December 17, 2007

James, No. 10 Marquette handle IPFW

MILWAUKEE — Dominic James had 17 points and six assists and Wesley Matthews added 15 points as No. 10 Marquette used its speedy, athletic guards to overwhelm IPFW 80-56 on Monday night.

Marquette, in the midst of five straight home games that leads into Big East play, was playing its second game in three nights after playing just two games the previous two weeks due to final exams.

Coach Tom Crean wanted to see how the Golden Eagles (8-1) would respond to the short turnaround time in preparation for conference play, which begins against Providence on Jan. 3.

But Crean wasn't happy with what he saw early against IPFW (4-6) and sat his trio of talented junior guards - Jerel McNeal, James and Matthews - for a long stretch of the first half before a late 9-0 run helped give Marquette a comfortable lead.

Jaraun Burrows had 13 points for IPFW, which trailed by 11 points at halftime. The Mastodons opned the second half with a quick 8-2 run, but came unraveled nearly as fast as Marquette answered with a 14-2 spurt to put the game out of reach.

During the run, James forced point guard Ben Botts into a panicked turnover, and then fed Lazar Hayward with a behind-the-back bounce pass for a one-handed dunk.

The Mastodons then turned the ball over trying to force the tempo and McNeal's layup made it 39-26. Marquette's athleticism took over from there, including when James hit a 3, was fouled and converted the free throw to push the lead to 64-40 with 8:46 remaining.

Hayward finished with 14 points and David Cubillan had 11 for Marquette.

IPFW, in Division I since 1991, fell to 0-7 against Big East opponents. Demetrius Johnson scored 12 points but also had five turnovers for IPFW, which went 3-of-14 from 3-point range.

The Mastodons, nicknamed for the prehistoric bones found near campus that are on display in one of its buildings, couldn't avoid a 6-minute scoreless drought in the first half that saw them miss 12 consecutive shots, many of them open looks.

The game should have been over at that point, but Marquette only mustered a 9-0 run of its own, going 3-of-10 in the stretch that was capped when James made a 3-pointer to make it 25-12.

The Midwest winter storm wrecked IPFW's schedule, forcing it to delay a bus trip from Lansing, Mich. to Milwaukee by six hours after a 22-point loss to No. 9 Michigan State on Saturday.

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