1:30 PM ET, February 9, 2003
US Cellular Arena, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Marquette needed Robert Jackson and Scott Merritt to be at their best.The two post players certainly were, combining for 35 points, and Dwyane Wade had 18, including a memorable 1,000th point, as Marquette (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) beat Wake Forest (No. 15, No. 14) 68-61 on Sunday, the Golden Eagles' 28th consecutive home victory."I would say it was (their best game) because they had to guard really good (players)," Marquette coach Tom Crean said, referring to Jackson and Merritt.Jackson had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Merritt added 16 points and nine rebounds as Marquette won its ninth straight game and ended Wake Forest's four-game winning streak.Wade's milestone came on a breakaway dunk, his third of the game, that was part of an 8-0 run that gave Marquette (17-3) a 53-43 lead. Wake Forest (16-3) closed within four points twice over the final two minutes before the Golden Eagles wrapped it up from the free throw line.Fans chanted "One more year," an obvious reference to the possibility of Wade jumping to the NBA after completing his sophomore season."They always chant 'One more year' but I've got two more years left," Wade said.Then, asked if that meant he was coming back for certain in 2003-04, Wade said, "No comment."Josh Howard scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and Taron Downey added 10 for the Demon Deacons, who average 81 points a game.Wake Forest scored the first five points of the second half, all by Jamaal Levy, to take its only lead at 31-29. Marquette scored the next 11, starting with two field goals by Jackson and ending with Travis Diener's 3-pointer for a 40-31 lead.Wake Forest answered with a 7-0 run to close within two. Then, when it was 45-43, Merritt scored consecutive baskets and Wade's slam made it 51-43. The run was capped by two free throws by Merritt as Marquette built its biggest lead.It proved to be enough to hold off the Deacons."Every time we made a run, they answered," Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser said.The Golden Eagles led by as many as seven points and didn't trail the entire first half, which ended 29-26. Wake Forest stayed close despite foul problems on center Eric Williams, who had three called against him, two within 20 seconds. Williams played only 23 minutes, fouling out with 2:06 left after scoring four points.The Deacons lost despite outrebounding Marquette 48-35 as Levy grabbed 12 and Howard 10.But Wake Forest shot only 33 percent (22-of-66), failing to take advantage of a 37 percent (21-for-57) effort by Marquette. The Deacons also had 17 turnovers to Marquette's 12."I thought both teams guarded hard and you could see that in the shooting percentages," Prosser said.Crean said the game's festive atmosphere with an announced crowd of 17,370 had "a March feel to it.""It was a hard-fought game and we knew it would be," he said. "It's the best team we've played this year. ... And that's what makes this win so special for us. It was a great win."