An 11-0 run late in the second quarter gave #2 Notre Dame the space they needed to get comfortable on Saturday at the McGuire Center as the reigning national champions beat #19 Marquette, 87-63. Marquette falls to 9-3 on the season as they wrap up non-conference play with this contest.
Marquette actually led after 10 minutes after a bucket from Erika Davenport with 42 seconds left made it 18-17. Notre Dame gained a bit of an advantage in the early part of the second quarter, going up 7 on a jumper from Brianna Turner, but the Golden Eagles got it back to four on of all things a triple from Davenport, who is not known as an outside threat. That’s where it all fell apart on the day for Marquette. Over the next three minutes, the Irish went on an 11-0 run to take a 15 point lead, partly powered by two turnovers from the Golden Eagles.
That was the beginning of the end for MU, as they made it a 13 point game at the half, but never got closer than that the rest of the way. ND held them at arm’s length in the third quarter, eventually boosting the lead to 17 at the three-quarters pole, and once the Irish pushed it past 20, it never went back under.
A few things spelled Marquette’s fate on this day. First, the Irish did a great job shutting down Allazia Blockton, who finished with just four points on 2-of-14 shooting in 26 minutes of action. Next, Marquette wasn’t able to do anything interesting from beyond the arc, shooting just 23% out there. That brings us to points off turnovers (just 13) and fast break points (16), and those are numbers that just aren’t beneficial to the way that head coach Carolyn Kieger wants her team to be playing. Finally, Marquette didn’t have an answer for Jessica Shepard. The 6’4” senior had 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting and 18 rebounds, with seven of those coming on the offensive end. That amounts to 70% of Notre Dame’s total on the offensive glass for the day, and that’s just not something that Marquette could afford to have happen.
Marquette wraps up non-conference play with a record of 9-3, with all three losses coming to teams in the top 25 and two of them against teams in the top five. It’s not what you want, of course, but if you’re going to lose games, there are worse ways to end up with three losses. The Golden Eagles are still set up well to qualify for their third straight NCAA tournament, although they may need a very impressive showing in Big East play if they have their eye on hosting tourney games as a top 16 team.
Natisha Hiedeman went the full 40 minutes and led MU in scoring with 23 points. She also grabbed three rebounds and dished five assists. Erika Davenport had a double-double on 16 points and 11 rebounds.
Up Next: As mentioned, Marquette starts Big East action in their next game. However, that won’t be for a while. Providence comes to Milwaukee to get things started, and that game against the Friars won’t be until 2pm on Saturday, December 29th. PC is 8-4 on the year after going 3-0 at home in the Friar Holiday Classic this week.