Marquette rides big 1st half to 102-94 upset of Creighton
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Marquette turned to its three seniors to quiet Creighton’s home crowd on an emotional afternoon when the seventh-ranked Bluejays were playing their first full game without their star Maurice Watson Jr.
Katin Reinhardt scored 17 of his season-high 21 points in the first half to help the Golden Eagles get out to a big lead, and Luke Fischer and Jajuan Johnson added 18 apiece as they picked up their first Big East road win with a 102-94 upset Saturday.
Reinhardt scored 10 straight points during a key 12-0 run, and Fischer made 8 of 9 shots to break out of a mini slump and blocked six shots for Marquette (13-6, 4-3).
“I thought Luke was a rock for us on both ends of the floor,” coach Steve Wojciechowski said. “Katin did a great job as a ball-handler and made really good decisions for our team, and then J.J. had a burst in the first half that allowed us to have some separation. The urgency they showed tonight was the urgency we need from them as we head down the stretch run.”
Marcus Foster scored a season-high 30 points to lead the Bluejays (18-2, 5-2). Davion Mintz, who shared minutes at point guard with Isaiah Zierden in place of Watson, finished with 17 points and eight assists.
Watson, who watched from the bench in sweat clothes, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Monday against Xavier.
“My heart goes out to Mo Watson,” Wojciechowski said. “Seeing him before the game and in the anthem line and then in the handshake line, you never want a terrific player and competitor to have his career ended with the unfortunate circumstances that they are. Obviously, not having him changes their team.”
Marquette, playing its third straight road game against a top-15 opponent, shot 60 percent and led by as many as 19 points in the second half. The Bluejays cut it to 10 with under 3 minutes left but got no closer than the final margin.
The Eagles were 12 of 24 on 3-pointers, with Reinhardt making four.
“When they made a little bit of a run we didn’t react very well,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “That’s probably where we missed Maurice the most. We just didn’t have a voice there, nobody to turn to on the floor that we were accustomed to. Offensively, we were fine.”
Justin Patton, the Bluejays’ 7-foot freshman, had 11 points. He was limited to 4 minutes in the first half after committing two quick fouls, and he had his fourth midway through the second half.
“That was part of our game plan,” said Fischer, the Eagles’ center. “He likes to jump at shots. We used ball fakes. We got him in early foul trouble and we were able to exploit their defense from there.”
Marquette: The Eagles were smarting after their 88-80 loss to Butler on Monday. In the second half they allowed the Bulldogs to shoot 70.4 percent and score 63 points with no turnovers. They clamped down in the first half against Creighton, forcing the Bluejays into their worst shooting half of the season (32.4 percent) along with nine turnovers. With Villanova up next, this goes down as a huge win, and one that could be a difference-maker on Selection Sunday.
Creighton: The Bluejays knew it would be tough without Watson, but their situation worsened when Patton got into early foul trouble. Patton’s role only increases with Watson gone, so the big man must stay disciplined.
STANDING O FOR MO
Watson, with a full-length walking cast on his left leg, received a standing ovation after he walked from the tunnel to the bench on crutches. He turned emotional, leaned on the crutches and buried his head as McDermott approached from behind and patted him on the back.
Creighton hadn’t given up 100 points at home since March 2008 against Bradley. ... Fischer had a total of one field goal and four points in his last two games. ... Mintz had a total of 22 points and 10 assists for the season before having 17 and 8 Saturday. ... Zierden scored a season-high 15 points.
HE SAID IT
“A lot of people in Omaha feel sorry for us. These teams playing us don’t feel sorry for us.” - McDermott, on dealing with the loss of Watson.
Marquette hosts top-ranked Villanova on Tuesday.
Creighton visits Georgetown on Wednesday.
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