It had been nearly a month since the Golden Eagles played at home, beating Auburn in overtime. Marquette spent five straight games on the road (yes, UWM still counts as a road game), including the first three games of the Big East schedule. This weekend, Marquette played host to Villanova and Georgetown and went 1-1, losing to the Wildcats and defeating the Hoyas.
The difference in the two games? Marquette didn't fall behind by 20 against Georgetown.
They did fall behind by 18, though, but 18 points was a small enough margin where the Golden Eagles were able to mount a full comeback, whereas the 20 point margin against Villanova, however brief that it was, proved to be too steep of a mountain to climb.
On Friday night, Villanova went on a 16-0 run over the final 6:37 of the second quarter to boost that lead to that impenetrable 20 point barrier, although it was a halfcourt throw by Natisha Hiedeman that cut it to 17 at the break. Even though it seemed that the game was wildly out of control for Marquette at halftime, they outscored Villanova 18-7 on the third period to turn this thing back into a real contest. Nova's Adrianna Hahn hit one of her six three pointers in the game to open up the fourth quarter and push the lead back to nine points. The Golden Eagles got it down to just four points on an Allazia Blockton layup with 7:32 remaining, but then Marquette didn't score again for the next four minutes. That next MU bucket was a triple from Olivia Moskari, and while that made the game 68-62, the time had finally turned against Marquette and they weren't able to push Nova any further.
There was another four minute dead stretch in the second quarter against Georgetown, and that's how the Hoyas turned it from a five point game to an 18 point game. Marquette wobbled it back down to a 12 point margin at the half, which was ultimately an impressive accomplishment. MU shot just 7-28 (25%) in the first half, so comparatively, Georgetown's 42% shooting was like everything they put up was going in the net.
Things completely flipped around in the second half, and "flipped around" might not even been the right way to explain it. Marquette hit four of their first five shots after intermission, and suddenly it was just a five point game after Natisha Hiedeman finished off an old fashioned three point play. That hot shooting kept right on going for the rest of the final 20 minutes, as Marquette shot 61% in the second half, including a blistering 8-13 from long range. Meanwhile, MU's defense held Georgetown to just 30% shooting as well as forcing nine of the 16 Hoya turnovers in the game. Most of that defense (and MU offense) was really in the fourth quarter, as Marquette turned a four point deficit at the start of the period into a 15 point margin at the final horn. That's kind of bananas, really, but that's also what Hiedeman and McKayla Yentz were doing behind the three point line, too.
The win over Georgetown is the first in Big East play for Marquette this season, moving them to 1-4 in league action. While that's obviously not a great mark, it's better than last year. A year ago, with a senior laden team, Marquette opened up the conference schedule with 10 straight losses. It shows us something about the development of this freshman heavy squad that they can swing a win early in the slate like this.
Up Next: It's back to the road for Marquette as they look to build on their first Big East win. They'll be in Cincinnati to take on Xavier (13-3, 4-1 Big East) on Friday night, and Sunday afternoon sends MU to Indianapolis to square off with Butler (7-9, 2-3 Big East). While both are road games, both are winnable for Marquette as long as they can figure out a way to play an even 40 minutes on both ends of the court.