The #6 Marquette Golden Eagles (25-6) faced off against the St. John’s Red Storm (17-14) on Saturday in the regular season finale for each team. The Red Storm nearly walked away with the win, but the Golden Eagles held onto their lead to secure the 96-94 victory. St John’s will now play Butler with the winner getting a third chance to play against Marquette on March 9th.
Marquette Golden Eagles Struggle Through Close Victory
Marquette got the job done at home during their regular season finale. While the Golden Eagles worked for the win, it certainly was not how the team hoped they would perform against their opponent. Tyler Kolek recorded another double-double with 18 points and 10 assists as the Red Storm made it a close game. For the majority of the first half, the Golden Eagles shot at a solid rate but struggled from deep, going 11-31 for the game.
The big shots were not landing for the Marquette Golden Eagles, but the offense still looked great. All five starters scored double digit points against the Red Storm, along with 22 assists between the five. In the first half, the Golden Eagles shot 56.76% from the floor, nailing 21 shots, but going 7 of 20 from three. Marquette also only generated a handful of fouls in the first half, which contributed to the close score. The Golden Eagles ended the first 20 minutes up 53-47 over the Red Storm.
The second half was a different story for the Marquette Golden Eagles. St. John’s stormed back into the game as the Golden Eagles struggled to shoot in general in the second half. Marquette shot 40.74% from the floor, 36.36% from three, and 73.91% from the charity stripe. Their improved attack on the basket resulted in many more free throw opportunities and allowed Marquette to slow the game down. The Red Storm were clinical from the field, shooting 56.25% and 55.56% from three. The stellar shooting was nearly enough to give them the win, but the Golden Eagles and Shaka Smart held onto the win.
Keys to Victory: Marquette Golden Eagles
Certainly, the offense and the inconsistent shooting was a concern against the Red Storm. The problems came down to tempo management and shot selection as the Golden Eagles took bad shots while allowing good ones. A team never wants the offense to affect the defense, but in the case of the Golden Eagles, struggling on either side of the ball develops into overall struggles.
Marquette is the sixth ranked school in the country, and likely a three seed for March Madness. However, their defense is ranked 192 among Division 1 schools with 2117 points allowed this season for an average of 70.6 per game. Marquette averages 10 steals a game and nearly four blocks, but allows far too many points overall. The Golden Eagles have been able to lean on their offensive firepower and the scoring options, but when the team struggles from the field like today, it results in very close games. Respectfully, the Red Storm should not have been able to hang with the sixth ranked school.
We appreciate everyone and everything!#MUBB | #WeAreMarquette pic.twitter.com/GZGkBFf6o2
— Marquette Basketball (@MarquetteMBB) March 4, 2023
Despite the struggles, the Golden Eagles and coach Shaka Smart know what needs to be worked on. When Marquette chooses their shots wisely and limits great looks at the basket for the opposing team, the Golden Eagles win handily. Between Kam Jones, Oso Ighodaro, and Tyler Kolek, there are plenty of scoring opportunities. From here on out, the games will come down to how Marquette addresses the defense against tougher opponents.
As the top seed, the Marquette Golden Eagles will receive a first round bye in the Big East tournament. St. John’s and Butler will face off March 8th to decide who will play against Marquette in the quarterfinals. The Marquette Golden Eagles will face the winner on March 9th in their first tournament game.
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