Marquette moved to 7-4 and 5-2 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center with their 67-54 victory over North Dakota on Monday night.
In what is the penultimate nonconference matchup for the Golden Eagles in 2014 -- they meet Morgan State on Sunday -- they were aided by a terrific performance from one of their veterans, despite a poor shooting effort overall from the perimeter. Derrick Wilson, Marquette's senior guard from Anchorage, Alaska, went 6-for-10 whilst scoring 15 points to go along with nine rebounds and six assists. North Dakota simply could not contain Wilson on Monday night as he was perhaps the best player on the floor at times.
North Dakota was aided by three players netting into double figures. Quinton Hooker, Estan Tyler and Jaron Nash scored a combined 41 points on the night, dropping 12, 18 and 11 respectively. Unfortunately their lack of efficiency and inability to beat MU in the rebounding department would seal their fate despite leading at halftime.
Here's what we learned from this contest:
1. Marquette's bench was aided in a different way on Monday
Coming into the game, Marquette big man Luke Fischer was attracting the most attention from the bench. On Monday though, Wojo's club was aided by another Golden Eagle who started the game on the bench. JaJuan Johnson led all scorers, whether they were the Marquette or on the North Dakota side of the court, with 19 points while shooting 7-for-15 from the field. The biggest contribution Johnson made was in the second half where he scored 14 of those 19 points to help his team skate past their opponents, who led at the end of the first half.
Johnson's efforts on Monday were certainly better than the last time he made headlines.
2. MU exploited their opponent's lack of size and rebounding ability
The Golden Eagles are not a particularly lengthy team at all. On Monday though, they scratched and clawed their way to winning in the rebounding department by a hefty amount. By the night's end, they bested their opponent 46-28 in rebounds, and 17-7 on the offensive side of the glass. This is a step in the right direction for a team that typically has struggled in both limiting and grabbing offensive boards. When you take into account that North Dakota was 35th in OR% allowed this season, this was a huge win for Marquette in this department and going forward, definitely a building block.
3. The Golden Eagles are still relatively average at the free throw line
Marquette won by 13 points, but given how many free throws they attempted, that margin of victory could have been even larger. The Golden Eagles had 24 opportunities to make gimmes on the night, which by comparison to North Dakota's 11, it's a sizable amount. It falls in line with their great ability to get to the free throw line (FTRate of 44.1 percent going into Monday) but they converted on just 13 of those 24 tries. It would behoove Marquette to make good on more of their free throw attempts going forward as they're 148th in the nation in that category. As we've seen far too often, it could come back to haunt them.