MILWAUKEE - Marquette showed it doesn’t need to shoot at a ridiculously high percentage to beat a quality opponent.
Greg Elliott made a tiebreaking free throw with 1.8 seconds left, and Marquette withstood a long second-half drought to beat No. 20 Seton Hall 73-72 on Saturday for its fourth straight victory.
Darryl Morsell scored 26 points and Justin Lewis added 18 for Marquette, which had won its last three games by shooting 55.9% but needed to fight through adversity to survive this one. The Golden Eagles made just one basket in the first 8 1/2 minutes of the second half to squander an 11-point lead before rallying late.
"The best thing for our team is our guys played through some challenges, some adversity, fought through a little bit of frustration when the ball wasn’t going in and continued to guard," Marquette coach Shaka Smart said.
The Golden Eagles (12-6, 4-3 Big East) also benefited from a fortunate call.
The game was tied at 72-all when Elliott leaned forward around the 3-point arc and drew a foul on Seton Hall’s Bryce Aiken. As Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard expressed his displeasure with the call, officials looked over replays and determined Elliott was fouled while attempting a 2-point shot.
Willard declined to comment on the call after the game.
"The ball found its way to Greg," Smart said. "Greg did a good job creating and did a good job getting fouled."
Elliott made the first free throw to put Marquette ahead. His second attempt bounced off the rim — Smart said after the game the miss was intentional — and Seton Hall’s Jared Rhoden rebounded and called timeout with 1.5 seconds left.
Seton Hall (11-5, 2-4) initially appeared to commit a violation by running up and down the baseline before attempting an inbounds pass but was given a second chance. Smart said it was because an official said beforehand that the Seton Hall player could take those steps on the baseline.
The ensuing inbounds pass from Seton Hall’s Alexis Yetna went about 25 feet and slipped through the grasp of Tyrese Samuel before Lewis grabbed the ball as time expired.
Morsell said the Golden Eagles showed how much they learned during their 0-3 start to Big East competition. Marquette’s three conference losses were decided by a total of 23 points, including a 75-69 double-overtime defeat against Creighton.
"I think we all kind of felt that pain as a team and we don’t really want to feel it no more," Morsell said. "So we just try to stick together to make winning plays at the end of the game and just do what we’ve got to do to win games."
Marquette needed that tenacity in the closing minutes.
The Golden Eagles trailed 68-67 when Lewis drove and failed to get a foul call with less than two minutes left. Yetna then made a basket to make it 70-67 with 1:36 left while Lewis was lying on the other end of the floor in apparent pain.
But Elliott sank a game-tying 3-pointer 12 seconds later and Lewis hit a go-ahead basket with 41 seconds left. Aiken, who scored 28 points, tied the game by sinking two free throws with 31.2 seconds remaining.
"We had our opportunities," Willard said. "Being on the road, you’ve got to make them. Give Marquette credit for clawing back and Elliott making a big 3 down the stretch."
Yetna had 15 points and 16 rebounds for Seton Hall, which also got 12 points from Rhoden.
Marquette shot 9 of 14 from 3-point range in the first half but cooled off dramatically from there.
The Golden Eagles missed 14 of their first 15 shots in the second half. Marquette's lone basket during that stretch didn’t come from a made shot, as Kur Kuath was credited with two points on a Seton Hall goaltending call.
Unusual stat line
Seton Hall's Ike Obiagu scored two points but had 13 rebounds and seven blocks.
Seton Hall: The Pirates had an overwhelming 47-26 rebounding advantage but couldn't overcome their 20 turnovers.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles needed this victory as they begin a stretch of six straight matchups against teams currently ranked in the AP Top 25. The Golden Eagles visit No. 14 Villanova, host No. 17 Xavier, travel to Seton Hall and No. 23 Providence and host Villanova in their next five games.
Seton Hall figures to drop out of the Top 25 after losing to DePaul and Marquette this week.
Seton Hall: At St. John's on Jan. 22. The Pirates' scheduled Tuesday home game against Providence has been postponed.
Marquette: At Villanova on Wednesday.