Marquette rallied back from a halftime deficit to tie things up at 62 with 3:40 to play, but they never broke through with a lead. Xavier came away from the Al McGuire Center with a 74-71 win behind a 23 point effort from Raeshaun Gaffney.
With 11:54 left in the first half, Xavier picked up their sixth team foul, letting Marquette shoot free throws on that foul, and every foul thereafter. The Musketeers had a 23-13 lead at that point. Marquette would get whistled for their 6th foul with 4:17 remaining in the half. At that point, Xavier led 39-27. With the chance to shoot free throws on every foul for over seven and a half minutes, Marquette was never able to get closer than four points and ended up letting the lead increase by two.
You never want to assign a specific moment or play to a reason why a game ends up going one way or another, but a seven minute long run where the Golden Eagles couldn't take advantage of their foul situation? That certainly had an impact on the game. Xavier's depth may have played a factor here. 10 different Musketeers played in the opening frame, and only three XU players finished the first half with two fouls.
Two statistics played a role the outcome on Tuesday night. With the exception of a largely pointless desperation heave by Arlesia Morse with less than a second left, Marquette did not hit any three pointers while the game. That's nine straight misses to start the game, four in the first half, and five in the second half. That's why the Golden Eagles struggled to score. The reason why they came storming back from the deficit was 27 turnovers by the Musketeers, including 17 in the second half. 16 of Marquette's second half points came off of turnovers, for nearly a point per possession, which isn't too shabby.
Abbie Willenborg Player of the Game: I don't like to default to taking the leading scorer here, but this one goes to Kenisha Bell. 19 points on 6-14 shooting (including just one missed three-point attempt) and a 7-10 effort from the line, plus three rebounds, four steals, a block, and three assists. When she's playing under control, she can be the far and away best player on the court for the Golden Eagles. When she's not, she gets into the air in the lane and throws the ball directly to an Xavier player, as she did in the closing minute of play here.
Clare Barnard Undersung Eagle of the Game: With only seven minutes of playing time, Shantelle Valentine made the most of it. She drained her lone shot attempt and grabbed three minutes. I can understand why head coach Carolyn Kieger is reluctant to go with three freshmen on the floor for large swaths of time, but Valentine appears to be Marquette's most athletic player with size, and that might be really what the Golden Eagles need.
Up Next: The Golden Eagles hit the road for the first time in Big East play. They'll be in Washington, D.C., on Friday to take on Georgetown (2-11). That game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 starting at 6:30pm Central.