Erika Davenport scored 15 of her career best and game high 22 points in the second half as Marquette bounced back from a seven point halftime deficit to get a 92-85 win over Providence on Sunday afternoon. It's the ninth Big East win of the year for the Golden Eagles, well past the four that they earned a year ago. With nine in the win column, MU is guaranteed to finish at least .500 in league play this season.
They're 14-14 overall, so they'll need to keep hustling to avoid a losing record overall this season. Still, it's a far cry from the 9-22 that Marquette finished with in 2014-15 already with two more guaranteed games left to be played this season. When you take into account that MU opened with four straight losses and they've got a roster consisting almost entirely of players with no Division 1 experience, 14-14 is A-OK by me.
Marquette thumped Providence in the first meeting between the two teams, jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first two and a half minutes on the way to a 105-75 win. That was not remotely the case in the return bout. MU went up 5-0 on the first two buckets of the game, but things tilted towards the Friars as they took a five point lead of their own in the first quarter before the period ended in a 22-22 tie. Things tilted waaaaay towards the Friars in the second quarter, as they took a nine point lead very late and only a Allazia Blockton layup with 12 seconds left narrowed the margin to seven at the break. Blockton's layup was the first field goal for the visitors since a McKayla Yentz triple put Marquette up 32-28 with 6:22 left in the half.
You can tell how far this team has grown this season, as getting outscored 15-4 over a six minute stretch might have broken them earlier in the season. Marquette had the game tied again at the 6:14 mark of the third quarter on an and-1 layup from Erika Davenport, and Amani Wilborn popped in two free throws to give Marquette the lead. They would build that lead to eight with 2:24 left in the frame on a triple from Yentz, but that lead STILL wasn't safe. In the final home game for Evi Iiskola, PC's lone senior, the Friars smashed that lead back down to just one point at the end of the third, and they fought off another seven point Marquette lead in the fourth quarter to take the lead with five minutes remaining.
Finally, Marquette put the Friars away for good. MU ripped off the next nine points: a bucket from Natisha Hiedeman, a three from Danielle King, a layup from Blockton, and a pair of freebies from Davenport. That made the lead seven with 2:34 to play, and only Providence breaking that run would get them closer than six the rest of the way, as Blockton, Hiedeman, King, and Wilborn combined to hit nine of 10 free throws in the final minute to ensure that Providence had no chance.
All five of Marquette's starters scored in double digits, and McKayla Yentz recorded her second career double-double by adding 10 defensive rebounds to her 16 points, 12 of which came behind the three point arc. With her four made triples in this game, Yentz now has the junior year record for made three pointers with 69, surpassing both Krystal Ellis and Lori Goerlitz in this game. Her 69 made long balls are also tied with Marquette legend Kristen Maskala for the fourth most made threes in any season. I feel that now is an appropriate time to remind you that McKayla Yentz came into the season with 286 career minutes played and just a 20.7% career shooting mark on three pointers. This includes her 12-51 (24%) for Carolyn Kieger a year ago.
Show of hands: Who else thinks that Marquette completely nailed this coaching hire?
Allazia Blockton finished with 18 points in the game, making her the first Marquette freshman to ever score 500 points in a season as she continues to extend her freshman scoring record to 514 points. She now sits just 14 points away from tying the Big East freshman scoring record, set by Providence's Kerri Chatten in 1994-95. If you're wondering how you can see Blockton break that record.....
Up Next: .... well, are you in luck. Marquette wraps up the regular season on Saturday when they host DePaul at the Al McGuire Center. That game tips off at 5pm, approximately two hours after the MU men's game against #1 Villanova wraps up. Your ticket from the game at the Bradley Center will get you into the McGuire Center for free. The Blue Demons narrowly defeated Marquette 91-86 to kick off the conference schedule down in Chicago back in December.