In the preview of this game, I thought that given that the SEC coaches thought that Vanderbilt was the fourth best team in a league that already has six teams ranked in both polls, Marquette might struggle to replicate the 90 point performances they put up against Wake Forest and Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
While they didn't actually get to 90 points again, it's safe to say that they didn't struggle to try to replicate it. Marquette shot 45% for the game and 40% behind the arc as they recorded 82 points to knock off #25 Vanderbilt in Nashville on Sunday afternoon. Katherine Plouffe paced the Golden Eagles with 16 points as a well balanced Marquette offense boasted five players with 10 or more points. Vanderbilt was led by 30 points from Christina Foggie, and while they had four players in double digits, you either scored in double digits for the Commodores or you only scored 2 points yesterday.
For the majority of the first half, Marquette was right there with Vanderbilt. The opening 20 minutes featured five ties and seven lead changes. It also had 33 personal fouls, with 20 of those coming against the Golden Eagles. At the 6:49 mark of the first half, Plouffe, Ashley Santos, Arlesia Morse, and Apiew Ojulu already had two fouls, but MU was clinging to a 1 point lead. By the end of the half, only Katie Young and Courtney Thomas didn't have two fouls, and the only thing that stopped the game from appearing to be completely out of control was a three pointer by Young with eight seconds left that made the halftime deficit only 11.
But whatever it was that head coach Terri Mitchell said at halftime, it worked like wildfire. A 9-0 run over the first 4:17 of the second half capped off by an old fashioned three point play by Morse had the Golden Eagles trailing by only two points again. The Commodores would repeatedly push the lead back to eight points in the second half before a pair of free throws from Brooklyn Pumroy evened the game at 67 with 5:22 to play. The foul that sent Pumroy to the line was the fifth on Kylee Smith, and 37 seconds later, Morgan Batey committed her fifth foul as well, sending Cristina Bigica to the line where she gave Marquette their first lead since the fouls went out of control late in the first.
The Commodores would retie the game at 71 on two free throws from Foggie, but a three pointer from Morse gave the lead back to Marquette, a lead they would never relinquish. Vanderbilt missed three attempts from distance in the last 90 seconds of the game as Marquette went inside to Plouffe and Ojulu for baskets and hit four of six from the charity stripe as well to ice the game.
Abbie Willenborg Player of the Game: After only playing five minutes in the first half because of her fouls, Katherine Plouffe went the full 20 in the second half, and committed just one more foul. She finished with her third straight double-double on the season with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Plouffe added three assists and MU's lone steal, too.
Clare Barnard Undersung Eagle of the Game: Usually I try to focus on someone without a turnover here, as Marquette has an ongoing turnover problem. But with all the fouls, it's hard to isolate someone. Instead, I'll give this one to Brooklyn Pumroy. Sure, it's hard to be overlooked as the starting point guard, and yes, she only went 1-5 from the floor. But she saved that one make for a late three pointer to cut Vandy's lead to just three with eight and a half to play, and she buried 10 of her 12 free throw attempts. On top of her 13 points, she had eight assists against just two turnovers, and added three rebounds, too.
Up Next: Marquette returns home for two games before their Thanksgiving trip to Las Vegas. First up is Central Michigan on Thursday night at 7pm. The Chippewas are 1-1 on the season after a road loss to #7/#8 Kentucky and are in the midst of a run of six games out on the road before they play their home opener.