Ethan Happ scored a career-high 34 points against Marquette on Saturday afternoon, but #12 Wisconsin was unable to muster up any offense in overtime as they fell to the Golden Eagles 74-69.
In a game that was tightly contested throughout, free throws really mattered. Of course, free throws have been a weakness for Wisconsin over the past few years, and Saturday was the same story.
Marquette was 22/34 from the charity stripe, and that was despite missing four straight free throws at the end of overtime to keep the Badgers within striking distance late. The Badgers were unable to capitalize, hitting just one field goal in the extra five minutes. Conversely, Wisconsin shot just 10/21 from the line, leaving a lot of points out on the floor.
Despite outshooting Marquette by 15 percent from the field, the Badgers squandered a second-half lead to fall to their in-state rival Marquette in the 125th matchup of the series, and the first at Fiserv Forum. Markus Howard led Marquette with 27 points on an amazing 29 field goal attempts. The Badgers defense was steady enough, but Howard got to the free throw line whenever he wanted, going 12/15. Howard is over 90% on the year.
Sam and Joey Hauser combined for 28 points to go along with Howard’s 27.
The Badgers had opportunities but just could not convert down the stretch. Brad Davison had one of the worst games of his college career tallying zero points and four fouls, including an untimely technical foul on what looked like a cheap shot at Joey Hauser’s groin, allowing Marquette free points and possession late in regulation.
Wisconsin’s first ten possessions of the game resulted in six turnovers and four points. Despite the slow start, the Badgers went into halftime with a one-point lead. The two All-American candidates, Happ and Howard, put on a show at the Fiserv Forum scoring 15 of the first 19 points of the game. They also ended the half strong too; Happ and Howard traded baskets in the final ten seconds. Howard struggled from the field but was a perfect six-of-six from the free throw line.
After the Badgers weathered the mostly-unforced-turnovers, Wisconsin received key contributions from sophomores Aleem Ford and Nate Reuvers, who each scored eight points. The Badgers racked up nine assists before halftime. It was a close battle the entire first half, with the biggest separation being only five points.
The Badgers, and more specifically Happ, found a rhythm after halftime. Happ scored three straight buckets; Trice assisted Happ on back-to-back plays inside off of nice passes, as the Badgers built a six-point lead in the second half. Marquette kept battling, however, and Wisconsin was just 3/8 to start the half on free throws keeping them from gaining any type of separation.
After Wisconsin was rolling in the beginning of the half, it would be Marquette that had the momentum the rest of the way through.
Wisconsin had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but Trice fired a pass at Happ who was unaware he would be receiving the pass. The ball trickled out of bounds, and Howard missed a down-and-out three at the buzzer, leaving the game tied at 61-61.
In overtime, the Golden Eagles outscored the Badgers 13 to eight.
Reuvers and Ford after the solid first halves combined for just one bucket the rest of the game. Reuvers finished with 11 points. Trice chipped in 10.
Happ was unreal all game missing just five shots in a clinic of efficiency, but sadly there just wasn’t the pieces around him today to pull it off all by himself. The Badgers were 5/24 from beyond-the-arc in Milwaukee on Saturday.
Wisconsin averages just under nine turnovers a game, and they turned it over 13 times on Saturday. Six of those were within the first five minutes. But, a poor shooting night from distance and on free throws, no balance, and turnovers handed Wisconsin its second loss of the year.
Up next, the Badgers have Savannah State at the Kohl Center on Thursday.