Marquette had no defensive answer for Villanova’s Adrianna Hahn on Wednesday afternoon, but they still found a way to beat the Wildcats, 77-71, in the Big East opener for both teams. Marquette now has a chance to go wire to wire in first place in the league, while Villanova languishes in last place to start things off.
Hahn became the first player in the Big East to score 30 or more points as she posted a career best 31 points in the losing effort. As one of just two noteworthy shooters on the Villanova roster, she let fly at a moment’s notice, almost to the point where you started to wonder if she watched the video of Lonzo Ball’s little brother one too many times. Hahn connected on nine of her 16 (56%) three-point attempts, essentially keeping the Villanova offense alive on multiple occasions. She finished the day 11-for-20 (55%) overall, while the rest of the team only shot 17-for-44 (39%) overall and 5-for-16 (31%) from long distance.
The good news is that while Hahn was doing her best Steph Curry impression, Marquette did not get baited into a three-point shooting contest. Only 12 of Marquette’s 59 attempts came from behind the arc, and only McKayla Yentz (2-of-5) and Amani Wilborn (1-of-2) connected, and Wilborn’s make was a bit of a prayer to beat the shot clock anyway. MU did their work inside, either by working into the post or getting out in transition for easy buckets. Allazia Blockton led the Golden Eagles with 21 points on 10-of-19 shooting with only one three point attempts, and Erika Davenport added 17 on 7-of-9 shooting, all coming up close and personal with the rim. Davenport recorded yet another double-double on the season, racking up 15 rebounds, with seven on the offensive end alone. If Davenport hadn’t grabbed any defensive rebounds, she still would have hand a better rebounding day than any players on Villanova’s roster.
This was a tightly contested game, largely because Hahn just kept hitting shots for the Wildcats. The biggest lead of the first half was six points for Villanova, but that was at 8-2 as Hahn hit three of her first four long range attempts. Marquette wasn’t able to match that lead until the 3:18 mark of the third quarter when Shantelle Valentine wrapped up an old fashioned three-point play to put MU up 44-38. That bucket and free throw by Valentine jumpstarted a 15-5 run by the Golden Eagles that had them up 13 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Nova knocked that quickly down to just eight points with over seven minutes left to play on a basket from Alex Louin. Marquette answered the bell, pushing the lead back to 12 points at two different points, but a 14-5 run capped off by - you guessed it - a three-pointer from Hahn made it a three point game with two and change left to go. Marquette made the three plays you’d absolutely expect from them in this situation: inside bucket from Davenport after burning nearly 30 seconds off the clock, a defensive rebound after one attempt from the Wildcats, and another inside bucket from Davenport after burning another 17 seconds.
That had the Golden Eagles up seven with under a minute to go, and Wilborn iced it away by making three of four free throws in the final 30 seconds.
How about some postgame comments from head coach Carolyn Kieger and Allazia Blockton?
Head coach @ckieger answers questions following the big win at Villanova pic.twitter.com/CEwIJYZa9l— Marquette WBB (@MarquetteWBB) December 28, 2016
Allazia Blockton @ZayaGDB with post game comments after winning at Villanova today #muwbb pic.twitter.com/cEyPpgW3m8— Marquette WBB (@MarquetteWBB) December 28, 2016
Up Next: Marquette stays out on the east coast and heads to the nation’s capital. They’ll square off with Georgetown (8-2) on Friday afternoon after the Hoyas host DePaul on Wednesday afternoon. As I type this, the two teams are tied at 32 in the second quarter.