MICHIGAN CITY — Prior to Marquette’s 91-85 overtime Catholic Cup victory over Bishop Noll Saturday afternoon, Blazers coach Fred Mooney had a message for senior point guard Jake Tarnow and the rest of his team.
“A test of a man’s character is determined by what it takes to stop him,” Mooney said. “And Jake just wouldn’t be stopped today. He was relentless.”
Tarnow had an all-around dominant performance on his Senior Night (Day), tallying 22 points, nine rebounds and nine assists for a near-triple-double. His passing to open 3-point-shooters and players down low set Marquette up for a big lead in the first three quarters. But when the Blazers were slowly giving up a 13-point advantage, leading to an overtime period, it was Tarnow’s clutch free throw shooting that made the difference.
Up three points with less than a minute to go in overtime, the Warriors were forced to foul in order to stay in the game. Tarnow was sent to the charity stripe at this point, with 34 seconds remaining, with a chance to ice the game. In as pressure-packed moment he’s seen this season, he cashed in on both free throws to give Marquette a 90-85 lead, effectively taking the wind out of Noll (8-11).
“This game was really important to me, with senior day and playing Bishop Noll for the Catholic Cup,” Tarnow said. “It was like a dream come true to have all this link up. I told the guys, ‘I don’t care what we do the rest of the season, I want this game.’ And we came together and we got it. It’s an amazing feeling.”
While Tarnow balled out in all facets of the game, it was the underclassmen who stepped up alongside him to win the Cup – a traveling trophy among Marquette, Noll and Andrean.
Sophomore Brit Harris was red-hot from beyond the arc all game long, netting 18 of his 23 points from long range. Even more impressive is the fact he did so on just nine 3-point shots.
In what started off as a dry overtime period, it was Harris who made the first shot from the field for both teams. He caught a pass at the top of the key, immediately rose up and drilled his sixth 3-pointer, sending the Blazer supporters into a frenzy.
“Brit was on fire in the first quarter (where he made three 3-pointers),” Mooney said. “He’s a nice sophomore. He’s maturing both as a person and as a basketball player. Brit’s able to score in a lot of ways and you saw that today.”
In addition to Harris, freshmen Lukas Balling and Gary Lewis made their presences felt. Lewis went 3-of-5 from beyond the arc, with a couple of them coming in clutch situations, en route to a 10-point outing off the bench.
Balling totaled 12 points, going a perfect 5-of-5 from the field. But his biggest play of the game wasn’t any of his made field goals. Rather, it was an offensive rebound with 2:34 left in overtime.
Neither team had scored at that point, but Balling fought his way to haul in a board, falling to the ground and fighting for possession. He was fouled in the process and knocked down both of the ensuing free throws, giving Marquette (6-12) an 85-83 lead and the momentum.
“We got some huge minutes out of Lukas today,” Mooney said. “How big was that rebound in overtime that he pulled down?”
Another freshman, Jason Kobe, had a 10-point outing, making a trio of freshmen scoring in double digits. The Blazers’ offensive attack was extremely balanced, amassing five scorers with 10 points or more. It’s a trait that should serve them well with the postseason looming ahead.