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Crucial Third Quarter Stretch Costly in Loss to Washington

December 28, 2012
Marquette Mustang Basketball

With a first-ever trip to the Meramec Tourney semi-finals on the line for both Marquette and Washington tonight, the ledger was in the Mustangs’ favor for much of the evening.  A costly three minutes spanning the end of the third quarter into the fourth proved to be the difference as the Blue Jays survived by a 40-38 count and punched their ticket into the round of four. 

With both squads sporting only two losses apiece on the season, tonight’s contest was earmarked as an even match-up and it lived up to its billing.  Washington was able to convert on field goals on both of their opening trips in what could easily be termed a “slow pace” (the two teams only made their way down the court 21 times each in the first half and 43 for the game).  The Mustangs were able to answer with a trey of their own from Chris Lenzen on their first possession (a 90+ second trip).  That was followed by a couple of Matt Hink free throws and a three by Tanner Stabenow to lead it 8-5.  After the Blue Jays were able to knock down a couple of intermediate jumpers, Marquette answered with a Hink lay-in off a driving Stabenow feed and a late free throw by Matt to lead it 11-9 after a period.

The third was going to be a battle of attrition for the Mustangs if for no other reason they couldn’t get the ball to go in the hoop.  Of the seven tries at the bucket, only a Brooks Gerrity jumper found twine for the entire quarter.  For the first six minutes of the period though, that was going to be enough as both teams deployed stingy defenses.  Up 24-21 (with the aid of a couple of Lenzen charity tosses to go along with one also from Hink) with just over two minutes to go, things seemed to still be somewhat in the Mustangs’ hands as for determining the rest of the contest’s path.  Those fateful minutes though featured two turnovers caused by nothing but confusion on spacing and player placement.  The Blue Jays took advantage, canning a trey and a breakaway lay-in.  With the clock winding down, Washington canned a trey on a rare Mustang missed defensive assignment to end the quarter on an 8-0 run and up 29-24. 

The opening possession for the Mustangs saw them get the ball inside but couldn’t draw a foul or convert the bucket.  That was quickly followed by a Washington three and the 11-0 run was complete with the Blue Jays up 32-24 and the game seemingly in hand.  Marquette wouldn’t go away though.  Dillon Jones nailed a three from near the head of the key to cut the lead to five and after Brooks Gerrity hit on two short shots the lead was at two with Washington up 33-31.  After another Blue Jay trey (they hit seven on the evening compared to six from inside the arc), the lead was at five when Tanner Stabenow hit his fourth three-pointer of the night AND drew the foul to complete a four-point play and cut the advantage to one again.  With the game at the 1:15 mark, Washington led it 37-36.  Matt Hink made a huge steal at the top of the key and went the distance with a lay-up to get the Mustang crowd on its feet and give his team their first lead since the aforementioned meltdown at the end of the third quarter.  The Blue Jays kept their composure though.  A drive down the middle of the lane drew the Mustang defense and a long three from the right wing found net to put Washington up by two.  Marquette would work the clock down to  under five seconds and got a good look from the left wing to win it but the shot found the front of the rim and bounced harmlessly away to preserve the #4 seed Washington’s win.

Marquette finds itself in a 4th place bracket semi-final tomorrow, December 29 for a 1:30 tip-off against a familiar foe in Webster Groves.

Leading Scorers:  Tanner Stabenow-13, Matt Hink-11.  Leading Rebounders:  Hink-9, Stabenow-7.  Leading Assists:  Dillon Jones-3.

For game stats-click HERE

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