Marquette scratched and clawed their way to a hard-fought 75-70 triumph over the New Hampshire Wildcats Friday night.
It was again the Darryl Morsell and Justin Lewis show at the Fiserv Forum. On the offensive end for the Golden Eagles, Morsell led the way to the tune of 26 points on 8-12 shooting. Morsell shot 3-for-5 on three-pointers, while Lewis dropped in 17 points on 5-11 shooting. Lewis added his 11 rebounds to go along with his strong scoring line.
Morsell set a new collegiate career-high in the scoring department, besting his previous record of 21 points, which was set just three nights ago in Marquette’s season opener. Lewis meanwhile logged his second career double-double against the Wildcats, giving the Golden Eagles some much-needed support on the glass.
A slight surprise for Marquette in the first two contests has been the absence of Kur Kuath down the stretch for Shaka Smart’s squad. Kuath clocked just 13 minutes against New Hampshire despite starting the game. With also Ighadaro showing promise against both SIUE and New Hampshire, it looks as if Kuath’s minutes or starting job may be headed elsewhere as we move through the Golden Eagles’ schedule. Ighodaro yanked down 12 rebounds against New Hampshire on a night where Marquette desperately needed rebounding after early struggles on the defensive glass led to New Hampshire getting far too many chances each time down the floor.
The rise of Ighodaro mixed with Kuath’s inability to acclimate himself with the Shaka Smart system on both ends of the floor is looking like it is pointing towards a lesser role for Kuath, and a larger role for Ighodaro, at least for now.
Much like the opener Tuesday night against SIUE, Marquette struggled to put away New Hampshire and had to constantly keep their foot on the gas en route to a five-point victory. On three separate occasions in the second half, Marquette built a seven-point lead. Each and every time though, the Wildcats from New Hampshire just wouldn’t go away. An 11-1 run midway through the second half turned a 58-51 Golden Eagle lead into a 62-59 advantage for New Hampshire. That proved to be the peak for the Wildcats Friday night though. Once Marquette claimed a 64-62 lead on a Darryl Morsell three-pointer, they never surrendered the lead again.
Jayden Martinez and Nick Gaudarrama spearheaded the offensive attack for New Hampshire dropping 21 and 15 points respectively. Guadarrama’s fourth and final three-pointer of the night pulled the Wildcats to within just one point before the Golden Eagles iced the game at the free throw line. Martinez also nailed four long-range bombs to round off a 44% shooting night from three-point range for New Hampshire. While the three-point shooting was a bright spot for UNH, the free throw line was not nearly as friendly as the Wildcats missed 10 shots from the charity stripe Friday night.
Shaka Smart’s modified 2021-22 version of ‘havoc’ did not work nearly as well in game number two as it did in the season opener. Marquette forced just eight turnovers against New Hampshire, a harsh contrast from the 24 times they caused SIUE to cough up. Obviously, part of this is attributed to New Hampshire being a whole lot less careless with the ball than SIUE was against Marquette, but if Marquette wants to steal games in the Big East with their tenacious defense, they are going to need to be more consistent with getting those coveted deflections and forcing the opposition to turn the ball over.
Yes, Marquette is a young and inexperienced team, but the Golden Eagles don’t have too much time to get their feet wet this season. They face some very tough tasks in the nonconference portion of their schedule this season, with the Illinois Fighting Illini standing as the next challenge for Marquette Monday night in Milwaukee.