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Updated: Tuesday, November 25, 2003 3:42 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(23) Marquette 70, Northern Mich 58
 

MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Travis Diener had nine of his 15 points in the first half as No. 23 Marquette built an early lead and hung on for a 70-58 triumph over Northern Michigan.

Diener, a Wooden Award finalist, made 6-of-11 shots - including half of his six 3-point attempts - in the opening 20 minutes. Scott Merritt added 12 points and a season-high 11 rebounds for Marquette (4-0), which closed the first half with an 18-6 burst and took a 31-20 edge into halftime.

Diener sparked the spurt with a 3-pointer and he and Steve Novak had five points apiece in the run.

Novak finished with a season-high 14 points for the Golden Eagles are off to their second straight 4-0 start. Coach Tom Crean was not impressed.

"Until our defense and our rebounding gets where it needs to be and until we get our effort and energy where it needs to be, we will be behind," he said. "Hopefully, this week we can get something going."

Freshman swingman Dameon Mason had nine points and nine rebounds in 11 minutes off the bench. He did impress Crean.

"I see in practice how he gets better," Crean said. "He's got a lot of energy. That is what we need our young guys to do. He is progressing nicely."

Northern Michigan (2-1) shot just 32 percent (8-for-32) from the floor and never went to the free-throw line in the first half. The Wildcats were able to close the gap in the second half, getting within 44-39 with 12 minutes to go, but the Golden Eagles pulled away down the stretch.

One of the reasons Marquette was able to hang on was a 46-21 rebounding edge and 18-3 advantage in second-chance points.

Ricky Volcy led Northern Michigan with 14 points, his brother Marco had 12. The Wildcats were able to hang around by making 11-of-27 3-point attempts.

"I'm pretty proud of the way we handled things, it was a good effort," Northern Michigan coach Dean Ellis said. "They really got on us on the offensive boards. Their size and strength wore us down. We did what we could do to fight and battle. It was a good experience for us."

Marquette has won all nine games between the teams, who last met in the 1978-79 season.


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