Marquette’s 18 point lead at the start of the fourth quarter dwindled to as little as just seven points late, but Danielle King sank six free throws in the final 45 seconds to preserve the 83-74 victory for the #22 ranked Golden Eagles against Milwaukee on Wednesday night. With the win, Marquette is now 5-1 on the season with the only loss coming on the road against a ranked Miami squad.
If we’re being honest about Milwaukee’s comeback late in the game, it didn’t really matter. Yes, they outscored Marquette 29-20 in the final 10 minutes, and yes, UWM shot 4-of-8 on threes in the the fourth quarter to shove their way back into the game. However, they didn’t get the lead under 10 points until the 4:21 mark of the period, and the lead didn’t stay under 10 points until there were 41 seconds left in the game. Did it get way more interesting than it had to? Sure thing. Is head coach Carolyn Kieger going to have a lot of ammunition for practice between now and Sunday’s game against Michigan? You betcha.
Was Marquette ever in real danger of losing this game? Not really, just in the “well, if they don’t hit their free throws” kind of way. Thankfully, MU kept getting the ball to King in the closing minute and she came into the game having knocked down 10 of her 13 freebie attempts this season after shooting 79% last year and 80% the year before that. She calmly dropped in the attempts from the charity stripe and slammed the door on UWM’s face.
It should never have come to that, and thus the ammo for Kieger’s practices. Marquette was up 12 after the first quarter and led by as many as 22 midway through the third quarter. With the exception of the loss to Miami, Marquette had blasted their way through every other team on the schedule to this point of the season, and it looked like this one was going to end up just the same. Except...... well, if you glance at UWM’s schedule this season, they just keep ending up in games at the end. They haven’t played any other ranked teams this season, so this was a different kind of “in it at the end,” but they seemed like a squad that wasn’t going to just accept a 20+ point loss coming in, and that’s exactly what they showed.
It ended up being a historic night for the Golden Eagles. Natisha Hiedeman’s third made three-pointer of the game broke Lori Goerlitz’s 23 year old record for long range bombs in a career. Hiedeman finished shooting 4-of-7 on the night, giving her 225 career triples, just a shade more than Goerlitz’s 223. In addition to that, Allazia Blockton went 11-for-19 on the night when she needed just five buckets to break Julie Sievers’ 35 year old record for made field goals in a career. With 28 points on the night, Blockton is now just 50 points away from Krystal Ellis’ program record for points in a career, and she’s just 110 points away from becoming the first Marquette basketball player, male or female, to rack up 2,000 career points. The moment is coming, perhaps sooner than you might think.
Blockton’s 28 led all scorers as Marquette depended heavily on their starters for scoring in this game. Just eight of MU’s 83 points came from their bench, while UWM got contributions from all over the place. 10 of the 11 Panthers that played scored, and six of them tallied at least seven points.
Up Next: As mentioned earlier, Marquette will return home on Sunday to host Michigan, or at least that’s the plan. The McGuire Center is still undergoing cleanup and reconstruction after a car barreled its way out onto the basketball court early Saturday morning, which is why this game was moved to UMW’s campus. The MU volleyball team is set to host the NCAA tournament on Friday and Saturday, and if that’s the case, there’s no reason to think that there won’t be basketball on Sunday afternoon. The Wolverines are 5-1 on the season with a win over then-#21 Missouri already this season. That’s got them earning Associated Press top 25 votes, but they’ll visit #13 NC State on Thursday night before making their way to Milwaukee.