MILWAUKEE -- Marquette put its size and athleticism to use Tuesday night on the way to a 91-53 victory over Ball State in men’s basketball action at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
The Golden Eagles of the Big East Conference scored more than 85 percent of their points either in the paint (56) or at the free throw line (22) against the undersized Cardinals.
Freshman point guard Zavier Turner led all scorers with 16 points to go with five assists for Ball State (2-6), while fellow freshman Mark Alstork matched his career best with 11 points for the second straight game. Marquette (7-4) placed seven scorers in double figures led by big man Chis Otule with 14.
“Some of their points in the paint came off steals, but they’re a physical and strong team in the post,” Ball State head coach James Whitford said. “(Davante) Gardner and Otule are two really high-level big guys, and they caused problems for us.”
The Golden Eagles scored 30 of their first 36 points in the paint and shot 51 percent in the first half on the way to a 42-24 lead at the break.
Ball State used a pair of Turner 3-pointers and a basket from Franko House to cut the deficit to 13 just over three minutes into the second half, but Marquette responded with a 21-3 run over the next six-plus minutes to take a commanding lead at 66-35 midway through the second half.
House, another freshman, added seven points for the Cardinals. Rookies combined to score the first 15 points of the night for Ball State and finished with 37 of the team’s 53 for the game.
“In a 200-minute game tonight, we played 110 minutes of freshmen,” Whitford said. “There aren’t many teams in the country doing that, and to bring them on the road in this environment was a tough task.”
Part of the youth movement was due to foul trouble. Senior center Majok Majok was saddled with early fouls and limited to just 21 minutes, while Tyler Koch picked up his fourth foul early in the second half.
The Cardinals struggled at times against Marquette’s 40 minutes of full court pressure with the Golden Eagles forcing 23 turnovers. They turned those into 30 points, generating high percentage looks that helped them shoot 54 percent for the game.
“They’re a really good pressing team,” Whitford said. “I really believe in our point guard Zavier, but it’s not an easy thing to deal with. They’re fast, athletic and very long.”
Ball State walk-on Kindon Crowder saw action for the second time this season and scored his first career points. The former team manager played a career-high nine minutes off the bench and knocked down a first-half 3-pointer.
Tuesday’s game continued a challenging non-conference schedule for Ball State. The Cardinals entered the day with a schedule strength ranked among the top 50 in the country, and that number only got better.
Ball State will be back in action Saturday at Southern Illinois. Tipoff is set for 2:05 p.m. CT (3:05 p.m. ET) in Carbondale, Ill., in the Cardinals’ last game before Christmas.