With Northern Illinois on deck, Marquette basketball uses brief break to work on issues that cropped up against St. Bonaventure

Ben Steele
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The games were coming fast and furious for the Marquette men’s basketball team.

The Golden Eagles (5-1) had four matchups between Nov. 15-21. They finally had a bit of a breather but get back to action against Northern Illinois (1-4) on Saturday at Fiserv Forum.

“Proud of the way our guys have started the season," MU head coach Shaka Smart said. "We’ve played six games in the blink of an eye. And now it’s about really, really committing to understanding what goes into winning."

Marquette forward Justin Lewis has three double-doubles this season.

Smart was talking after the Golden Eagles suffered their first setback, a 70-54 loss to St. Bonaventure on Sunday in the championship game of the Charleston Classic.

MU started the season better than most college basketball observers anticipated, but the Bonnies, ranked 24th in the Ferris Mowers coaches poll and No. 22 by The Associated Press, showed that the Golden Eagles still have plenty of work to do.

Justin Lewis was MU's lone offensive standout in the game, scoring 17 points and pulling down 10 rebounds, his third double-double of the season. But Lewis also shot 1 for 6 on three-pointers as the Golden Eagles finished 6 for 27 (22.2%) from deep.

Darryl Morsell, Tyler Kolek and Kam Jones — three important offensive players — combined to shoot 1 for 20 overall.

More:Marquette freshman Kam Jones is not shy about letting shots fly. He's earned the green light from Shaka Smart.

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“I just want to see my team respond better than we did out there (against the Bonnies)," Lewis said. "Very sad, disappointing loss. But I feel like we’re going to pick it up. We got Darryl, I know he’s going to lead us, and TK.

"I just know good things are going to happen for us and our group. We just need to learn from this and get better as quickly as possible. Because we don’t have time to drop our heads.”

Against the better teams on the schedule — MU still faces Wisconsin and UCLA before Big East play — the Golden Eagles will need to manufacture points in the half court. The Bonnies, with five senior starters, weren't bothered by MU's pressure defense, committing 13 turnovers. In the Golden Eagles' comeback victory against Illinois on Nov. 15, MU forced 26 miscues.

MU's offense bogged down against St. Bonaventure with 17 turnovers. That allowed the Bonnies to score in transition and the game got away from the Golden Eagles.

"Sometimes you have to go through experiences like (the loss to the Bonnies)," Smart said. "Just like sometimes you have to go through comebacks like we’ve had recently.

"But the reality is that we didn’t have good enough guts. I think our guys have them in there, we just didn’t bring them out well enough (against St. Bonaventure). It’s something for us to learn from and get better from.”

The Golden Eagles face the Huskies and then Jackson State on Tuesday, giving them time to get back on track before playing the Badgers on Dec. 4 in Madison.

"We always talk about what’s important now," Smart said. "I think (the loss to St. Bonaventure) was the first time that our guys got a little bit away from being who we needed to be in terms of our culture in the game itself.

"So I think that’s a valuable lesson and hopefully something we can work on and continue to improve on.”