Not the start to the season that most of us would have hoped. But I have to credit New Mexico for playing a nearly flawless game and matching Marquette’s pace offensively. It was definitely a much closer game than I’d thought it would be. In the end, Allazia Blockton had the ball in her hands with a chance to win the game, but her three point attempt did not drop. It sure would have been nice to having a buzzer-beating win in the first game of the season. Anyways, let’s take a look at how the game played out.
The Golden Eagles got out to a fast start with a 9-0 lead early in the first period and led by as much as 12 in the opening frame. New Mexico chipped away at that lead in the second period and closed the gap to 46-42 at half-time. Marquette had a great first period shooting lights out with over 57% from the field and 62% from behind the arc. After the first period, MU was unable to find their range and dropped to below 37% from three. New Mexico had pretty consistent shooting throughout the game and did not need the three ball as much as Marquette. They shot above 50% in three of the four periods (40% in the second is not too shabby) and substituted the three ball with free throws. The Golden Eagles gave up wayyyy too many easy baskets and let the Lobos take 23 free throws, of which 18 were converted. New Mexico was also a perfect 10-10 in the second half. After falling behind by seven at the end of the third, MU traded baskets with the Lobos in the last four minutes of the fourth but couldn’t get the last one to fall.
Leading the way for Marquette was redshirt freshmen Lauren Van Kleunen with 23 points. She shot an impressive 50% from behind the arc and came down with eight rebounds. This is a great sign for the Golden Eagles because it was a bit of a mystery how Van Kleunen would play in her first collegiate start, much less her first collegiate action. It would be huge for MU if she can replicate this production throughout the season. Allazia Blockton was second on the team in scoring finishing with 20 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Erika Davenport was one rebound shy of a double-double and finished with 11 points and nine boards. Other notable players in double figures were Danielle King and Natisha Hiedemen with 14 and 10 points respectively. Hiedemen also led the team in assists with eight. Marquette’s offense wasn’t the issue in this game, rather, it was the defense that gave up too many foul shots and easy layups down the stretch.
When it comes down to it, you can’t let a player score 39 on you and expect to win the game. Nunn shredded the MU defense inside making 14 of her 15 field goals and converting 11 of her 12 free throws shattering her previous career high of 22 points. She also came down with 13 total rebounds as well as the crucial one in the last seconds of the game that she put back up for the and-one that put New Mexico up one with a second left to play. MU simply wasn’t able to find an answer for Nunn. Maybe MU could have tried doubling her when she received the ball, or having back-side help when she drove to the basket, or even blocking her out when a shot went up and securing the rebound.
Of course, even blocking Nunn out wasn’t guaranteed to be effective. Check out this highlight video that New Mexico posted on Twitter, specifically the 1:25 mark. That’s Nunn’s game-winning and-one. You tell me if that’s a foul on Hiedeman, which is what the referee called.
Aside from Nunn, only Cherise Benyon had double digits for New Mexico, with 13 points but only hit four of her 15 field goals. It was Nunn’s night and the 6’3” junior showed she can single-handedly lead the Lobos to a win against a really good MU side.
Up Next: The Golden Eagles will need to bounce back from this tough loss when they play Loyola-Maryland in their home opener on Sunday. Loyola-Maryland started the season by beating Cornell at home 78-63. They will play against George Mason tonight and Georgetown on Thursday before visiting Milwaukee to take on the Golden Eagles.