In the program’s first NCAA tournament game since 2011, #5 seeded Marquette fell behind by as many as 19 at one point before rallying but falling short, losing 68-65 to #12 seeded Quinnipiac. Marquette’s season ends with a record of 25-8.
That 19 point deficit came with 5:51 left in the third quarter when Jen Fay connected for QU to make it 52-33 favoring the Bobcats. Things were looking pretty dire for the Golden Eagles after they had fallen behind 9-0 to start the game, trailed by 13 at the end of the first quarter and hadn’t made a dent on that margin by halftime. With the speed and intensity that Marquette can bring, though, they’re never really out of it with that much time left.
Marquette went on a 12-2 run to close the third quarter to make it a nine point game with 10 minutes left, and that run blew all the way out to 20-4 through the first three minutes and change of the fourth quarter. All of a sudden, boom, three point game.
It seemed like a bucket from Paula Strautmane with 2:21 left might have done Marquette in, as it gave Quinnipiac a six point lead and MU had already done so much just to get it to that point. But Erika Davenport answered, and a layup from Danielle King, her only basket of the game, cut the margin to only two.
The game may have ultimately swung on what happened immediately after that King layup. Quinnipiac mishandled the inbound pass, Amani Wilborn came up with the steal, and then immediately and completely air mailed a pass out of bounds. Bad result, bad timing, good instincts, but it decimated a chance for Marquette to land a body blow.
King came up with a steal on the ensuing QU possession, but Wilborn missed, Davenport missed, and then after a foul, Natisha Hiedeman had a three-point attempt stuffed with 20 seconds left.
EVEN AFTER ALL OF THAT, Marquette was still gifted one final chance to force overtime when Strautmane missed a free throw with three seconds left. Marquette called timeout on the rebound to get the advancement to the front court, but Hiedeman’s last second look at the rim from long range, while a decent shot, rattled out, giving the MAAC regular season and tournament champions their first ever NCAA victory.
Falling behind by 19 sucks. Falling just short of an insane rally sucks. Having your season end like that sucks. It all sucks. The core of this Marquette squad is sophomores, though. They’ve taken a kick in the gut here, and based on how far head coach Carolyn Kieger has gotten them in just two seasons, I think it’s safe to say that they’ll be back for more in 2018.
McKayla Yentz won’t be, though. She’s MU’s lone senior, and her collegiate career is over now. She went out on a solid performance, nine points on 3-of-4 long range shooting, along with two rebounds. Yentz was a freshman during Terri Mitchell’s final season, so she’s been through a lot during her Marquette tenure. She went from playing just 43 minutes in 11 appearances as a freshman, missing all seven three-pointers she attempted, toughed it out during a 9-21 sophomore campaign in Kieger’s first season, and over the past two years, she’s evolved into one of the best long range shooters in program history. Yentz finishes with the seventh most made three-pointers by a Golden Eagle, with her three on Saturday afternoon pushing her past Courtney Romeiser and Tatiyiana McMorris. Her 34.4% career three-point shooting percentage is the 8th best in program history, and she shot nearly 37% over the past two seasons to help drive MU to the success that they’ve had. If Andrew Rowsey’s “thing” is pumpfaking defenders into the air, then McKayla Yentz’s “thing” is properly setting her feet outside the restricted area to draw a charge, because it seems like not a game has gone by in the past two seasons where the Sun Prairie native hasn’t gotten at least one of those. THANK YOU SO MUCH to McKayla Yentz for every drop of sweat and every bruise from a hard landing that you’ve put into this program. That Big East trophy you lifted last week and this postseason appearance wouldn’t have been possible without everything that you’ve done for Marquette.
Up Next: The offseason, which is evil, and should be destroyed.