Marquette starts weak, finishes strong in conference victory over Lafayette
By: Jonathan Duncan
Marquette senior forward Matt Hink knew his team could play better after a lackluster first half against Suburban West archrival Lafayette on Friday night.
The Mustangs trailed by nine points at halftime and looked all but dead.
But an early third quarter surge gave Hink and the Mustangs the juice they needed and Marquette held on down the stretch for a badly needed 40-36 victory.
“I feel like the second half we drove more, we were more aggressive,” said Hink. The second half we got inside and that allowed me to kick out for threes and when you shoot threes you get long rebounds that I can get and I felt like I attacked more as well.”
Lafayette (11-11, 5-2 in Suburban West play) looked strong in the opening quarter as the Lancers raced to a 15-8 lead behind the shooting of Shacquille Holley.
Holley led the Lancers with 10 points.
Marquette grabbed the lead on a John Conlon layup to go ahead 16-15 with 5:15 in the half. But a Kameron Emamjomeh 3-ball sparked a 9-0 Lafayette run and the Lancers carried a seemingly safe 25-16 cushion to the locker room at the break.
“Give them (Lafayette) credit for taking some stuff away from us but we didn’t shoot as well,” Marquette coach Shane Matzen said.
“I think in the first have we didn’t play very well and in the second half it was probably just the reverse.”
A reverse is exactly what happened for Marquette in the second half as the Mustangs came out smoking with a blistering 9-0 run to start the third quarter. A free-throw from Chris Lenzen and a Dillon Jones three-pointer spurred the run and a Lenzen lay in with 3:07 left capped the run as Marquette led 25-24. Lenzen poured in 10 points.
That momentum switch meant big problems for Lafayette.
“The second half, we kind of got away from what we were trying to do,” Lafayette coach Scott Allen said. A lot of credit goes to them (Marquette). They came out and guarded and Hink was a monster inside and made things different. It was a disappointing second half.”
The teams traded baskets to start the fourth quarter and a Jones 3-ball put Marquette in front 34-32.
After a Nate Messer free-throw cut it to one, Hink knocked down a free-throw with 3:04 left making it 35-33. Hink pumped in 10 points on the night.
Tanner Stabenow then knocked down a pair of free-throws and Lenzen hit one putting the Mustangs up five with just 10.1 seconds left. Evan Scales came down and drilled a three for Lafayette. But with just 1.1 left Hink drilled a pair of free-throws and the Lancers comeback chances were done.
“We came together after halftime and decided that we were going to take care of it because we know who was the better team out there,” Hink said.
Brooks Gerrity paced Marquette (15-6, 4-1 in conference) with 12 points.
NOTES: In the girls contest played earlier in the evening, Marquette outlasted Lafayette for a 52-47 victory.