Let's be honest. Marquette came into the weekend with a record of 6-18. Their only chance at the postseason was going to be a miracle run in the, so that meant that the two games over the weekend would be the final two home games of the collegiate careers of Cristina Bigica, Chelsie Butler, Arlesia Morse, and Apiew Ojulu. On Friday, the game against St. John's slipped away from them late, and it ended in a 64-52 loss to the Red Storm.
That left Sunday's game against a Seton Hall that had earned their way into the women's coaches' poll at #24 back on Monday. The Pirates had moved themselves into first place in the Big East on Friday night with an 81-80 win over DePaul, and earlier this season, Marquette got cracked quickly by the Pirates en route to a 30 point loss, so things may not have looked very positive for the Golden Eagles to get one last home win.
But that's why they play the games.
Four Golden Eagles scored in double digits, including 22 points from Arlesia Morse and 13 from Chelsie Butler as they held on to stun RV/#24 Seton Hall on Senior Day, 73-70.
No one's going to confused what happened at the McGuire Center on Sunday for a representation of everything that's perfect about basketball. Neither team had an effective field goal percentage over 43%, and Marquette was punting the ball away on a quarter of their possessions. But, the Golden Eagles took a shocking 14 point lead into the half behind 15 points from Morse and 11 from Butler. The lead would eventually balloon to 17 points at 51-34 just short of two minutes into the second half, but that didn't mean Seton Hall was going to give up.
The Pirates mounted a comeback, spurred by a 13-0 run to cut the lead down to just four points before an and-1 layup from Kenisha Bell cut SHU off. The good news for Marquette is that this run took six minutes off the clock, so that did them a favor as far as managing the rest of the game. From there, the Golden Eagles would bounce back, and Seton Hall would answer. The lead went back to seven, then back down to three. Back to six, then down to just two. The Pirates would never get closer than two points, though, as the Golden Eagles always found a way to answer. Even in the final 80 seconds, when Seton Hall was fouling to extend the game, the Pirates wouldn't find a way to capitalize on Marquette missing three of their eight free throw attempts. The Pirates got one last chance at a game tying shot when they trapped Arlesia Morse along the sideline and forced a turnover, but they never got a clean hold on the ball and never officially got a shot off.
The win moves Marquette to 3-12 in Big East play this season, while dropping Seton Hall to 11-3 and back into second place behind DePaul. While 3-12 sounds really bad, we have to point out that Marquette is 3-3 since moving to the second track through the conference. It's been a long, largely ugly first season for head coach Carolyn Kieger, but it's hard to not look at the last three weekends where Marquette has lost on Friday and won on Sunday and see that her coaching and system is starting to take hold with her team. It's almost too bad that she only has three games left before losing a full 40% of her current roster heading to next season.
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We haven't talked about Marquette's loss to St. John's on Friday night at all, so we need to do that. Marquette was competitive with St. John's in their first meeting, and the same was the case back on Friday night. The Golden Eagles played well through the first 28 minutes of the game, and even led by five at one point late in the first half. But by the 12 minute mark of the second half, the Johnnies had already started a 16-0 run that effectively ended this game. The Golden Eagles committed six turnovers during that run to contribute to their inability to break the run, with two coming from both Shantelle Valentine and Tia Elbert.
Once Marquette broke than run by the Red Storm, though, it was a competitive game again. In fact, Marquette outscored St. John's 15-11 over the final eight minutes of the game. They just couldn't hold on to the game, and quite literally the ball, and that cost them the game.
In case you were wondering, yes, I am letting Sunday's result color my assessment of Friday's loss. It's hard to not be positive about what's going on with this team when you're remembering 10 straight losses in Big East play earlier this season.
Tia Elbert led Marquette with 15 points while coming off the bench, while Chelsie Butler also had 11 points as a reserve. St. John's was led by a double-double from Aliyyah Handford, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Up Next: Marquette finishes out the season with three straight road games, and they'll get their worst road trip of the year this weekend. They'll play Providence (5-20, 2-12 Big East) on Friday night, and then travel out to Nebraska to take on Creighton (15-10, 8-6) on Sunday afternoon.