Marquette puts away Wake Forest in second half

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Marquette needed Robert Jackson and Scott

Merritt to be at their best.

The two post players certainly were, combining for 35 points,

and Dwyane Wade had 18, including a memorable 1,000th point, as Marquette (No. 14 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) beat Wake Forest (No. 15, No. 14) 68-61 on Sunday, the Golden Eagles' 28th consecutive home victory.

"I would say it was (their best game) because they had to guard

really good (players)," Marquette coach Tom Crean said, referring

to Jackson and Merritt.

Jackson had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Merritt added 16

points and nine rebounds as Marquette won its ninth straight game

and ended Wake Forest's four-game winning streak.

Wade's milestone came on a breakaway dunk, his third of the

game, that was part of an 8-0 run that gave Marquette (17-3) a

53-43 lead. Wake Forest (16-3) closed within four points twice over

the final two minutes before the Golden Eagles wrapped it up from

the free throw line.

Fans chanted "One more year," an obvious reference to the

possibility of Wade jumping to the NBA after completing his

sophomore season.

"They always chant 'One more year' but I've got two more years

left," Wade said.

Then, asked if that meant he was coming back for certain in

2003-04, Wade said, "No comment."

Josh Howard scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and

Taron Downey added 10 for the Demon Deacons, who average 81 points

a game.

Wake Forest scored the first five points of the second half, all

by Jamaal Levy, to take its only lead at 31-29. Marquette scored

the next 11, starting with two field goals by Jackson and ending

with Travis Diener's 3-pointer for a 40-31 lead.

Wake Forest answered with a 7-0 run to close within two. Then,

when it was 45-43, Merritt scored consecutive baskets and Wade's

slam made it 51-43. The run was capped by two free throws by

Merritt as Marquette built its biggest lead.

It proved to be enough to hold off the Deacons.

"Every time we made a run, they answered," Wake Forest coach

Skip Prosser said.

The Golden Eagles led by as many as seven points and didn't

trail the entire first half, which ended 29-26. Wake Forest stayed

close despite foul problems on center Eric Williams, who had three

called against him, two within 20 seconds. Williams played only 23

minutes, fouling out with 2:06 left after scoring four points.

The Deacons lost despite outrebounding Marquette 48-35 as Levy

grabbed 12 and Howard 10.

But Wake Forest shot only 33 percent (22-of-66), failing to take

advantage of a 37 percent (21-for-57) effort by Marquette. The

Deacons also had 17 turnovers to Marquette's 12.

"I thought both teams guarded hard and you could see that in

the shooting percentages," Prosser said.

Crean said the game's festive atmosphere with an announced crowd

of 17,370 had "a March feel to it."

"It was a hard-fought game and we knew it would be," he said.

"It's the best team we've played this year. ... And that's what

makes this win so special for us. It was a great win."