HONOLULU – Bring on No. 1 Kansas.
The fourth-ranked Marquette men’s basketball team put together a spirited second-half comeback and pulled out a 71-69 victory over UCLA on Monday night in the first round of the Maui Invitational at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.
The Golden Eagles (4-0) get to play the top-ranked Jayhawks in a semifinal on Tuesday.
David Joplin led MU with 19 points, but the Golden Eagles got key contributions from the bench to key the comeback.
Box score: Marquette 71, UCLA 69
The Golden Eagles struggled from long range in the first half, converting 5 for 18 (27.8%). Those 18 attempts made up the bulk of MU’s 31 shots in the opening 20 minutes.
MU fell behind, 23-15, the largest deficit it had faced this season.
The Golden Eagles did get back-to-back three-pointers from Kam Jones and Ben Gold to get within 30-28.
UCLA got a three-pointer from Will McClendon in the waning seconds to take a 35-30 lead into the break.
Joplin had 10 points to lead MU in the first half.
Joplin opened the second half by splashing a three-pointer. But then MU didn’t score for four minutes and UCLA scored eight unanswered points to take a 43-33 advantage.
The Bruins added another bucket before Oso Ighodaro ended MU’s drought by throwing down a vicious dunk. Joplin then added another three to give the Golden Eagles life.
Two free throws from Chase Ross and a nifty layup by Sean Jones made it a 9-0 run for MU and UCLA coach Mick Cronin called a timeout.
A technical foul was called on Adem Bona for elbowing Joplin in the face. Kam Jones made the two free throws and then Ighodaro crammed home another dunk and MU had a 46-45 lead.
UCLA finally ended what had become a 17-0 run by knocking down a three-pointer.
The Bruins inched back to within 57-56, but MU’s Tyler Kolek was fouled a drive and nailed both free throws.
UCLA closed the gap to one-point again, but Kolek sank a three-pointer and Ighodaro knocked in a hook to give MU some breathing room at 64-58 with 5:05 remaining.
The Bruins had another punch when Sebastian Mack converted a three-point play that fouled out Kam Jones with 4:05 left and trimmed MU’s lead to 64-63. During a timeout, the officials awarded UCLA a point after a video review determined an earlier shot by UCLA was a three-pointer.
MU responded with a free throw by Ighodaro and another three-pointer by Joplin for a 68-64 lead.
UCLA had a quick 5-0 run to grab the lead back, but Sean Jones sank a three-pointer at the top of the key for a 71-69 lead with 36 seconds left.
MU’s defense then forced UCLA into two misses in the final 21 seconds to seal the win.
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