MILWAUKEE – It wasn't pretty Tuesday night at the Bradley Center.
But a strong second half propelled Marquette (6-1) to an 81-67 victory over the Chippewas of Central Michigan (2-4) in the teams' first ever matchup.
MU opened on an 11-0 run after intermission. That proved to be too much for the Chippewas, who now have dropped three of their last four games.
Four of the five Golden Eagle starters scored in double figures, led by senior guard Wesley Matthews. Matthews struggled from the floor, shooting 4-of-11, but he was a perfect 10-of-10 from the free-throw line and finished with 18 points.
Senior guard Dominic James added 15 points, while senior guard Jerel McNeal and junior forward Lazar Hayward both scored 14.
The Golden Eagles pushed the ball inside early and often against the Chippewas, attempting only nine three-point shots after averaging 21.5 three-point attempts per game entering Tuesday's game.
"It just happened that way," James said. "Sometimes we just get into the paint and want to do it ourselves. That's just our aggressive play – we're aggressive by nature. We played very unselfish tonight and that's why we only took nine threes."
It was a warm homecoming for Chippewa forward and Milwaukee native Jacolby Hardiman who scored a career-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting. The junior also grabbed seven rebounds, with six of them coming off the offensive glass. For the game, CMU grabbed a total of 18 offensive rebounds.
"We've got to do a lot better job on the offensive glass," said Marquette head coach Buzz Williams. "We can't give up 18 offensive rebounds, though that's a credit specifically to [Hardiman]. Jacolby is a real good player."
Coming into the contest, Central Michigan led the MAC with nine three-pointers made per game, yet the Chippewas shot only 4-of-25 from long-range on the night.
"I thought the last four or five minutes of the first half and most of the second half we were really good defensively," Williams said. "Much better than on Saturday."
Bench production was also key for Marquette. After scoring a dismal five points last Saturday, the Golden Eagles reserves chipped in 17, including seven from sophomore guard Jimmy Butler and five from junior guard David Cubillan.
"[Cubillan] has really come around defensively," Williams said. "He's a really good on-the-ball defender. [Butler] played a lot better tonight. He was much more physical and I thought he really helped us."
Marquette returns to action on Saturday night when they take on in-state rival Wisconsin at the Bradley Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:30 PM CST.
Cubillan logged a season-high 29 minutes during the contest……After seven games, senior forward Dwight Burke still has recorded more fouls than points on the season (17 points, 26 fouls).