularly.
Johnson had his best game of his young Marquette, going 6-for-8 from the field and making all three of his triples. The freshman from Memphis attacked the rim with a new-found sense of aggressiveness. He looks like he can provide the Golden Eagles with another shooting weapon and scorer off the dribble.
Michael Williams led the Titans with 16 points. Fullerton kept the game close for most of the first half because it shot 7-for-11 from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes. However, the tides turned in the second half, and the Titans went just 1-for-8 from distance.
Marquette dominated Fullerton in the post all day long as expected. The Golden Eagles had 42 points in the paint to the Titans' 24 and out rebounded them 40-20. They also had 15 second chance points to Fullerton's two. In addition to Wilson's nine boards, Gardner added nine of his own and Chris Otule and Juan Anderson each secured six.
Apart from a bit of a slow start, the Golden Eagles led pretty much wire-to-wire. A tip-in from Gardner at the 13:50 mark gave Marquette a 13-11 lead it would never relinquish.
Next up for the Golden Eagles in the semifinals is George Washington. The Colonials knocked off Miami (FL) 71-63 in overtime in their quarterfinal matchup Thursday. Senior gunner Nemanja Mikic scored 16 points and hit four three-pointers and team's leading scorer Maurice Cheek (not Cheeks, like the old NBA-er) added 15 in the gritty win.
Cheek, a transfer from Indiana leads the team in scoring at 16.8 points per game, and has good size, 6-foot-5, for a mid-major guard. Another transfer (and one Marquette fans should be familiar with), 6-foot-9 senior Isaiah Armwood rivals Cheek with 14.8 points of his own per game. Armwood began his college career at Villanova, where he played for two years before transferring.
Kethan Savage, Kevin Larsen and Joe McDonald round out the starting five, with Mikic providing the biggest lift for the Colonials off of the bench. Of the the three, Savage is perhaps the most deadly on the offensive end. The 6-foot-3 guard averages 11.8 points per game and is shooting 70 percent from the field this season.
Marquette will have to lock up its perimeter defense to corral George Washington Friday, but barring another breakdown, the Golden Eagles should fight their way into the finals.