Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 50, Marquette 86
MILWAUKEE (AP)—Marquette players didn’t feel much like celebrating a big win after losing one of their big men to an injury.
Freshman guard Vander Blue scored 21 to lead Marquette to an 86-50 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Tuesday, but the night was marred by what appeared to be a significant left knee injury to senior forward Joseph Fulce.
Fulce, who missed time earlier in the season with an injury to the same knee, fell to the court with just over 13 minutes left. He was down and clearly in pain for several minutes before being helped off.
Marquette coach Buzz Williams said he and the players were headed to the hospital to visit Fulce.
“He’s got a shot knee,” Williams said. “It’s been shot. I would say it’s completely shot. That’s all I know.”
Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder had 15 points each for the Golden Eagles (7-2), who took a 25-4 lead to start the game. Butler also had nine rebounds.
Crowder said it was difficult to listen to Fulce scream in pain as the crowd fell silent.
“I knew it was the same knee that he just came back from,” Crowder said. “I knew it was serious. Then the screaming that I heard and everybody else heard really shut me down.”
Guard Reggie Smith said it was hard to celebrate the victory.
“We weren’t really excited about the win,” Smith said. “We were more concerned about Joe. After our huddle, we said ‘Joe’ on three. He’s a really important part of our team. If he can’t play, of course we have to move on, but it’s a big loss for us.”
Blue was the Golden Eagles’ biggest bright spot. He got off to a hot start, scoring nine of the Golden Eagles’ first 14 points.
It’s a big week for Blue, a freshman from Madison, Wis., who will face in-state rival Wisconsin—the school he originally committed to—on Saturday at the Bradley Center.
“He’s just so active,” Williams said. “His activity on both ends of the floor leads to good things. I think he’s beginning to have more comfort in using his aggressiveness within how we want to play on both ends, and that’s really positive. And I think he’s even going to get better.”
Williams was less impressed with the play of freshman forward Davante Gardner, one of the players who would likely have to pick up the slack if Fulce is lost for an extended period.
“I thought he was really bad,” Williams said. “He picked up two fouls in the first half, reaching in on a ball screen. I didn’t think he was very good. I was glad he got to play, because he’s going to have to play, especially if Joe’s out.”
Demond Watt had 17 points and eight rebounds for the Islanders (3-6). Justin Reynolds had nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
The Golden Eagles held the Islanders scoreless for a stretch of nearly four minutes at the end of the first half, going on a 13-0 run to take a 48-17 lead at halftime.
Marquette held a moment of silence before the game for former coach Hank Raymonds, who died of cancer on Monday.