Marquette just didn’t have it tonight.
That’s not what the Golden Eagle faithful want to hear, but it’s the simple truth. No. 7 seed Florida used a 9-0 run to take a 36-30 lead into halftime and Marquette was ever able to bounce back, losing 68-58. That’s what tends to happen when you’re big guns — Darius Johnson-Odom and Jae Crowder — go a combined 10-for-30 from the floor and 3-14 from three.
The Golden Eagles played, more or less, the way they have all season long. They got out in transition. They fired away from three. They took some ill-advised shots and they attacked the basket with reckless abandon, but the shots just didn’t fall. When you get this deep in the NCAA tournament, you are almost always going to lose when you shoot 30.8% from the field.
What is going to sting for the Golden Eagles is that they didn’t lose this game because they were outplayed.
Florida’s lead guards, Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker, combined to shoot 5-for-19 from the floor and turn the ball five times. Erik Murphy was 3-of-13 from the field and hit just one of the eight threes he hoisted. Patric Young grabbed five offensive rebounds, but he scored only seven points and took just six shots from the floor. That is precisely what Marquette needed the Gators to do. They just couldn’t capitalize.
As with any sport, basketball is a game of moments. There are turning points in every game that will go a long way towards determining the outcome of the game. All of those moments went in Florida’s favor tonight.
Marquette couldn’t hit a big shot when they seemed to be on the brink of a run during the second half. After a layup from Murphy put Florida up 14 points, the Gators didn’t score for four minutes, but Marquette was only able to muster six points in that stretch, going 2-8 from the floor and missing a pair of free throws. After trimming the lead to eight, Marquette missed three consecutive good looks from distance.
Perhaps most telling, however, was the final two minutes. Young grabbed a huge offensive rebound after Marquette had scored seven straight point to cut the lead to 58-52, and Walker made the Golden Eagles pay with a three to push the lead back to nine. After again getting the lead down to six, an errant elbow from Boynton was ruled a “basketball play” and not a flagrant 1.
Marquette had their chances to come back. They just couldn’t capitalize on them.
It just wasn’t in the cards tonight.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.