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Marquette Basketball: Golden Eagles fall to #2 UConn on Senior Night

A senior night against UConn that Marquette fans had been looking forward to all season was diminished by the absence of Tyler Kolek and an almost-comeback.

Connecticut v Marquette
Connecticut v Marquette / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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The final home game of the season for Marquette at Fiserv Forum brought in Senior Night and a capacity crowd to set the single-season attendance record, a mark set back in the 2007-08 season. Marquette honored seniors Oso Ighodaro and Tyler Kolek before the game, a tandem that Golden Eagles fans have become accustomed to. The senior duo has grown and developed together for the past three seasons, but would have to spend their senior night somewhat apart, with Tyler Kolek having to watch from the bench with an oblique injury. It wasn’t the senior night that Kolek or the fans wanted for him, but behind an electric crowd, the Golden Eagles set out to take on the tall task of taking out #2 UConn. The Huskies had other plans, and behind some hot and timely shooting survived everything a shorthanded Marquette squad could throw at them, winning 74-67. 

Going back-and-forth to open the game, Marquette ran their offense through their senior big man, Oso Ighodaro, who showed aggressiveness in the opening half, going directly at UConn star center Donovan Clingan. Marquette opened up a lead in the first ten minutes, where the 18,000+ fans at Fiserv believed it possible that their Golden Eagles could pull the upset, but a stretch that ended up being critical to the outcome of the game came shortly after. Within a matter of two minutes, Marquette went cold with consecutive empty possessions, and UConn got hot behind the outside shooting of Alex Karaban and portal transfer standout Cam Spencer. UConn pushed their lead to 13 in the coming minutes and maintained an 11-point lead at the break. 

The Golden Eagles all but owned the second half. Pushing the pace and making shots, Marquette slowly chipped away at the UConn lead. Chase Ross, who started the game in place of Tyler Kolek, was still coming off of the same illness that plagued Oso Ighodaro the weekend prior, forcing him to sit out in their game against Creighton. Ross did not look like himself, and freshman Tre Norman stepped into the minutes. Norman contributed an impressive 9 points in 16 minutes, as we got a glimpse of what the future looks like for Marquette. The Golden Eagles surrendered just one field goal and 4 total points to the Huskies in the final 8 minutes, pulling within 5 in the final minute. It wasn't quite enough, however, as UConn freshman Stephon Castle hit two free throws to seal the game in the final seconds. 

Despite a valiant effort in a comeback that fell just short, Marquette still impressed in front of their home faithful for the last time this season against one of the top teams in the nation. They found themselves outrebounded 44-31, which put them on the wrong side of a lopsided 19-4 difference in second-chance points, even while winning the paint points battle 36-24. Oso Ighodaro cleared a career milestone, going over 1000 career points late in the second half, finishing with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Kam Jones led all scorers with 18, and do-everything guard Stevie Mitchell led the team in rebounds with 9. 

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Marquette wraps up its regular season on Saturday on the road at Xavier before they prep for the Big East Tournament in New York City, beginning next week.