MILWAUKEE- Marquette improved to 9-0 on Saturday night for the first time since the 2004-2005 season, easily defeating the Green Bay Phoenix 79-61 on Saturday night at the Bradley Center.
The Golden Eagles jumped out to an early 11-2 lead and stayed well ahead of the Phoenix until the final whistle. Marquette was able to establish their dominance by grabbing five offensive rebounds within the first seven minutes of play and by forcing six turnovers in that same time span.
With starting center, Chris Otule, out, the Golden Eagles turned to Davante Gardner to control the paint. Gardner rose to the occasion, matching his career high of 7 rebounds while scoring 14 points in 30 minutes of play.
Following the game Vander Blue said he was not surprised to see Gardner do so well in his first career start.
"I could tell this week in practice Davante's really been focusing on defense and just playing much harder and trying to have an all-around game," said Blue.
Marquette also relied much more on their guards' ability to penetrate off the dribble in Otule's absence. Their attacking mentality on the offensive end forced Green Bay into foul trouble early in the first half.
On defense, the Golden Eagles were able to hold the Phoenix to only 37% shooting from the field in the first half while forcing 13 turnovers.
Marquette and Green Bay both came out of halftime firing on all cylinders, as each teams' offensive numbers improved. The Phoenix offense was carried by sophomore center Alec Brown. At 7'1", Brown was a force to be reckoned with down low, leading all scorers with 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
Green Bay's head coach, Brian Wardle, liked what he saw from his young star player.
"He (Brown) stayed aggressive" said Wardle. "He's a talented kid. Watch out, because he's just going to keep getting better."
Darius Johnson-Odom was very quiet against Green Bay, scoring a season-low 10 points. Though Johnson-Odom didn't put up great numbers on Saturday night, he still made sizable contributions on offense and defense.
In fact, Johnson-Odom was able to make his presence be felt on consecutive possessions early on in the second half. After making a beautiful bounce pass through the Phoenix defense to assist Jae Crowder, DJO hustled down to the other end of the court and rejected Green Bay's Steve Baker with a ferocious swat.
Meanwhile, Crowder did everything in his power to make up for Johnson-Odom's quiet game, leading Marquette with 21 points, 12 of which came from beyond the arc. His four triples turned out to be the only shots from downtown that would count for Marquette, as the rest of the team combined for 0-6 from long range.
Vander Blue also provided noticeable emotional jolts to Marquette's offense with two emphatic dunks. His first came off an alley-oop from Junior Cadougan while his second was a fast-break facial on Green Bay's Daniel Turner.
Marquette will be looking to extend their win streak into double digits against Northern Colorado next Saturday. Tip off at the Bradley Center will be at 3 pm CST.
Crowder powers MU over Green Bay
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