MILWAUKEE - Marquette squandered an 11-point halftime lead before falling 77-73 to NC State Saturday afternoon at the Bradley Center.
The Wolfpack's furious second-half charge dealt the Golden Eagles their second-straight loss and first nonconference home loss in three years. Marquette last lost a nonconference game at the Bradley Center to Wisconsin in the 2006-2007 campaign.
"I thought we were pretty good in the first half and arguably the worst we've been since I've been here in the second half," Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said.
Tracy Smith and Javier Gonzalez dominated the second half for NC State. The two Wolfpack juniors combined for 29 second-half points, four more than their entire squad could muster in the first half. Gonzalez finished with 15 points, on 3-of-5 three-point shooting, and seven assists. Tracy Smith led NC State, posting 19 points and 11 rebounds after contributing only two points before the break.
"I told him he wasn't playing hard enough," Head coach Sidney Lowe said of Smith. "But he can handle that. And he was patient as well. He started to play the way he's capable of [in the second half]."
NC State took advantage of a four-minute Marquette scoring drought to open the second half, going on a 16-4 run. Marquette did not hit a field goal in the second half until a Lazar Hayward jumper at the 14:20 mark.
After shooting a dismal 35.7 percent as a team in the first half, the Wolfpack shot over 71 percent from the floor after the break. Gonzalez and Smith combined to hit 12-of-14 field goals in the second half.
"No matter whether you play at home or on the road, if you allow a team to shoot 72 percent (sic) from the field you're not going to win," Williams said.
Marquette's athletic defense caused problems for the Wolfpack in the first half, holding them to only 25 points on a 35.7 field goal percentage. A three at the buzzer from Darius Johnson-Odom sent Marquette into the break up by 11, tying their largest lead of the game. Johnson-Odom and Jimmy Butler each finished the half with nine points.
"Our guys did a great job of hanging in there after them jumping on us in the first half," Lowe said. "I think it showed great composure, coming back in the second half."
Dwight Buycks and Lazar Hayward each had five turnovers for Marquette, contributing to 10 second-half turnovers that led to 12 points for NC State down the stretch.
"We were active with our hands, and we were getting off and helping on penetration and getting our deflections," Lowe added.
Despite losing, four Golden Eagles scored in double figures, paced by Butler's 19 points and 12 rebounds. Hayward added 15 points and 6 boards, while Johnson-Odom and Maurice Acker finished with 11 and 10 points, respectively. Acker added a season-high seven assists.
Marquette will host UW-Milwaukee at the Bradley Center Tuesday night at 7 PM CST before traveling to Madison to take on Wisconsin on Saturday.