"I'm proud of the way my team competed after a lot of time off," head coach Tom Crean said. "You come from playing three games in three days to coming in and having to get ourselves ready to play a team that we think is a good basketball team. The most important thing for us tonight was for us to play the way we needed to play to feel like we're getting better."
Teamwork keyed the Golden Eagles' victory. Of the 40 field goals made by Marquette, 26 were assisted.
"There were many times where guys could have taken a shot and it wouldn't have been a bad one, but they gave it to their team in order to get a better one." head coach Tom Crean said. "That's a great sign of a team that is maturing."
Four Golden Eagles scored in double figures, led by Dominic James with a season high 22 points. Coming off a disappointing 4-16 shooting effort against Duke, James went 10-15 from the field against UWM.
Jerel McNeal picked up his first double-double of the season, tallying 16 points and 10 assists for the Golden Eagles. McNeal also added five rebounds and three steals and went 2-4 from three-point range.
"There were so many great penetration and kick-outs, so those are the ones you want to take and make," McNeal said of the team's shooting effort.
McNeal was not the only Marquette player to pick up a double-double in Friday's game. Lazar Hayward played strong on both ends of the court, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for the first double-double of his career. Hayward also went 2-3 from three-point range, living up to his prep reputation as a strong perimeter shooter.
"He's one of the biggest pieces to this team," said McNeal. "It may be a surprise to everybody else, but it's not a surprise to me. I expect it from him. He's got to continue to keep playing the way he's been playing for our team to have success all season long."
Marquette set the tone of the game early in the first half. A three point shot by David Cubillan at 12:17 mark gave the Golden Eagles a 16-13 lead they would never relinquish. The Golden Eagles also closed out the first half with a 15-3 run that included three straight three pointers by Hayward, McNeal, and Cubillan. Marquette led 50-33 at the break.
"The one thing the coaches have been harping on us is that once you get a team down, you can't let them back in," McNeal said. "You can't let them stick around and think they have hope of coming back, and we've been doing a good job of that in the last couple of games."
Late in the second half, a Maurice Acker jumper put Marquette up by 39 points, its largest lead of the game. The basket also brought Marquette to the 100 point total for the first time since March of 2003.
Cubillan rounded out the double-digit scoring with 12 points and also added six assists. Wesley Matthews contributed nine points for the Golden Eagles. Freshman Scott Christopherson scored a basket in his first minutes of the season after completing rehabilitation from knee surgery last month. He saw time in place of senior Dan Fitzgerald, who is out indefinitely with a sprained wrist.
UWM was led in scoring by Ricky Franklin's 14 points, including 2-6 from three-point range. Marquette was able to hold the Panthers' leading scorers, Torre Johnson and Paige Paulsen, to seven and four points, respectively. The Golden Eagles also forced 14 UWM turnovers.
"For the most part we made a lot of improvement," said Crean. "Now we have another week to get ready before we go and play on the road at an incredibly challenging place in Madison."
Marquette travels to the Kohl Center to take on Wisconsin December 8.
**Cara Corradino is a sophomore majoring in Public Relations.
** Jeff Wolf is a sophomore majoring in Advertising with a Studio Art Minor. Jeff is the Head Student Writer for MarquetteHoops.com and is also the Assistant Sports Director for Marquette Radio.