The Marquette Golden Eagles (14-8, 5-5 BE) were able to hold off a late DePaul (8-14, 1-9 BE) rally to secure an 80-69 victory at the Bradley Center.
In a game that saw a total of 73 total free throws, Marquette converted a season-high 36 times on a season-high 44 free throw attempts.
Coming out for the second half with a 39-19 advantage, the Golden Eagles opened up the final period on a 15-4 run to give them a 47-23 lead, the largest of the contest.
“I thought there was a stretch of 6 or 8 minutes in the second half where we may have been as good as we’ve been,” head coach Buzz Williams said.
After the hot start fizzled out, MU relied on converting on 20-of-22 attempts from the charity stripe in the final 6:41 to secure the victory. The lone field goal scored in that span came from a David Cubillan lay up with 1:39 left to play.
The Golden Eagles were led in scoring by sophomore guard Darius Johnson-Odom who scored 21 points on 7 of 11 shooting, including 3 of 6 from three point range. Johnson-Odom, who opened up the game with 10 of the team’s first 11 points, has now led Marquette in scoring three times in the past four games.
“I think that our team is beginning to rely on DJO on both ends of the floor,” Williams said. “DJO is so much better today than he was on Thanksgiving. We rely on DJO to score but we also have gotten to the point where we rely on him defensively.”
Lazar Hayward registered his sixth double- double this season with 19 points and 14 boards. His performance moved him past Dean Meminger into 11th place on the MU’s all time scoring list. His 1,643 points leaves him four behind Damon Key for 10th all time.
“Our team needs him on the floor as much as possible,” Williams said. “He’s going to get a touch whether we run a play for him or not because he is that good of a player and our other players realize he is that good.”
Marquette featured two other players scoring in double figures with junior forward Jimmy Butler scoring 18 points, 14 of which coming from the free-throw line, and junior guard Dwight Buycks who added 14 points of his own.
The Blue Demons were led by junior center Mac Koshwal who scored 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting while also grabbing 11 boards. DePaul’s only other player in double figures was senior guard Will Walker with 13.
The Golden Eagles return to action Saturday when they travel to Providence to take on the Friars. Tip off is 11 a.m. CT.