A 21-2 run to end the first half propelled Marquette to a 60-48 victory over a feisty Delaware State squad. While points were not as plentiful as normal, many of them came in thrilling fashion.
Marquette looked sloppy early, as Delaware State's deliberate offense that often drained the shot clock rattled the young team. Delaware State took a 19-14 lead at 6:14 mark of first half.
"We came out flat out in the first half, committing too many turnovers," stated senior guard Joe Chapman.
Two key three pointers from Wesley Matthews, who lead Marquette with 12 points on an economical 3-4 from field, along with 3 steals, helped lead the first half charge that gave Marquette some much needed separation from this dangerous squad.
"We made excellent adjustments defensively," added Marquette head coach Tom Crean. "We did not want them to be able to play at their tempo."
A series of highlight from freshman phenom Dominic James really sparked the crowd during the first half push that gave Marquette a comfortable 35-21 lead at halftime. A Steve Novak pass to James off a break that lead to a slam, and James throwing down an alley-oop from Jerel McNeal gave Marquette the energy they needed to take control of the game.
"This was a bigger game than many people thought," stated James. "We had to come into the game completely focused."
"The older guys, Chris Grimm, Steve Novak, Joe Chapman, Steve Novak, they did an excellent job of keeping team focused," James continued.
Chapman provided a strong veteran presence off the bench, hitting two threes on his way to eight big points.
With Delaware State hanging around the second half, an 11-2 run late in the second half helped finally put the Hornets away.
After a quiet first half, McNeal hit two key threes during the run, and finished the night with another balanced line of 10 points, 6 rebounds and 2 more steals.
James completed the ending run with a beautiful short range tear dropper, which completed a night of highlight plays as he finished with 10 points and 4 assists.
Tracy Worley led Hornets with 16 points, but star Jahsha Bluntt was held to 8 points on just 3-10 shooting.
"The main thing about tonight was putting guys in different spots, where we had to adjust," stated Crean. "The communication on the floor needs to continue to improve."
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