Trying to regain some momentum after a disheartening loss, Marquette steps out of its Big East schedule to host Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday.
The 21st-ranked Golden Eagles (21-7) were denied a sixth consecutive victory Saturday, losing 70-68 at home in overtime to then-No. 11 Georgetown. Wesley Matthews matched a season high with 22 points, but Marquette fell short after Dominic James fouled Jonathan Wallace on a 3-point attempt with 2.8 seconds to play in regulation.
"I'm not going there, anywhere near that today," Golden Eagles coach Tom Crean said after a lengthy pause when asked if he thought it was a foul.
But even before James' foul, Marquette failed to help itself by missing 14 free throws, including one by Dwight Burke after he dunked a follow of James' miss with 31 seconds to play in the second half. The 61.1 percent shooting from the line was well off Marquette's season average of 70.6 percent, which is fifth in the Big East.
"We felt that that was our win," Matthews said. "It was there, we had the lead. We pressed on the lead and then we gave it back. That's hard."
Jerel McNeal added 17 points, eight rebounds, six assists and a season-high six steals despite shooting just 5 of 21 from the field. In his last six games, the junior guard is averaging 16.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.7 steals.
McNeal is second on the team in scoring with 13.5 points per game, barely trailing James' 13.6 average. Lazar Hayward, who went 0-for-8 and was held scoreless Saturday, contributes 13.0 per game. Matthews also is in double figures at 11.3.
The Golden Eagles, who will finish either fifth or sixth in the Big East, conclude their regular-season schedule Saturday at Syracuse.
Florida Gulf Coast (10-20) concluded its first season in the Atlantic Sun Conference with a 6-10 record after a 74-71 overtime victory Saturday over North Florida. Casey Wohlleb came off the bench to score a career-high 29 points for the Eagles, who are not eligible for the conference tournament since they were reclassified as a Division I team this season.
Wohlleb is the team's leading scorer at 17.0 points per game, and has also made a team-high 61 3-pointers.
The Eagles are allowing opponents to average 74.0 points and shoot 46.4 percent from the floor. They also are committing 18.0 turnovers per game, which doesn't bode well against a Marquette team that leads the Big East with 9.8 steals per game.
This is the first-ever meeting between the schools.