Marquette overcame slow starts to both halves to fend off DePaul in Wednesday night’s victory at Fiserv Forum.
Both teams showed great defensive effort immediately, not letting Max Strus or Markus Howard catch fire. While in control early, DePaul would help out Marquette by giving Marquette four free points on technicals by Jaylen Butz and Head Coach Dave Leitao. After DePaul led much of the first half, Marquette would close the final six minutes on a 20-6 run to lead at the half 40-27.
The Blue Demons would open the second half on a 9-0 run to jump back in the game. DePaul kept fighting the rest of the game, but Marquette never let them closer than four points. Howard and Joey Hauser would go 10 for 10 from the line to close out the game 79-69.
Howard never caught fire, and finished the game without a three point make (0-2), but still led Marquette 23 points and nine assists. Theo John had an outstanding game on both ends, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Reigning Big East player of the Week Sam Hauser stayed hot with 19 points.
The Golden Eagles had to overcome turnover woes again. They came in 251st in the nation at 14.2 TOPG and finished with 19 tonight (12 in the second half). While Howard was a great facilitator, finding the Hauser’s for 3 multiple times and hitting John for a couple dunks off the pick and roll, he also had eight turnovers. DePaul’s front court came into this game very hot, but John, Joey and Sam played great interior defense, especially forcing the ball out of the bigs’ hands. Femi Olujobi only put up six shots. Marquette finished with 8 blocks.
Strus also never got going offensively, finishing with 12 points on 4-17 shooting (2-9 from 3). Paul Reed continued his streak of strong performances (18 PPG and 12 RPG last three games) with 18 points and seven rebounds. Femi Olujobi, who has also been hot his last three games (24 PPG) added 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Strus, Eli Cain and Devin Gage were not able to help out their big man. They combined to shoot 8-21 (38%) from 2 with many shots altered at the rim and 3-14 (21%) from 3. Reed and Olujobi overcame tough defense to have productive nights, especially from the free throw line where they finished a combined 11-14.
Having won six straight games, Marquette moves to 17-3 and 6-1 in the Big East. While still half a game back of Villanova (6-0 in Big East play), they sit three games ahead of the five teams tied for third. The Golden Eagles head to Cincinnati on Saturday to face Xavier.
DePaul falls to 11-7 and joins four other teams for third place at 3-4 in the Big East. The Blue Demons, who’s strong Big East play may be a surprise to many, look to steal another road win (St. John’s and Seton Hall already) Sunday at Providence.