akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

NEWARK, N.J. — There was nothing Marquette forward Justin Lewis could not do on the court on Wednesday night, and it almost appears as if there is nothing the rest of the Big East can do to stop him and the Golden Eagles from finding their way atop the league standings.

Lewis, a redshirt freshman, scored a career-high 33 points while adding nine rebounds and six assists as No. 22 Marquette built a big first half lead before cruising to a 73-63 victory over the Seton Hall Pirates at the Prudential Center on Wednesday evening. The Golden Eagles are winners of seven straight, and they opened up a 17-point halftime lead after making 50 percent of their shots — including six of 10 from three-point territory — in the game’s first 20 minutes.

Last week, Lewis earned Big East Player of the Week honors after scoring at least 20 points in wins by the Golden Eagles against two ranked opponents, Villanova on the road (20 points) and Xavier at home (21 points), and he picked up right where he left off against the Pirates, scoring 15 points in the first half on 6-of-10 shooting. Lewis’ three-pointer with 14:32 left in the first half not only gave the Golden Eagles the lead for good at 7-5, but started a 22-5 run that all but ended the competitive nature of the contest.

“Justin Lewis was phenomenal tonight,” Marquette head coach Shaka Smart said. “When you have a guy out there playing in that kind of rhythm, it just makes everything go much more smoothly.”

Marquette also established itself on the defensive end in the first 20 minutes, holding the Pirates to 24.2 percent shooting in the frame. Forward Kur Kuath blocked five shots in the game’s first eight minutes on his way to seven blocked shots overall, neutralizing Seton Hall’s prowess of attacking the basket with the dribble by its myriad of guards.

After a four-game losing streak to close out the year, including doing down to defeat in their first three conference games, the Golden Eagles have now won seven straight in Big East play for the first time since an eight-game conference winning during the 2018-19 season, a year that saw Marquette miss out on winning a share of the conference title by one game to Villanova. Not bad for a team that was picked ninth out of 11 teams in the Big East preseason poll.

“Obviously, we’re just figuring it out. We’re figuring out what we need to do more and more each and every day,” Lewis said. “And Coach [Smart] has been there before so he’s just letting us know daily and reminding us what we have to do to be a great team.”

Jared Rhoden, the Pirates’ leading scorer coming into the game, scored 14 points but went 5-for-17 shooting, including missing nine of his 10 shots in the first half. Jamir Harris came off the bench to lead the Pirates with 16 points, as Seton Hall did rally in the second half to cut Marquette’s lead to as low as six in the game’s final minute.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Wednesday’s game, with all photos taken by ALOST photographer Jenny Rohl. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 20 pictures in total.

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Tags : Big EastBig East ConferenceCollege BasketballMarquette Golden EaglesSeton Hall Pirates

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