LAHAINA, Hawaii — The Rams (2-2) allowed an offensive rebound to every Marquette Golden Eagle who saw action in Monday morning’s 94-83 loss in the first round of the Maui Invitational.
“Long shots, long rebounds,” VCU head coach Mike Rhoades said of what he imparted to his young squad. “You’ve got to hold your block-outs. If you can’t get the rebounds, the guy you’re blocking out sure can.”
VCU ultimately allowed 15 offensive rebounds, yielding 22 second-chance points to Marquette.
“It broke our spirit,” sophomore guard Malik Crowfield said.
Sophomore guard Markus Howard led the Golden Eagles in scoring, with 22 points. Last year’s Big East Sixth Man of the Year — senior Andrew Rowsey — chipped in 20 for Marquette’s backcourt.
“Guys want to ball out, but you’ve got to get stops at the defensive end,” Rhoades said. “You’ve got to go eat. You’ve got to get that ball. … I think we cut our own throats.”
The Rams forced five turnovers in the game’s first four minutes en route to a 10-3 lead.
“I thought, early in the game, their press really put us back,” Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski said.
The Golden Eagles promptly posted 12 straight points to establish a buffer that they enjoyed for nearly the rest of the game.
“We didn’t rebound,” Rhoades said. When you rebound, “it’s almost like a turnover.”
The 94 points allowed are a season-high for VCU. Marquette did not succumb to attrition. Despite forcing 17 turnovers, the Rams were outscored, 15-8, on fast-breaks.
“The main thing is … handling the pressure,” Marquette sophomore forward Sam Hauser said. “We knew, once we broke the press, we could get three-on-twos, two-on-ones”
The Rams are the latest victims of an undefeated run in the Maui Invitational for Wojciechowski. The former-Duke point guard won the tournament as its most-valuable player in 1997, then three times as an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski, with the Blue Devils.
“He told us, he hasn’t lost a game here, so don’t lose this game,” Hauser said.
Wojciechowski acknowledged that VCU’s reputation precedes it nowadays.
“They put outstanding pressure on you for 40 minutes,” Wojciechowski said, adding that this was “a really high-level basketball game, this early in the season.”
Crowfield paced the Rams in scoring for the first time this season, tallying 17 points.
“I just had to find the open window, and Johnny Williams was going to find me,” Crowfield said of his senior point guard.
Williams had trouble gaining traction in the first half. He picked up three early fouls and played just six minutes before halftime.
“I wanted to stay aggressive, but had to stay smart,” Williams said, taking responsibility for his foul trouble. “I apologize to the team.”
Williams saw 17 minutes of second-half action, earning only one additional foul.
Rhoades will look for the Rams to bring a more disciplined version of defense when the “golden” theme continues Tuesday versus the California Golden Bears — a feat which was not duplicated from Friday’s outing against UVA.
“We’ve gotta have better carryover from practice to games, and game to game,” Rhoades said of his inexperienced team.
The Rams will have less than 24 hours to refocus before embarking on a 4 p.m. tip on Nov. 21. The game will air on ESPN2.