FREEBURG — Marquette Catholic head coach Steve Medford stressed defensive intensity in his halftime speech on Friday at the Freeburg-Columbia Holiday Tournament.
The Explorers bested Waterloo 50-42 in their opening game of Pool C play Friday after entering halftime trailing the Bulldogs 32-27. Marquette now plays Lebanon at 8 p.m. Saturday in its other pool game.
The Explorers improved to 9-2 with the win, while Waterloo slipped to 3-7 with the defeat.
“I went in (at halftime) and said, 'Hey guys, great job Saturday night. You guys beat Jerseyville,'” Medford said. “I think we think we're a little bit better than we are and I told the kids in order for us to be good we've got to be blue collar. Being blue collar means you rebound and play good team defense and in the second half we showed we could guard somebody.”
Marquette was very efficient on offense, shooting 14 of 23 (60.8 percent) from the field, while Waterloo was 12 of 23 (52.1 percent) from the field in the first half, but just 3 of 16 (18.7 percent) in the second half. The Bulldogs didn't score in the second half until the 5:14 mark of the fourth quarter on a free throw by Brad Lathrop. Their first field goal didn't come until there was just 4:23 left in the game on a trey from Rick Wiegand.
“We shot lights out the first half and as coaches it was our understanding we would come back to reality and when we did we didn't handle it very well,” Waterloo head coach C.J. Cruser said. “We had some adversity and we couldn't figure out what we needed to do. We needed to find a way to get to the basket a little more because we weren't going to continue making shots like that. They might, because they can shoot it, so I didn't think they were going to quit shooting it. You can't just have a doughnut in the third quarter because you're not going to recover from that.”
It was a very slow start for the Explorers, who fell behind 11-2 to start the game with one field goal and four turnovers at the 4:39 mark of the first quarter.
Enter sophomore Nick Messinger. Messinger came off the bench for Marquette and nailed a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around a bucket by Max Goepel. Another trey from Shandon Boone with 51 seconds left tied the game at 15-15 at the close of the opening frame. The Explorers were 6 of 6 from the field in the first quarter.
“That was huge because they got right out of the box-and-1 (defense),” Boone said of Messinger hitting a couple 3s. Boone led all scorers with 25 points.
Medford added of Messinger, “Man, Nick, just a sophomore coming in and hitting a couple 3s; they started in a box-and-1 and I told the kids, 'We've got execute real quick so they get out of that.' We didn't execute at first, but when he hit those two 3s it took them right out of it.”
But the Bulldogs were shooting well, too. They buried six 3-pointers in the first half, led by senior Rick Wiegand who nailed a trio of treys on his way to 19 first-half points.
With 3:09 to go in the first half the game was knotted at 27-27, but Wiegand scored and Max Schrader knocked down a 3-pointer to give Waterloo a 32-27 lead at the half.
As hot as the shooting was in the first two quarters, it was cold as ice in the third.
It wasn't until the 2:40 mark when Explorer Ben Sebacher completed a traditional 3-point play that either team climbed onto the scoreboard. Two free throws by Boone then tied it at 32-32 at the 2:14 mark, but it was Boone's trey that banked in at the buzzer from roughly 30 feet out that was the back breaker. The clutch three handed Marquette a 35-32 lead entering the fourth quarter.
“That was a killer,” Cruser said. “At the end of a quarter this year we have not scored a basket in 10 games, so we are 0 for 40. We're at the point where we can't have a turnover and we had a turnover. We threw it away right under their basket and ever since I came to Waterloo four years ago teams have made those kinds of shots against us three or four times a year. We've let it happen because we haven't finished the quarter off and we've done something to let something like that happen.”
With Waterloo's continued shooting woes, the Explorers were able to extend their lead to 10 at 43-33 with 4:39 left on a pair of Boone free throws. The Bulldogs would get as close as five points in the final frame, but no closer.
Boone just thought Marquette upped its intensity in the second half and that was the difference.
“They had (Wiegand) and he was making a lot of shots and we just had to make sure we played harder defense,” Boone said. “We weren't guarding them right. We went into a box-and-1 and that didn't work, so we just had to buckle down and play hard defense.”
FREEBURG-COLUMBIA HOLIDAY TOURNAMENT
MARQUETTE 50, WATERLOO 42
Marquette 15 12 8 15 — 50
Waterloo 15 17 0 10 — 42
Marquette (9-2) — Shandon Boone 25, Jacob Fischer 8, Max Goepel 8, Ben Sebacher 3, Nick Messinger 6. 2PT — 8 3PT — 6 FT — 16 PF — 10
Waterloo (3-7) — Brad Lathrop 5, Ryan Aycock 3, Max Schrader 5, Rick Wiegand 24, Troy Aldridge 3, Sam Dodd 2. 2PT — 8 3PT — 7 FT — 5 PF — 17