MILWAUKEE -- Forgive the obvious cliche but there really is no place like home for the Marquette Golden Eagles. Marquette extended the nation's second-longest home court winning streak to 25 games Saturday with a 72-64 victory over Notre Dame at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. While the streak is a nice bragging point, the real significance for the Golden Eagles comes in clinching a double bye in the upcoming Big East Conference tournament while keeping them tied for second place with Louisville, just a game behind league-leading Georgetown, which hosts Rutgers on Saturday night. "I hope we can do better than we did last year," said Marquette head coach Buzz Williams. "But that says you were accountable for your work from January first through March 13th and that's really hard to do because it's a grind." After allowing its last two opponents to shoot a combined 33 of 100 from the field and just 2 of 20 from beyond the arc, the Irish struggled defensively against the Golden Eagles, who shot 59.6 percent (28 of 24) and made 5 of 11 3-pointers. Chris Otule set a season high with 16 points -- 10 in the first half -- and made all eight of his field-goal attempts while pulling down four rebounds and blocking two Notre Dame shots. Trent Lockett came off the bench to add eight points for Marquette (21-7, 12-4 Big East). As hot as Marquette was, Notre Dame struggled to find the basket, making just 23 of 60 shots (38.3 percent) -- the third time in four games the Irish made less than 40 percent of their shots. Three Irish players scored in double figures, paced by Jerian Grant's 21 points and five assists. Eric Atkins added 16 with six assists and five rebounds, and Zach Auguste finished with 15 points, a career-high. It didn't help Notre Dame (22-7, 10-6) that its leading scorer, Jack Cooley, played just 15 minutes against Marquette. Cooley was fighting flu-like symptoms and did not play in the second half. "He didn't practice for two days," said Notre Dame coach Mike Brey. "We got him off an IV yesterday and in hindsight, I wonder if we should have even brought him along on this trip. He wanted to try it and obviously, he just wasn't there. I just decided to just get him home and get him healthy for Tuesday." Aside from his 14.4 points per game, his absence was felt all over the court. "It made a huge difference," Marquette's Junior Cadougan said. "Cooley doesn't jump after the ball, he stays down to the ground, doesn't fall for fakes. He rebounds. Him out of the game made it way easier for us. Marquette came out of the gate hot, hitting its first six shots and led 31-16 after back-to-back 3-pointers by Steve Taylor Jr. and Todd Mayo with 8:18 to play in the first half. The Golden Eagles cooled off slightly after that, but still held a 41-27 advantage at the break. "The key was how we turned the ball over, especially nine in the first half," Brey sad. "You're digging out of a hole on the road against a good team." Notre Dame cut the deficit to 10 on Tom Knight's tip-in with 9:32 to play and was down just nine after Grant made one of two free throws, capping off a 12-5 run by the Irish. Marquette, meanwhile, went 5:13 without a basket, finally snapping the drought on Blue's layup with 5:40 to play. Notre Dame again cut the lead to eight, but Wilson drew the foul on a short hook and converted the three-point play to make it 62-51 with 4:13 left. Notre Dame drew within six when Grant hit a 3-pointer to make it 70-64 with 32 seconds left but Wilson hit two free throws with 28 seconds left and Grant missed a 3-point attempt with 11 left. Notes: Saturday marked the 117th meeting between the two teams, a series that began in the 1919-20 season. ... The Golden Eagles' last home loss came on Dec. 29, 2011, a 74-57 defeat to Vanderbilt, and during their streak, have beaten seven ranked opponents ... Notre Dame is 4-2 against ranked teams this season. ... The crowd of 19,093 was the second-largest in Marquette history and second-largest ever for a college basketball game in the state of Wisconsin.
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