Marquette 81, SW Louisiana 59
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ Damon Key scored 24 points and led a 19-0 second-half run that enabled No. 21 Marquette to pull away to a 81-59 victory over Southwestern Louisiana today in the opening round of the NCAA Southeast regional.
Key scored 13 points in the second half, and Rodney Eford, who finished with 20, had five each in the decisive burst that carried the Warriors (23-8) past the 11th-seeded Ragin’ Cajuns (22-8).
Michael Allen led Southwestern Louisiana with 23 points, but the team’s second-leading scorer, Byron Starks, was held to seven - 11 below his average.
Allen, shut out for the first six minutes of the game, finally broke through with a 3-pointer to lead the Ragin’ Cajuns back from a 12-4 deficit. He scored 10 of the team’s 14 points during a five-minute stretch, and Tony Moore’s 3-pointer capped a 17-6 surge to put Southwestern up 21-18.
Marquette dominated inside early, with Key scoring 10 of the Warriors’ first 12 points before getting into foul trouble. The 6-foot-8 forward picked up his third foul with 5:49 to go in the half, and with 7-footer Jim McIlvaine struggling, nobody was able to take up the slack for the Warriors.
Allen’s jumper over Tony Miller gave Southwestern a 34-31 halftime advantage, and the Ragin’ Cajuns led 44-40 before Marquette took charge during the 19-0 run.
Southwestern’s impatience was a key. The Ragin’ Cajuns ran themselves out of the game, rushing shots on the offense and failing to get back on defense when Marquette rebounded and pushed the ball up court.
Eford finished a fast break with a dunk, then made a 3-pointer, giving the Warriors a 57-44 lead. Miller’s steal and layup gave the Warriors a 15-point lead after the only timeout Southwestern used during the surge.