Piscataway, NJ – Vander Blue scored 22 points on 8-of-16 shooting, and a 10-point halftime deficit couldn't prevent No. 15 Marquette from knocking off the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 60-54, on Tuesday.
Jamil Wilson and Junior Cadougan added 10 points apiece for the Golden Eagles (22-7, 13-4 Big East), who have won three straight games. Marquette trails Georgetown by a half-game in the conference standings as it closes out the regular season on Saturday at St. John's.
"That Rutgers is 4-12 entering the day and that we're 12-4 and a half a game out of first place has no bearing on the outcome," said Marquette coach Buzz Williams. "You have to earn the right to win, whether it's at home or on the road, and I think on a nightly basis, this league is as good as it is."
Myles Mack and Jerome Seagears registered 11 and 10 points, respectively, for the Scarlet Knights (13-15, 4-13), who have lost five straight and 11 of their last 12 games.
"There are a lot of disappointed, hurt individuals in that locker room," said Rutgers coach Mike Rice. "I told them that they deserved to be happy for how hard they've worked without any results, how hard they keep practicing for each other and the staff. I look out there sometimes in practice and you get so excited because we���re so close in certain aspects. This team won't quit. I give them a lot of credit for that. After a long, hard season, they keep at it."
The Scarlet Knights started off strong, shooting 58.3 percent from the field, including 3-of-7 from three-point range, in the first frame to build a 31-21 advantage at the break.
However, Rutgers broke down on both ends of the floor in the second half. The Scarlet Knights shot just 34.6 percent from the field and allowed the Golden Eagles to shoot 60 percent, including 3-of-9 from behind the arc.
With 4:02 remaining in regulation, Blue drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game at 52-52. Wilson followed that with a trey of his own to give them a 55-52 lead with 3:06 left to play.
Seagears made a jumper with 2:40 left, but it would be the last score the Scarlet Knights would make, as the team missed their final four shots from the field and came up empty on two free throws to go scoreless down the stretch.
Meanwhile, Marquette made 5-of-7 free throws over the final 1:32 to put the game out of reach.
Neither team scored from the free throw line in the first half ... Williams is 5-0 all-time against Rutgers ... ... The Scarlet Knights are 1-8 against Top-25 teams this season.