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Legends Classic Championship recap: Marquette captures the Legends Classic title over Arizona State in overtime

The Golden Eagles grinded it out and won the Legends Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn over the Arizona State 78-73 in overtime. Henry Ellenson claimed the tournament Most Valuable Player and Luke Fischer was named to All-Tournament team.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

1) Marquette did the little things and grinded this game out

The entire Golden Eagle team fought hard to win this game in overtime. A prime example was Henry Ellenson, the tournament’s MVP, dealing with an injury to his shin during most of the game.

“[Henry] is okay, he got kneed in the shin yesterday. As he started moving, it got tighter,” head coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “He will be okay, he probably needs a few days’ rest. He had a big second half and made some big time plays.”

Ellenson played through the pain and finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds in the championship game. Many other veterans stepped up for Marquette and Wojciechowski stressed the importance of that in addition to the team bouncing back after a tough start to the season.

“I thought our guys were terrific,” Wojciechowski said, “We had to look in the mirror and say ‘who do you want to be?’ They made a huge commitment over the last three days to the game and to each other.”

The Golden Eagles shot 42.1 percent from the field, but got to the free throw line 39 times in this game and took advantage of 27 of those charity stripe chances.

“I don’t know where to start with it,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. “It is hard to imagine 39 free throws being shot by your opponent, it is an astronomical number.”

Regardless, the Golden Eagles battled and earned a huge win by doing the little things such as hustling, getting to loose balls and playing solid defense.

2) Watch out for Bobby Hurley and Arizona State in the Pac 12

The Sun Devils were the forgotten team coming into the Legends Classic and despite having to travel the furthest distance, improved as a team in Brooklyn. In the title game, Arizona State received great performances from Tra Holder who had 16 points and was named to the Legends Classic All-Tournament team. Obinna Oleka was huge on the glass as he finished with 13 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.

Coach Hurley talked about the team’s need to improve on the offensive end of the floor after the game. The Sun Devils shot just 38.2 percent from the field and 4-18 from three point range. However, the Sun Devils outrebound Marquette 49-39 despite having multiple players fouling out.

Under Bobby Hurley, expect the Sun Devils to make some noise in the Pac 12 this season.

3) Golden Eagles veterans were great, young players starting to come into their own

Luke Fischer had two great games for the Golden Eagles in this tournament. The junior had 19 points and eight rebounds against LSU on Monday. He would follow that up with 18 points and eight boards in the Legends Classic final. The two day stretch earned him a spot on the All-Tournament team. Jajuan Johnson and Duane Wilson were great during the two days as well. Wilson had 14 points and four rebounds in the title game that included a number of big buckets.

The development of younger players like Traci Carter was vital too during the classic for Marquette. Carter finished the title game with 13 points, four rebounds, two assists and three steals.

“Traci Carter, I thought, had a huge two days,” Wojciechowski said. “He started both games and played terrific. His enthusiasm was infectious. The more we can get him to be who he is the better we will be.”

After falling to Iowa, Marquette came to the Legends Classic looking to make an early season statement. They were able bounce back and win a tournament against competition that you may see in March.

Two wins, overall improvement and a championship. Mission accomplished for Marquette in Brooklyn. This is a huge step that could lead to even better things later on in the season for the Golden Eagles.