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Marquette Women's Basketball Splits A Weekend Against Xavier & Butler

After a 10 game losing streak, I'll take it!

Arlesia Morse is now leading the country in free throw percentage at 93%.
Arlesia Morse is now leading the country in free throw percentage at 93%.
Maggie Bean/

On Friday night in Cincinnati, Marquette women's basketball lost to Xavier, 91-72.  The Golden Eagles reversed their fortunes 40 hours later when they knocked off Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse, 77-74 in double overtime.  Since Marquette moved to the back half of the Big East schedule, the Golden Eagles have gone a surprising 2-2.  Well, surprising at least relative to the 0-9 in the front half.

In the first game of the weekend, Marquette and Xavier traded runs to open up the game.  The Musketeers went first, jumping out to a 12-3 lead, but MU's own run of 11-4 knocked that lead down to just two points.  From there, it was back and forth until Xavier slowly built the lead into double digits over the final five minutes of the half.  A bucket from McKayla Yentz as time ran out made the lead just eight at the half, and for the first few minutes of the second half, Marquette kept the margin right around 10 points.  A pair of free throws from Briana Glover at the 15:32 mark pushed the lead into double digits for good, and it just kept drifting away from the Golden Eagles from there.  It was never a big run by Xavier, but by the time it got to the 3:30 mark, Xavier had pushed it all the way to a 20 point lead.

Rebounding and free throws were the big problems for Marquette in the game.  Xavier grabbed up 47% of their missed shots which allowed them to counteract shooting 46% in the game.  On top of that, MU put the Musketeers at the free throw line 34 times in the game.  They made 28 of them, accounting for more than 30% of their total points with the clock stopped.

Kenisha Bell led MU in scoring with 19 points on 5-11 shooting.  Arlesia Morse and Tia Elbert chipped in 12 and 10 points respectively, and Apiew Ojulu had nine points and nine rebounds.  Glover was the top scorer for Xavier with 26 points on 10-15 shooting.  Jenna Crittendon recorded a double-double on 17 points and 11 rebounds.

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After Marquette got womped by an Xavier team that they played close at the Al McGuire Center, I didn't hold out a lot of hope for Sunday's contest at Butler.  After all, MU had played the Bulldogs close in Milwaukee as well.  But, as I kept an eye on the Big East Digital Network while watching Marquette's women's lacrosse team play a thriller against Johns Hopkins, women's hoops was always within shouting distance of the Bulldogs, if not actually leading the game.  After Butler took a 9-2 lead, Marquette reasserted themselves.  The Golden Eagles would lead by as many as six in the first half on a layup by Kenisha Bell before holding onto a halftime margin of just one point.

Marquette would lead by as many as five in the second half before Butler would bounce back to turn it into a see-saw.  A layup from Belle Obert gave the Bulldogs a lead with 2:34 left in regulation, but Arlesia Morse would answer with one of her own with just 67 seconds left.  Both teams would have a chance to win it, but Loryn Goodwin missed a shot and then fouled out of the game, and then Morse launched a contested triple with seven seconds left in a tie game, and unsurprisingly, things went to overtime.

Two free throws from Cristina Bigica opened the extra session scoring, and two more freebies from Morse with 12 seconds left gave MU a lead.  Lexus Murray missed Butler's chance at tying, but Murray also snagged it back from Shantelle Valentine's rebounding arms, which led to a feed to Ijeoma Uchendu to force another extra session.

Marquette took a five point lead with 2:10 left in double overtime, but they wouldn't hit another field goal for the rest of the game.  Layups from Uchendu and Murray cut the lead to just one, and after Bell turned it over with 53 seconds to play, things didn't look good for the Golden Eagles.  But Uchendu missed the ensuing layup and Morse grabbed the rebound.  That led to the first of six free throws in the final 40 seconds for the Golden Eagles, as Butler kept missing their shots and needing to foul to try to get the ball back.  Marquette would drain five of those six, and only a last second three-pointer from Sydney Buck made the final score look closer than it really was.

Uchendu had a game high 27 points in the loss, while also snagging 13 rebounds as well.  Morse was the top performer for Marquette with 18 points, six rebounds, and four assists.  Bigica added 12 points and 11 rebounds to the winning cause.

Up Next: Believe it or not, it's time for Senior Night already.  MU closes out the home schedule this weekend with games against St. John's (16-7, 7-5 Big East) on Friday and Seton Hall (21-3, 10-2 Big East) on Sunday.  From there, they'll finish the season with three road games.  Friday's contest with the Red Storm will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.