Marquette let game ‘get out of hand’ in loss to Seton Hall
MILWAUKEE — By the time the Marquette Golden Eagles realized the second half had started, Seton Hall had buried them in a 24-point hole and boos were flying in from the home crowd.
It was the first stretch of Big East play in which Marquette wasn’t competitive on either end of the floor.
Seton Hall opened the second half on a 28-8 run to build a 24-point lead in an eventual 80-70 victory over Marquette in front of 14,917 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
How did what seemed to be yet another close Big East battle snowball on the Golden Eagles so quickly?
"That’s the million-dollar question," Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said. "I think we got knocked back by their shooting, to be quite honest with you. They have been a 27 percent 3-point shooting team in Big East play. Obviously they weren’t tonight. To that, you have to tip your hat. We got beat by the better team."
Leading 32-28 at the break, Seton Hall hit 11 of its first 13 shot attempts in the second half.
Sterling Gibbs scored the final 11 points of Seton Hall’s 28-8 run, connecting on three consecutive 3-pointers to force Wojciechowski to call his second timeout of the half with the Pirates leading 60-36 with 12:51 to play.
Marquette didn’t get a stop on its first seven defensive possessions after halftime, as Seton Hall scored 17 points in the first 4:29 of the second half for an average of 2.43 points per possession.
"I didn’t expect that from us," Marquette senior forward Juan Anderson said. "We’ve come out flat plenty of times over the course of the season, but I didn’t expect for it to get out of hand like that."
The Pirates came in as the worst 3-point shooting team (27.2 percent) in the Big East but made a season-high 13 on 26 attempts.
Gibbs entered having missed 12 of his last 14 shots from distance, while fellow guard Jaren Sina had missed 15 of his last 16. The two combined to go 9 for 20 from beyond the arc against Marquette.
"He’s been playing at an extremely high level," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said of Gibbs. "He struggled for two games out of the whole Big East so far, but that’s what he’s been doing. When he gets going, our guys know to get him the basketball."
It took falling down by 24 points for the Golden Eagles to play with any kind of urgency. They were able to go on a 19-7 run to cut the deficit to 67-55, but Matt Carlino missed an open 3-point attempt that would have pulled Marquette to within single digits.
"We were flat," Wojciechowski said. "Our margin for error is not very big. We have to do most things right to have a chance to win. Tonight we faced a team that played a great game, and we didn’t do most things right."
The narrative of being competitive in every Big East game despite having just eight scholarship players was holding true until Wednesday. It is easy to sell the rebuilding project when the current team is playing hard, but Marquette lost Wednesday because it was uninspired for seven minutes in a conference home game.
Marquette has lost four regular-season games in a row for the first time since the 2008-09 season and faces a difficult upcoming schedule.
After hosting No. 25 Butler on Saturday, the Golden Eagles head out on a road trip with stops at No. 7 Villanova and another matchup with Seton Hall. Things could quickly spiral out of control if Marquette doesn’t put an end to its skid in the near future.
"I don’t want to be too concerned because there’s still a lot of basketball to play, but then again it’s kind of like when are we going to stop losing?" Anderson said. "When are we going to turn it around? We can always say, ‘Alright, we’ll get the next one.’ We’ve been saying that since Xavier, St. John’s, then Georgetown now this. That’s four in a row.
"We’ve got to do something about it. I am a little concerned because I hate losing, but at the same time like I said there’s a lot of basketball to be played. We could run off five, six in a row. We’re a team that’s capable of doing that."
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