After a day off on Saturday, Marquette women's basketball returned to FIU Arena on Sunday and emerged with a tournament title. Natisha Hiedeman scored 21 points and Erika Davenport came off the bench to post a double-double as Marquette defeated Richmond, 98-80. Marquette moves to 2-4 on the season with the win, while Richmond suffers their first defeat of the season and falls to 5-1.
In head coach Carolyn Kieger's second season, it seems that the Golden Eagles are turning into the high octane team that she wants to see. They played two games in Florida with more than 80 possessions each team, shot the ball like wildfire, and kept turnovers to a minimum. Now, quality of opponent may be in question. FIU was picked to finish towards the bottom of Conference USA, and while Richmond was undefeated coming in, they hadn't beaten anyone of note and was picked to finish in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic 10. The important issue is that this young team of eight freshmen and just two returning players are getting comfortable playing the way that Kieger wants them to play. Get comfortable with your style, win games, move forward.
The opening quarter was tightly contested until the Golden Eagles used a flurry of free throws and a three pointer from Hiedeman to bust the lead open to double digits. After Hiedeman briefly pushed it to 15 early in the second, the Spiders spent the rest of the frame keeping the game within striking distance. The teams went to the break with Marquette leading by 12 on a stickback by Davenport as time expired. The most impressive thing that Marquette did in that first half? They kept Richmond off the offensive glass. The Spiders missed 17 shots in the opening 20 minutes and got zero second chances. NONE. ZIPPO. SQUADOOSH.
To make up for letting Richmond get on the offensive glass in the second half, Marquette started blasting three pointers. They were fine in the first half, going 3-8, but MU took it to a new level in the second half, canning eight of 20 long range attempts. Three-pointers accounted for three of Marquette's first four baskets in the second half as they built the lead up to 16 points in the early goings. Richmond didn't go away, though, as Janelle Hubbard scored their first two baskets of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 11 points on each of the makes. MU responded to the second Hubbard basket with Allazia Blockton sandwiching an Amani Wilborn layup with two of her own, and the lead was suddenly back to 17. Marquette would not lead by fewer than 15 for the rest of the game.
Hiedeman was the scoring leader, but six different Golden Eagles scored at least 10 points. Blockton continued to add to the Rookie of the Year campaign with 18 points on 5-8 shooting, five rebounds, and two assists.
Up Next: MU returns home for their biggest test of the season so far. This is where we figure out how much progress Marquette has made over the past weekend, as they'll host Oregon State on Thursday night. The Beavers were ranked #7 in the country in last week's AP poll, and they moved their record to 5-0 over the weekend by winning a tournament in Puerto Rico.