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Marquette 78, St. Francis 65: A Bit Too Close for Comfort

Nail-biting when it shouldn’t have been, Marquette still got the win against St. Francis

NCAA Basketball: St. Francis (PA) at Marquette
Andrew Rowsey lead Marquette to victory behind a 22 point night.
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Despite another forgettable start to a second half and only have 7 scholarship players available (due to injuries on Reinhardt and Howard) for the game, your Marquette Golden Eagles were able to nab a home win in a closer-than-it-should-have-been game against the St. Francis Red Flash, taking the positive decision 78-65.

Behind a 22/4/4 night from Andrew Rowsey and every Marquette starter going for double digits in scoring, Marquette managed to turn a rough-at-times performance into a favorable result.

It didn’t start all bad. Marquette’s first 18 points came on only 3 pointers, which was fun to watch, but at the expense of 2 point field goals. Marquette couldn’t get one of those to fall until there was 11:14 left in the first half, on a JaJuan Johnson jumper. Marquette managed to push out an 18 point lead with 3:12 left in the first, but from there the team seemed to struggle on both offense and defense.

Much of this can be attributed to turnovers. I can’t count (I think) on one hand the amount of Marquette turnovers that came off of a Marquette steal or St. Francis misstep. In all, Marquette coughed up the ball 15 times, which are numbers that are eerily reminiscent of last year’s inexperienced squad, and it was tough to watch.

There were some other weird blips on the Marquette radar. JaJuan Johnson, for getting his 2nd double-double this season, also turned the ball over 5 times and seemed to be on Wojo’s naughty list for the game. He seemed to recklessly drive to the rim and, when he couldn’t find a shot or a good pass, just flailed a ball out to somewhere on the floor, hoping a teammate could grab it first. On a positive note, he added 6 assists, but the turnovers can’t be excused too much.

Luke Fischer also had what I can only describe as the worst shooting night I’ve ever witnessed out of him. For a 74% shooter coming into the night, Luke Fischer went 4-13 from the field, including a few absolute whiffs on open shots at the rim. It was completely uncharacteristic of who he is as a player and one can hope that this isn’t going to become a trend.

It wasn’t the best game Marquette basketball has played, but in the words of Coach Wojo afterwords, “We did some winning things. We played well enough not to lose, and we’re going to grow from it”. For being shorthanded, Marquette toughed out the win and there are positives to find in even the roughest of performances.

Marquette gets Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville on Wednesday (December 21st) at the Bradley Center before taking on Georgetown on December 28th at home again to start Big East play.

Musings

  • Haanif Cheatham found his attacking edge again, going for 18 points on 6 of 12 from the field, but only 1-3 from the arc. He took it at the Red Flash defense time and time again in the second half, getting tough buckets to fall and drawing a fair few number of fouls along the way.
  • Rowsey leading the way in scoring is exciting, even if it was in a limited lineup game. He went 6-13 from 3. Not an optimal number of attempts, but he made some really tough shots in the game as well, including an absolutely pretty up-and-under in the first half. When he’s on his game, he’s one of the most exciting players on the roster.
  • For 3 guys having 2 fouls in a 7 man rotation at the half, the Golden Eagles really managed their foul count well in the second half (besides Duane Wilson having 4, but he even managed to play with 4 fouls well). For a game where mental toughness and awareness were sometimes lacking, that was a bright spot.
  • Last week against Wisconsin, it was the pick and roll that hurt Marquette as a standout defensive issue. This time, it was the corner three. St. Francis can shoot the ball, but it showed a lapse in Marquette defending that was ruthlessly exploited by the opposing team. Against better teams going into Big East play, that needs to be addressed.
  • To end on a positive note (amongst some positive notes in the musings), Sam Hauser, after his less-than-stellar performance against Wisconsin, came back to have 11 points on 4-7 shooting. He’s still shooting from 3 and has yet to really find other aspects of his game (except when he absolutely blew by his defender for a tough layup), but he found a way to positively contribute. “He’s a winner” said Wojo, and I can’t agree more. In a late, close game situation, he made 2 huge 3 pointers to really ice the game, showing a maturity that hides his age as a freshman.