McNeal scores 14 points, No. 15 Marquette holds on to beat Seton Hall 61-56

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MILWAUKEE (AP)—Dan Fitzgerald made Seton Hall’s decision not to foul costly. No. 15 Marquette could have its own woes.

Golden Eagles guard Dominic James was taken to a hospital for tests on a sprained right wrist after the gritty 61-56 victory over the Pirates on Tuesday night.

James, who scored 13 points, returned to play after Jamar Nutter’s intentional foul sent him awkwardly to the floor with 5:58 left in the game, but he went for tests after the game.

“It’s part of it, it’s Big East basketball,” said Marquette coach Tom Crean, who was heading over to be with his point guard. “He feels good, so we’ll see what happens, but I don’t think he’s got his M.D. license right yet to be making those determinations.”

Fitzgerald went 4-of-9 from beyond the arc, including a key 3-pointer in the closing seconds, and Jerel McNeal scored 14 points as Marquette (12-2, 2-1 Big East) won its 11th straight home game. The Golden Eagles rebounded from a tough loss at West Virginia on Sunday when they had trouble generating offense against the Mountaineers’ zone.

“Big shot Dan,” Crean said of his senior forward’s 3-pointer with 9.4 seconds to go that made it 61-56. “I mean, I’ve never been around a guy that makes more big shots that really make an exclamation point for your team.”

A possession-by-possession game seemed unlikely with both Seton Hall (10-5, 0-2) and Marquette averaging more than 80 points a game. Instead of pushing the tempo, though, it turned into a typical conference game—tough defense, over the top physical play and a late rally.

“It was an ugly game on both ends,” Fitzgerald said. “The reason we won was because we held them. It was all defense.”

After finally taking a lead with 5:58 left following James’ injury, Marquette, which shot a season-low 33 percent from the field, then had to hold on, going 6-of-9 from the free throw line down the stretch while the Pirates tried to mount a rally behind Eugene Harvey, who finished with 18 points.

Harvey, leading the Big East in scoring at 19.6 points a game, hit a bobbled floater in the lane, then made two free throws to make it 56-54 with 1:01 to play.

“That’s what I’m supposed to do, be the leader, the go-to guy,” Harvey said.

But teammate Brian Laing, who had 13 points, fouled out on the ensuing possession and James hit two free throws to make it 58-54.

Larry Davis’ turnaround jumper made it 58-56 with 40 seconds to go. On the next possession, the Pirates elected not to foul and Wesley Matthews drove and bobbled the ball before finding Fitzgerald for the wide-open 3.

“We thought they would have (fouled), we probably would have,” said Fitzgerald, who finished with 12 points, all on 3s. “Either way, we made a play.”

Said Seton Hall coach Bobby Gonzalez: “We felt confident that we could get a stop and try to get the ball back with a chance to play to win.”

The Pirates, who haven’t won a conference road game since March 3, 2006 at Pittsburgh, missed four free throws down the stretch despite being the best free throw shooting team in the Big East.

Seton Hall controlled the game through the first half and most of the second despite playing without Paul Gause, one of their best defenders, who broke a knuckle last week.

“We were trying to steal a monumental win for us on the road considering we’re playing without one of our best players, Paul Gause,” Gonzalez said. “Marquette’s one of the elite teams in the league, we know that they don’t lose at home here very often.”

Instead, Seton Hall used a seven-man rotation and played a 2-3 zone to clog the lane, forcing Marquette to shoot outside.

It almost worked.

Marquette trailed 47-42 with 7:19 to play after a jumper by Laing.

But the Golden Eagles got over the hump when the game got ugly with six minutes left. Nutter took down James on a fast break and James fell awkwardly on his right forearm as his layup tied the game at 47.

“I thought it was a total, just accidental, just a hustle play. If it turned into a hard foul, it certainly wasn’t on purpose,” Gonzalez said. “It was a huge play because of course it’s two shots and the ball. I thought it was one of the turning points.”

Maurice Acker replaced James, hitting both free throws to give Marquette a 49-47 lead, its first in more than 31 minutes, and the Golden Eagles never relinquished it.

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 Top Performers
 Seton Hall
E. Harvey E. Harvey
6-15,  18 Pts
4 Rebs, 3 Assists
J. McNeal J. McNeal
6-17,  14 Pts
7 Rebs, 5 Assists

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