Door Finally Slammed, MU Beats #17GTown 57-51

Marquette has been paced by a steady dose of Steve Novak, Dominic James, and Jerel McNeal, and that is exactly what #17 Georgetown got Thursday night. The three combined for 45 points and helped capture an important home victory in front of a boisterous crowd of 15,243 at the Bradley Center.

It really isn't a secret recipe anymore. In the majority of Marquette's 17 wins this season, the Golden Eagles have been paced by a steady dose of Steve Novak, Dominic James, and Jerel McNeal, and that is exactly what #17 Georgetown got Thursday night in a 57-51 victory over the visiting Hoyas. The three players combined for 45 of MU's points and helped capture an important home victory in front of a boisterous 15,243 at the Bradley Center. Marquette is now 12-2 at home.

"We had to make it a defensive game. That is the Big East for you," said Coach Tom Crean of his team's defensive effort. "It's very hard to guard for a long period of time but I thought our guys did a great job with that."

The early stage of the first half was dominated by Georgetown's 7-2 center Roy Hibbert, whose lay-up with 14:44 left gave him eight early points and gave the Hoyas a 14-7 lead. The two teams traded baskets until the 8:30 mark, when Jessie Sapp's jumper put the Hoyas up six. But from that point forward, Georgetown did not score another basket, save a lay-up by Hibbert to beat the halftime buzzer.

"We had our rules defensively," said Crean. "We had our personnel characteristics that we wanted to take away from them. Our guys followed the game plan to a ‘T' tonight and kicked it up a few notches."

The Hoyas were able to whittle their five point halftime deficit to one early in the second half. After Marquette built the lead back up to nine halfway through the second half, Georgetown made one more furious run, and even led by a point with four minutes to go. But guided by their key players, Marquette was able to close the game out.

With 2:31 left, Dominic James penetrated the baseline and found Joe Chapman in the corner. Chapman buried a three to put Marquette ahead 51-49. After forcing a turnover, it was James who hit a runner over the 7-2 Hibbert to give Marquette a two possession lead. The Golden Eagles forced yet another key stop on defense and Steve Novak made two free throws to ice the game away.

"If we are going to win like we want to win, we have to be able to close out games," said Novak. It should be noted that Marquette was able to hold off the Hoyas after salting away big leads in the second half against Pittsburgh, Villanova, and Rutgers earlier this season. "We kept reminding each other, and we held it tonight."

"Tonight was just a huge confidence booster," added James. "We can win games at the end. We have been working on that all week at practice--nobody dropped their heads and we felt like we could win the ballgame."

The Golden Eagles were playing on the national stage of ESPN for just the second time this season. There is no doubt that tonight's win will go a long way in helping the team's resume for the NCAA tournament that kicks off in exactly four weeks. But with a top ten team in Pittsburgh visiting Marquette in just 48 hours, the Golden Eagles will have to put this win in their back pocket and look ahead.

"We have to just go out there and try to win," said James of the impending match up with 9th ranked Pittsburgh. Pitt took the first game on the home court, 77-71. One of the subplots that comes with the rematch will be how James responds to the Panthers, after they battered and bruised him to a shoulder injury in the first game. James sat out most of the second half.

"I feel confident we will win the game. I won't be out on Saturday," promised James.

Marquette Hoops Top Stories