Both Marquette and Howard started sloppy, but in the end, the Golden Eagles righted the ship and cruised to a victory versus the Howard University Bison, 81-49. Marquette was led by Katin Reinhardt and Jajuan Johnson, who each had 14 points. Freshmen Markus Howard and Sam Hauser contributed from three, each going 3-of-4 from long range en route to 12 and 10 points respectively.
Early in the first half, both teams struggled to find rhythm, with Hauser and Howard both committing three turnovers each before the end of the first half. Marquette went into the break up 34-23 but with a bunch of offensive kinks to work out.
Work out they did, as the Golden Eagles used a 10-2 run to break away from Howard by the under-16 timeout in the second, and there was no looking back. The only hiccup from the rest of the game came early during the second half, when starting center Luke Fischer went down after a hard foul holding his left, surgically-repaired shoulder. Every Marquette fan collectively held their breath as they watched him go back to the locker room immediately.
Things came to a positive conclusion, as he returned to the floor and even managed to make a few more shots (including a floating hook shot over his left shoulder) to dispel any injury concerns going into the game versus Michigan on Thursday night.
In Fischer’s absence, Coach Wojo playing the “Death Lineup” of Reinhardt and Hauser at the 4 and 5, spacing the floor with shooters and athleticism to counter any potential size and the unusual zone played by Howard. This came at the expense of less minutes for backup center Matt Heldt. However, every player still saw good time, especially once the game had fully swung in Marquette’s favor. Getting valuable minutes to the subs to keep the starters fresh for Thursday was a huge key for tonight, and Coach Wojo accomplished that.
- The freshmen, for starting so poorly, really bounced back and shook it off to have good games. Especially Sam Hauser, who had looked lost on his first rotation through and was quickly replaced by Sandy Cohen. Their bouncing back shows a maturity and level-headedness that will be needed in the tougher games ahead.
- Everyone in the arena went silent when Luke Fischer went down hurt. It’s hard to pick another team in the Big East that will lean so heavily on one player, and seeing every Marquette fan’s worst nightmare almost come to fruition was sobering. The Golden Eagles dodged a bullet.
- Katin Reinhardt had a great game after starting slowly, really coming back from the off shooting night he suffered against Vanderbilt. He was much more efficient and moved the ball on offense really well.
- Traci Carter continues to be one of the best on-ball perimeter defenders I’ve watched in person. He caused a lot of headaches for Howard’s ballhandlers and forced them into some bad passes, which people like Jajuan and Haanif feasted upon.
- Haanif Cheatham is one of the most underrated players in college basketball. He boasted a statline of 12 points/seven rebounds/six assists/two steals in 23 minutes of floor time. As he gets back into his groove for the season, I’m excited to see how much more he can improve.