Sunday, December 27, 2015

Marquette wins nine straight games for the first time since the 2011-12 season

                                   Photo Credit: Geno Green
Not since the 2011-12 season when Buzz Williams was the coach,  the Marquette Golden Eagles have experienced a nine-game winning streak.

Sunday's 84-66 win over Presbyterian (5-8) on Sunday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center gave the Golden Eagles exactly that mark as they moved to 10-2 on the season.

Marquette center Luke Fischer relished being a part of something special, but is looking to build the momentum into the start of BIG EAST play.

"It is a great thing and exactly what we need heading into conference play and as long as we keep it going, then we will be alright," Fischer said.

Fischer highlighted one of five Golden Eagles in double figures with 17 points and 14 assists, despite a 1-of-6 start from the field.

"I guess it was the way things were going early and it usually doesn't happen," Fischer said. "You have to move on to the next play and get it over with." 

Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski took full responsibility for the lackluster start, but knows things must turn around with conference play on the horizon.

"I probably didn't do a good enough job with giving them too much time off and ultimately that is my responsibility. We did not play well in any facet of the game."

Both teams exchanged leads in the first few minutes until Henry Ellenson's layup off a Markus Terry turnover put Marquette ahead 7-6, 3:25 into the game.

With time away for Christmas, Golden Eagles center Luke Fischer admitted to starting out lethargic due to exams and the holiday break.

"Coach [Wojciechowski] has been saying with time off, it broke our streak of doing well in practices and games," Fischer said.

"He's completely right about that and we have to get back on track with the BIG EAST season starting up and there is no doubt we have to get back to the pace we were at before."

Fischer struggled with layups from close range, but managed to make the next four points for the Golden Eagles, all on free throws before coming out of the game as a smaller lineup was inserted as Ellenson shifted to the center position.

The gamble worked as the Golden Eagles' lead ballooned to 19-10 and then went back to a regular lineup.

Haanif Cheatham closed the half for Marquette with the last five points to go into the locker room with a 38-29 lead over Presbyterian and would go on to score 14.

"Haanif has been one of the better freshman in the country and is a key to our team," Wojciechowski said. "That scoring burst was needed and that was good."
The momentum would carry over into the second half for the Golden Eagles as their lead expanded to as many as 17 at 59-42, but the Blue Hose countered with a 9-0 run.

Presbyterian would not get any closer as Marquette pulled away for the 18-point win, its sixth by double-digit win the last seven games.

Looking Ahead:

Marquette kicks off BIG EAST play on Dec. 30 as Seton Hall (10-2) comes to the BMO Harris Bradley Center for a 6 p.m. tip-off, while Presbyterian begins Big South play at Campbell on Jan. 2, 2016 at 6 p.m.

Wojciechowski knows in his second season at Marquette about the grind of playing the conference schedule and can not take any game for granted.

"The BIG EAST is as good of a conference as there is in college basketball," Wojciechowski said. 

"There are no nights off when you are playing in traditional venues where it is a basketball-first conference and is a man's league."

With four BIG EAST teams ranked in the top 25 heading into conference play, Fischer believes the conference has been looked down upon early on this season.

"I thought once again that our conference was underrated going into the year and I think we have turned a lot of heads with how many teams that have been successful," Fischer said. 

"To have all of those teams playing so well, it is also an opportunity for us to show how great we can be."

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