for this game

James, McNeal too much for Maryland-Baltimore County

Dec 16, 2006 - 10:01 PM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Dominic James and Jerel McNeal helped Marquette turn around its recent home struggles.

James and McNeal scored 22 of their 32 combined points in the first half as the 20th-ranked Golden Eagles knocked off outmanned Maryland-Baltimore County, 68-46, in a non-conference contest.

Playing its entire December schedule at home, Marquette (10-2) dropped two of its first three home games, sandwiching losses to North Dakota State on December 2 and Wisconsin last Saturday around an unimpressive victory vs. Delaware State on December 5.

"I think coming off the Wisconsin loss it made guys come out even more hungry and ready to go," McNeal said. "We had an unbelievable week in practice, probably the best of the year, and I knew it would carry into the game.

"The things we have been doing all week carried over really well. We came out and jumped on them early and never really let them back into the game."

James and McNeal kept the Golden Eagles in the contest against the Badgers, combining for 35 points in the eventual 70-66 defeat. This time, the duo's performance was too much for the Retrievers (4-7), who dropped to 0-3 all-time in the series.

James scored 12 and McNeal added 10 and the Golden Eagles sank 5-of-10 3-pointers en route to a 36-14 halftime lead. Marquette put together a 13-0 run during the half and its defense held the Retrievers to 30 percent (6-of-20) shooting.

"The first half was one of the best defensive efforts of the entire year," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "That is where we want to be. We are on the cusp of playing really good basketball. Our execution was pretty good today. We are happy to be on a one-game winning streak with a 10-2 record."

James finished with 17 points on 8-of-16 shooting and six assists while McNeal had 15, making 3-of-5 3-pointers.

"We just went back to the basics, watched some early film and saw how we played earlier this season," James said. "When we get easy baskets and have good ball movement, it gets us going."

Lazar Hayward added 13 points and six offensive rebounds in 16 minutes off the bench for Marquette. The freshman forward has scored in double figures in three straight games.

"Lazar's development has been rapid," Crean said. "When his defense catches up with his offensive momentum, we are really going to have something. We are getting there. We are excited about his development."

Golden Eagles overcame a 6-of-18 (33 percent) performance from the free-throw line by turning 22 turnovers into 26 points and grabbing 18 offensive rebounds.

Tom Young scored 17 points and Chris Pugh added 15 for Maryland-Baltimore County, which shot 39 percent (18-of-61).

    --- --- -----
    UMBC 14 32 46
    MARQUETTE (22) 36 32 68 FINAL

    Dec 16 3:57 PM

    UMBC 14

    Dec 16 2:53 PM