FREEBURG — Pushed to the limit by Gibault throughout the second half Saturday, the Marquette Explorers held on to claim their second straight championship at the Freeburg-Columbia Holiday Tournament.
Marquette got 22 points from tourney MVP Jake Coddington and defeated the Hawks 59-56.
Gibault (12-2) trailed by 10 at halftime, but refused to go away and took a 44-42 lead into the fourth quarter. The Hawks stayed within one on a late 3-pointer by Wes Degener, but Marquette's D'Tae McMurray hit two free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining to push the lead back to three.
Gibault had a chance to tie, but Mitch Meyer's spinning 3-pointer at the buzzer while fighting off a defender was well off the mark as the Explorers (10-2) held on.
Coddington led Marquette with 22 points, none bigger than his power move to the rim that led to a 3-point play with 55.8 seconds remaining.
That moved the Marquette lead from one point to four.
"The other night was the first time we were down at halftime and this was probably the first time we'd been down in the fourth quarter," Marquette coach Steve Medford said. "We battled there and hit a couple big shots, but overall I thought their defensive intensity was better than ours tonight.
"It was a big win for us and Gibault's going to be an awfully tough out come later on in February and March (in the playoffs)."
The 6-foot-6 Coddington was a difference-maker --as he's been all season for the Explorers.
He scored 13 of his 22 points in the first half, then stepped up with five points in the fourth quarter with the game on the line.
"It felt really great, especially to come in and repeat as defending champions here," Coddington said. "It's a good tournament with a lot of good teams, especially Gibault. They played a good game."
The Hawks had their hands full with the Explorers' potent 3-point attack, but they had little luck dealing with Coddington inside.
"Their guards were really playing some good defense out there and not giving us any easy shots, so we were just trying to get it down (inside)," Coddington said.
Marquette wanted to push the pace early and the Explorers got what they wanted with two quick baskets that forced Gibault to call an early time-out.
The Explorers drained eight of their first 10 shots on the way to a 20-9 lead before the Hawks finally gained some traction on defense and offense.
Gibault responded with an 11-2 run that cut Marquette's lead to 22-20 in the second quarter. But all that energy took a toll as the Hawks scored just two more points before halftime and the Explorers regained control with a 34-24 lead following a 3-pointer from the baseline by McMurray.
McMurray finished with 15 points and Mike Williams-Bey added nine.
Marquette's lead reached 12 points early in the third quarter, but Gibault got 11 straight points from Matt Schreder to claw back to within one, 36-35.
Schreder had all but four of his 18 points in the second half, hitting five of six shots and three free throws. Degener topped Gibault with 19 points.
A 3-pointer by Gibault guard Mitch Meyer gave the Hawks their first lead of the night late in the third quarter. A hook shot by Degener sent Gibault into the fourth quarter leading 44-42.
"They're a very god team and probably the best competition we've faced all year, so a 3-point loss was pretty good for us," Schreder said. "We think we can compete with anyone out there."
Waterloo 53, Murphysboro 32
Finally finding the offensive rhythm it had lacked much of the tournament, Waterloo rolled past Murphysboro in the third-place game.
The Bulldogs (8-5) jumped out to leads of 14-4 and 19-6 and never looked back, getting and hitting high-percentage shots with balanced scoring.
Shane Lenhardt had 13 points and Justin Kretchmer added 12, with Rick Wiegand contributing eight on an 18-for-32 shooting night for Waterloo (56 percent).
"We just haven't come out of the gate very well and finally did," Waterloo coach C.J. Cruser. "We didn't have to come from behind for once, it was kind of nice to get out to a lead and play with a lead. The shot selection was excellent tonight, I don't think we really took any forced shots. Our shot selection was very good and the offense ran pretty well."
Waterloo executed well offensively throughout much of the first half, continuing finding shot openings inside for Lenhardt and Kretchmer.
The Bulldogs built a 12-4 lead and stretched it to 19-6 before the Red Devils hit a shot just before the first half ended.
Murphysboro (6-7) got eight points each from Kane Wilson and Diamante Bradley.
Freeburg 56, Columbia 47
In a a rematch of a game from Dec. 14 that Columbia won by one point, Freeburg (5-8) gained some revenge by knocking off the Eagles (8-5) in the fifth-place game. It wasn't easy in what was an intense game throughout, but Freeburg got 16 points from Eric McDonald, 15 from Jacob Mueller and 14 from Justin Diecker. Columbia's top scorer was Connor Mallinckrodt with 12 points.
Civic Memorial 48, Lebanon 23
Lebanon fell behind 20-3 in the seventh-place game and never recovered as the Civic Memorial Eagles (7-7) blasted the Greyhounds (6-7). CM senior guard Kyle Yates had 11 points while Lebanon's Zach Grob had nine.
Metro-East Lutheran 54, Dupo 45
Energetic Metro-East Lutheran sophomore guard John Batts erupted for 27 points as the Knights (5-11) defeated Dupo for ninth place. Dupo (4-10) got 14 points from senior Matt McDonald.
Valmeyer 52, Hillsboro 48
Valmeyer (1-11) broke into the win column for the first time this season, knocking off Hillsboro in the 11th place game. Zach Williams led the Pirates with 12 points, while Luke Andres had 11 and Ryan Unterseh 10. Hillsboro's 6-7 sophomore Dylan Miller had a game-high 22 points
Contact reporter Norm Sanders at email@example.com or 239-2454.