Scorching the nets
MICHIGAN CITY — It didn’t take long for Marquette to assert itself behind the arc on Friday night.
That, combined with stingy defense and a total team effort, were more than enough for the Blazers against a formidable foe in Mishawaka Marian.
Behind a blistering shooting performance that included a 15-of-24 effort (62 percent) from 3-point range, Marquette took command halfway through the opening quarter and rolled from there. The Blazers dispatched the Class 3A No. 3 Knights 74-59 at the Scholl Center on Homecoming Night.
It was Marquette’s fourth win in its last five games.
“We definitely wanted to prove ourselves as a team,” said Blazers’ senior point guard Colin Kenney, who earned a game-high 24 points. “We feel like we don’t get a lot of credit when it comes to rankings and stuff like that. We wanted to prove that we do belong with the higher-level teams.”
Kenney finished 5-for-10 behind the arc and fueled the fast start for Marquette (10-4), when it erupted for 28 points in the first period.
That permitted the home team to put Marian (10-2) in a 28-13 hole after the opening quarter.
The Blazers nursed that lead the rest of the way. The cushion never dropped below 13 in the last three quarters.
All six Marquette players who saw action hit a 3-pointer, including Dayn Staab going 3-of-3 and Jalen Russell finishing 3-for-4.
Purdue coach Matt Painter was also watching, recruiting Marian junior guard Jaden Ivey, and he came away impressed with the Blazers’ shooting display.
“Coach Painter even said to me, ‘It’s good to see that many shooters on the floor,’” Marquette coach Fred Mooney said. “The drive and the kick was there. The kids were moving. We were making the right passes. And we were playing defense on the other end of the floor. Marian’s ranked No. 3 in Class 3A for a reason, they’re good.”
After falling behind 5-0, the Blazers seized control.
Once they took an 8-7 lead with 6:21 left in the first, they never trailed again. They reeled off a 28-8 run the rest of the opening quarter. Kenney drilled three treys in the first period and made his first six shots overall. As a team, Marquette also nailed five 3-pointers in the first.
“I was finding my spots,” Kenney said. “I was finding where the defense was playing off me. I could get my space and create my moves.
“It feels amazing when you’re shooting like that, you get the crowd into it and everything started going smooth after that.”
Defensively, the Blazers held the normally-potent Knights to a mere eight points in the second quarter. That allowed the advantage to swell to 20 early in that period.
At the break, Marquette had doubled the visitors, 42-21.
Marquette put four players in double figures, and another just missed the mark.
Besides Kenney, Jake Tarnow notched 13 points, while Joe Andershock had 12 points. Staab followed with 11 points, and Russell scored nine.
“Joe played really well,” Mooney said. “Dayn Staab played great tonight, made great decisions, knocked down shots. That stat is not recorded, and probably the most important stat that isn’t taken is decision making. Because you get to a point where you either have to take the shot or make the pass. Colin does what Colin does, he also made good decisions.”
Mooney added Andershock’s rebounding and defensive efforts were pivotal.
“Joe attacked the glass,” he said. “Defensively, he had two blocks in the first half at the rim. He aggressively rebounded. He got in position to help and showed his hands.”
Ivey guided Marian with 21 points, but he netted just five before the break. Jerry Bracey recorded 16, and Coley Quinn added 13.
The Knights made a little run in the third, cutting the margin to 13 at 42-29 as Ivey hit back-to-back treys. Ivey tallied 13 points in the quarter, but the Blazers still led 63-45 heading to the fourth.
Marquette’s junior varsity fell 57-19. Lucas Ribero led the Blazers with six points, and Luke Fassoth had five points.
Marquette 74, Mishawaka Marian 59
The Blazers connected on a season-high 15 three-pointers, finishing 15-of-24.