Down 12 in their opening round WNIT matchup at the McGuire Center, the Golden Eagles' season seemed to be heading for a disappointing finish. Both Marquette and Northern Iowa had opened the match with lackluster shooting; however, once Jess McDowell sank two consecutive threes, the Panthers offense clicked and they cruised out to a halftime 32-24 lead then continued to dominate in the second.
But with just over eight minutes left on the clock, the Golden Eagles went on a 15-2 run to go up 57-56 on Northern Iowa. It was Marquette's first lead of the night, but it was short-lived. The Panthers, who had built their lead on 11 makes from behind the arc, buried another triple to go ahead again. An Apiew Ojulu bucket knotted the score back up with 25 seconds and change to go, but Northern Iowa burned all but 3 seconds off the clock before scoring on a put back and a last second heave by Brooklyn Pumroy was too short to save Marquette's season.
It's been a rough season for the Golden Eagles at home: they've only won twice at home since Big East play started January 5th. The only breaks the team has caught were literal: nine players missed at least a game due to injury. In spite of that and Friday's game ending with another L for Marquette, the fight in this team leaves at least this fan feeling that the season ended on an up note and that next year will be better.
Abbie Willenborg Player Of The Game: A team leading 16 points, 2 blocks, and SIX steals: Sarina Simmons, you are a rock star who will be greatly missed. Thank you for the last four years.
Clare Barnard Undersung Eagle Of The Game: Ah, hell with it. We've only got one senior this year, she gets this one, too. Simmons became the 22nd player in team history to reach the 1,000 career points plateau earlier this season. After Friday's night performance, she now sits in sixth place in career steals. Unfortunately, we fear that her accomplishments will be underappreciated as her last two seasons have been played with a struggling young team plagued by injuries.