Marquette finds a way

Photo by Jim PetersMarquette coach Fred Mooney talks to his team during a timeout in Wednesday’s game with Lighthouse at the Scholl Center.

 

MICHIGAN CITY --  If the want-to stays the same, Fred Mooney figures he and the rest of his Marquette coaching staff can teach the rest to their young Blazers club.

Plagued by turnovers through three quarters Wednesday against Gary Lighthouse Academy, the Blazers dug themselves out of a seven-point hole in the last three minutes of regulation to take the Lions to overtime, where the hosts ultimately prevailed 83-82 at the Scholl Center.

"With our youth, the mistakes stand out more and the runs are longer, but they're young, too," Mooney said of sophomore-heavy Lighthouse. "We're all kind of fighting the same thing, asking kids to mature before their time. One word that sums up tonight is perseverance. The kids didn't quit. We could've put our heads down and tucked our tails and it would have been another loss, but they found a way to battle back. Winning ugly is better than losing pretty." 

Mooney was spot on with that. Marquette (2-5) had 25 turnovers through three quarters and found itself on the wrong end of an eight-point game after a 16-2 Lighthouse run.

"It was a constant reminder to them throughout the course of the game -- find the open spots and break to them," Mooney said. "Don't get there and stand. The defense is going to take that away from you."

The Blazers, ruffled by Lighthouse's trapping pressure, reined in the mistakes in the fourth quarter, popping four treys in the process.

"There were times we handed them the lead," Marquette's Jake Tarnow said. "I took them in together and told them, we've come this far, we've got to finish this out, we've got to win. We buckled down and did what we had to do. We haven't been knocking down shots and when the younger guys started making shots, they get more confident. We moved ball well and it showed."

Brit Harris capped the rally, scoring in the lane after a Lions turnover to put the Blazers up 72-71 in the final minute. Lighthouse split foul shots to tie the game and Tarnow swished a pair with 14.9 seconds left for a 74-72 Marquette edge but Steven Carr hit a hoop in the lane before the buzzer to force overtime.  

Marquette never trailed in the OT, which was tied at 79 and 81. Harris dropped his seventh dime of the game to Vaunte Johnson for a layup to break the deadlock at the 46-second mark. 

"I like getting my teammates involved, let them make plays," Harris said. "Whatever coach needs me to do, I get it done. It's all mental, keeping yourself calm, keeping your presence in the game. It's however the game is flowing. If they needed me and Jake to put the ball in the basket, that's what we needed to do. It was all about keeping the team calm, playing as a unit on the floor."

Following a Lions travel, Tarnow made one of two at the line, leaving the door ajar for a tying 3, but Carr instead went to the rim for two and, with the clock under five seconds left and Lighthouse out of timeouts, Marquette didn't even pick up the ball, letting time run to zero.

"When you're young and the shots aren't falling, it's fun to see things go your way," Mooney said. "I'm happy for the kids. I've preached to them not to worry about the wins and losses, just start trying to win possessions back to back."

Tarnow overcame a slow start precipitated by two early fouls to score 19 points, the same as Harris, who hit four 3s.

"They were more athletic than us, but we've been working hard at boxing out, getting rebounds," Tarnow said. "Just trust what we've been preaching the whole year. Now we're starting to do it."

Harris' big night also featured eight rebounds. Tarnow had six boards and six assists while making nine of 10 free throws. Johnson notched 15 points, Jason Kobe 11 and Gary Lewis 10.

"Brit can shoot it," Mooney said. "Jake's been trying to shoulder the load of the whole team. He's got to trust his teammates and his teammates will trust him. He plays better like that. He doesn't have to force it. It was nice to see him calm down, get to the line and make his free throws." 

Lewis sat the entire second quarter after being whistled three times in the opening eight minutes and Kobe also had three early fouls, slowing his flow after a nine-point first quarter. The Blazers managed to hold a 41-37 halftime lead despite 18 turnovers thanks largely to the Lions (1-4) missing 15 of 20 foul shots.

"I'm happy with how we turned it around," Tarnow said. "It was needed, to get back on track."

Marquette 84, Lighthouse 83 (OT)

Brit Harris and Jake Tarnow had 19 points for the Blazers.

 

 

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