Where: CenturyLink Center Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska
OMAHA – (Wire Service Report by The Sports Xchange) – A minimal number of misses Saturday led Marquette to an emphatic 102-94 Big East Conference upset over No. 7-ranked Creighton. In handing the Bluejays their second loss of the season, it was more about how Marquette’s offense performed more than who wasn’t in the lineup for Creighton.
Every time the Bluejays (18-2, 5-2 Big East) tried to creep back into the game played before a crowd of 18,145 at CenturyLink Center, the Golden Eagles (13-6, 4-3) quickly responded to douse any hope of a comeback. With a shooting percentage as high as 66 midway through the second half, the Marquette finished the game making 36 of 60 shots, a 60 percent clip.
“I thought our guys really came ready to play,” Golden Eagles coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “I thought we competed defensively, and obviously we played extraordinarily well together.”
Seven players finished in double figures for Marquette. Katin Reinhardt led the way with 21 points, 17 in the first half. Luke Fischer and JaJuan Johnson each finished with 18 points.
Markus Howard, Haanif Cheatham and Andrew Rowsey all had 11 points and Sam Hauser chipped in 10 for Marquette.
Creighton, playing its first game without senior point guard Maurice Watson, had four players finish in double figures. Junior Marcus Foster led the way with a game-high 30 points on 13-of-24 shooting. Davion Mintz added 17 points, Isaiah Zierden scored 15 and Justin Patton had 11.
Watson suffered a torn ACL in his left knee Monday during Creighton’s win at Xavier. Ccoach Greg McDermott said the Bluejays missed Watson’s vocal leadership, especially on defense.
“While I thought we started the game engaged defensively, for the first eight to 10 minutes, when they made a little bit of a run we didn’t react very well,” McDermott said. “That’s probably where we miss Maurice the most.
“We didn’t have a voice there, no one to turn to on the floor, that we were accustomed to. We spent so much time this week trying to figure out what we were going to do offensively, we probably got away from who we are defensively.”
After heading to intermission up 50-40, Marquette continued to light up the Creighton defense, making 5 of 7 shots to start building a 17-point lead and a 63-48 margin at the first media timeout. The Bluejays never had a chance to get a second-half streak started because Marquette was so efficient on offense. At the other end, the Golden Eagles weren’t giving Creighton many second chances; the Bluejays only had nine offensive rebounds.
While Creighton is known for its ability and preference to get out in transition and run a fast-paced offense, Marquette enjoys playing the same style.
Reinhardt single-handedly took Marquette from a one- to 11-point lead late in the first half with a pair of layups and 3-pointers from the right wing left key. His 10-point run helped the Golden Eagles head to the locker room with a 50-40 lead.
“I didn’t even know that was a 10-0 run,” Reinhardt said. “I just did a good job of taking what the defense gave me. They switched their bigs off of me. I got to have a lot of open looks in the first half.”
Marquette led by as many as 19 points late in the game before Creighton shaved that lead down to eight at the finish.
Creighton shifted its offense into high gear early without Watson at the wheel before Marquette set up a roadblock that ground almost everything the Blue Jays tried to a halt.
The biggest lead Creighton could build was 13-9. After two free throws by Ronnie Harrell put the Bluejays ahead 19-16 right after the second media timeout, the Golden Eagles took control of the game.
A 3-pointer from the top of the key by Rowsey tied the game 22-22 before Fischer gave Marquette the lead for good moments later with a layup off an offensive rebound.
That was the start of a 10-2 run that put Marquette ahead 32-24.
Over the ensuing four possessions, the Bluejays whittled that deficit to 38-37 on a layup by Foster before Reinhardt’s run led to the 10-point halftime bulge.
NOTES: Marquette freshman guard Markus Howard is only 17 years old, but he continues to play like a savvy veteran seven games into the Golden Eagles’ Big East schedule. On Saturday Howard finished with 11 points and he has been averaging 12.9 per game, shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 94.6 percent from the free throw line. … Saturday’s game was a match-up of the Big East’s two more prolific offenses. Creighton entered the game averaging 86.7 points per game; Marquette’s average was exactly three points fewer. The teams also were 1-2 in assists and assist-turnover ratio, and second and third in turnover margin behind Butler. … While the Bluejays are known for their perimeter shooting prowess, they have also had plenty of success in the paint. Creighton had outscored opponents 836-608 in the lane this season, the best margin in school history since the stat began being tracked in the 2003-04 season.