Marquette gathers at center court after winning the 2015 Legends Classic. (Photo courtesy of Ray Floriani)
The championship game between Marquette and Arizona State unfolded as a battle of ‘mini’ spurts and short term runs. Arizona State seemed to get a little momentum with a Tra Holder three at the first half buzzer, putting the Sun Devils ahead 36-33 at the break.
The script continued early in the second half. Neither team could get appreciable separation. One would open a two-possession lead and threaten to pull away, only to be quickly reeled back in.
The game stayed close, and to little surprise, an added five minutes would be needed to determine the champion. In the final minutes of overtime, Marquette made the plays, and hit the free throws to ice it in the waning seconds. In a game featuring 11 ties and 11 lead changes, it was almost expected by those in attendance that it would go the wire, and a few minutes beyond.
Possessions: Marquette 80, Arizona State 77
Offensive Efficiency: Marquette 98, Arizona State 95
eFG%: Marquette 45, Arizona State 41
Free Throw Rate: Marquette 68, Arizona State 33
Offensive Rebound %: Marquette 18, Arizona State 33
Turnover Rate: Marquette 14, Arizona State 17
Leading Scorers and Efficiency Factors:
Marquette: Henry Ellenson (tournament MVP, 18 points, EF 33 , EF per minute .917)
Luke Fischer (18 points, EF 25, EF per minute .962)
Arizona State: Tra Holder (15 points, EF 19, EF per minute .475)
Not one of the scoring leaders, but a factor, was Obinna Oleka of Arizona State, who posted an EF of 27. The 6-7 junior scored 10 points while adding a game-high 14 rebounds, and did not commit a turnover. His EF per minute came in at an outstanding .931.
The difference: Free throw rates. Marquette went to the line for 39 (27-of-39,
69%) shots, while Arizona State attempted only 23 (17-for-23, 74%). Arizona State had the rebounding advantage, which normally translates to more trips to the charity stripe. Marquette, though, had a solid post game with Ellenson and Fischer combining for 13 free throw attempts (12 converted). Both teams had outstanding turnover rates, so losing possessions to turnovers was not a major factor.
Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley:
“Just a hard-fought game. Both teams competed at a high level. I'm happy with my team. There is room for improvement, our offense is still a work in progress, but we still feel good about coming together.”
“Steve played the position with fire and tenacity, (at Duke) and his team played like that tonight.”
“Ellenson didn’t have a big stat line at the half, but he made a lot of big plays down the stretch.”
“I don’t know where to start, (on officiating) maybe I should leave it at that. Your opponent shooting 39 free throws is an astronomical number in a game like this. And both sides seemed to be unhappy (with the officiating) at times.”
“These games are toughening our core. You play against great competition and learn how to make plays in the stretch.”
Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski:
“I thought our guys were terrific. As a group over 72 hours, we faced some tough teams. Our guys made a huge commitment the last three or four days, so I'm glad our guys were rewarded.”
“Bobby was an idol of mine who I looked up to and admire. It's amazing to call him my friend. He's one of the best competitors in college basketball, and an excellent coach and person.”
“Our guys showed amazing pride tonight to get crucial stops. We're looking forward to them continuing to do that.”
“We have a lot of freshmen playing a lot. Our older guys set the tone for the younger guys, especially this weekend.”
“Traci Carter had a huge two days, and until we got here, he didn’t play well. Here, he played well, and his enthusiasm is infectious.”
“I am proud of my team. We showed character with two big wins in 48 hours.”