Fri. Final: No. 15 Marquette 73, Northern Iowa 43
By By Kyle Dlabay
After a sub par defensive effort Tuesday night, the Golden Eagles made a big step forward against Northern Iowa.
No. 15 Marquette beat the Panthers 73-43 Friday night at the Sears Centre in the Chicago Invitational Challenge. Northern Iowa shot just 33 percent from the field in the first half and 35 percent for the game.
"I think that we grew up and matured from a defensive standpoint tonight," said Marquette coach Buzz Williams.
In the team's last game, Texas Southern shot 64 percent in the second half against the Golden Eagles.
The game was but put of reach by Marquette with a 20-0 first half run. The Golden Eagles led 32-8 with 5:31 left in the first half after a lay-up by Jerel McNeal. During that run, Dominic James hit back-to-back three-pointers.
"We took (27) of them," Williams said. "Nobody is asking me why we shot (27). In the first game, we shot 27 and we were playing a team that wants to play way faster than Northern Iowa. No one is asking me because no one thought they were bad shots."
Wesley Matthews led all scorers with 17 points while Lazar Hayward had 15 points and McNeal put in 13.
Northern Iowa finally got into double figures when Kwadzo Ahelegbe hit a three-pointer to make it 32-11 Marquette with 4:40 left in the first half. Ahelegbe led the Panthers with 11 points. He was the lone Northern Iowa in double digits.
The play of the game and possibly the final back breaker for the Panthers was when James made a steal, shook a defender then dished off to Hayward who finished with a three-point play on a lay-in with 9:58 left in the game. Those three points put the Golden Eagles ahead 62-32.
Mired in a slump so far this year, senior Dwight Burke picked up six rebounds in 30 minutes of action. In the first five games this season, Burke has been in foul trouble for much of those games. His most minutes in a game before Friday's game was 15 against UWM.
"I thought Dwight played much better defensively and from a rebounding perceptive," Williams said.
Marquette takes on Dayton (5-0) Saturday night as they look to win the Chicago Invitational Challenge. Both teams are 3-0 in the tournament so far with the Flyers beating Auburn 60-59 in overtime Friday.
Notes: After turning the ball over 19 times in their last game, Marquette had just ten turnovers and 20 assists against the Panthers. Six Golden Eagles had at least two assists in the game. Also, five players for Marquette made at least two three-pointers.