Let's just be honest about things here, okay? When you looked at Vanderbilt's record of 7-2 ahead of this game, your gut reaction was to favor the Commodores. When you looked a little deeper to find out that Vandy had beaten UW-Green Bay and Wisconsin, two teams that had blown out Marquette, you definitely leaned towards the SEC squad from Nashville. Finding out that one of Vanderbilt's losses was a neutral site blow out against national powerhouse Connecticut was just icing on the cake. I mean, everyone (except Stanford, I guess) loses to UConn, so you can't hold that against Vandy.
Marquette playing Vanderbilt relatively even through the first 8 minutes in front of 3,000 kids from Milwaukee Public Schools? Well, not terribly surprising, given how the first halves of the Auburn and Wisconsin games went. But back to back Shantelle Valentine buckets and then, shortly later, a Tia Elbert gave the Golden Eagles a 21-15 lead with 10 minutes gone. MU's next bucket came from long range off the hands of Elbert as well, and suddenly MU was in control of the game. The Golden Eagles would shoot 53% in the first half while holding Vanderbilt to just 39% and forced the Commodores to commit 10 turnovers as Marquette took a 45-34 lead at the half.
The aforementioned games against Wisconsin and Auburn fell apart in the second half. This time around, Marquette opened up the second half on a 10-4 run, capped off by an Arlesia Morse three-pointer to take a 55-38 lead. The Commodores are a good team, though, and they didn't go away. They started forcing the Golden Eagles into turnovers (30% turnover rate in the second half for both teams), and the 'Dores started evening out the shooting percentages for both ends of the court. Slowly, Vanderbilt worked their way back in. Rebekah Dahlman hit a three pointer just past the five minute mark, and suddenly, Marquette's lead was only four.
But Vanderbilt would not score again until there was just 18 seconds left in the game and that bucket by Morgan Batey made it 78-67, and the game was already over.
The win moves Marquette to 3-7 on the year and gives them their best and most complete performance of the season. Four Golden Eagles scored in double digits, including 14 apiece from Kenisha Bell, Tia Elbert, and Apiew Ojulu. Chelsie Butler just barely missed out on a double-double with nine points and a season high 10 rebounds. Vanderbilt got 13 points each from Dahlman and Kristen Gaffney.
Abbie Willenborg Player Of The Game: 14 points, six rebounds with three on either end, four assists, a block, a steal, and no turnovers. As I mentioned earlier, it was a complete performance from the Golden Eagles, but Apiew Ojulu had a complete performance all by herself.
Clare Barnard Undersung Eagle Of The Game: In her second career start, Shantelle Valentine played just 15 minutes. But she hit all three of her shots, including that big pair to give Marquette an advantage in the first half. She added a rebound as well and didn't commit a turnover, which is always an easy way to earn yourself Undersung status.
Up Next: Marquette's off til Sunday afternoon. They'll host Western Illinois at the McGuire Center starting at 2pm. The Fighting Leathernecks are 6-4 on the season, but they haven't played since a 63-54 home win over Eastern Illinois on December 12th.