ALTON — The Marquette Catholic Explorers would like to call a do-over for their 2014-15 home opener.
Visiting Madison didn't make for a memorable first game at Marquette Tuesday, running past the Explorers 63-37. The Explorers struggled vs. the speed of the Trojans, as well as their zone defense, falling behind early and never recovering.
The loss slipped Marquette to 6-2 on the season, while Madison improved to 4-2. It was the most lopsided loss for the Explorers since a 67-40 loss vs. East St. Louis in the 2012-13 Civic Memorial Regional finals.
“I thought we played really poor tonight,” Marquette head coach Steve Medford said. “I'm not going to discredit Madison, but as poor as we played we had the game to a four-point game in the third quarter and just couldn't get it turned around from there.”
Madison head coach Jamie Cotto-Rodriguez had a plan to contain the Explorers and he thought it worked to perfection early and set the tone for the game.
“Our last game against Live for Life, they played a diamond-and-1 against Dayman Warren and it really confused us because traditionally you see box-and-1s and things like that and this was a diamond-and-1,” Cotto-Rodriguez said. “I started looking it up and started watching tape of (Shandon) Boone and said, 'Wow, this kid's pretty good.' I just wanted someone else to beat us and I'd never seen this diamond-and-1 and we tried to figure it out as a team. We worked on it Saturday and we worked on it again Monday and I think it confused them, just like it confused us for a half. I threw it at coach Medford and I think it confused him for awhile, but coach Medford is a great coach and it's like I told my kids, I knew he was going to make adjustments.”
Medford pointed to lack of execution as more of the problem for the Explorers than the defense itself.
“They were box-and-1 and basically taking away Boone and we just didn't have guys step up and make plays,” he said. “That's a gimmick defense and it's called gimmick for a reason and we just didn't have guys step up and make shots. We just didn't make shots.”
The Trojans bounced out to a 7-0 lead to start the game, getting a 3-pointer from Tyjee Deal and a pair of baskets from Warren. Warren led all scorers on the night with 22 points.
As the buzzer sounded on the first quarter the Explorers were behind 15-5. All they could muster in the first frame was a pair of buckets in the paint by Jacob Fischer and a free throw from Boone. They were only 2 of 11 from the field in the first quarter.
Marquette did a better job in the second quarter, keeping even with Madison and getting it under 10 at 25-16 with 1:30 to go when Boone nailed a trey, but a big 3-pointer by Terrance Glover with one second to go in the half left the Trojans ahead 28-16 at the break.
Coming out of the locker room, the Explorers looked to do some damage. Boone and Max Goepel buried back-to-back 3-pointers and Marquette cut it to 33-29 with 3:29 to go in the quarter, the closest it had been and the closest it would get.
Maulik Allen of the Trojans coaxed Goepel to commit his fourth foul of the game and completed a traditional 3-point play to extend the lead back to 36-29. Allen jump started a 9-0 run to close the third quarter, putting Madison in front 41-29 entering the final eight minutes.
“That was a big turning point was when Max got his fourth foul,” Medford said. “I think that took the wind out of our sails when he got the fourth foul and the bottom line defensively we weren't good enough. We got beat in transition defense, we gave up too many rebounds, it was just a bad night for us.”
Cotto-Rodriguez agreed that Allen's 3-point play was a huge momentum shift for the Trojans.
“I thought that was critical,” he said.
The fourth quarter belonged to Madison, as it outscored Marquette 22-8 to construct the lopsided final.
Medford said it's just a matter of someone beside Boone stepping up consistently. Boone led the Explorers with 14 points on 3 of 5 shooting from 3-point land and 5 of 7 shooting from the charity stripe. Fischer chipped in 11 points, but all of his field goals came in the first half. He had three free throws in the second half.
As a team Marquette shot just 33 percent (12 of 36) from the field.
“The bottom line is if we don't find another guy that can make baskets for us it's going to be a very difficult season for us,” Medford said. “Really right now we've got Boone that's making some shots and outside of that it's been very streaky for us...We've got to have guys that are willing to finish around the basket. Right at the beginning of the game we could have set the tone early and got them right out of that box-and-1, but we missed two or three layups right in a row. Our bigs are playing small right now. I'm not going to beat around it, our bigs are playing really small.”
The Explorers now sit idle until 7:30 p.m. Saturday when they welcome Jerseyville and then they head to the Columbia/Freeburg Holiday Tournament starting Dec. 26.
MADISON 63, MARQUETTE 37
Madison 15 13 13 22 — 63
Marquette 5 11 13 8 — 37
Marquette (6-2) — Shandon Boone 14, Jacob Fischer 11, Max Goepel 5, Ben Sebacher 4, Reagan Snider 2, Joshua Quinn 1. 2FG — 8 3FG — 4 FT — 9 PF — 15
Madison (4-2) — Dayman Warren 22, Terrance Glover 17, Jerry Haynes 4, Donovan Crowder 4, Tyjee Deal 8, Maulik Allen 5, Cleveland Wilson 2, Jalon Redford 1. 2FG — 18 3FG — 5 FT — 11 PF — 15