Williams wins debut thanks to big effort by MatthewsNov 15, 2008 - 6:59 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- Wesley Matthews took it upon himself to get Buzz Williams a notable win.
Matthews scored a career-high 27 points as No. 17 Marquette captured its season opener, 95-64, over Houston Baptist on Friday.
The big effort by the senior guard made a winner of Williams in his debut as the coach of the Golden Eagles.
Williams served as a first-year assistant here last season before getting the nod for the top job after longtime coach Tom Crean bolted for Indiana in April.
"It was an emotional day," Williams told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "But I think the thing you'll find is it's not about me. I'm grateful that we won, not for me but for my guys."
It was the end of a roller-coaster day for Williams, who learned earlier that freshman center Chris Otule will miss at least a month after fracturing a bone in his left foot. The 6-10 Otule was being counted on to provide some production inside due to Marquette's lack of size.
"Injuries are part of athletics," Williams told the Journal Sentinel. "The problem is, with the complexion of our roster, we have a very small margin for error. So when Chris is hurt, we're sad he's hurt; he was coming around. It impacts all of our team."
Jerel McNeal scored 20 points and Lazar Hayward added 19 and 12 rebounds for Marquette (1-0), which has won its last eight season openers.
Matthews made a number of trips to the free-throw line in the first half en route to scoring 12 points and lifting Marquette to a 42-34 lead at intermission.
The Golden Eagles put the game away for good following the break, opening the second half with a 12-0 run to give themselves a 20-point advantage with 15:33 remaining. Matthews hit a jumper and assisted on three other baskets during the run en route to also recording a career high with eight helpers.
Overall, Matthews finished 7-of-11 from the field with two 3-pointers and sank 11-of-12 free throws in eclipsing his previous high of 22 points. He also had five steals.
While Matthews had a great game, Dominic James had a sub-par start, finishing with five points and five assists and turning the ball over four times.
Gordon Watt scored 17 points and Baron Sauls added 15 for Houston Baptist (0-1), which is in the process of making the transition to Division I.
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