On Marquette’s first possession of Friday afternoon’s NCAA tournament contest against Dayton, Natisha Hiedeman popped home a three-pointer to put the Golden Eagles up 3-2. The AE Twitter then received this tweet from a long time Friend Of The Program.
I’m all in on Hiedeman after that first three.— Matt Trebby (@trebby) March 16, 2018
I felt it was necessary to point out to Matt that Hiedeman’s shooting hadn’t held up to the standards set by her in previous seasons, so as to advise him to not get too invested.
Well, I’m an idiot.
Hiedeman scored Marquette’s first 15 points of the game, singlehandedly carrying the Golden Eagles when they needed it most. Her flurry pulled Marquette back from an early 11-3 deficit to tie the game at 15. She didn’t stop there, scoring 18 points on 5-of-7 long range shooting in the first quarter to stake the Golden Eagles to a 22-15 lead. By the end of the game, Hiedeman had finished with a personal best 32 points that doubled as a Marquette program record for the NCAA tournament, and the Golden Eagles had left the KFC YUM! Center in Louisville with an 84-65 victory.
It’s Marquette’s first NCAA tournament victory since 2011, and it advances the #8 seeded Golden Eagles to the second round, where they will face #1 seed Louisville on the Cardinals’ home floor on Sunday.
It’s not just that Hiedeman went bonkers for the Golden Eagles. Marquette needed the boost from her first quarter explosion. Big East Player of the Year Allazia Blockton looked massively out of sorts in the first 10 minutes, missing all five of her shots and even calling to be taken out of the game because she wasn’t doing anyone any good in the early going.
Hiedeman’s impact went behind her shooting, where she tied a program record for made three-pointers in any game and set program NCAA tournament records for three-pointers made in any game (8) and three-pointers attempted in any game (12). She had four of her five steals in the first half, two in each quarter, as Dayton turned the ball over on 40% of their possessions in the first 20 minutes of the game. Hiedeman’s shooting cooled off for a minute in the second quarter, where she went 0-for-3, but she posted three of her five assists in the game during that frame, helping to push Marquette’s lead from seven to 14. All of that made Hiedeman, according to ESPN, the first player in the past five seasons to post at least 30 points, five assists, and five steals in an NCAA tournament game.
That’s how nuts she was.
At the end of the day, she had help along the way. Blockton shook out of her first quarter slump to post a perfectly good 15/4/2, powered by a 3-for-5 day from behind the arc, and Erika Davenport assembled her 10th double-double of the season on 16 points and a game high 13 rebounds against a very good rebounding Dayton squad. Danielle King did Danielle King things and went for 11/3/4 and three steals. Even Amani Wilborn, who had a rough day shooting the ball at 3-of-13, still got a career highlight by scoring eight points and landing exactly on 1,000 points for her career.
Up Next: As of right now, we still don’t know when Marquette will be playing Louisville on Sunday. The last set of NCAA tournament games for the day are just now getting underway as of this writing, and of course, television broadcast schedules take priority in this matter. We’ll have to wait for the last group of winners to come through before ESPN and the NCAA decide on when the Golden Eagles and the Cardinals will tip off down in Louisville. UL is the #1 seed after going 32-2 this season with the losses coming at home to #12 Florida State and at #1 Connecticut. They finished as co-regular season champions in the ACC with Notre Dame and won the ACC tournament by beating the Irish for the second time this season.