MILWAUKEE – Ethan Happ spent the better part of his 5-minute stay in the Fiserv Forum interview room Saturday evening with his arms folded as he leaned back in his chair.
There was a look of pure anger on Happ’s face and, when he finally got the chance to talk, the best player on the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team confirmed that was the exact emotion he was feeling.
When a reporter asked about Happ’s big stat line in the No. 12 Badgers’ 74-69 overtime loss to Marquette – the senior center finished with a career-high 34 points to go along with 11 rebounds – he made it clear the bottom line was all that mattered.
“I’m just pissed off (about) the loss,” Happ said. “It doesn’t matter what happens during the game if you don’t get the win.”
There were multiple reasons UW (8-2) lost the 125th installment of this in-state rivalry, including poor shooting from both the free throw line and 3-point range. More on that later.
But another key factor was that Marquette’s best player got a lot of help from his supporting cast, while Happ was left to carry the load mostly by himself.
Wisconsin State Journal reporter Jim Polzin asked Badgers fans on Twitter what they thought of No. 12 Wisconsin's 74-69 overtime loss to the M…
Happ, to his credit, didn’t point any fingers afterward and seemed more upset by his own mistakes. But while he was going 16 of 21 from the field and providing nearly half of UW’s scoring, his teammates produced a combined 35 points on 11-of-33 shooting.
“Ethan Happ, there’s only so much you can do with that guy, he’s an All-American for a reason,” Marquette’s Sam Hauser said. “He’s going to get his, you’ve just got to try to limit the other guys around him.”
Junior guard Markus Howard scored a team-high 27 points for Marquette (8-2), though it took him 29 field goal attempts to reach that total. His shooting struggles were easy to look past because he went 12 of 15 from the free throw line and did a brilliant job defending D’Mitrik Trice.
Howard helped limit Trice to only eight field goal attempts overall, and the UW sophomore point guard went 1 of 6 from 3-point range while finishing with 10 points.
“That’s as big a story as any in this game is our defense on him, because that kid has played lights-out basketball early in the season,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said of Trice, who was shooting 60 percent from beyond the arc coming into the game. “And he’s done it against just a whale of a schedule.”
The 12th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers men's basketball team lost to the Marquette Golden Eagles, 74-69, in overtime on Saturday at the Fiserv Foru…
On the offensive end, Howard got a lot of help from a pair of Wisconsin-born siblings.
A decision that could haunt UW for years – it certainly did Saturday – was not offering Sam Hauser a scholarship when Bo Ryan was still in charge of the program. The junior forward finished with 13 points, a career-high 14 rebounds, four assists and no turnovers in 41 minutes against the Badgers.
“In my opinion, Sam’s one of the most underappreciated players in the United States,” Wojciechowski said. “Sam is all about winning.”
Letting the Golden Eagles scoop up the older Hauser essentially sealed UW’s fate with his younger brother. Joey Hauser, a freshman forward, hit a pair of big 3-pointers in the second half, made the first basket in overtime and finished with 15 points.
Junior forward Ed Morrow even gave the Golden Eagles an unexpected boost. The transfer from Nebraska sent a shot attempt from Happ into the stands in the final minute of regulation and gave the Golden Eagles a 69-65 lead with 2:14 remaining in overtime when he somehow scored in traffic after keeping the possession alive with two offensive rebounds.
Morrow also made two big free throws down the stretch after Marquette had missed six in a row from the line.
UW had even bigger issues from the line, going 10 of 21. Happ continued his struggles from that spot, missing three of his five attempts, but the biggest surprise was that two of the Badgers’ most reliable free throw shooters combined to miss five times in the second half.
After Trice was fouled on a 3-point attempt early in the half with UW leading by three points, he only made one of the attempts.
And sophomore guard Brad Davison, a 91-percent foul shooter entering the game, went 0 of 3. He missed two attempts with UW trailing by a point and 5:36 remaining, and missed the front end in a bonus situation with the Badgers leading by one with 4:09 left.
“It happens,” UW coach Greg Gard said. "You have two (good) free throw shooters go there and we leave five points on the table, so we have to be able to overcome that. You don’t want it to happen. They’ve iced so many games for us and made so many big free throws that you definitely want those two guys on the line.”
Meanwhile, the Badgers went 5 of 24 from 3-point range after shooting 41.6 percent from beyond the arc through their first nine games.
The Golden Eagles gave the Badgers every chance to get back in the game by missing free throws in overtime, but sophomore forward Nate Reuvers (11 points), Davison and junior guard Brevin Pritzl all failed to convert from the perimeter.
“I thought we had some good ones and I thought we had the right shooters for the most part taking them,” Gard said of his team’s 19 misses from behind the arc. “You have to be able to find other ways to survive days like that when the ball doesn’t go in.”
In addition to its poor shooting, UW gave up 14 offensive rebounds and committed 13 turnovers. And after showing some great composure in close road wins over Xavier and Iowa earlier in the season, the Badgers had too many self-inflicted wounds to overcome on Saturday.
Marquette, meanwhile, was a picture of poise. It’s no wonder Happ was so irritated.
“Just staying cool, calm and collected,” Joey Hauser said, “was kind of our M.O. the whole game.”