No one is going to confuse what happened last night for an offensive exhibition. Both Marquette and Providence finished with an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) under 37%, and if you look at the splits for the first and second half, only PC's first half effort managed to go over 40%. But while neither team was hitting a lot of shots, Marquette was doing an excellent job making sure they got as many chances as possible to put the ball through the net, grabbing 49% of their misses for a total of 27 offensive rebounds in the game. Marquette's extra chances helped them build a three point lead at halftime before holding on to win by nine.
With that said, things didn't look great for Marquette against last place Providence in the early going. The Friars built a nine point lead in the early going, and after consecutive three pointers from Chelsie Butler and Arlesia Morse, PC built the lead back to eight points with just under seven minutes to play in the half. That's when Marquette engineered a 12-2 run to take a two point lead. Morse had a three pointer and a free throw and Katherine Plouffe had two of her seven first half buckets as a part of the run, including Plouffe's layup that gave Marquette their first lead of the game at 28-27. PC would briefly take the lead back on an Evi Iiskola layup, but MU would forge ahead to their three point halftime advantage.
MU would not trail at all in the second half, and for a while, it looked like Marquette was going to run away with the game. Cristina Bigica capped off an 11-1 run in the middle of the second stanza that pushed MU's lead all the way to 15 points. But the Golden Eagles would struggle to put the ball in the net after that, and slowly but surely, Providence climbed back in, and a jumper from Tori Rule made the lead only six with 2:34 left. The next six points came off the hands of Golden Eagles: a layup by Bigica, a pair of free throws from Katie Young, and a jumper by Butler, and then MU led by 12 again. Rule would again rear her head with 55 seconds left as she buried a three pointer to make the lead only seven. Morse calmly stepped to the free throw line twice in the final minute, and buried four free throws to ice the game away. Morse's first pair pushed her to the 1,000 point plateau, the 24th player in Marquette women's basketball history to hit that mark.
Somehow, I got through all of this without even mentioning Plouffe's double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds) or Young's near miss (nine points, 15 rebounds).
Abbie Willenborg Player of the Game: Six for six from the line in the second half, including those four to lock the game away, so how can I give it to anyone else but Arlesia Morse? The junior guard finished with a team high 18 points, and added five rebounds, an assist, and a steal, not to mention that career scoring milestone as well.
Clare Barnard Undersung Eagle of the Game: I don't know what it was that kept her out of last Saturday's contest against Butler, but Chelsie Butler was back in uniform for this game. The junior center had nine points on 4-8 shooting and grabbed five rebounds off the bench. At 6'5", she can provide a unique advantage for Marquette off the bench, and if she's being productive, it gives Marquette that one extra weapon that can make them dangerous.
Up Next: Marquette returns home to host Xavier (8-16, 3-9 Big East) on Saturday afternoon at noon. It's Double X National Marquette Day, and if you have a ticket for Saturday's men's game, you can get in to the women's game against the Musketeers for free!