Marquette handed Wisconsin its seventh loss in nine games as the Golden Eagles dominated the Badgers in the Kohl Center on their way to an 82-63 victory. Marquette led for all but the first fifty-five seconds of game time on Saturday. Wisconsin falls to 4-7 on the season, and Marquette has now won two straight in the Kohl Center.
“Stay together,” Ethan Happ said of how the team needs to approach the season going forward. “We’ve had struggles both my first two years of playing here. That’s what we did, just stayed together and kept fighting. We’re just going to keep doing that.”
Wisconsin was without D’Mitrik Trice and Kobe King on Saturday, as they were ruled out with foot and knee injuries, respectively. Greg Gard’s roster already is pretty thin, forcing the Badgers to play some non-rotation players such as T.J. Schlundt and Aaron Moesch early on.
Without Trice and King, the Badgers needed the likes of Khalil Iverson, Brevin Pritzl, and Aleem Ford to step up. However, head coach Greg Gard received very little from anyone that wasn’t Brad Davison or Ethan Happ. The duo combined for nearly 59 percent of Wisconsin’s points. Iverson, Pritzl, and Ford had a combined 18 points on 8/22 shooting.
“Nate has come so far, Khalil needs to become more consistent,” head coach Greg Gard said of the supporting cast. “Trice and King being absent hurts more on the defensive end.”
Conversely, Marquette came in with two 20-plus point per game scorers in the form of Andrew Rowsey and Markus Howard, and both of the Marquette guards got theirs pretty easily on Saturday. Rowsey led all scorers with 24, and Howard added 23.
Rowsey controlled the game from the top of the key. Marquette would set him a high ball screen and his change of speed and ball handling allowed him to go wherever he wanted. Whether it was finding the open man, pulling up for three, or getting to the rim, it seemed like Rowsey made the right basketball play every single time.
Marquette dominated just about every statistical category, but points off of turnovers was the biggest difference. Marquette scored 28 points off of Badgers mistakes, while the Badgers only had eight.
Marquette jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the beginning minutes prompting Greg Gard to take a timeout. Wisconsin gave up two easy threes, one to Andrew Rowsey and another to Markus Howard. Rowsey also made a beautiful pass to a rolling Matt Heldt for an easy dunk. The Badgers started the game with an air-ball and a turnover.
The Golden Eagles led 22-10 at the under 12 timeout. Marquette moved the ball much better than Wisconsin’s stagnant offense, out-assisting the Badgers five to one. Howard had eight points early on for Marquette. Happ and company couldn’t quite crack the double teams the Golden Eagles were sending his way.
Sam Hauser, a Steven’s Point native, hit back-to-back threes to put Marquette up 28-11. Marquette started out 5/6 from beyond the arch as a team as they built a huge lead in the Kohl Center.
Freshman Brad Davison then rattled off a personal 6-0 run with a steal and a lay-in, two free throws, and then yet another steal and a lay-in, bringing the Kohl Center crowd back into it. The next possession down for the Eagles, Howard was there with another tough three-pointer to silence the crowd.
That story would repeat itself. Schlundt hit a corner three, again igniting the crowd, only for Howard to hit a pull-up three, putting Marquette back up 16 and giving Howard 16 points in 14 minutes. Davison continued to battle, hitting another three, and Pritzl would follow him up, knocking down a three cutting the deficit to ten, but then Jamal Cain would hit a three on the other end to put the Eagles back up 13.
Marquette led 41-32 at the break.
The Badgers cut the Golden Eagles’ lead down to six a couple times early on in the second half, with Pritzl knocking down a three and Happ scoring two quick buckets. Andrew Rowsey would be right there to answer, however, subbing in for Howard with foul trouble. Rowsey hit two threes and a nice floater to keep the Badgers out of reaching distance. After an Ethan Happ and-one, Rowsey would get Nathan Reuvers in the air and draw a foul from three-point range. Rowsey hit all three free-throws, putting Marquette’s lead back in double-digits, 54-42 with 14 minutes remaining.
Rowsey would officially put the nail in the coffin as he hit a deep three from the top of the key, giving Marquette a 19-point lead with just over ten minutes to go.
Marquette finished 14/22 from beyond the arch. The loss marks Wisconsin’s second bad home loss in as many Saturdays after getting blown out by Ohio State last week.
“They’ll bounce back, they are a resilient group,” Gard said. “We’ve had an unbelievable stretch here. High-level games that have been competitive. They’ve had to deal with a lot. In time, this will help continue to improve and mature guys. In the long run hopefully we’ll continue to be better because of it.”
Up next, the Badgers play Western Kentucky at home on Wednesday night.