No. 24 Marquette bottles up Thomas, No. 23 Irish en route 71-58 victory
Posted: Monday December 1, 2003 11:48PM; Updated: Tuesday December 2, 2003 12:41AM
MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Marquette coach Tom Crean remembered last season's tough loss to Notre Dame. So did his team.
"They really gave it to us last year," said Steve Novak, who scored a career-high 21 points, including five 3-pointers, to lead No. 24 Marquette to a 71-58 victory over No. 23 Notre Dame on Monday night.
Scott Merritt added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Golden Eagles (5-0), while Travis Diener scored 12 points in the 105th meeting between the rivals.
Torin Francis had 23 points and nine rebounds for Notre Dame (2-1), while Torrian Jones added 14 points and Chris Thomas, who was averaging 19.5 points, had 11.
Last year, the Irish beat then-No. 13 Marquette 92-71 at their Joyce Center. Notre Dame had not played Marquette at the Bradley Center since a 72-48 loss on Nov. 21, 1997.
"They waited a year for this game," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.
Novak's three 3-pointers in the second half kept Notre Dame from getting back in the game.
He hit consecutive 3-pointers that gave Marquette a 63-49 lead with 3:57 to play.
"The 3-point shot can turn the game quick," the sophomore said after hitting five 3s in a game for the third time in his career. "It had a lot to do with this game."
Marquette clung to its double-digit lead until two free throws by Francis and a basket by Thomas cut it to seven with 1:23 to play.
Notre Dame got no closer as Novak made four free throws and Diener added two to seal the win.
Marquette took an early lead, capitalizing on Notre Dame's poor shooting.
Merritt had eight points during a 20-2 run that was capped by Marcus Jackson's basket that gave Marquette a 22-5 lead with 10:50 left in the first half.
"To get the start we had, I would never have imagined that," Crean said. "We had a lot of people step up all night long."
Jackson's layin pushed the lead to 34-11, but the Irish went on a 15-7 run. Jones had six points and Francis added five, including two free throws, in the run that trimmed Marquette's lead to 41-26 at halftime.
Notre Dame was 7-of-29 from the field in the first half, including 2-of-16 from 3-point range, while Marquette was 16-of-30 from the field and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.