What a difference a good night of sleep makes.
After barely surviving an opening round scare from Idaho State just twenty four hours before, Marquette defeated Detroit, 87-45, to win the Milwaukee Regional Championship of the CBE Classic. The Golden Eagles were paced by twenty points from regional tournament MVP Dominic James. Wesley Matthews added fifteen points and freshmen Lazar Hayward tallied fourteen off the bench. MU also held visiting Detroit to a season low, forty-five points.
"We finished the game off last night (against Idaho State) with a great defensive mindset," said coach Tom Crean. "That carried over into tonight."
In Tuesday night's trouncing of the Titans, the Golden Eagles soared to a 27-14 lead just ten minutes into the game. MU shot three pointers on their first five possessions, making four of them proving last night's 25% showing from beyond the arc against Idaho State to be an aberration. Marquette was paced by steady bench play, as Hayward, Lawrence Blackledge and David Cubillan combined for eleven first half points and thirty points for the game.
For MU, it was encouraging to see such production off the bench. To see much of the production come from Hayward, sublime.
"He is really starting to feel the flow," remarked James on the breakout game from Hayward, who is expected to pick up more of the role left vacant by former Marquette star Steve Novak. "Lazar has made a lot of progress and is going to find ways to contribute to this team."
"Good, bad or indifferent, we were going to go to him early," added Crean of playing Hayward tonight. "He has a scoring mentality and that is really important for our club right now. He is going to get a lot better."
After taking a 46-22 lead into the half, Marquette picked up where they left off at the onset of the second frame. Marquette maintained a 57-36 lead with 11:24 left in the game. A put-back by Wesley Matthews with 10:12 left began a 14-0 run that featured a crowd-pleasing alley-oop pass from James to Blackledge and three pointers by James and Cubillan.
When the smoke finally cleared, Marquette had its largest margin of victory since defeating Arkansas-Pine Bluff 100-49 during the 2001-2002 season. More importantly, MU advanced to play Texas Tech, victorious over Arkansas-Little Rock tonight, in the CBE national semi-final game.
"Our guys know what is at stake when you go into an environment like that," said Crean of his team's advancement in the tournament and match-up with Texas Tech. "They know about the national spotlight and will be excited to play."
It may be back to work tomorrow, but Marquette can rest easy tonight.
**Andrew Sharos is a senior majoring in History and Secondary Education.