The Marquette Golden Eagles came back multiple times in this game to make for an exciting finish but ultimately did not have enough to beat #2 Notre Dame. The final score was 91-85 in overtime and man... it was close. Yet again, Marquette found themselves on the wrong end of an overtime thriller against a top 10 team. Earlier this season, MU dropped another OT heart-breaker against current #7 Tennessee.
This game played out just how the Golden Eagles wanted with Notre Dame taking and missing a lot of shots from 3-point land. MU had an eight point lead at the end of the first after an abysmal 1-10 three point shooting effort from Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish learned from that quarter and began working the ball inside more. They found some success as Junior Marina Mabrey started doing damage with the dribble drive inside and led all scorers at the half with 15 points. Consequently, Notre Dame flipped the advantage with a 38-37 lead at halftime. The third quarter was a lot of cat and mouse between both teams as the Fighting Irish would pull ahead by four or five before MU would cut it to one possession. This was the case all the way up until the last minute of the third where ND pulled ahead by seven.
Then came the wonderfully played fourth quarter where MU held the Fighting Irish without a field goal for the first 2:20 of the quarter and pulled within three points at 64-61. Mabrey made a three pointer at the 7:40 mark in the fourth quarter and then listen to this...the MU defense held Notre Dame without a point for OVER FIVE MINUTES. That put the Golden Eagles up by two with just over two minutes remaining. Natisha Hiedeman made two free throws to put the Golden Eagles up four with under two to play. The key play came with 44 seconds to play: MU could not secure a rebound off a free throw miss by Kathryn Westbeld and she got her own rebound and made the basket to tie it at 73. YOU CANNOT LET THE FREE THROW SHOOTER GET HER OWN REBOUND!!! Thus overtime happened and I immediately had deja vu.
After a missed travel by the refs that gave Arike Ogunbowale an easy layup to start OT (not sayin, just sayin), the Fighting Irish rattled off six straight points to open up a commanding 79-73 lead. But if there’s one thing we know about this Golden Eagle squad, it’s that they fight till the very end. They had a chance to swing the momentum back to their side after Allazia Blockton stole it from Mabrey with MU down 81-77. Blockton got a little too excited, however, and got caught in the air with the ball and forced up a crazy shot that did not hit rim. This was MU’s opportunity to cut it to within two with about 1:30 to play and they couldn’t convert on the fast break. All they had to do was slow it down a bit and ensure that they put up a good shot up but the adrenaline rush of the steal got the best of Blockton. Due to some missed free throws by Notre Dame, MU was able to pull within two points at 87-85 but it was too little too late with just 12 seconds left in OT. The Fighting Irish made their free throws in the closing seconds to escape with the victory.
I am so proud of how Marquette’s defense held off the high-powered Notre Dame attack for most of the game. In the end, they just could not keep up offensively and finished with 40% from the field and just 21% from threes. I talked about the importance of the 3-point ball for Marquette in this game but they couldn’t get it going from deep. The only exception was Isabelle Spingola who went 4-6 from three-point range off the bench and kept MU in it late in the fourth. I would have hoped they could have utilized her hot hand more in overtime but they weren’t able to get her the ball. BREAKING NEWS: Muffet McGraw is good at her job. On the other side of the court, Notre Dame shot a solid 48% from the field but also struggled from behind the arc with just 18% shooting. It didn’t matter because in the end their experience and pedigree prevailed as Marquette made two silly mistakes late in the fourth and OT that cost them the game. The missed block out on the free throw and the crazy shot that Blockton put up could have tilted the game in Marquette’s favor if they had executed both plays better.
Either way, it was a very entertaining game to watch with both teams having SIX players in double-digits scoring-wise. Marquette’s Erika Davenport (19 pts, 16 reb) and Allazia Blockton (20 pts, 10 reb) had double-doubles while three Notre Dame players totaled double-doubles including Jessica Shepard (13 pts, 12 reb), Kathryn Westbeld (13 pts, 10 reb), and Jackie Young (10 pts, 10 reb). Young seemed to do her scouting report on Lauren Van Kleunen and was sporting a Bane-esque mask. Shout-out to my colleague Connor Lagore for the reference.
This shuts the door on non-conference play and aside from an early season slip up to New Mexico (who’s now receiving votes by the way), Marquette should be happy with how they’ve played against some of the nation’s top teams. It’s unfortunate that they couldn’t get one victory over four current top 25 teams that they played against but that’s okay. Their strength of schedule is better than most teams at this point especially considering they took #2 Notre Dame and #7 Tennessee to OT. They may not have the opportunity to get back in the top 25 for a while. But they’ll certainly have the chance to assert their dominance over the Big East when they play against DePaul who’s receiving votes on January 4th and later that month at #20 Villanova on the 21st.
Up Next: The Golden Eagles will tip-off Big East play against St. John’s at the Al McGuire a week from tomorrow. The Red Storm are 7-3 this season with a home overtime victory against Kansas on Monday.