March 2, 2013
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Notre Dame coach Mike Brey knew early it was going to be a tough game, especially one without Jack Cooley.
Jamil Wilson tied his career-high with 19 points and Chris Otule added a season-high 16 on 8-of-8 shooting to help No. 22 Marquette beat No. 21 Notre Dame 72-64 on Saturday, the Golden Eagles’ 25th consecutive home win.
Otule’s layup and Trent Lockett’s jumper gave Marquette a lead that they never lost.
“When they get two buckets in the paint at the start of the game, that just sets a heck of a tone,” Brey said. “It seemed like it was so hard for us to score. We got worn out early and tried to make a run (at the end).”
Jerian Grant scored 21 points, one shy of his career high, and grabbed seven rebounds, Eric Atkins added 16 points, five rebounds and six assists and Zach Auguste had 15 points for Notre Dame (22-7, 10-6 Big East).
Cooley, Notre Dame’s leading scorer, had his minutes limited due to illness. He played 15 minutes, missing one shot and grabbing one rebound.
After the game, Brey doubted himself about Cooley.
“Jack was in the infirmary,” Brey said. “He didn’t practice the last two days. We got him off an IV yesterday. In hindsight, I wonder if I should have brought him on this trip. (He had a) virus flu. He wanted to try it and, obviously, he just wasn’t there.”
Cooley started the second half, but was no match against Otule and Davante Gardner.
“The second half, I just said forget it,” Brey said. “Let’s get him home and get him healthy for Tuesday.”
Akins knew how much the team values Cooley’s effort and his 14.4 points per game average.
“That’s our horse inside,” Atkins said. “Today, he wasn’t there for us so it made it a little different.”
Marquette’s bench outscored Notre Dame’s 32-20.
“When all 10 of our guys show up, then it becomes really difficult for me to get guys in and out,” Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said. “I am not taking Jamil out when he is playing as well as he is. I am not taking Chris out when he is playing as well as he is. I am not taking Davante Gardner) out when he is playing as well as he is. That is the kind of problem I want to have.”
Wilson scored 17 points in the second half, including seven down the stretch, for the Golden Eagles (21-7, 12-4). His two free throws were the final points in the game.
Lockett had eight points and Junior Cadougan added 7 for Marquette.
The Golden Eagles’ home streak is the second-longest active streak in the nation. South Dakota State’s 30-game run was the best coming into Saturday’s action. The Golden Eagles are 16-0 at home in 2012-13.
The Irish rallied from a 16-point deficit in the first half while the Golden Eagles went 5 minutes without a field goal. Auguste’s dunk pulled Notre Dame within 59-51 with 4:36 left.
“The second half, I just said forget it,” Brey said.
It was the 117th meeting and possibly the last regular-season conference game between the schools. Both are exploring multiple options for the 2013-14 academic year.
With Marquette ahead 41-27, Otule scored twice to open the second half, muscling his way through the paint. He banked in a shot and then made a hook shot along the baseline to give Marquette a 16-point lead.
“He has good footwork in the post, and he buried us a couple times,” Brey said of Otule.
Marquette led 41-27 at halftime after shooting 64.3 percent from the field and holding the Irish to 37 percent. The second half was more of the same, thanks to Wilson and Otule. The Golden Eagles ended the game shooting 59.6 percent while Notre Dame was at 38.3 percent.
Otule had 10 points in the first half on 5-of-5 shooting. He hit a short jumper after working his way down the lane with 2:52 remaining and gave Marquette its second 16-point lead. Atkins’ 3-pointer brought the Irish to 39-27, but Vander Blue’s fastbreak layup off a steal were the last two points of the half.
Atkins, who had eight points in the first half, kept Notre Dame close in the second. His 3-pointer and three free throws and Tom Knight’s putback off an Atkins’ miss pulled the Irish to 56-46 with 9:20 remaining. A free throw by Grant cut the lead to nine with 7:30 to play.