HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- As quickly as guard Dominic James could dribble up the floor at full speed, No. 15 Marquette ran off 20 straight points Friday night.
Using a strong defense, a variety of shots and balanced scoring, the Golden Eagles used the first-half spurt to subdue Northern Iowa and roll to a 73-43 victory in the Chicago Invitational Challenge."When you have to play the up-tempo game and keep up with us, it takes a lot out of teams," James said. "We wanted to get into transition and get into our running game."Wesley Matthews scored 17 points, Lazar Hayward had 15 and Jerel McNeal 13. James pitched in eight points to go with six assists as the Golden Eagles (5-0) kept first-year coach Buzz Williams unbeaten. They held Northern Iowa to 35 percent shooting and limited Panthers' guard Johnny Moran to five points, nearly 10 under his average."We grew up and we matured from a defensive standpoint tonight," Williams said. Northern Iowa was only 3-for-21 on 3-pointers.After an initial feeling-out period, the Golden Eagles broke it open early with the 20-0 run, using a variety of shots and strong defense. During the spurt, Matthews hit a 3-pointer, James made two 3s' on either side of a timeout, Jimmy Butler followed in a miss and McNeal found the range on yet another 3-pointer on a pass from James.After another timeout, Patrick Hazel -- who started the run with two free throws -- had a layin and then McNeal drove for a sweeping bank shot.That made it 32-8 with just over five minutes left in the half as the Golden Eagles' quickness and leaping ability were obvious factors early on against the Panthers, who went more than seven minutes without scoring. Marquette had a 20-10 first-half rebounding edge.Northern Iowa scrapped back with eight straight of its own but Marquette maintained control and led 37-18 at the half.Northern Iowa was down 12-8 before the big run."We had our game plan working there for a little while. We just didn't dig in, didn't stick to it," Moran said. "It's demoralizing. ... All of a sudden it's a 20-point game."James made a steal, a nifty crossover dribble and a great pass to Hawyard, who scored, was fouled and converted a three-point play for a 62-32 lead with just under 10 minutes remaining. Hayward had 12 of his points in the second half.Marquette finished with a 42-29 rebounding edge, including 12-6 on the offensive glass.Northern Iowa (3-2) was led by Kwadzo Ahelegbe's 11 points.Marquette will face Dayton on Saturday night at the Sears Center, about 35 miles northwest of Chicago. Dayton beat Auburn 60-59 in overtime Friday but the matchup with Marquette had already been set before the Flyers-Tigers' game was played. Northern Iowa will face Auburn.