Marquette and Seton Hall might be the two most well-matched teams in the Big East. They have strengths on both offense and defense where the other team’s weaknesses lie.
They apparently also have a flair for dramatic endings in their matchups. On New Year’s Day, the Pirates battled back to snatch victory from the Golden Eagles 69-66 in New Jersey in a game where MU had the lead late.
Tonight, Marquette again was ahead (by seven with a minute left), but The Hall fought like hell again to bring themselves back into the game, forcing overtime in the process. Their chances were looking up in the extra period with both Sam Hauser and Luke Fischer out of the equation.
But Marquette, taking a page out of Seton Hall’s book, found a way to win. Lacking two starters and faced with the attack of Desi Rodriguez (30 points, nine rebounds, 4-9 from 3 and 10-21 from the floor), Angel Delgado (14 points, 19 rebounds) and Khadeen Carrington (22 points before fouling out early in the OT period), MU’s players found ways to make winning plays. Matt Heldt, their not-often-used backup center, came in and guarded the most terrifying big man in the Big East in Delgado, grabbing rebounds and then taking a charge from a driving Desi . Coach Wojo even said after the game, “Without Matt Heldt, we lose.”
Katin Reinhardt iced the game with clutch free throws and then Myles Powell left a 3-pointer off the front of the rim to seal the win for Marquette.
Coming down the stretch, however, it felt like Seton Hall was going to repeat its late-game heroics from Newark. Rodriguez, with the aforementioned 30 points, completely took over on the offensive end. He couldn’t be handled by anyone in a Marquette uniform and he found his range from both inside and outside of the arc, including some incredibly tough finishes around the Golden Eagles’ bigger defenders.
Seton Hall also completely ate up the boards. They outrebounded Marquette 54-33, including having an even split of 27 offensive and 27 defensive rebounds. Angel Delgado alone accounted for 13 of Seton Hall’s offensive rebounds. However, they struggled to put the ball back into the basket on those attempts, shooting just 28-of-71 from the floor, but talso managed to turn a large amount of their offensive rebounds into free throw attempts. Delgado managed to make six straight free throws before going 2-8 the rest of the way, and Desi made 6-10.
On the way to overtime, in their valiant attempt to make a repeat of New Year’s Day game happen, Marquette came up short on a decent number of possessions, including two missed free throws from Haanif Cheatham with 16 seconds left to allow Carrington to send the game to the extra period with a jumper with two seconds left.
With both teams now sitting at 2-2 in the conference, Marquette gets DePaul at home on Saturday and Seton Hall gets to go to the Dunk to face Providence on Saturday.
- I can’t shut up about Markus Howard. He led all Marquette scorers again, had six assists and no turnovers. To beat a dead horse, he’s a 17-year old freshman who is currently not only a main offensive threat for the Golden Eagles but the best distributor and creator for them.
- Desi Rodriguez will haunt Marquette fans’ nightmares for a long time. He made plays on both ends of the court and I was sure he would win the game for Seton Hall. While it was Powell taking the last shot in OT for the Pirates, every single person in the building thought the ball was going to Rodriguez and he was going to drain it to send the game to double OT. I rated Carrington as the leader for Hall at the beginning of the year, but Desi (in the past few games especially) has been making his presence known and firmly cementing himself as a go-to scorer, if not THE go-to scorer. By the way, the 30 he scored tonight is his career best.
- For only going 3-12 from the field, Angel Delgado absolutely wreaked havoc today. I mentioned the 13 offensive rebounds, but he altered basically every shot that came his way (short of a few post moves by Luke Fischer that I didn’t know he had, because he usually has his one go-to move and nothing else) and allowed nothing easy in the paint.
- Duane Wilson came back off of a groin injury for Marquette and put in great minutes, even if they weren’t always offensive highlights. He made tough plays on the other end of the floor and was key down the 2nd half stretch as a leader for the guys on the court.
- Haanif Cheatham showed flashes of his old offensive form tonight. He’s been struggling of late and didn’t even score in the matchup in New Jersey, but he’s still a bit gun-shy at times. He turned down multiple 3 point looks just to miss jumpers two more steps in. He’s still getting there, even if he had glimpses of his old drive-hard-to-the-rim self.
- Ismael Sanogo might be the best glue guy in the conference. He added 11 rebounds to five points and was a constant nightmare matchup on defense. He’s not flashy, he doesn’t stuff stats too often, but he puts in invaluable minutes and can do everything for this team if they need him to. He ran with guards, matched up with bigs, and dealt with shooters at different points tonight. His versatility is unbelievable.
- Can we please have this matchup in March during the Big East Tournament? I think these two (and maybe Butler/Xavier) are the two most evenly matched teams in the conference and they always have incredibly good games. I am so excited about the potential prospect of that matchup.