Marquette scored a wire-to-wire win against a decent George Washington side Friday in Fullerton, Calif. and advanced to the finals Wooden Legacy tournament to face San Diego State Sunday.
Davante Gardner led the Golden Eagles with 20 points and nine rebounds. The Suffolk, Va. native also played an uncharacteristic team-high 35 minutes, a sign that maybe his fitness is finally catching up to his talent.
Jake Thomas added 13 points, including three long balls, and Derrick Wilson scored 11 points and dished out four assists. Juan Anderson had a stellar game in a supporting role, scoring 10 points and pulling down nine rebounds.
'We just had to come out and play Marquette basketball," Gardner said. "We couldn't go out there and worry about George Washington and what they do, we just had to come out and play hard like we always do."
Marquette came out of the gate playing hard, and secured its first double-digit lead just 6:17 into the game and led 17-4 early. The Golden Eagles stretched their lead in the first half behind an impressive 7-for-11 clip from three-point range. The game was looking like a complete blowout, as Marquette led 46-25 at the half.
The Colonials showed some fight to start the second half, scoring the first six points. The lead shrunk to 12 just under five minutes into the second period, but that was as low as it would get.
"We are disappointed with our performance today, especially in the first half, but give all credit to Marquette," George Washington coach Dan Lonergan said. "They played harder and obviously they were tougher and did a great job."
Marquette succeded in limiting George Washington from the perimeter, an area it struggled in against Cal State Fullerton. The Colonials shot just 4-of-19 from range, and dead eye shooter Nemanja Mikic didn't score in the game.
"I thought we did do a good job of contesting their three's," Buzz Williams said. "When No. 1 and No. 30 get in a rhythm, they're a completely different team."
The Golden Eagles beat up the Colonials inside, finishing with a 34-22 advantage on points in the paint and a plus-11 rebounding margin.
"We have to get a little tougher," Lonergan said. "I know they are one of the tougher teams in the country. It's a tribute to their coach. They always play hard. Our teams usually play hard too but we didn't play physical enough.
Jamil Wilson could not follow up his stunning 24-point performance up with another solid performance. The Racine, Wis. native scored just five points on 2-of-8 shooting. He did have seven rebounds, however.
Marquette will need Wilson to bounce back when it faces San Diego State in the title game Sunday at 9:30 ET from Anaheim.