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Marquette routs Rutgers with big second half

Feb 24, 2008 - 12:28 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Dominic James shook off a right ankle injury to score 13 points Saturday as 24th-ranked Marquette coasted to a 78-48 victory over Rutgers in a Big East Conference contest.

With 3:04 remaining in the first half, the Golden Eagles experienced a scare when 265-pound Rutgers center Byron Joynes landed on James' ankle while chasing a loose ball.

The 185-pound James fell to the court in pain and had to be helped to the bench. The junior point guard hobbled to the locker room and missed the remainder of the half.

But James returned for the start of the second half and provided a spark for the Golden Eagles despite playing with a limp.

He opened the second half with a layup and dished out two assists in the first 2 1/2 minutes as Marquette (20-6, 10-5 Big East) pulled away after Rutgers kept the contest close in the first half.

The second of those assists came on an alley-oop pass to Jerel McNeal, who dunked for a 41-29 cushion.

The worst shooting team in the Big East, the Scarlet Knights stayed in the contest by shooting nearly 60 percent for most of the first half.

Rutgers closed within 26-25 on Mike Coburn's layup with 5:53 remaining before Marquette build a 35-29 lead at the intermission. The Golden Eagles overpowered the Scarlet Knights in the second half, outscoring them by a 43-19 margin.

Lazar Haywood paced Marquette with 15 points while McNeal added 14 on 7-of-10 shooting as the Golden Eagles extended their winning streak to four games.

Marquette generated offense with an aggressive defense that forced 23 turnovers. During the winning streak, it is allowing only 57 points per game.

After shooting 52 percent (13-of-25) in the first half, Rutgers was held to under 28 percent (8-of-29) in the second.

Marquette only shot 39 percent (21-of-54) but Wesley Matthews contributed to the team's balanced attack with 12 points.

Corey Chandler scored 12 points off the bench for Rutgers (10-18, 2-13), which suffered its seventh straight loss.

A scoring drought of almost six minutes, covering the final 2:17 of the first half and first 3:40 of the second, sealed the Scarlet Knights' fate.

Rutgers closed within 32-29 on Joynes' layup with 2:17 left in the opening half but a 9-0 spurt put the Golden Eagles in control.

Another run - this one a 12-2 burst - pushed Marquette's advantage to 60-37 on Trevor Mbakwe's free throw with 8:48 remaining. The final score represented the Golden Eagles' biggest lead.

Marquette is still hoping to finish in the top four to receive a bye in the first round of the Big East tournament. The win, coupled with Connecticut's loss at Villanova on Saturday, pulled the Golden Eagles within one-half game of the fourth-place Huskies.

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