Despite Happ's heroics, Wisconsin's mistakes lead to overtime loss against Marquette

Senior forward Ethan Happ had 18 points and 11 rebounds as Wisconsin staged a second-half comeback to extend its winning streak to five games.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

MILWAUKEE — Sitting at the podium on Saturday night, senior center Ethan Happ couldn’t care less about his historic performance.

“It doesn’t matter about individual stuff, stats, whatever it may be,” he said after posting a career-high 34 points in a 74-69 overtime loss at Marquette. “There’s plenty of stuff we’ll see on clips — including myself — defensively, that we could’ve done better. And [I’m] just pissed off on a loss.”

Happ’s brilliant performance featured 11 rebounds, passes that would be the envy of most guards and an array of hooks, spins and layups around the rim. It was the third-most points ever scored by a Badger, but it wasn’t enough.

No. 12 Wisconsin (2-0 Big Ten, 8-2 overall) counteracted Happ’s display by making some avoidable mistakes. The Badgers turned the ball over a season-high 13 times and shot an abysmal 10-for-21 from the free throw line.

Those mistakes handed the game to the Marquette Golden Eagles (0-0 Big East, 8-2 overall) who scored 10 points off of turnovers and collected 30 percent of its points (22) at the charity stripe en route to a thrilling overtime victory.

“In the two games [that we’ve lost], both this game and the Virginia game, we had chances and did some uncharacteristic things that we have to get better at in those situations,” head coach Greg Gard said after the game. “Taking care of the ball — we’ve done that for the most part, but when we don’t, you see what happens.”

The Badgers entered the second half with a slender one-point lead, settling into the game after early mistakes and getting eight points apiece from sophomore forwards Nate Reuvers and Aleem Ford in the first period.

The Golden Eagles were even held to 35.4 percent shooting from the field on the night, a remarkably low number to win with.

But in addition to the Badgers’ carelessness with the ball, they were undone by their rebounding and three-point shooting.

The Golden Eagles out-rebounded their in-state rivals 41-36, including one play where junior forward Ed Morrow wrestled three Badgers for an offensive rebound and a layup right after. Like so many other plays on the night, it energized a raucous Fiserv Forum crowd and kept Marquette within striking distance.

The Badgers also struggled to hit threes, going just 5-24 in their worst shooting performance since the Virginia loss. Sophomore guard D’Mitrik Trice, who was shooting 60 percent from behind the arc before the game, shot just 1-for-6 from long range. And sophomore guard Brad Davison went 0-for-3 from deep, his only attempted field goals in a forgettable performance (he also went 0-for-3 from the line).

Davison finished with zero points for the second time this season and has now only reached double figures in scoring in three of 10 contests.

“He’ll be fine because he competes, and he knows what it takes to win. And he has that mentality that stirs our locker room from that standpoint … He’ll play better, and he’ll produce more,” Gard said.

The Badgers may have a bone to pick with the game’s officiating, as there were an astonishing 31 fouls called between the second period and overtime, which played into the hands of the Golden Eagles’ superior shooters, like junior guard Markus Howard, who notched 12 of his 27 points on the night at the line.

Still, Wisconsin has to place the majority of the blame on itself. The team will return to Madison with a tough loss, but they may well have a blueprint on how to avoid similar fates in the future.

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