Milwaukee, WI (SportsNetwork.com) - The 25th-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles close out their season-opening, four-game homestand, as they entertain the Wildcats of New Hampshire in non-conference action on Thursday night.
New Hampshire, which plays its basketball out of the America East Conference, is off to a 2-1 start thanks to victories over Suffolk (94-70) and Duquesne (84-81) in the first two games. The Wildcats recently dropped a 71-63 decision to visiting NJIT on Sunday, evening their home record at 1-1. They will play their first AEC contest against visiting Stony Brook on Dec. 15.
Marquette tipped off the season with wins over Southern (63-56) and Grambling State (114-71), but then came up small in a low-scoring affair with a ranked Ohio State club last Saturday, 52-35. The loss snapped the team's 27-game home winning streak. The Golden Eagles, who are still members of the new-look Big East, get their first taste of life on the road in their next bout, as they'll play at Arizona State on Nov. 25. They open conference play at Creighton on Dec. 31.
This game represents the first-ever meeting between New Hampshire and Marquette in men's basketball.
The Wildcats are fortunate to have some of the best players in the AEC on their roster, notably center Chris Pelcher and forward Patrick Konan. Pelcher has been a beast in the early going, averaging a double-double consisting of 19.7 points and 16.0 rebounds per game, all while shooting 64.9 percent from the field. He could stand to work on his free throws (.579), but his contributions across the board can't be denied. As for Konan, he is netting 17.0 ppg in hitting 51.3 percent of his total shots, which includes a 40 percent showing from 3-point range. Both Jordan Bronner (11.7 ppg) and Daniel Dion (10.7 ppg) are averaging double digits in scoring as well, helping the team put up 80.3 ppg.
Pelcher finished with a line of 20 points and 15 boards in the recent loss to NJIT, while Konan had 16 and seven, and Bronner tacked on 14 points while handing out three assists. As a team, UNH shot just 38.3 percent from the field, which included an 8-of-31 (.258) showing from beyond the arc. The Wildcats also went just 9-of-17 at the charity stripe, while allowing the Highlanders to drain 52.8 percent of their total shots, including 64.3 percent (9-of-14) of their 3-point tries.
Despite shooting just 39.8 percent from the floor, Marquette is averaging 70.7 ppg. The team permits only 59.7 ppg while securing nearly 10 more caroms per contest than its opponents, who are also shooting well below 40 percent overall, and under 30 percent from long range. The Golden Eagles have only two double-digit scorers at the moment, as Davante Gardner (15.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and Todd Mayo (13.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg) do their best to keep the team competitive.
Marquette had one of its worst shooting days ever, hitting just 18.9 percent of its field goal attempts, which included a dreadful 1-of-18 showing from 3- point range, as the team mustered a mere 35 points in last weekend's home loss to Ohio State. Mayo and Gardner were the only players to score in double figures, netting 11 and 10 points, respectively. Mayo went only 3-of-15 from the floor. Steve Taylor pulled down nine rebounds, but the team as a whole had only four assists while committing 20 turnovers. The Buckeyes started the game cold as well (.269), but got going after the break (.577), although they too had a horrific game from downtown (3-of-18).