MILWAUKEE (TICKER) —For most of the season, Dwyane Wade has carried Marquette. On this night, it was the other way around.
Travis Diener scored a career-high 21 points - 11 more than his average - as the 14th-ranked Golden Eagles held off upset-minded Saint Louis, 68-64, in a Conference USA contest.
Marquette (16-3, 8-1 C-USA American) posted its eighth straight victory and stretched its home winning streak to 27 games.
Wade has held to just seven points, only the third time he failed to reach double figures in 51 career games. All three of those games have come against Saint Louis.
Wade, the leading scorer in Conference USA, made only 3-of-17 shots. As an indication of how his night went, he missed a breakaway dunk at the final buzzer.
But Diener helped pick up the slack, getting the best of his older cousin, Drew, who is a senior on Saint Louis. Drew Diener scored only seven points.
“When people say Marquette they say Dwyane Wade,” Travis Diener said. “He makes my job easier and my teammates’ job easier. He had a rough night shooting, but those are shots he will hit next game.”
After Travis Diener’s driving layup made it 67-61 with 37 seconds left, Saint Louis (7-11, 1-6) answered on freshman Anthony Drejaj’s 3-pointer with 21 seconds to go.
The Billikens got back the ball when Marquette’s Scott Merritt threw away the inbounds pass. Saint Louis set up for possible game-tying 3-pointer, but was unable to get off a good shot as a heavily-guarded Fisher launched an off-balanced jumper from just inside the arc missed the rim.
Wade clinched the win by hitting 1-of-2 from the line with 5.8 seconds remaining.
“I thought our guys played with great determination and hustle,” Marquette coach Tom Crean said. “An incredible Travis Diener performance, I thought, and certainly the points were excellent, but to play 36 minutes without a turnover is great.”
Chris Sloan and Marque Perry scored 13 points apiece for the Billikens, who frustrated the Golden Eagles by slowing down the tempo and playing a tenacious 2-3 zone. Marquette shot under 40 percent from the field (23-of-58).
Robert Jackson scored 14 of his 15 points in the second half for the Golden Eagles, who converted 16-of-21 foul shots. Saint Louis got to the line just 12 times, making eight.
Travis Diener was 3-of-6 in the first half, but Marquette’s other starters were a combined 3-of-20 in the opening half. Diener’s previous high was 18 against Notre Dame on December 2.
“I had fun with it, he had fun,” Travis Diener said of the matchup against his cousin. “It was enjoyable for me and I don’t know how enjoyable it was for him. This is the last time we will probably play each other so there was some extra incentive there to play hard.”
Saint Louis led by as many as 10 in the first half before settling for a 34-32 lead at the intermission.
Wade, who came in averaging 22.8 points per game, did not score until he dunked with 3:31 left in the opening half. Jackson got into early foul trouble, limiting him to one point in the first half.