Milwaukee, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - Davante Gardner scored a game-high 25
points, as No. 17 Marquette extended its home winning streak to 26 games with
a 63-56 victory over Southern in the season opener for both teams on Friday at
BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Todd Mayo added 20 points and Jamil Wilson contributed 10 points for the
Golden Eagles (1-0), who made a run to the Elite Eight last year before
falling to Syracuse to finish the season 26-9.
Malcolm Miller led Southern (0-1) with 14 points, while Tre Lynch and
YonDarius Johnson each chipped in 11 points off the bench for the Jaguars, who
were coming off a 23-10 campaign last season that ended with a six-point loss
to Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"We're trying to find our offensive identity and figure out who to go to at
times," Southern coach Roman Banks said. "We just have to find our identity."
The difference in the contest came at the free-throw line, where Marquette
connected on 33-of-53 tries while Southern made just 6-of-16 attempts.
"Later on in the season I think the refs will back off of it because that's
when the games get more intense, when you're playing better teams," Gardner
said of the excessive amount of foul calls that allowed Marquette to set a
team record for free-throw attempts in a game.
Despite the disparity in free throws, Southern stayed close throughout the
game and trailed by just four, 47-43, after a Lynch layup just past the
midpoint of the second half.
However, the Jaguars went the next eight-plus minutes without a field goal,
allowing Marquette to push the margin to 13 before Johnson's 3-pointer quelled
the drought and brought Southern within 58-48 with 1:49 left.
The Jaguars sliced their deficit to six, 60-54, with 21.2 seconds left after
Johnson split a pair of free throws, but Gardner drilled 3-of-4 from the
charity stripe over Marquette's next two possessions to put the game away.
Early on, the Golden Eagles soared out of the gates, scoring 19 of the game's
first 24 points to build a double-digit cushion less than seven minutes in.
Marquette's lead sat at 12 with six minutes left in the half before Miller
knocked down a pair of triples in a 12-6 half-closing swing that brought
Southern within 38-32 at the break.
It was the first-ever meeting between the two schools ... Marquette has won 13
straight season openers ... Gardner finished 15-of-20 from the free-throw line
... Marquette's home winning streak is the second-longest active streak in the
nation behind South Dakota State (30) ... Southern won the rebounding battle,
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