Sat. Final: No. 24 Marquette 69, IPFW 50
By Todd Welter
Lazar Hayward's listed height is 6'6". His coach says he is 6'4" but whether he is 6'4" or 6'6", he played like he was a foot taller in No. 24 Marquette's 69-50 rout of Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne at the Bradley Center. Hayward pulled down a career high 18 rebounds to go along with 19 points. Not a bad day's work considering he had just survived finals week.
"I think I got lucky on some of them," Hayward joked. "I just think it is me having the right mentality and sometimes being at the right place at the right time."
It is hard to explain how a guy that lacks typical power forward size can average more than nine rebounds a game. No one would probably compare him to some of the best the position has ever seen to explain it. That is exactly how Marquette head coach Buzz Williams put it.
"Lazar was Ben Wallace on the glass," Williams thought. "He is similar to Dennis Rodman in regards to he follows the flight of the ball as soon as the guy shoots it. It is almost an innate talent. Because he does such a good job at following the flight of the ball, he is really crafty at knowing where to get before a bigger, more athletic, longer guy gets there."
Helping Lazar out in this rout was Jerel McNeal's 16 points on 6-12 shooting. Wesley Matthews scored 13 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Dominic James contributed 10 points and five assists.
Marquette's defense made it a nightmare for IPFW to score. The Mastodons shot just 32% from the field. In the first half alone, IPFW shot an eyesore 29%. David Carson was IPFW's top scorer with 17 points.
The final demise for IPFW was Marquette clearly controlled the paint on both ends. The Golden Eagles out-rebounded the Mastodons 48-29 and outscored the Mastodons 42-18 down low. The only consolation IPFW can take is it did grab 12 offensive rebounds.
The Golden Eagles kicked off the game with a 20-6 run. The Mastodons shot back with a 15-5 run to cut the lead to four with 6:29 left in the first half. Marquette closed out the half with a 13-4 run to take a 38-25 lead into the locker room.
Jerel McNeal knocked down two straight three pointers in the second half's first four minutes that pushed Marquette's lead up to 50-32. Five minutes later Marquette went ahead by 23 when James found Hayward down in the post for a layup and the rout was on from there. The Golden Eagles improve to 8-1.
Finals may be over for the Golden Eagles but they get a big test on the court Tuesday night when Marquette faces Tennessee in Nashville.
"We have to come ready," Matthews said. "It is going to be a good test for us. It is going to be a real challenge and good measuring tool to see where we are going to be at in the Big East."