Marquette's Nick Heman (24) is guarded by Greg Goebel (5) of Mater Dei at Marquette Catholic High School on Saturday night.

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ALTON - For a long time going on the road to face, the Marquette Explorers ended up being a losing endeavor for opponents.

The Explorers hadn’t lost a home game since February 19, 2016, to the Breese Central Cougars 38-36. Last night they played the other high school out of Breese, the Mater Dei Knights.

In a quality, back and forth, tight contest, it was the Knights who got the better of the Explorers 45-41 in a non-conference game on Saturday night in Alton.

Marquette falls to 15-2 and snaps an 18-game home winning streak.

“We’ve prided ourselves on the home court, and our guys compete. I’m really happy where the program’s at.” Marquette head coach Steve Medford said. “The ball didn’t fall in the basket for us. You have some of those games like that. We knew with [Mater Dei] we would have trouble scoring a little bit, but our guys kept battling and played hard defensively, and gave themselves a chance to win.”

Chris Hartrich and Brett Terry led Marquette with ten points each. Nick Hemann, who sat out most of the first half due to foul trouble scored all eight of his points in the second half. Junior shooting guard Spencer Cox added seven points.

With the victory, Mater Dei moves to 11-6 and have now won seven out of their last ten games.

“With the quality of a team and coaching they got here we’re fortunate to get out of here with a win,” Mater Dei head coach Ron Schadegg said. “If you can match their intensity, take away their back-door cuts, and defend as well as they do then you got a chance to be successful as long as you’re making shots on the other end. I’m proud of our guys.”

6-foot-3 senior forward Drew Dant had a game-high 15 points for the Knights. Caleb Zurliene followed with ten points while Mitchell Haake chipped in with nine.

The Knights led 9-5 heading into the second quarter and led by as many as 22-16. During the first half, Zurliene a 6-foot-4 junior threw down an athletic two-handed dunk as drove through an open lane to the basket.

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Hemann’s absence in the first half played a significant role in Marquette’s inability to get an offensive rhythm consistently.

“We had a hard time getting into a flow of anything on the offensive end,” Medford said. We rely on Nick a lot. He wasn’t himself tonight offensively, but I thought he still battled and got us back into the game.”

Marquette, who trailed 22-18 heading into the third quarter were able to come alive.

Midway through the quarter they were losing 26-20 but proceeded to go on a 13-2 run. A three-pointer by Cox gave the Explorers a 27-26 lead while Hemann scored six points during that run.

The Explorers led 33-28 as the fourth quarter started and had the momentum, but Mater Dei, within two minutes tied the game up by an and-1 and a go-ahead three-pointer all by Gant.

“We’re up five, we’re guarding pretty well and then we get back-doored, and they get an and-1,” Medford said. “It’s a two-point game, and if it’s five points and we get that rebound, I probably come down and melt the clock for a minute and a half.”

Marquette’s free throw shooting was off last night as they finished with a below average 3-of-11 from the line. In the second half, they attempted two foul shots and missed both while in the first half they got to the charity stripe early on, but weren’t able to fully take advantage.

“When you’re 3-of-11 from the free-throw line that tells the story of the game,” Medford said. “If we knock down some free throws we probably have control of the game.”

With 15 seconds to play, the Knights built up a 43-38 lead with Zurliene shooting two free throws, but missed them both. Hartrich then knocked down an off-balanced triple with 4.1 seconds to play. The Explorers fouled Jacob Schadegg with 3.1 to play, and he managed to ice the game by nailing both of his free throws.

Ron Schadegg believes his team’s strength of schedule played a significant role in them getting back into the game and ultimately winning in the final minutes. The Knights have gone up against 12 teams with winning records thus far this season.

“A lot of that is the quality of competition we play,” Schadegg said. “The preparation of playing teams everything game we schedule helps towards mid-to-the-end of the season, and it’s starting to show a little bit. We kept our composure and gave ourselves a chance to get back in the game and do something positive at the end. Give credit to our kids that responded and doing everything we asked them to do.”

Steven Spencer also contributed to this story.

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