MILWAUKEE (AP)—Lazar Hayward said he owed it to Dominic James to finish the spectacular transition play.
Teammate Wesley Matthews just shrugged about James’ behind-the-back bounce pass.
“You should see him at practice. He does that kind of stuff all the time,” Matthews said.
James had 17 points and six assists, including one for the emphatic dunk by Hayward during a key second-half run, and Matthews added 15 points as No. 10 Marquette used its speedy, athletic guards to overwhelm IPFW 80-56 on Monday night.
“He’s a great player, and he’s really going to carry us,” Matthews said of James.
After Marquette (8-1) led by 11 points at halftime, IPFW (4-6) went on an 8-2 run but 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 Hayward with the behind-the-back bounce pass for a one-handed dunk.
“When a guy makes a pass like that, you kind of owe it to him to finish with a nice little dunk,” Hayward said. “Dominic does a real good job of looking up before he even gets to his second dribble in the open court.”
On the next play, the Mastodons turned the ball over trying to force the tempo and Jerel McNeal’s layup made it 39-26.
“We’re doing a much better job of transition defense,” said Hayward, who finished with 14 points. “We’re just making sure we’re getting back and talking. Jerel is always looking to make a steal.”
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.
“What’s happened in his game is he’s developed better patience,” Marquette coach Tom Crean said. “Great guards go through stages, and that’s a big stage to get to, when you have that patience, that split-second timing when it looks like nothing’s there to find somebody, he’s got that.”
IPFW coach Dane Fife said called James and McNeal “little jets.”
“They completely took us out of what we wanted to do on offense,” Fife said.
Marquette, in the midst of five straight home games that lead 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. Crean wanted to see how they would respond to the short turnaround time in preparation for conference play, which begins against Providence on Jan. 3.
“They’ve had their exams, they’ve had a lot of mental energy that’s had to go over to that, and I think to come out and play that hard for all that time, even though it wasn’t great efficiency, to play that hard is a real positive. So, I’m not disappointed with at all,” Crean said.
He also tried to give his team some rest, sitting his trio of talented junior guards—McNeal, James and Matthews—for a long stretch of the first half before a late 9-0 run helped give Marquette a comfortable lead.
IPFW, in Division I since 1991, fell to 0-7 against Big East opponents. Jaraun Burrows scored 13 points and Demetrius Johnson added 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.
“I think we’re a better shooting team than what we showed, no question about that,” Fife said. “Part of that was us, and a majority of that was Marquette.”
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 the team 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. Fife said he was impressed with both.
“Michigan State’s awfully big, but Marquette’s awfully fast,” Fife said.