Off-target Eskymos sputter in loss

ESCANABA – Around the rim, in and out, airballs and off-target.

To say it wasn’t Escanaba’s night offensively would be an understatement. The Marquette Redmen took advantage of some major scoring droughts by the Eskymos in this Great Northern Conference matchup, Friday night, and their persistence paid off in the form of a 47-33 victory.

A choppy first quarter that ended with the score tied at 11-11 was brilliant compared to how the rest of the game went for the hard-luck Eskymos. They scored just five in the second quarter and seven in the third as they shot a horrific 22 percent (8-for-36) on the night.

“I was real happy with our energy level and defensive intensity. We wanted to match their toughness and physicality and we did that,” said Escanaba head coach Tracy Hudson. “The one thing we didn’t do well was score. They took some things away from us and it was hard for us to get into our full court press when we weren’t scoring.”

A lot of the credit for the Eskymos rough night deservedly went to the Redmen who stifled the Eskymos with their suffocating zone. Guards Andrew Nyquist and Bradley Brow excelled in rebounding and generating takeaways, including multiple times on the inbounds pass.

Marquette also benefitted hugely from getting second and third chances at the net while limiting the Eskymos’ offensive chances.

“Their length at their one, two and three spots really bothered our shooters,” said Hudson. “Nyquist, Brow, Burnette and Brazeau, they’re all long and quick and they always have that long arm on you. We can do a lot better offensively, but I think their defense had a lot to do with it.”

Despite the Eskymos’ troubles, it was by no means easy for Marquette.

Two of their key players got into early foul trouble and sat for large portions in the first half, which kept the Eskymos within striking distance.

“We had Larry Burnette and Kurt Burmeister sitting for basically the last 10-12 minutes of the first half, so we had to adapt on the fly and that’s something we prepared for in practice in case the situation happens.” said MSHS head coach Brad Nelson. “We had guys like Dakota Riopelle, Cam Grant and Brett Beauchamp make some huge plays for us, and having those guys come in and have quality minutes and produce is a huge boost for our confidence.”

Burnette and Nyquist had 11 points apiece for the Redmen, who shot 16-of-37 (43 percent) from the field. Nyquist added eight rebounds and three assists and Brow added seven rebounds. Burnette had five offensive boards.

Another monkey on the Redmen’s backs Friday night was their free throw shooting. The poor performance contributed to the close game and prevented Marquette from getting a comfortable gap as they went 13-of-29 from the line.

“Our free throw shooting was atrocious,” said Nelson. “Normally, it’s around 70 percent but for some reason tonight they weren’t falling. Hopefully that’s something we can forget about and move forward.”

Most impressively, Marquette threw virtually every Escanaba starter of their game, including leading scorer Brandon Robinette. Averaging 21.7 points per game coming in, he had a season low eight points. Last season, Marquette (8-0, 3-0 GNC) held the 6-foot-5 center to two points.

“That was the goal coming in, disrupt what they want to do,” said Nelson. “Offensively, everything goes through Brandon. We got into foul trouble so we had to adapt as far as how were going to do things and I thought our zone kind of disrupted things a little bit. We switched it up as much as we could and fortunately we snuck out with a win.”

One bright spot for the Eskymos was forward Jake Rodman who got the start and ran with it, scoring a career-high 12 points while playing a decent floor game.

“Jake Rodman was our silver lining tonight offensively,” said Hudson. “He did a good job and I was proud of the physicalness and quickness that he brought. I thought he had his best game as an Eskymo. The rest of us struggled.”