With both teams tied at 60 points apiece with 6:27 remaining in the game, Todd Mayo sparked a Marquette 7-0 run spanning three and half minutes with an offensive rebound and put back underneath to take control for good and earn the victory in the closing minutes.
Vander Blue slices throught the NCC zone for 16pts.
Leading Marquette in scoring was Vander Blue and Junior Cadougan each with 16 points. Blue got off to a hot start in the first-half tallying 12 points, but North Carolina Central's 2-3 zone made it tough for Blue to get good looks in the second half. Marquette also committed a season-high 20 turnovers in the game and overplayed the ball on a few possessions giving up easy baskets defensively.
"We tried to make the home run plays instead," said Blue. "We got the win and that's all that really matters."
Marquette won the game from the free-throw converting 22 of 27 at the charity stripe.
In his second game back from suspension, Todd Mayo had an all-around impressive performance. Mayo finished with 12 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and one block in 24 minutes. Davante Gardner and Juan Anderson also contributed 10 and 9 points respectively.
"I feel like sometimes we play down to our competition, said Anderson. "Once Big East starts, we will adjust and buckle down."
Marquette was 60% from the field as a team and North Carolina Central kept their group in the game with a 46% shooting mark. Blue connected on a career high 3 three pointers in the win. Blue also admitted that the few days the players had off over the holidays may have affected them in a game that shouldn't have been all that close.
"It was definitely good for us today to get up and down and fight for the win which prepares us best for the game versus UConn on Tuesday."
Marquette is now a perfect 27-0 against teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference and is currently on a 16-0 game winning steak.
Marquette is back in action on New Year's Day at 7 p.m. as UConn travels to The BMO Harris Bradley Center in a game that the Golden Eagles will be without head coach Buzz Williams who is serving a one-game suspension for a recruiting violation from a now former assistant in the offseason.