With one of the nation's top players sitting on the bench due to illness one of the nation's top home court advantages was too much to overcome as the Notre Dame basketball team fell 72-64 at Marquette Saturday afternoon in Milwaukee.
Jack Cooley, Notre Dame's leading scorer and rebounder at 14.4 points and 11.1 boards entering the game, was shutout for the first time this season and limited to just one rebound due to illness. Cooley averaged 30.4 minutes, but played just 15 in the loss. He received IV fluids in the school infirmary earlier in the week.
Cooley's limited role helped Marquette (21-7, 12-5 Big East) jump out to an 18-6 lead to start the game. The big man missed the only shot he attempted in the first half.
The Golden Eagles own the nation's second-longest winning streak at 25 games. Including the win over No. 20 Notre Dame (22-7, 10-6), six of the wins have come against ranked opponents. Marquette has also won 17 consecutive home games over Big East foes, while Notre Dame falls to 4-4 on the road this season. The win also clinched a double bye for Marquette in the first round of the Big East Tournament.
While Cooley was struggling due to illness, Marquette unsung big man Chris Otule nearly had a career day with 16 points on 8-of-8 shooting from the field. The 6'11 fifth-year senior was three points from his career-high. He was 6-for-6 with 12 points in the first half. Jamil Wilson led the Eagles with 19 points.
The Irish trailed by 14 points at halftime, while shooting just 10-for 27 (37%) from the floor. The Fighting Irish starting five of Cooley, Tom Knight, Eric Atkins, Pat Connaughton and Jerian Grant combined for 22 of those points. Marquette shot a blistering 64% (18-for-28) in the game's first 20 minutes of play. Connaughton finished the day scoreless as well, going 0-for-4 from the floor and missing all three 3-point tries.
The Irish managed to make a game of it midway through the second half after seemingly treading water most of the afternoon at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. A 5-0 spurt chopped their deficit down to 10 with 9:22 remaining after a Tom Knight put back. They clawed to a single-digit deficit at 56-47 two minutes later after Grant hit 1-of-2 free throws. It was ND's first single digit deficit since 9:30 to play in the first half.
Notre Dame has now trailed by at least 15 points in each of its last four road games. They are 2-2 in those contests.
Grant led the Irish with 21 points. He was 6-for-11 from the floor and 3-for-7 from three-point range. Eric Atkins scored 16, while Zach Auguste added 15 points off the bench.
Notre Dame plays its final home game Tuesday night against St. John's. Senior Day tip-off is set for 7 p.m. ET.