NCAA Division I Sports
NCAA Division I Sports
MILWAUKEE (AP) – Marquette learned rank carries no privileges as it struggled Friday in its season-opener. Jerel McNeal had 19 points and seven rebounds as Marquette (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP) defeated Hillsdale College 76-66 on Friday. “One game into the regular season, and we've already been taught how we have to play,” Marquette coach Tom Crean said. Dominic James added 13 points and four assists, and Jamil Lott had 11 points for the Golden Eagles. Missed free throws, poor shooting and absent defense allowed Division II Hillsdale (0-2) to take a 36-32 lead at the half. Marquette, picked to finish fourth in the Big East in a preseason poll of coaches, finally pulled away with a 12-2 run started by Dan Fitzgerald's 3-pointer and finished by Jamil Lott's four points, giving the Golden Eagles a 72-60 lead with 1:08 left to play. Hillsdale never got the lead below eight the rest of the way. “We've got a ton of things we got to get better at offensively,” Crean said. “Obviously, we've got to get better shooting free throws. But look at the second half, our energy goes way up. Our ability to talk to each other, play harder goes way up. Our free throw percentage goes way up.” Marquette made 14-of-17 free throws in the second half after going 6-of-14 before the break. Shooting, however, was a struggle all night – 27-of-65. “There's going to be nights when the offense isn't there,” Crean said. “Tonight was one of them.” With 2:19 left in the first half, Tim Homan worked his way free and hit a 3-pointer from deep in the corner to give Hillsdale its first lead at 31-29 with 2:19 left. James made a free throw for Marquette, but Gugino answered with a jumper to keep Hillsdale ahead by three. After Dwight Burke jammed home a missed shot to pull Marquette to 33-32, Homan hit another 3-pointer, making it 36-32 at the half. Hillsdale countered the Golden Eagles' size advantage and three-guard lineup by substituting freely and constantly pressuring the ball. “We were letting their offense drain our energy,” McNeal said. “They did guard us well,” Crean said. “They made us take a lot of challenge shots. They did some good things to us.” Homan scored 18 points and had eight rebounds, and Gugino added 12 points for Hillsdale, which played its second Division I opponent of the season. It lost 83-67 Sunday at Akron.
Officials: Ted Hillary, Glenn Mayborg, John Gaffney