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MENâ€™S BASKETBALL FALLS AT 10TH-RANKED MARQUETTE
MILWAUKEE -- Five Marquette players scored in double figures, led by Jerel McNeal’s 13 points, as the 10th-ranked Golden Eagles cruised to an 82-51 victory over Sacramento State in a non-conference men’s basketball game Saturday afternoon at the Bradley Center.
With the victory, Marquette, which is ranked 10th in the AP top 25 poll and 13th in the ESPN/USA Today poll, won its third in a row and improved to 7-1 overall. That includes a 4-0 record at home. Sacramento State, which has now faced Kansas State, Stanford, Oregon and Marquette during its non-conference schedule, dropped to 2-8 overall and 0-6 on the road.
The Hornets are in the midst of a season-long five game road trip and will take the next 13 days off before beginning the Big Sky Conference portion of the schedule on Dec. 28 at Northern Colorado. Sacramento State will play its first three conference games on the road, including dates at Portland State (Jan. 3) and Eastern Washington (Jan. 5). The Hornets will go 37 days without a home game (last was Dec. 4; next is Jan. 10 vs. Montana).
Today’s game was the first-ever meeting between Sacramento State and Marquette. Since joining the Div. I ranks in 1991-92, the Hornets dropped to 0-12 against ranked opposition, including losses earlier this year to then 25th-ranked Kansas State and 16th-ranked Oregon.
Marquette jumped out to a 14-0 lead as the Hornets were held scoreless for more than five minutes until a three-pointer from freshman Vinnie McGhee snapped the slide and drew the team within, 14-3, with 14:53 remaining in the first half. That three-pointer from McGhee was the Hornets’ only made long ball during the entire game as the team narrowly extended their streak of consecutive games with a three-pointer to 386 straight (a streak which dates back to 1993).
After Marquette had staked out to a 14-0 lead five minutes into the game, the Hornets played relatively even with the 10th-ranked Golden Eagles for the next 25 minutes of game clock as a McGhee jumper with 10:15 left in the second half drew the Hornets within, 57-42.
However, Sacramento State scored just nine points the rest of the way as Marquette closed the final 10:04 of the contest on a 25-9 run. The Golden Eagles limited Hornet guard Loren Leath, who entered the game as the Big Sky’s leading scorer at 18.9 ppg, to just two points on 1-of-8 shooting from the field. Leath failed to score in double figures for the first time all season, and failed to convert a three-pointer for just the second time. He entered the game leading the Big Sky with 3.3 three-pointers made per contest.
Sacramento State did score 20 points off of 15 Marquette turnovers, but had trouble stopping a balanced Golden Eagle offensive attack that included the team shooting 51.9 percent (28-54) shooting from the field. Joining McNeal in double figures were Wesley Matthews (12), Lazar Hayward (12), Ousmane Barro (12) and Maurice Acker (10). Hayward also had a team-high seven rebounds as Marquette was only able to outrebound the Hornets by a 35-33 margin.
The Hornets shot 39.6 percent (21-53) from the field, but went just 1-of-8 (.125) from beyond the three-point arc, and 8-of-17 (.471) from the free throw line. McGhee led all players with 15 points, but shot just 5-of-17 from the field. He also had two assists and a game-high tying three steals. Joining McGhee in double figures for the Hornets was senior Justin Williams, who had 10 points, four assists and a game-high nine rebounds. Williams shot 5-of-8 from the field, and his nine rebounds matched a career high and the four assists set a career high.
Hornet sophomore Justin Eller scored nine points (4-of-5 shooting), his second highest output of the season, and senior Jason Davis had six points and seven rebounds (four offensive) before fouling out late in the game.
Sacramento State was whistled for 29 fouls, compared to just 16 for Marquette. Consequently, the Golden Eagles made 38 trips to the free throw line, but converted on just 21 of those opportunities (.553).
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