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Marquette, McNeal pull away from pesky Chaminade late

Nov 19, 2007 - 11:14 PM LAHAINA, Hawaii (Ticker) -- Chaminade did not play the role of friendly host to Marquette during the first round of the Maui Invitational.

The Division II Silverswords hung tough with the 13th-ranked Golden Eagles before guard Jerel McNeal took over and helped lead the Marquette to 74-63 victory in first round action on Monday.

"We were very fortunate to win. I hate to use the word lucky, but I'm going to," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "I wouldn't call it a wake-up call. We just have to do a better job of what we should be doing."

McNeal scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the second half to help Marquette (3-0) pull away late.

The junior guard gave the Golden Eagles a 61-55 lead with six minutes remaining. Chaminade's Rodrick Johnson countered with a tip-in, but McNeal scored the next six points to open Marquette's lead to 67-57 with under four minutes left and the Silverswords (0-1) did not get within single digits again.

"When you're on the court, you're just playing basketball regardless of who the opponent is," McNeal said. "It didn't matter that we're ranked and they're Division II. All you can think about is the next play and how it's going to help you win."

McNeal shot 10-for-14 from the floor to lead four Golden Eagles in double digits. Forward Lazar Hayward added 13 points, while guards David Cubillan and Dominic James each chipped with 11.

Chaminade, which trailed 39-30 at the half, was paced by forward Marko Kolaric who scored 19 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. Johnson was the only other Silversword in double figures with 13 points.

"We hit a couple of bumps there and they were able to come up with the ball and it led to a couple of dunks," Chaminade coach Matt Mahar said. "I think they looked up at the clock and decided it was time to turn up the pressure. They're super athletic."

Marquette now faces either Louisiana State or Oklahoma State in the semifinals on Tuesday. Chaminade, 4-64 all-time in the event, is relegated to the consolation bracket.