The Golden Eagles opened up a 13-1 lead to start Monday afternoon's home opener, but eventually took a 60-55 loss to IUPUI on Milwaukee Public Schools Day at the Al McGuire Center.
The story of the game, pure and simple, was Marquette's fouls. The Golden Eagles committed THIRTY-ONE fouls in the game, including 19 in the second half alone. Four of Marquette's starters fouled out of the game as IUPUI took 26 free throws in the second half to turn a halftime deficit of 30-27 into a win for the visitors. Yes, 10 of those free throws came in the final 41 seconds as Marquette attempted to extend the game to try to find a way to win, but the 16 freebies that IUPUI shot in the second half before that was still more than MU shot in the entire game.
If I could point to something else that was working for IUPUI to pick up the win on Monday, I'd love to do it. But the Jaguars shot just 34% from the field and just 2-16 from long range. Marquette won the rebounding battle, 48-40, and the Golden Eagles had a heavy advantage on the offensive rebound rate, too. MU snared 39% of their (many) misses, while IUPUI was only getting to 29% of theirs.
The first two Golden Eagles to foul out were junior McKayla Yentz and sophomore Shantelle Valentine, with the FTs from Yentz's foul being the points that gave IUPUI the lead for good with 3:08 remaining. That left Marquette's eight freshmen to finish the game, and they almost did it. Allazia Blockton had two buckets after Valentine went out, including a triple that cut the lead to just one with 12 seconds left. MU ended up with a chance to tie it after a foul to get the ball back, but the final prayer of an attempt to salvage the win came to Amani Wilborn, and her three pointer try - her first of the game and second of the season - missed, leaving IUPUI to ice the game with two more at the line.
With just two upperclasswomen on the roster, Marquette's not going to start playing like a winning basketball team until the freshmen hit the comfort level where they can take over. That's not a slight on Yentz or Valentine, who admittedly haven't had much more experience than the newbies. But the freshmen have to occupy at least 120 minutes of playing team each and every night, and for Carolyn Kieger to start picking up wins (her next one will be her 10th career W), the freshmen need to develop into providers.
Up Next: It's going to be a while before Marquette is going to get to try to succeed with the sound of a home crowd behind them. They're on the road for their next two, starting with Northern Kentucky (2-0) this Saturday afternoon, and they'll visit Florida International for a tournament after that. Marquette's next home game isn't until December 3rd.