NEW YORK – Slower pace and efficient offense was the key in first round Big East Tournament action on Wednesday. In the opener at Madison Square Garden, Marquette defeated Seton Hall 78-56. Using a strong second half, Creighton defeated DePaul in the night cap, 78-63.
Marquette earned their second consecutive victory following a six-game losing streak. Coach Steve Wojciechowski feels injuries set his team back and a return to health has them playing better of late. “Tonight we might have played as well as we can,” he said.
In a 61-possession contest, Marquette posted an outstanding 130 efficiency to that of 93 for Seton Hall. Matt Carlino, hitting a scorching 67 percent (8 of 12) from three, led the way with 26 points. The backcourt standout was one of four Marquette players in double figures. Seton Hall could only manage one player in doubles, Isaiah Whitehead with 12 points.
The second game featured another deliberate pace, 63 possessions. The victorious Blue Jays expanded on a 35-32 lead at intermission and were in control the final twenty minutes. They, too, posted a 130 offensive efficiency while DePaul registered a 101.
Junior guard James Milliken led the way with 22 points. Milliken was effective on the perimeter and attacking the basket. Ball control, or care, was key note for Greg McDermott’s club as Creighton showed an outstanding 8.3 percent (5 total) turnover rate.
DePaul finished at 12-20. Creighton, the victim of some tough losses is, 14-18. Marquette is 13-18 and faces top seed Villanova in the quarterfinals. Seton Hall is 16-15. A NIT bid is a long shot. Coach Kevin Willard hinted post season may not be in the offing as he said, “it is tough to end a season in this way.” Stay tuned.